Managed plant collections are what sets botanical gardens apart from other gardens, parks, and green spaces. Records for each of the plants in our garden are maintained in a way similar to items in a museum. Because of this, the plants in our collection have more than simply aesthetic value; they have educational, historical, and scientific value that plants without a known provenance do not. This is one of the many ways that the Idaho Botanical Garden benefits the public, the horticulture industry, science and education interests, and the botanical garden community at large.
View Our Plant Collections Online
Our new Garden Explorer website allows you to search the plants in our collection, find them on our map, and learn more about them.
Western US Penstemon Collection
Comprising around 250 species, Penstemon is the largest genus of flowering plants endemic to North America. Penstemons are particularly abundant in the western states, and Idaho alone is home to at least 43 species. Many of our western penstemons are adapted to high desert conditions, where summers are long and hot, and annual precipitation is minimal. They are also unquestionably beautiful, beneficial to pollinating insects and hummingbirds, and generally easy to grow and maintain. For these reasons and more, penstemons have long held a prominent place in our plant collection.
As our collection of penstemons was growing, we saw the opportunity to partner with the Plant Collection Network (formerly North America Plant Collections Consortium) to develop a nationally accredited collection of Western US Penstemons. The Plant Collection Network is a program of the American Public Gardens Association in cooperation with the USDA-Agricultural Research Service. Known for their high curation standards, the Network currently includes over 140 Nationally Accredited Plant Collections™ at 80 gardens across the country, thereby supporting education, curation, research, and conservation on a dramatic scale.
Idaho Botanical Garden sits in the heart of penstemon country, so developing an accredited collection of Western US Penstemons was an obvious decision. Early in the process, IBG was working with limited resources, but a grant from the American Penstemon Society in 2011 helped us move the process forward. In 2012, our collection was awarded provisional status, allowing us time to improve our record keeping and make arrangements for maintaining our collection in perpetuity. We were awarded full collection status in the fall of 2014.
Only a portion of the penstemons you will find our garden spaces are part of this prestigious collection. Each year we endeavor to add new species and individual plants, working together with the Plant Collection Network to help make it the world-class collection that we know it can be.