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The Power of Flowers
By Carol McGarvey
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The Power of Flowers

After the winter we endured, flowers attract us like magnets.

Like bees to honey, Iowans are drawn to flowers and plants this time of year. The foliage and blooms bring pops of color and detail to our yards, porches, patios, and public spaces.

Central Iowans tiptoed through the posies at Tulip Time in Pella in May. And now, with summer in full swing, there are other ways to grab some color. Mother Nature knows what we like and always comes through.

Garden Tours


Seven neighborhood gardens will be open for touring in the Beaverdale area of northwest Des Moines from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, June 15. The neighborhood, full of charming brick homes, is home to avid gardeners. The tour takes place every other year. Yes, there are mature trees, meaning shade gardens, but also sun-loving gardens showcasing garden art, vegetable gardens, and stone and brick garden paths.

Tickets, which include locations and garden descriptions, cost $8 in advance or $10 on tour day. They are available at Beaverdale locations: Back Country Outfitters, Beaverdale Books, Boesen the Florist, Grounds for Celebration, and O’Donnell Ace Hardware. Find more on Beaverdale Garden Walk on Facebook.


The 61st annual rose festival in State Center, on Highway 30 east of Ames and Nevada, runs Thursday through Sunday, June 13–16, with events each day. Known as the “Rose Capital of Iowa,” the town has a rich tradition of fun activities, but there is indeed a rose garden for stopping and smelling the beautiful aroma.

For events, a grand parade will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday. Also enjoy a barbecue tasting on Friday night, food vendors, a fun zone, water ball fights, live music, and fireworks. For a schedule, visit


Who doesn’t love trains? This fun tour from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 22, is the 11th annual for the Central Iowa Garden Railroad Society. Homeowners combine their fascination with “G” gauge (garden-style) trains with their love of gardening. To coordinate with the size of the trains and accessories, some gardeners use small or miniature plantings for scale, such as mini shrubs or hostas. Some are painstakingly authentic; others have great appeal to children of all ages.

Tickets cost $10 per carload and can be purchased at any of the tour spots. Check out the group’s website,

Stops on this year’s Central Iowa Garden Railroad tour will include:

  • Lakeside Central Railroad: Experience layouts from the late 1800s on Mount Spike to the 1950s Lakeville.
    5881 SE 64th Avenue, Carlisle, near the former Avon Beach Lake
  • King’s Way Crossing: Robert and Joy King feature outdoor and indoor train layouts, along with landscaping, night lighting, and a stone fountain.
    14404 Clearview Lane, Urbandale
  • S&J Trestle Ridge Railroad: Gordon and Kathy Cox's layout features two loops and a greenhouse to store trains. Another loop is planned.
    445 NW 65th Lane, Des Moines
  • D&C Railroad: For Denis and Connie Biechler, the theme of this garden is Building America, moving freight across the state of Iowa.
    226 N. Russell Avenue, Ames
  • Rock Junction Lines: Curt and Tere Erickson, feature rocks, plants, and a pond to enhance a town and railroad yard under construction.
    2508 Timberland Road, Ames
  • Reiman Gardens, With their tickets from the garden railroad tour, visitors can also visit Reiman Gardens, where they will find more train layouts.
    1407 University Boulevard, Ames. Next to Jack Trice Stadium on the campus of Iowa State University

Other Garden Locations


Stop by the headquarters of Gardeners of America/Men’s Garden Clubs of America at 5560 Merle Hay Road in Johnston for a flower fix. Colorful flowerbeds are along the road for a quick look.


Right in the middle of downtown Des Moines on Grand Avenue is a garden of delight, the test garden adjacent to the Meredith Corporation. It is used as a display garden, a testing ground for plants, and an outdoor photography studio. The specialty gardens include shade, meadow, vegetable and herb, as well as mixed perennial.

It’s open free from noon to 2 p.m. from the first Friday in May to the first Friday in October. Call for reservations, 515-284-3994.


Get a blast of Nature’s variety at the Brenton Arboretum, two miles south of Dallas Center. View native grasses, wildflowers, and a variety of trees and check out walks and classes to take. Open from 9 a.m. to sunset Tuesday through Sunday. Signs directing visitors are on Highway 6, Highway 44, and County Road R-16. Free.


Head for the dome on the Des Moines River in downtown Des Moines to find a popular destination. It has display gardens inside and out, Sunday music, and spots for classes and receptions. Trellis, a restaurant, is open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Various admission levels; 900 Robert D. Ray Drive.


This 40-acre tract in rural Boone County is called a Library of Living Plants. It features hundreds of trees, shrubs, and flowers. Open sunrise to sunset. Call for tours. Various admission levels; 1875 Peach Avenue, Madrid.


This 17-acre tract, right next to Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, is one of the largest public gardens in the state. Open year-round, it offers an indoor conservatory, indoor and outdoor areas, a fascinating indoor butterfly wing, and five greenhouses. Various admission levels; open daily year-round.


In downtown Des Moines, go to 100 Locust Street, on the banks of the Des Moines River. The renovated former Des Moines Public Library is now the home of the World Food Prize. Formal gardens were added on the west side of the building. The grand central fountain plaza adds a worldly formal touch.


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