Large-flowered penstemon

Large-flowered penstemon

The Arboretum offers free educational tours in Longenecker Horticultural Gardens (LHG) and the Wisconsin Native Plant Garden (WNPG). Tours take place from April through October. They are open to the public and begin at the Arboretum Visitor Center. Garden tour information is suited for adults.

Longenecker Horticultural Gardens features an internationally recognized collection of trees, shrubs, and vines, with more than 2,500 types of plants on display. It is a resource for the study of landscape plants by educators, the public, and the nursery trade. The gardens hold major displays of lilacs, flowering crabapples, viburnums, conifers, and many other plant groups.

The 4-acre Wisconsin Native Plant Garden surrounds the Visitor Center with several hundred species native to Wisconsin. The garden serves as an introduction to ecological restoration and the restored and managed plant communities in the Arboretum. It also demonstrates how to incorporate native plants into home landscapes.

Tours are led by Arboretum garden staff – including Susan Carpenter, the WNPG curator, and David Stevens, the LHG curator – and other regional experts. Tours are cancelled for severe weather.

2023 Garden Tours

Magnolias blooming
Magnolias blooming

Saturday, April 22, 1–3 p.m.
Magnolias. Tour the Longenecker Horticultural Gardens’ extensive collection of more than 80 magnolia trees. Join Julia Czaplewski, horticultural specialist, for a flower-filled stroll.

Saturday, April 29, 1–3 p.m.
Early Signs of Spring.
As trees begin to leaf out, Dutchman’s breeches, twinleaf and rue-anemones might be blooming in the woodland gardens, and prairie-smoke in the prairie gardens. Susan Carpenter, garden curator, will lead this tour of the Native Plant Garden.

Saturday, May 6, 1–3 p.m.
Established in 1935, the Longenecker Horticultural Gardens’ lilac collection is one of the largest in the country. Join David Stevens, garden curator, to explore lilac history, lore, culture, and color.

Saturday, May 13, 1–3 p.m.
With over 200 trees, the Longenecker Horticultural Gardens’ crabapple collection is the most up to date in the country. Learn why crabapples are the most planted flowering tree in the Midwest with David Stevens, garden curator, who will highlight some of his favorite selections.

Wednesday, June 14, 7 p.m.
Woodland, Savanna, and Prairie Gardens.
Celebrate late spring by visiting our woodland, savanna, and prairie gardens. This tour, led by garden curator Susan Carpenter, provides an overview of the Wisconsin Native Plant Garden.

Savanna plants blooming in the Native Plant Garden

Wednesday, June 21, 7 p.m.
What’s in Bloom?
Join Susan Carpenter, Wisconsin Native Plant Garden curator, to find, compare, and learn about flowers on native trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants.

Wednesday, July 12, 7 p.m.
Plants for Pollinators.
Learn more about summer-blooming native and ornamental species in Arboretum gardens. Susan Carpenter, Native Plant Garden curator, will highlight plants and gardening practices that support essential pollinators in urban/suburban landscapes.

Wednesday, August 2, 7 p.m.
Native Grasses.
Susan Carpenter, garden curator, will focus on color, size, and features of native Wisconsin grasses, from purple love grass to big bluestem, growing in the Wisconsin Native Plant Garden.

Saturday, September 16, 1–3 p.m.
Fall in the Native Plant Garden. Color, fruits, seeds, late blooming plants, late-season insects—we will find these and more in the diverse native plant gardens around the Visitor Center. Susan Carpenter, garden curator, will lead this tour.

Saturday, October 7, 1–3 p.m.
David Stevens, garden curator, will explore the Longenecker Horticultural Gardens’ pinetum, the largest and most diverse conifer collection in the state. Located on a glacial drumlin, the collection presents a diverse array of conifers from around the world.

Saturday, October 14, 1–3 p.m.
The Colors of Fall.
Join David Stevens, garden curator, for a stroll through Longenecker Horticultural Gardens where he will highlight sensational seasonal colors and learn about the science behind this natural phenomenon.