Reiman Gardens has a lot to celebrate this year, and is kicking it off strong with back-to-back exhibits, a new garden space and a “Wild and Whimsical” theme.
Maria Teply, communications coordinator for Reiman Gardens, said the theme was chosen because “there’s going to be lots of celebrations and fun had” due to the garden’s 25th anniversary this year.
“We’re going to have a 25th birthday party in August, and that will be a lot of fun. There will also be some great displays out in the gardens and some indoor displays as well,” Teply said.
The first display of the year, “Magical Fairy Woodland,” opened in Hughes Conservatory on Jan. 11, with a “delightful realm of tiny plants, imagination and wonder to discover fairy secrets, including how fairies rely on small animals, adapt like plants, inspire innovation in humans and even travel the world,” a media release said.
With white, pink, purple and yellow flowers, including orchids and tulips, the display is “sure to delight wee folk of all kinds.”
Starting May 16 until July 5, sculptures constructed entirely of LEGO bricks will fill the gardens during the latest and last series of “Nature Connects: Art with LEGO Bricks.”
Ed Lyon, director of Reiman Gardens, said the sculptures will feature threatened, endangered and extinct creatures such as polar bears, a dodo bird, a chameleon and a rhino. Though the Nature Connect series has been at the gardens before, this year’s display will be all-new and never before seen in the Ames community.
“This exhibit was actually created for zoos, and it will be entirely different from what the public has seen in the past,” Lyon said. “We think it will be a great draw for families because everybody loves LEGO bricks, and this connects LEGO bricks with nature. It is also teaching people about the animals they represent.”
Teply said one sculpture in particular is of a “disappearing rhinoceros,” where you see a fully intact rhino from one angle but a disappearing one from another.
“It conveys the message that these animals are precious to us, and we need to keep them here as long as possible,” Teply said. “We are very focused on sustainability here at Reiman Gardens, so that is a great tie to it.”
Then, from July 8 until Oct. 4, human-scale frog sculptures, crafted from copper by artist J.A. Cobb, will take over with “Ribbit the Exhibit.”
“It’s a really cute exhibit, the frogs, and it’s done really well in other public gardens,” Lyon said. “That’s where the whimsy and the wild comes in. It’s about providing our public, our community, with world-class exhibits. These are exhibits that travel all over the country, so they are providing that opportunity to our public.”
According to Teply, this will be the first time Reiman Gardens will have two exhibits in one year, and she encourages community members to come out more than once to see all the gardens have to offer throughout the year.
Plus, Lyon said, the public will also be able to view its all-new, long-awaited garden space, Sycamore Falls, soon.
Sycamore Falls, a key component of Reiman Garden’s 20-year master plan which has been under construction for nearly three years, will feature a few new paths, thousands of flowers and an original, custom-built tower. Despite numerous setbacks due to the weather, the garden space is expected to open sometime between July and October this year.
“We can’t really put an exact date on when it’s going to open because there is still a lot of work they have to do in the spring, and construction is very weather-oriented,” Lyon said. “When it does open, it will add to our recognition as a public garden … this garden will have features that will rival even some of the best gardens in the country.”
Lyon said Sycamore Falls, which takes up about three acres, will be filled with new plants and new learning opportunities. Its 42-foot tower will be easily seen from the intersection of Mortensen Avenue and University Avenue, and will “become an iconic structure for the entrance to the university.”
“It’s going to be an exciting year with lots of changes. I think if people haven’t been here recently, they’re going to want to check us out because we’ve made major changes,” Lyon said. “We are continually changing, and we have lots to offer.”