The Arboretum offers free informational tours in Longenecker Horticultural Gardens (LHG) and the Wisconsin Native Plant Garden (WNPG). Tours take place on selected dates from April through October, Wednesday evenings from 7 p.m. to dusk, or Saturday afternoons from 1 to 3 p.m. Tours are open to the public and begin at the Arboretum Visitor Center. They are intended for adults.
With more than 2,500 types of plants on display, Longenecker Horticultural Gardens feature an internationally recognized collection of trees, shrubs, and vines. 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 gardener, David Stevens, the LHG curator, Stephen Nystrand, LHG horticulturist—and other local experts. Tours are cancelled for severe weather.
2017 Garden Tours
Saturday, April 22, 1–3 p.m. Native Plant Garden Tour: Early Signs of Spring
As trees begin to leaf out, Dutchman’s breeches, twin-leaf, and rue-anemones might be blooming in the woodland gardens, and pasqueflower and prairie-smoke in the prairie gardens. Susan Carpenter will lead this tour.
Saturday, April 29, 1–3 p.m. Longenecker Horticultural Gardens Tour: Magnolias
See, smell, and learn about the gardens’ extensive magnolia collection, and other spring flowering plants encountered along the way, with Michael Jesiolowski, Chicago Botanic Garden senior horticulturist.
Saturday, May 6, 1–3 p.m. Longenecker Horticultural Gardens Tour: Lilacs and Crabapples
David Stevens will lead this tour through two signature collections, focusing on the history, beauty, and landscape value of crabapples and lilacs, which are some of the favorite ornamental woody plants in the Midwest.
Saturday, June 10, 1–3p.m. Longenecker Horticultural Gardens Tour: Permaculture
Join Kate Heiber-Cobb, founder of the Madison Area Permaculture Guild, and Marian Farrior, Arboretum outreach specialist, as they explore urban permaculture design and highlight permaculture functions of woody plants in the collection.
Wednesday, June 14, 7 p.m. Native Plant Garden Tour: Woodland, Savanna, and Prairie Gardens
Celebrate late spring by visiting our woodland, savanna, and prairie gardens. This tour, led by Susan Carpenter, provides an overview of the Wisconsin Native Plant Garden.
Saturday, June 17, 1–3 p.m. Longenecker Horticultural Gardens Tour: Woody Plants of China.
Join Stephen Nystrand on a tour highlighting diverse and fascinating plants of Chinese origin within the collection. Learn the history, cultural significance, economic importance, and landscape use of ginkgo, dawn redwood, maples, flowering quinces, and much more.
Wednesday, June 21, 7 p.m. Native Plant Garden Tour: What’s Blooming?
Join Susan Carpenter to find, compare, and learn about flowers on native trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants.
Saturday, July 8, 1–3 p.m. Garden Tour: Medicinal Plants
Herbalist Lola Stonehill and Arboretum outreach specialist Marian Farrior will explore the medicinal and botanical richness of herbaceous and woody plants in the gardens, looking at both historic and contemporary uses.
Saturday, July 15, 1–3 p.m. Longenecker Horticultural Gardens Tour: Street Trees
Stephen Nystrand will take you through the extensive collection of shade trees and discuss strategies for growing healthy trees in urban/suburban conditions.
Wednesday, July 19, 7 p.m. Garden Tour: Plants for Pollinators
Learn about summer-blooming native and ornamental species in Arboretum gardens. Susan Carpenter will highlight plants and gardening practices that support essential pollinators in urban/suburban landscapes.
Wednesday, August 9, 7 p.m. Native Plant Garden Tour: Native Grasses
Susan Carpenter will focus on color, size, and features of native Wisconsin grasses, from tiny mustache grass to big bluestem.
Saturday, September 9, 1–3 p.m. Longenecker Horticultural Gardens Tour: Edible Landscaping
Join Judy Kingsbury and Marian Farrior, Arboretum outreach specialists, as they explore the collection’s edible plants and highlight some of their favorite trees and shrubs.
Saturday, September 23, 1–3 p.m. Native Plant Garden Tour: 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. Susan Carpenter will lead this tour.
Saturday, October 7, 1–3 p.m. Longenecker Horticultural Gardens Tour: Fall Favorites
Enjoy the colorful show of trees and shrubs before winter dormancy. Michael Jesiolowski, senior horticulturist at Chicago Botanic Garden, will highlight the best fall foliage and fruit displays from Acer to Zelkova.
Saturday, October 14, 1–3 p.m. Longenecker Horticultural Gardens Tour: Conifers
David Stevens will explore the pinetum, the largest and most diverse conifer collection in the state. Located on a glacial drumlin, the collection ranges from pines, spruce, and firs, to Japanese umbrella trees.