Muriel and Diana Kirk Contemporary English Garden is based on a design from John Brookes b.1933-d.2018., a famous English Garden designer. English gardens can be of the grand scale or the much less pretentious cottage garden, a mash up of perennials, fruit trees, and herbs. Our garden falls somewhere in between and combines the best primary elements of both the grand and cottage: a wall for enclosure, a pergola for strolling with vining wisteria, roses and clematis, a water feature, a folly and boxwood hedging. The metal fencing is painted British Racing Green.
A bequest in Muriel Kirk’s will made this garden possible. Diana was her daughter. The fountain pool at one end is dedicated to Diana, Princess of Wales. While this garden was under construction in 1997, England’s Princess Diana died in a car crash. Idahoans, moved by her death, left hand-written cards and bouquets here. One woman wrote that since Diana had devoted much time to charity but she was no longer alive, this woman would start doing more charitable work. They also donated money to the Idaho Botanical Garden, in Diana’s name, to help finish the project.
The Summer House, at the other end, has been incorporated into the Idaho Botanical Garden’s logo. The English use summer houses to be able to enjoy their garden even on sunny days. With the open doorways and windows, it is considerably cooler inside than outside during the summer. The black slate roof originally graced the Veterans Home, and the ceiling is wood from the floor of Boise’s former J.C. Penney’s store. The crowning achievement is the wrought iron and copper weathervane, crafted by Boise’s own master blacksmith Nahum Hersom.
Many weddings take place here. In the middle on the side near the Old Penitentiary wall is the Unity Fountain. This fountain symbolizes the lives of the bride and groom coming together and was created for a specific wedding. During the ceremony, guests wrote messages on rocks and left them in the fountain.
Notable plants to see are the European Filbert with the purple leaves, the River Birch with the peeling bark, spring blooming magnolias, and the collection of viburnum.