AMES, Iowa -- More than 20 full-scale dinosaurs are living large at Iowa State University's Reiman Gardens for the next three months.
And you thought your garden had pests.
The "dinosaurs" are -- of course -- really big sculptures. The six- to 20-foot high dinosaurs are designed to wow guests, all while they learn about prehistoric plants and insects. They'll discover that land plants first appeared in the fossil record 300 million years before flowering plants ... that bees and butterflies appeared in the record as early as 145 million years ago ... and why crocodiles are considered living fossils.
Throughout the gardens, visitors also will encounter more practical horticulture and entomology exhibits with tips for controlling common pests such as tomato hornworms, squash vine borers, grasshoppers and spider mites. (There will be some tongue-in-cheek advice to keep the dinosaurs at bay, too.)
The "Dinosaurs and other Common Garden Pests" exhibit runs May 1 through July 24. The traveling exhibit is designed and constructed by Arnold, Mo.-based paleontologist Guy Darrough, who specializes in the construction and fabrication of prehistoric exhibits. Darrough is a self-taught fossil collector, preparation expert and illustrator who has studied in Canada, Morocco, and various regions of the United States. Specimens from his private collection are routinely loaned for museum exhibits and scientific studies. Darrough's sculptures have toured gardens across the country.
A special "Landscape Before Time" preview party will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 30. The event features refreshments, live music by the Brewer Project, and an opportunity to meet paleontologist Darrough. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children. CoHorts, ISU students (with ID), and businesses and families who have "adopted" dinosaurs will be admitted free. Reservations (515-294-2710) are requested for the preview party.
Reiman Gardens' conservatory display, "Living Fossils," and the butterfly wing's "Prehistoric Liaison: Insects and Flowers" also will be open to guests. Other "Landscape Before Time" displays will open on May 15 and include "Digging In," "The Lava Garden," "Herb Henge," "Primordial Soup" and "Caveman Canvas."
For more information, call (515) 294-2710 or visit www.reimangardens.com.