During a long weekend in Iowa, I picked up a copy of Our Iowa Magazine and discovered one of the sweetest magazines I have ever read. One particular copy tweaked my interest as it highlighted a Gnome exhibit at Reiman Gardens, located at the Iowa State University in Ames, IA http://www.reimangardens.com/. Having taken our neighbor’s gnome with us to Iceland one year, we thought it high time for the gnome to take another road trip.
Upon arrival at the Reiman Gardens, we found that exhibits change yearly. With the exception of Elwood the Giant Gnome (a permanent feature of the garden), we had missed that exhibit by a year. 2014 featured Alien Invasion Sculptures which were scattered throughout the gardens.
One of the highlights is Reiman’s Butterfly Garden. There is an area where you can watch butterflies and moths emerge from their cocoons. The garden room itself is hot and steamy. We walked among thousands of butterflies flitting around. Some of the moths looked like owls. Some were larger than the span of my hand. Some were teeny, bright blue and wouldn’t sit still. Others only flew at night, so wouldn’t budge from their resting spot.
There’s an Aquaponics room where tilapia live in harmony with vegetables. The fish waste feeds the plants. The plants purify and provide oxygen for the fish. The kid’s garden invites children to get dirty, run their hands over smelly herbs and play on the sculptures. There’s a native prairie garden, a lake featuring enormous water plants, an antique rose garden, a student flower plot competition area and more.
The Garden offers classes in photography, papermaking and watercolor paint. They have a robust intern program and encourage all University students to get involved, regardless of major. For example, one area features art student illustrations of nature-themed B-movies from the 1950s (think killer plants and giant preying mantis).
Reiman Gardens is one of the most unique gardens I have visited. Highly worth the road trip!