When in Iowa, you’ll want to be sure you take time to stop and smell the roses… and tulips, lilacs, hydrangeas and more! Visit these gorgeous gardens bursting with annuals, perennials and all kinds of wonderful plants and flowers that you have to see (and smell) to believe.
There’s always something beautiful in bloom at Reiman Gardens in Ames. This stunning display garden features 17 acres of outdoor gardens, an indoor tropical conservatory with seasonal displays and more than 800 live butterflies in flight at their Butterfly Wing. Open daily except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Iowa State University home football games affect parking. Admission fee applies.
Butterflies flock to the Bellevue State Park Butterfly Garden in Bellevue. And it’s no wonder, because it was specifically designed to attract butterflies by providing nectar plants for adults and host plants for caterpillars. They anticipate 60 species of butterflies of various colors and sizes each year. Open during Bellevue State Park hours. No admission fee.
Tiptoe through the trees at the Bickelhaupt Arboretum in Clinton. You’ll see 14 acres of labeled trees, shrubs and perennials that make up a unique outdoor experience. With more than 600 cultivars, Bickelhaupt boasts one of the top public conifer collections in the United States. Open daily year-round. No admission fee.
The Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden in Des Moines recently underwent an $18.2 million renovation inside and out. The famed conservatory has been updated (including the installation of Iowa’s only living wall) and the outdoor gardens feature a rose garden, water garden, shade tree alleé and more. Open daily except major holidays. Admission fee applies.
Developed and maintained solely by volunteers, the nearly 60-acre Dubuque Arboretum and Botanical Gardens in Dubuque includes All-American rose selections, a formal English Garden, prairie wildflowers and grasses, nationally-recognized conifer collections and more than 13,000 hostas from 900 different varieties. Open daily year-round. No admission fee.
Rose enthusiasts will delight at more than 200 roses and assorted old-fashioned plants and flowers waiting for them at the Heritage Rose Garden in Gray. This garden also features the restored steeple from the town’s first church, arbors, arches and the Rebecca Fountain. Open June through October. No admission fee.
Nearly 400 acres are yours for the strolling at the Iowa Arboretum in Madrid, where more than 4,000 trees, shrubs and flowering plants surround you with their beauty. Landscaped paths and trails guide you through picturesque woodland and prairie that will take your breath away. Open daily year-round. Admission fee applies.
Stroll through rows of lavender plants at the Loess Hills Lavender Farm near Missouri Valley. While the plants bloom from mid-June through September, they are typically at their peak in late June and early July. The on-site gift shop includes products made with lavender as well as the work of more than 40 local artisans.
Beautiful bouquets are yours for the choosing at Miss Effie’s in Donahue (near the Quad Cities), where every year they plant more than 8,000 annuals for your picking pleasure. Along with flowers, you’ll find fresh herbs, including basil and mint.
The Newton Arboretum very well may inspire you to start your own garden. The six-acre park in Newton is filled with demonstration beds including annuals, perennials, ornamental grasses, roses and tulips. Nearly 200 trees of 185 species cover the grounds. Meander the paved trails and see how many sculptures you can find. Open year-round. No admission fee.
11. Prairie Pedlar
You’ll feel the magic as soon as you set foot in the Prairie Pedlar in Odebolt, which features more than 75 display gardens, a beautiful refurbished bow-truss barn, a historical country schoolhouse and several other buildings. The gardens generally reach their peak in mid-to-late July, but are colorful through the growing season. Open April through mid-October. No admission fee.
What do Colonel Sanders and the Ming Dynasty have in common? They both have trees named after them, which you can see at the Living Heritage Tree Museum in Storm Lake – one of the largest tree museums in the United States. This city park is dedicated to planting documented seedlings and cuttings of trees associated with famous people and events. Open April through October. No admission fee.
Children and adults of all ages will get a kick out of the unique Cedar Valley Arboretum and Botanic Gardens in Waterloo. Enjoy the display garden, children’s garden, specialty gardens and sensory garden, all while learning more about the trees and plants native to the area. Open year-round. Admission fee applies.