FAQs

Q?

What is the mission of Central Gardens of North Iowa?

A.

It is the mission of Central Gardens of North Iowa, Inc. to provide a public, intergenerational garden environment that is welcoming, beautiful, calm, educational, recreational, and fun.

Q?

How big is Central Gardens of North Iowa?

A.

Nestled in the heart of Clear Lake, Iowa, Central Gardens of North Iowa is North Iowa's largest public garden. Central Gardens of North Iowa sits on 2.75 acres of land that was the former site of Central Intermediate School. Central Gardens of North Iowa (Central Gardens) is a 501(c)(3) non–profit corporation created in response to the need for green space in the region.  Since opening its gates in 2005, Central Gardens has become a premiere outdoor educational, recreational, cultural and social space not only for north Iowans, but for many other visitors as well, dedicated to making this public garden truly public.

Q?

How much does it cost to get in?

A.

There is no charge, although we always welcome donations!  (There’s a donation box at the Gazebo at the south entrance).  We are proud to be the only free, public garden space of its kind within a 90-mile radius.

Q?

Where are you located? How do I get there?

A.

We are located close to downtown Clear Lake on the former grounds of Central Elementary school at the corner of N. 8th Street and 2nd Ave. North.  You can find specific directions here.

Q?

When are the Gardens open?

A.

We are open from May 1 through November 1, sunrise to sunset.

Q?

Are there public restrooms on the grounds?

A.

Yes, public restrooms are located in the northeast corner of the Mother Earth Work Shop building.

Q?

How many and what types of specialized Gardens are there?

A.

Our vision is to eventually have 22 different-themed gardens.  We now have over half that many, including (but not limited to) stream, shade, wetland, children’s, wildflower, alumni, container, Victorian Shrub Rose, pond, bird, and butterfly gardens.

Q?

Who is on the board?

A.

Our by-laws allow us to have between 9 and 15 board members.  Currently we have 14.  If you’re interested in serving as a board member (terms are for three years) , please let us know.  You can read a short bio of each of our board members by clicking here.  Board meetings occur on the third Monday of the month, beginning at 5:30 pm at the Nature Education Pavilion.

Q?

How can I become a member?

A.

We have various membership levels.  Click here to support Central Gardens of North Iowa.  We would love to count you as a member!

Q?

Do you accept memorials?

A.

Memorials directed to Central Gardens of North Iowa are a lovely and permanent way to honor a loved one’s memory.  Information about directing memorials to the Gardens can be found here.

Q?

How are donors recognized?

A.

Every donation is acknowledged in our newsletter and through a personalized thank you note.  In addition, we have a donor wall on which major contributors are recognized at various levels of giving.  The donor wall is located at our south entrance and frames the water fountain.    It is the philosophy of the board of directors that we will not place names of donors on hardscape and softscape portions of the Gardens.  (You will, however,  note that the major contributors’ names to the Nature Education Pavilion, Mother Earth Workshop, and Gazebo are affixed to the buildings.)  Because Central Gardens of North Iowa has a 501 (c) 3 designation, all donations are tax deductible.

Q?

Can I donate garden statues or other embellishments?

A.

No, although we can appreciate that people would like to see their own tastes reflected on the grounds.  In order to preserve artistic and aesthetic consistency, our design committee has identified what types of donations we would welcome.   You can access that plan here. 

Q?

What are your plans for enhancing the Gardens?

A.

Central Gardens of North Iowa is a continuous work in progress. Our design committee carefully makes recommendations that will enhance the visitor experience, ranging from adopting a garden to donating a piece of sculpture or other art work.  You can see their plan and even see how you can support our vision through your donations by clicking here.

 

Q?

How can I get a copy of your most recent newsletter?

A.

It’s simple.  Just click here request one.  (And we welcome your becoming a member at the same time).  Click here to see the various membership levels.  Our newsletter is also available on our web site.  Click here.

Q?

How do I find out what’s happening at the Gardens?

A.

Go to the Calendar portion on this web site for all events.  Events are also listed in our newsletter (Subscribe here), on Facebook (Central Gardens of North Iowa), and in major media outlets serving north Iowa residents.

Q?

I understand churches can have one “free” rental each season. How do I find out about that?

A.

Yes, you can read about the guidelines about how to schedule and what supports CGNI provides here.

Q?

Do you have special programming for children?

A.

Yes.  Every Fresh on Friday event has special programming for children.  And we’re expanding the children’s garden and hope to collaborate with area libraries for some special children’s events, as well.  Keep checking our Events tab on our web site.  The magical aspect of the Gardens, though, continues to be the delight that children have walking through our grounds, over the bridges, and on our lawns.  We welcome children!

Q?

Will there be an outdoor play again this summer?

A.

We are in conversations with the Clear Lake Arts Council (with whom we collaborated last summer) to offer an outdoor play again this summer.  When we know details, we’ll post them.

Q?

What special events do you host?

A.

We have Fresh on Friday events every Friday morning June through August; our Plant Sale/Gardening Fair is planned for May 19, 2018; the Summer Garden Party is planned for June 24, 2018 and Picnics & Performances will be held beginning mid- July through mid-September, 2018.

Check our Events calendar here for details.

Q?

I hear so much about Fresh on Fridays. What is that?

A.

Fresh on Fridays is one of our most popular programming events.  Every Friday from 8:30 am-11:30 am, beginning in June,  volunteers will pick fresh flowers for you and arrange them into a bouquet which is available for purchase. Informative lectures and fun programming for children also occur, and there are coffee, tea, and goodies available.   Come catch up with your friends and enjoy the beauty of the Gardens!

Q?

Do you have rules regarding the use of the Gardens?

A.

Yes.  We want to keep the Gardens beautiful for all to enjoy so we do have guidelines that we expect our guests to follow.  You can access them here.

Q?

Do you offer tours?

A.

Yes, we do!  Our dedicated volunteers will welcome groups and give them a personalized tour. Contact us to schedule your tour.

Q?

Are the Gardens available to rent?

A.

Yes.  Central Gardens of North Iowa is the site of many outdoor weddings, birthday parties, reunions, and other celebrations.  Not only are the grounds available for rent, so is our Nature Education Pavilion.  Information about rental possibilities can be found here.

Q?

Can I take pictures in the Gardens?

A.

Absolutely!  There are so many beautiful vantage points for staging, most stunning of which is our “Moongate” Arch. If you’re a professional photographer and are bringing clients to the grounds,  we ask that you become a member of the Gardens.

Q?

How can I volunteer to help?

A.

To volunteer, click here.   There’s plenty to do and you can give as much or as little time as you can spare.  And volunteering provides lots of opportunities to meet kindred spirits and share gardening tales!

Q?

What kinds of volunteer help do you need?

A.

We love having volunteers who have a green thumb come help us plant, prune, water, and weed.  And we also welcome others who may not know the first thing about gardening, but appreciate the beauty of the Gardens and want to help in other ways.  For example, we need help hosting coffees on Fresh on Fridays, mailing out monthly newsletters, soliciting members, giving tours, contributing to our little free library, cleaning out our Mother Earth Work Shop where we store gardening supplies, etc., etc.

Q?

Is there any paid staff?

A.

Due to all of the activities and increased interest in the Gardens, we just hired a part-time Executive Director.

Q?

Who maintains the Gardens?

A.

We rely mostly on volunteers to help us keep the grounds beautiful.  Central Gardens of North Iowa is truly a labor of love.

Q?

Is there a self-guided tour?

A.

Not right now, but we’re hoping to have that available by May 1, 2016.  Maps are available at the Gazebo at our main south entrance.  Most visitors enjoy just strolling through the grounds, letting their interests and instincts guide them.

Q?

What permanent buildings are on the grounds?

A.

We have three permanent buildings on the grounds.  The Nature Education Pavilion (NEP) has two meeting rooms and houses our non-profit corporation offices.  The Mother Earth Workshop (MEWS) is where we store all of our gardening equipment, tools, and other supplies.  The welcoming Gazebo at our south entrance is where you can find announcements, a visitor’s log, and other helpful information.

Q?

Who owns the grounds?

A.

The city of Clear Lake leases the grounds to Central Gardens of North Iowa.

Q?

How does CGNI support itself financially?

A.

We rely on memberships, gifts and donations, memorials, revenue from plant and flower sales and other special events, and grant awards to keep our gates open.

Q?

How many people visit Central Gardens of North Iowa?

A.

Not all of our visitors sign the guest log at the gazebo, but we conservatively estimate that we have nearly 15,000 visitors annually.  Last year we had guests who sign the guest book from forty states and nine countries.  We are proud to be a regional public gardens.

Q?

Is there Wi-Fi accessibility?

A.

Yes.  There is no password needed.

Q?

How long has Central Gardens of North Iowa been in existence?

A.

We celebrated our ten-year anniversary in July of 2015.  But the vision for a beautiful public garden space began in 2000, and was nurtured by many civic-minded and visionary individuals who saw the benefit of using the former school grounds for such a purpose.  Major donations from both public and private entities provided the seed money. We’ve relied on the generosity of many groups and individuals since then to create and maintain such a beautiful space.

Q?

Can visitors bring their own food onto the grounds?

A.

By all means!  We love having people meet at the Gardens for coffee, picnics, and other informal gatherings.  We do not offer food for purchase, although at Fresh on Friday events we do have beverages and sweet treats available for which we welcome donations.  We have receptacles throughout the garden in which to dispose of picnic waste materials.

Q?

Are the grounds fully accessible?

A.

Yes, there are sloped walkways throughout the Gardens and pavers leading to the public restrooms.  Both floors of the Nature Education Pavilion are also accessible to people with limited mobility issues.