We’ve talked about the Fling hotel, transportation, food, and fun things to do. Now let’s take a look at the gardens, shall we? Let’s start with the last one on the schedule: We’ll be visiting the Allen Centennial Garden on Sunday afternoon, June 26, and you won’t want to miss it! Described as the “artful living laboratory” of UW-Madison’s Horticulture Department, Allen Centennial is a public botanical garden, open year-round, dawn to dusk.
Located on a cozy 2.5 acres surrounding the historic Dean’s Residence, the gardens were designed to complement the home and its existing plantings. A substantial gift from a former UW faculty member, Ethel Allen, meant she was instrumental in providing support for the early phases of garden construction. Her husband, Dr. Oscar Allen, was a professor at the university for nearly three decades. The couple co-authored what is considered the “encyclopedia” of the role of legumes in nitrogen fixation.
Naming the gardens after the Allens in 1989 coincided with the commemoration of the 100th year anniversary of the university’s Department of Horticulture, hence the garden’s full name of Allen Centennial Garden. The garden is built around a stately Victorian gothic house, which was one of the first buildings on the agricultural campus and served as home for the first four deans.
Allen Centennial is a “comfortable” garden: It has plenty of magical nooks and crannies to explore, but it’s compact and not sprawling. It’s divided into 14 distinct areas—from English cottage gardens, to an iris meadow, to a Japanese garden, and a Wisconsin woodland garden. The property serves as an outdoor classroom for UW-Madison students and surrounding communities, providing learning opportunities for visitors of all ages.