Teaching Gardens

How do you share hands-on information about traditional uses of plants, biodiversity of sagebrush systems, native plant identification, pollinator relationships and habitat for threatened species all in one location? In a teaching garden! Idaho BLM has several venues for youth and adult education on natural resources within the communities we serve. Teaching gardens are great opportunities for those not able to trek to remote and rugged BLM lands or for those interested in an introduction to resources and issues prior to visiting the backcountry.

SW Idaho Wildflower Coloring Book | Junior Explorer: Native Plants | Landscaping with Native Plants | Xeriscaping Guide

Boise District

The BLM's Boise District hosts two themed gardens at the office headquarters and two off-site gardens at area schools. The Boise District gardens are open for visitors at all times. If you would like to schedule a more formal tour or activity with your group or school, please contact Holly Beck at 208-602-5592 or hbeck@blm.gov. Thanks and we look forward to seeing you soon!

The Shoshone-Paiute Ethnobotany Garden

Boise District Office Ethnobotany Garden

The Boise District has a native plant garden that highlights species found in the local area. Over the years, the Boy Scouts and Boise State University horticulture students have been involved with installing and maintaining the garden. The native garden has been re-designed to allow it to merge with the planned district water-wise landscaping and to allow increased staff and visitor use of the area. A horticulture student from Boise State University created the re-design of the native garden as part of a senior project. As part of this re-design, BLM highlighted and provided interpretation of traditional uses of native plant materials in southwest Idaho.

Features of the garden include a traditional shade shelter, a wickiup and interpretive panels. Paths in the garden lead visitors to signs that describe the traditional lifeways of the Shoshone-Paiute in southwest Idaho. The combination of native plants and traditional structures within an easy access urban area make this site ideal for educational activities with schools.

Garden Address: 3948 Development Way, Boise, ID 83705 (near Boise Airport)

Boise District Office Ethnobotany Garden

Greater Sage-grouse Habitat Demonstration Garden

The BLM's Boise District Office also planted a sage-grouse habitat demonstration garden. The garden highlights the relationship between sage-grouse life cycles and vegetation types. The demonstration area shows seasonal habitats such as winter, lekking, nesting/early brood rearing and late brood rearing habitats. Each section of the garden contains the general vegetation features and preferred plant species of each life stage. Metal silhouettes are placed in the habitat to show the representative seasonal behavior. Interpretive signs and a brochure are also available to educate the public on sage-grouse habitat requirements and the resource issues that BLM faces when managing sage-grouse.

Contact: Holly Beck, 208-384-3362
Garden Address: 3948 Development Way, Boise, ID 83705 (near Boise Airport)

Greater Sage-grouse Habitat Demonstration Garden

Greater Sage-grouse Habitat Demonstration Garden

Sage Grouse Teaching Garden

Sage Grouse Teaching Garden

Coeur d'Alene District

Coeur d’Alene Field Office’s native plant garden is taking root. With climate change, pesticides, and barely-understood honeybee diseases, it seems like pollinators can hardly catch a break.  That is beginning to change as individuals and groups across the world shift their attention to pollinators—the birds and insects which assure our food supply and help perpetuate biodiversity. 

Blackwell Island Native Plant and Pollinator Garden

BLM's Native Plant Garden site at the edge of the Blackwell Island Recreation Site and Lake Coeur d'Alene.

In August 2014, the Blackwell Island Native Plant and Pollinator Garden was created.  This unique garden occupies a third of an acre within the boundaries of the Blackwell Island Recreation Site.  The garden’s paths, planting sites and infrastructure were built last summer; employees, high school students, and other citizens began planting native plants in earnest this past March. 

Lake City High School Student after a Day Gardening

Creating the garden has been a community effort from the beginning. Several non-governmental organizations, including the WREN Foundation, The Lands Council, and the Idaho Native Plant Society have helped substantially. The Coeur d’Alene Tribe’s Historic Preservation Office has helped ensure that the plants planted are culturally significant. Two local high school AP Environmental Science classes provided the people-power to prepare sites and transplant seedlings. Many of the plants festooning the garden have been donated.

Students Grew Plants all Winter for the Spring Planting

Most BLM employees in the Coeur d’Alene Field Office have been involved in the effort to establish the garden.  For example, John Mottern, a member of the Field Office recreation staff, suggested Blackwell Island Recreation Site as the home for the garden.   Tonya Lyden,  a seasonal range technician has played a critical role in the garden’s design, construction, planting, and maintenance.   An interdisciplinary planning team made recommendations that improved the project.  Employees with equipment operation skills kept construction of the garden within a tight budget.  Many other employees have pitched-in to complete various tasks, especially during construction and planting.

Contact: LeAnn Abell at 208-769-5036 or labell@blm.gov 
Garden Address: BLM Blackwell Island Recreation Site which is located 1 mile southwest of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho on Highway 95.

Thanks and we look forward to seeing you soon!

BLM Range Technician, Tonya Lyden, prepares the walking path.

A volunteer grooms the walking paths.

Blackwell Island Native Plant Garden


Roosevelt Elementary Outdoor Classroom

This outdoor classroom is placed in the front of the newly remodeled 100-year old public school in the east end of Boise, Idaho. Parents, students, teachers and neighbors spent many summer evenings creating a space for outdoor education and appreciation of Idaho native plants. Lawn was removed and a low berm was created to define the classroom space. A meandering path flanked by native plants was built to lead students from the school into the classroom. Boulders were staggered around the perimeter to provide seating and perching spots for students. Our native plants showed rapid growth and the students enjoyed bee-watching at the flowering asters. Students requested that the garden include plants that are hosts to pollinators and so BLM planted species such as tufted evening primrose (Oenothera caespitosa), coyote mint (Monordella odoratissima), several species of asters (Aster oblongifolia and Erigeron compositus) and penstemons (Penstemon fruticosus, P. strictus and P. eatonii).

Roosevelt Elementary Outdoor Classroom

The garden also features a mini metal sculpture garden of plant labels that Boise State University and the first grade class created together. The Roosevelt students drew pollinators to match the plants which were later transferred onto the sculptures. The Boise School District’s Dehryl Dennis Vocational Technical School collaborated with BLM to create metal Idaho animal silhouettes and a classroom sign in the shape of a bighorn sheep ram. The Boise District BLM has also compiled a geology reference collection that will be placed in the garden.

Garden Address
: 908 E. Jefferson, Boise, ID 83712

Roosevelt Elementary Outdoor Classroom  

Roosevelt Elementary Outdoor Classroom

Roosevelt Elementary Outdoor Classroom

BLM FireWise Gardens in the Treasure Valley

The BLM FireWise Garden at the Idaho Botanical Gardens in Boise

The BLM Firewise Garden was developed just outside of the Lewis and Clark Native Plant Garden Wetlands area. It is a partnership between the Bureau of Land Management, College of Western Idaho’s Horticulture Program, and the Idaho Botanical Garden. The Garden now supports more than 300 species and cultivars of plants, both native and non-native.

BLM FireWise Garden at the Idaho Botanical Gardens in Boise

See the FireWise brochure with vines and groundcovers.

Carrie Bilbao, BLM Boise District Fire Prevention and Mitigation Specialist

Other Gardens at the Idaho Botanical Gardens include:

  • Pave the Way to the Children’s Adventure Garden
  • Water Conservation Landscape
  • Vegetable Garden
  • Summer Succulent Garden
  • Outlaw Field & Labyrinth
  • Meditation Garden
  • Lewis & Clark Native Plant Garden
  • Jane Falk Oppenheimer Heirloom Rose Garden
  • Idaho Native Plant Garden
  • Children’s Adventure Garden
  • Muriel and Diana Kirk English Garden
  • Herb Garden

Contact: Contact: Brett Van Paepeghem, BLM Southern Idaho Firewise Project Manager at 208-373-3854 or the Idaho Botanical Gardens at 343-8649 with questions ot visit the Idaho Botanical Gardens website. 

Garden Address: 2355 Old Penitentiary Road, Boise, Idaho 83712



The Eagle Sports Complex Firewise Demonstration Garden

Overview of the BLM Eagle Firewise Demonstration Garden looking northwest

Bruneau Elementary School "Wilderness Garden"
Hands on the Land Site

Bruneau Elementary, partnered with the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, to create an outdoor classroom space that features Idaho native plants and local geology. The native garden is a venue for educating students on the unique plants, wildlife and geology of their area. It will also serve as an outdoor learning space where teachers will conduct classes. Opportunities for art and science in the garden are also created and the BLM assists with curriculum development. To align with state-wide curriculum elements, the garden includes plants that have a place in Idaho’s history such as syringa (Philadelphis lewisii) or have traditional Native American uses such as basin wildrye (Elymus cinereus) and serviceberry (Amalanchier alnifolia). The garden features a traditional Native American shade shelter, an amphitheater classroom area, a nature-themed alphabet trail and design elements that reflect the local history of ranching and homesteading. This native garden is the first stepping stone as part of the larger initiative to engage southwest Idaho rural schools with the lands that surround them.

Making a moat for coyote mint at the Bruneau Garden

Garden Address: 28541 Benham Ave. Bruneau ID 83604

Parents help kids plant at the Bruneau Garden

Students planning at the Bruneau Garden

Idaho BLM Partners with Shoshone-Paiute Tribe to Grow Native Plants for Sage-Steppe Restoration

Idaho BLM Partners with Shoshone-Paiute Tribe to Grow Native Plants for Sage-Steppe Restoration











Since 2006, BLM has been partnering with southern Idaho’s Shoshone-Paiute Tribe to help meet a critical need for native plant seedlings in the State. Three greenhouses are used to grow native plants for restoration and rehabilitation of sage-steppe habitat on public lands devastated by wildfire. Learn more.


The BLM's Idaho Office is working with partners to make a huge difference in local communities by promoting fire safety within the state. The new Eagle Sports Complex Firewise Demonstration Garden was developed through collaborative efforts with the City of Eagle, BLM Idaho, Eagle Fire Department, Healthy Hills Initiative and Idaho Firewise. The purpose of the garden is to educate the Community of Eagle and visitors to the sports complex about Firewise concepts for landscaping around their property.

The term "Firewise", as explained by the National Fire Protection Association, describes the goal of teaching residents about wildfire and how they could put smart practices into play around their homes to reduce the risk of home destruction. A Firewise garden demonstrates landscape plants and maintenance tips that can help protect homes from the dangers of wildfires.  Firewise landscaping can help reduce the risk of wildfire burning homes, for example by using plants that are more fire resistant than others.

The Firewise garden project began in fall 2013 with various site improvements. By spring 2014 excavation of a trail system was underway with help from the Ada County Inmate Labor detail and a College of Western Idaho Horticultural Intern. Throughout the summer, plant material, rock mulch and signage was installed. A plant species database was generated and is maintained to track and document the performance of new plants. A couple of employees from the Eagle City Parks maintain the demonstration site and ensure that it remains aesthetically pleasing to encourage visitation. A ribbon-cutting ceremony took place on Thursday, October 30 to symbolize the opening of the garden.

Brett Van Paepeghem, BLM Southern Idaho Firewise Project Manager

Contact: Brett Van Paepeghem, BLM Southern Idaho Firewise Project Manager at the BLM Idaho State Office at 208-373-3854.

Garden Address: Eagle Sports Complex, Old Horseshoe Bend Rd, Garden City, ID 83714

In addition to the Eagle Firewise Garden, there are four other Firewise gardens throughout southern Idaho. They include the main garden at the College of Western Idaho/Idaho Botanical Garden, Oasis Fire Department near Mountain Home, Boise Fire Department Station #1 and Boise Fire Department Station #12. Additionally, three gardens are in development stages and should be completed by the end of 2015.

Twin Falls Firewise Garden at College of Southern Idaho

Twin Falls District Firewise Garden at College of Southern Idaho

Twin Falls District Firewise Garden at College of Southern Idaho

After nearly a 1.5 years of planning, planting and building, the Firewise Garden at the College of Southern Idaho (CSI) was completed. The project that began in January of 2014 was the idea of CSI’s Horticultural Instructor Chance Munns. Chance envisioned a demonstration garden for communities of the Magic Valley. From there, Mid-Snake Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) and Twin Falls BLM came on board with the idea to add a Firewise Garden to Chance’s growing plans.

That spring, Chance and his team broke ground on the Firewise garden and began designing the network of trails. As spring progressed into summer, Chance and his team installed the arbor (or home structure) and continued to plant, spread mulch, irrigate and cultivate the plants that would become the garden. As the end of summer neared, signs and fencing were installed, completing the garden.

Informational kiosks located throughout the garden provide tips on Firewise landscaping and drought resident plants. Each zone features a variety of plants approved for that area around your home. The arbor, acting as the home structure, provides a starting point to the garden and zones.

Native Garden in the NEWS

Contact:  Brett Van Paepeghem, BLM Southern Idaho Firewise Project Manager at the BLM Idaho State Office at 208-373-3854 OR Chance Munns, College of Southern Idaho Horticultural Instructor at  208-732-6431.

Garden Address: 621 North College Road; Twin Falls, Idaho 83301