Iowa State University has had a horticulture garden since 1914. Reiman Gardens is the third location for the gardens. The first location was north of the Farm House at the Hort. Research Station in 1914. In the early 1960’s, the Gardens were moved to a ¾ acre site on the northeast corner of the Iowa State University campus north of the power plant. This particular site offered little room for expansion and was surrounded by the campus’s industrial zone.
In the early 1990’s, faculty in the Horticulture department and university administrators discussed the possibility of moving the gardens to a larger, more visible location to beautify the entrance to the city of Ames and Iowa State University. In 1993, alumnus, Roy Reiman and his wife Bobbi generously 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. The most recent addition is the Conservatory Complex and Christina Reiman Butterfly Wing, which opened in November 2002.
Rodney Robinson Landscape Architects, a landscape architecture firm in Wilmington, DE, designed the Gardens. Robinson was selected because of his experience at other public gardens like Longwood Gardens and the Washington Mall. ISU faculty and staff were also active in the development of the Gardens’ master and planting plans.
Daryl Metzger, of Architects Smith Metzger in Des Moines, designed the buildings within the Gardens. The architecture reflects a Midwestern style, inspired by the state’s agricultural traditions.