A Stroll, a Sleigh, and a Trebuchet

    Fall brings fun and festivities to the Idaho Botanical Garden

    By Laura Wolstenholme
    Photography Courtesy of the Idaho Botanical Garden

    After an exciting summer filled with brilliant foliage, live music and outdoor movies, it’s hard to imagine that the Idaho Botanical Garden could fall fallow to the crisp, cool air of autumn and winter. That’s because it doesn’t. Indeed, as summer begins to fade into the vibrant colors of fall, the Idaho Botanical Garden is more alive than ever, offering Bosieans continuous festive fun as the seasons change and the months grow colder.

    Scarecrow Stroll: Now in its sixth year, the Idaho Botanical Garden’s Scarecrow Stroll runs September 16 through October 18. Throughout the month, about 30 delightful scarecrows will appear throughout the Garden to keep the harvest safe and delight visitors of all ages. The scarecrows, this year created to the theme of “animals,” are created by 30 Boise-area nonprofits, businesses, and elementary schools. So grab a sweater and welcome fall by taking a stroll through the Garden featuring these picaresque scarecrows, as well as autumn asters and chrysanthemums. While you’re there, be certain to cast a ballot and give your favorite scarecrow a chance to win the coveted “People’s Choice Award.”

    Fall Harvest Festival: Just a few weeks into the Scarecrow’s arrival at the Garden, the IBG will host its highly anticipated fall event, the Fall Harvest Festival (October 5–6), which offers an amazing variety of attractions and highlights “all things harvest.”

    The Fall Harvest Festival offers many attractions to pique the imagination and startle the senses. Of these attractions, the Pumpkin House has become a perennial favorite. Constructed of pumpkins and gourds of all shapes and sizes, as well as potatoes and mint, the edifice is a wonderful combination of texture and color to explore – and yes, you can go inside. The mastermind of this house that’s straight out of a fairy tale is none other than Rod Burke, the Garden’s Horticulture Outreach Director.

    At the other end of the enjoyment spectrum is the Fall Harvest Festival’s “Pumpkin-Chunkin” spectacle, put on by The Discovery Center of Idaho. A trebuchet with a 450-pound counterweight will launch hundreds of pumpkins into the air. And, if your imagination can’t provide you with an ending to this spectacle, you’ll just have to come see what happens for yourself.

    In addition to the wealth of activity, visitors can also purchase bulbs to plant for spring at the fall bulb sale, explore the straw bale maze, and admire a “garden-scale” train put together by the Southern Idaho Garden Railway Society.

    Likewise, local artists will display their work and there will be local produce, beer, and wine to savor while enjoying the attractions. In past years, visitors have taken advantage of the beautiful fall décor for family photos.

    Winter Garden Aglow: After the Fall Harvest Festival, the IBG postpones a well-deserved hibernation to enter a state of illuminated splendor. Like a fairy tale, the sudden appearance of thousands of brilliant lights on Thanksgiving Day has the magical quality of a true winter wonderland.

    Hundreds of volunteers work eight hours a day, seven days a week, from early October to late November in an effort to arrange the 260,000 lights that create the Winter Garden Aglow spectacle. The IBG crew creates a new display each year mixing up colors and emphasizing different architectural aspects of the garden. Thousands and thousands of visitors from Idaho and around the world enjoy the spectacular display. This year a new feature will be added to the event; an authentic century-old sleigh from Maine will be on the premises, adding even more festive spirit to the light show.

    Without a doubt, the Idaho Botanical Garden offers Boiseans the best of the fall and winter seasons in our beautiful city. To learn more about these and other events offered by IBG, visit






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