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 and shrubs – the largest and most diverse in Wisconsin, with more than 2,600 types of plants displayed over 35 acres. The collection contains the third largest public collection of lilacs in the United States, as well as major displays of flowering crabapples, magnolias, and conifers. The gardens are an outdoor living museum that promotes the beauty and importance of trees and other woody plants.

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.

2024 Garden Tours

Magnolias blooming
Magnolias blooming

Saturday, April 20, 1–3 p.m.
Magnolias. Celebrate the return of spring on a flower-filled stroll through Longenecker Horticultural Gardens’ dazzling collection of over 100 magnolia trees. Tour led by David Stevens, garden curator and Magnolia Society International board member.

Saturday, April 27, 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 4, 1–3 p.m.
Lilacs. Established in 1935, the Longenecker Horticultural Gardens’ lilac collection is the third largest in the country. Join David Stevens, garden curator, to explore lilac history, lore, culture, and color.

Saturday, May 11, 1–3 p.m.
Spring Highlights. Explore the wonders of spring flowering woody plants in Longenecker Horticultural Gardens as curator David Stevens presents seasonal highlights from the gardens’ expansive collection.

Savanna plants blooming in the Native Plant Garden

Wednesday, June 12, 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.

Wednesday, June 26, 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 10, 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 7, 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.

Wednesday, September 4, 5­–7 p.m.
Edible Woody Plants for the Home Landscape. Join Judy Kingsbury and Marian Farrior, permaculture designers and Arboretum staff, as they explore Longenecker Horticultural Garden’s edible plants, highlighting favorite trees and shrubs and their fruits, nuts, and saps.

Saturday, September 21, 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 12, 1–3 p.m.
Conifers. Join David Stevens, garden curator, for a ramble through the Longenecker Horticultural Gardens’ pinetum – the largest and most diverse conifer collection in the state. Designated an American Conifer Society reference garden since 2015, the collection presents a stunning array of conifers from around the country and the world.

Saturday, October 19, 1–3 p.m.
Fall Color. Join David Stevens, garden curator, for a vibrant stroll through Longenecker Horticultural Gardens, where he will highlight sensational seasonal colors and share the science behind this natural phenomenon.