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Ames is more than just a college town

By Jennifer Bremer

Most people think of Iowa State University when Ames, Iowa is discussed; however, the college town offers so much more than just entertainment for college students.

Yes, it is home to one of the oldest land-grant universities in the country; but, there are many other great attractions in Ames.

Any who have seen the vibrant publications that are printed by Reiman Publications would understand why Roy Reiman would want to donate money to the university for such a beautiful place as Reiman Gardens.

In 1993, Roy and his wife, Bobbi, gave $1.3 million to initiate phase one of the new gardens. Construction began on Reiman Gardens in 1994 and was officially dedicated in 1995. At its opening, Reiman Gardens covered just five acres, which included the entry court, the herb garden, rose garden, the campanile garden, Mahlstede Horticulture Learning Center and a maintenance building. The Gardens have continued to grow over the last eight years to cover 14 acres.

Butterfly Wing

The most recent addition is the Conservatory Complex and Christina Reiman Butterfly Wing, which opened in November 2002.

The 2,500-square-foot indoor butterfly wing is the "jewel" of the Gardens. Designed to look like a butterfly in flight, it is a year-round tropical garden filled with exotic and native butterflies from six continents.

Because the facility houses such rare butterflies, it has strict rules that must be followed while visiting. The butterflies are beautiful creatures, but they are fragile and must be treated that way. Since the facility is the butterflies' home, it is important to watch where you walk and sit.

The facility is home to many butterflies from all over the world. The supply is replenished each April with new butterflies from Asia, Africa, Malaysia, Central and South America, as well as butterflies native to North America.

Rose gardens

The rose gardens are fragrant and beautiful. With over 2,000 individual plants and 250 different varieties, the rose gardens at Reiman Gardens are gaining local and national recognition.

The Antique Rose Collection contains rare varieties from the original 1910 Iowa State University Horticulture Garden. The antique collection features the first rose developed at Iowa State University, the "Ames" rose.

The Griffith Buck Hardy Rose Collection is named in honor of an Iowa State University horticulture professor who developed many beautiful, hardy landscape roses between 1962 and 1985. Buck Roses are recognized worldwide for their winter hardiness, attractiveness, and low maintenance. They can survive Iowa's cruel winter temperatures while also remaining resistant to most common diseases like black spot.

There are over 85 named Buck varieties. Reiman Gardens currently has 75 of his varieties, with more being sought and added each year. Some are presumably missing from cultivation, for which they continue to look, to add to their collection.

Children's garden

The Patty Jischke Children's Garden was developed to help get children interested in plants and nature at a young age.

The main theme of the children's garden is agriculture, with the garden containing many elements found on an Iowa farmstead. A stock tank has old-style water pumps hooked to water shooting frogs, with which kids can try to get each other wet. Also included are a scarecrow garden, a covered bridge patterned on those made famous in Madison County, Iowa, a corn crib pavilion and a stream garden.

Children learn the importance of recycling with the compost bins located at the back of the garden.

Reiman Gardens provides a beautiful setting for a day with the family, a wedding or many other events. Hours are: Jan. 1 to April 4, daily 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., butterfly wing open by appointment; April 5 to May 25, daily 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. including the butterfly wing. Extended summer hours are from May 26 to Sept. 1, daily 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., butterfly wing, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Fall hours are from Sept. 2 to Dec. 31, daily 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. including the butterfly wing.

Admission is free for children 3 and under; youth age 4-17, $3; adults age 18-64, $7; and seniors age 65 and above, $6.

For more information, visit Reiman Gardens on the Internet at: http://www.reimangardens.iastate.edu/.

Hickory Park

A great eating establishment to visit while in Ames is the Hickory Park Restaurant, which was established in 1970.

Hickory Park Restaurant Co. currently resides in its third location in Ames. It has become an Ames tradition. The famous Indian statue will keep you company while you wait to be seated or you can select some old-fashioned candy from the candy wall.

Hickory Park's reputation has flourished from an expansive menu filled with a variety of hickory-smoked meats served in generous portions. There is certainly something for everyone with over 100 menu selections.

Your placemat is filled with old-fashioned parlor sundaes, so make sure you stay for the ice cream. Sundae favorites include banana splits, brownie sundaes, rocky road sundaes, and turtle sundaes. If you don't see one of their sundae specialties to meet your taste, you can make a sundae your way. Malts and shakes are also available from the ice cream fountain, as well as nine flavors to add to your soda pop.

While the restaurant only seats 450 people at a time, approximately 15,000 guests are served during an average week. That number can be much higher during high traffic periods. And the catering staff also serves additional guests all week long.

For more information on Hickory Park Restaurant, visit them on the Internet at: http://www.hickoryparkames.com/.

For more places to visit in Ames, visit: http://www.visitames.com/.

Jennifer Bremer can be reached by phone at 515-833-2120 or by e-mail at jbremer@hpj.com



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