Reiman Gardens an ISU jewel

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Pardon the pun, but thousands of delighted visitors are abuzz over the 26,000 square-foot Reiman Gardens facility on the Iowa State University campus in Ames.

Reiman Gardens includes a butterfly room, botanical displays, auditorium, cafe, gift shop, a lovely walk through outdoor plant and flower gardens, and five expansive greenhouses.

Reiman Gardens, located south of Jack Trice Stadium on an attractive 14-acre site, was created through a 1993 donation by Roy Reiman, a 1957 ISU graduate in agricultural journalism, and his wife, Bobbi. The garden was dedicated in 1995.

The Christina Reiman Butterfly Wing, named for Roy Reiman's mother, is designed to look like a butterfly in flight. It houses hundreds of exotic and native butterflies, plus 400 tropical plants. It's the only structure of its kind in Iowa and the only one of its kind in the nation located at a university garden.

The conservatory features a waterfall and more than 500 tropical plants. Seasonal plant displays will rotate several times each year. For optimum plant and butterfly growth, both the conservatory and the butterfly wing feature a year-around temperature of about 70 degrees.

The Conservatory Complex joins a well-established, diversified garden facility. There is a children's garden, a lake filled with koi and aquatic plants, an award-winning rose garden, and a town-and-country garden featuring 12 distinct areas where various designs can be showcased.

An arboretum garden is organized by different types of natural Iowa landscapes and features a wooden boardwalk that winds among tall sycamore trees and a bog garden in a wet, lowlands area.

ISU instructors have been bringing their students to Reiman Gardens since it opened. Horticulture, entomology, botany, biology, plant pathology and animal ecology classes are naturals for this living laboratory.

Admission is free for ISU students, children age three and under, and members of CoHorts, a Reiman Gardens volunteer membership organization. There are several levels for CoHorts contributions, with a single membership at $35. Non-members pay a nominal admission fee.

Reiman Gardens is open seven days a week, year-around, but hours vary depending on the time of year. For more details and a virtual tour, visit www.reimangardens.iastate.edu.

We've been there. Twice. It is outstanding and well worth the drive to Ames.