If you like butterflies, the place to go is the Butterfly Wing of Reiman Gardens on the Iowa State University campus in Ames. Although the butterflies can be very active, patience usually pays off, with a few of the butterflies resting on a nearby leaf or flower.
During my visit in June, there was an inactive Giant Atlas Moth who was content to be photographed.
In addition to the Butterfly Wing, there is the emergence area, where you can see cocoons in various phases of development, a conservatory with changing exhibits and acres of outdoor gardens, including a giant gnome.
The current exhibit of treehouses, titled “InTREEguing TREEhouses,” continues through Oct. 25. According to the Reiman Gardens’ website, visitors experience the beauty of the natural world from a new perspective with this interactive, life-size outdoor display featuring eight treehouses scattered throughout Reiman Gardens.”
Each site-specific treehouse showcases the talents of local designers, architects, artists and students and is inspired by the surrounding trees and a unique cultural or social event.
If you admit to remembering watching Tom Hanks jump on the giant piano keyboard in the movie “Big” (and even if you don’t), you’ll enjoy the bells in Reiman Gardens. While not quite a piano keyboard, there are metal pads that you can step on and compose your own music.
And for Cyclone fans, the current added bonus is that you can get a view of the progress of the new southern enclosure of Jack Trice Stadium.
Reiman Gardens has extended summer hours through Labor Day, opening from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, with the Butterfly Wing closing at 4:30 p.m.