Playhouses will highlight Reiman Gardens' annual theme

Open cottage of 2" by 8' planks amidst conservatory plants

"Spring Cottage" is the current exhibition in the conservatory at Reiman Gardens, part of a "Living Landscape" theme for 2024. Submitted photos.

Earlier this month, the Reiman Gardens staff introduced the gardens' 2024 theme, which will drive programs and exhibitions for the year. The theme is "The Living Landscape," and each garden space, outdoors and inside, will reflect an aspect of that theme. Director of education Sara Merritt said she hopes its theme also will inspire people to explore the beauty of Iowa's living landscape along roads less traveled.

Summer exhibit

Sketch of a hobbit-styled playhouse with rounded roof, door and

Hobbit playhouse

As a part of the emphasis on the Living Landscape, 11 life-size, custom-built, fully accessible playhouses will be in the gardens for the summer season, June 1 through Sept. 30. The design inspirations include a Hobbit house, prairie school (inspired by Ames' Hoggatt schoolhouse on the Meeker Elementary property), library-themed "Dear Reader" playhouse, moss garden playhouse, vine house, woodland tent, childhood reflections house, stargazer, a burrow, a polycarbonate cube and a summer house designed in the style of the Sycamore Falls tower in the gardens' southwest corner. Some of the houses are being constructed in-house by staff and volunteers; others will be created by regional craftsmen awarded contracts in a competitive bid process last fall.

The indoor conservatory's spring exhibition features a spring cottage display. Exhibitions there rotate quarterly. The summer exhibition will be a Hawaiian "Life on the Lanai" theme, fall will feature a pioneer theme, and Santa's Workshop will be installed for the winter.

An enchanting spring

The outdoor season at Reiman Gardens officially resumes April 1 for a monthlong celebration known as "Spring Enchantment," featuring an exhibit of fairy doors and creature homes created by local artists and scattered throughout the gardens.

Special events in April include:

  • April 18-20, 25-27: Extended hours (through 8 p.m.) for viewing more than 50,000 bulbs, including hyacinths and tulips
  • Tuesdays in April: Rovers at Reiman, special hours (4:30-7 p.m.) for dog owners to walk the gardens with their dogs

Looking ahead

Dates are set for these annual popular events at Reiman Gardens:

  • Plant sale: May 10-12
  • Garden Art Fair: July 14
  • Spirits in the Gardens: Oct. 11-13
  • Winter Wonderscape: Thursday-Sunday evenings each weekend in December