Reno's Springtime Gardens

By Keith Rugg | Wednesday, March 31, 2021
bunches of yellow and white flowers

I recently posted about how April showers seem to be bringing live entertainment back to the Biggest Little City. But I think it’s also worth revisiting the original old adage of April showers bring May flowers. My friends and relatives from other parts of the country often seem to think that the entirety of the state of Nevada looks like the Sahara Desert, so I thought this spring might be a good time to take stock of all the places right here in Reno where we have plenty of colorful flora, thank you very much. Photo at left: Pixabay, Lex Ger.

rose bushOne of my favorites is the Rose Garden at Idlewild Park. Now granted, the rose season is still a ways off, beginning in June and running through the summer to September, but you do want to keep this place in mind. In just an acre of space, there are some 200 different types of roses represented here and well more than 1,500 roses in total. The Rose Garden has been a part of the city landscape for more than 60 years and is also home to some rose-themed public art. Photo at right: Pixabay, Charlie Yoon. 

Idlewild Park is also home to the Sensory Garden, maintained by the community organization, Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful, in collaboration with the city department of Parks and Rec. It’s designed to engage visitors beyond just the sights and smells of flowers and let people experience the plants by way of sound, feel and even taste. The Sensory Garden is located on Cowan Drive and is open during park hours. And here’s a bonus if you happen to be in education. The Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful organization is holding a teacher training event at the Sensory Garden on May 15, designed to train educators on local environmental issues. (It’s going to be a big day for the letter W, with sessions on Waste, Weeds and Watersheds!) There is a registration fee, but the event does also provide continuing education credits. More info is available from the KTMB website.

bee on a purple flowerAnd of course you can’t talk about plants and flowers in Reno without discussing the Wilbur D. May Arboretum. The Arboretum is a part of the larger Wilbur D. May Center, which includes a museum, and which is, in turn, a part of the larger Rancho San Rafael Regional Park. The Arboretum is also designed to showcase both native and non-native plants throughout the growing season, so you’ll get a great view of flowering perennials here in the springtime and entirely different displays as we make our way through summer and fall. If you haven’t been here in the past few years, Washoe County designed a new map of the area a little while back, and it’s really a great resource to make sure you get to experience everything the place has to offer. There’s the Labyrinth, the gardens and groves, the wetlands and Irwin Overlook, way up to the north. All in all, the site numbers a dozen different groves and nearly that many different gardens representing more than 4,000 different types of plants on almost 23 acres. Photo at left: Facebook, Wilbur D. May Center.

tulip budsOne final place you might check for some springtime flowers is along Riverside Drive, in the area between Bicentennial Park over to Powning Veterans Memorial Park. A few years ago, this was the site of the Biggest Little Bulb Project, an effort by the Rotary Club to plant thousands and thousands of flowers for our viewing pleasure. The plan was to plant tons of perennials such as tulips so they would keep blooming year after year. I’m told that tulips can be temperamental, but that the best climate for them to make return appearances is where there is a cold, hard winter and a hot, dry summer, so I figure we should be seeing these flowers blooming on Riverside for a long time yet to come. Photo at right: Pixabay, Manfred Richter.

So get out there and enjoy the sights. And I’ll leave you with this last thought, and oldie-but-a-goodie joke from back in grade school. Q: April showers bring May flowers, but what do May flowers bring? A. Pilgrims! (Ha ha.)

About the Author Keith Rugg
R. Keith Rugg has worked on staff for a number of local publications, including Lake Tahoe Action Magazine, the Tahoe Daily Tribune and the Reno Gazette-Journal.