Favorite Gardens in Iowa

Lori Erickson
| February 22, 2024 | 4 Minute Read
A black and red butterfly lands on a red flower. Reiman Gardens Staff

Savor the beauties of spring in these Iowa gardens.

Reiman Gardens, Ames

On the campus of Iowa State University, in Ames, this 17-acre horticultural showplace has 26 distinct garden areas and more than 6,000 species of plants, including cultivars developed by ISU. In 2023, Reiman Gardens was named one of the “Top 10 North American Gardens Worth Traveling For” by the American Public Gardens Association, the Canadian Garden Council and the Mexican Association of Botanical Gardens.

Be sure to visit the indoor conservatory, which includes the Christina Reiman Butterfly Wing. The live butterfly exhibit (above) has up to 800 butterflies from dozens of species.

Beginning June 1, you can tour a new exhibit of eight garden playhouses inspired by nature. The exhibit is part of Reiman Gardens’ 2024 theme: The Living Landscape.

A wide range of flowers in the foreground and the domed structure of a botanical garden in the background. Courtesy of the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden

Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden, Des Moines

For a tranquil oasis in the middle of the city, head to the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden. Its 12 acres feature a domed conservatory (above) where you can marvel at tropical and exotic plants from around the world, while outside you’ll find a sequence of garden spaces that can be reached by winding pathways.

Don’t miss the Ruan Allée, a tree-shaded promenade with about 3,000 irises that are at their peak bloom in late spring. Other scenic spots include a rose garden and a water garden with a waterfall. Works of art scattered throughout the grounds contribute to the atmosphere of beauty.

Young children will love a new nature play area filled with natural materials for playing, climbing and creating.

Purple flowers beside a plant of wide green leaves. iStock

Dubuque Arboretum and Botanical Gardens, Dubuque

Established in 1980, this 56-acre garden has one of the largest public hosta gardens in the U.S. as well as dozens of annual and perennial gardens. Stroll through herb, rose and cactus gardens, admire the stately English garden, and savor the serene atmosphere of a Japanese garden with an ornamental bridge, waterfalls and carefully pruned trees. Its pond is home to koi in brilliant colors (you can buy food to feed them in the Heinemann Visitor Center).

All work here is done by more than 300 volunteers, and admission is free. If you plan your visit for a Sunday evening in June, July or August, you can also enjoy Music in the Gardens, an annual concert series.

Keep reading in:

Other Articles You May Like