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The Award-Winning Public Gardens of the Madison Fling


An arbor-covered walkway at Olbrich Botanical Gardens

We’ve recently reviewed the fabulous private gardens you’ll see at the Madison Fling in June, so let’s take another peek at the public gardens on our tour. (Click on the links below to learn more about each garden.)

We’ll start with The Urb Garden and the Rooftop Ramble at the Madison Children’s Museum, the venue for our opening gathering on Thursday evening, June 23. The Urb Garden is a three-season learning area on an outdoor deck. Visitors can learn about aquaponics in a tilapia tank, watch worms turn food waste into rich compost, and observe plant growth in the custom greenhouse-treehouse. And from the Rooftop, visitors get a bird’s eye view of downtown Madison.


Metal archway into UW-Madison Arboretum’s Longenecker Horticultural Gardens



On Friday, June 24, we’ll head to the UW-Madison Arboretum, home of the world’s oldest restored prairie, the Longenecker Horticultural Gardens, the native plant garden including approximately 500 native Wisconsin plants, and an extensive collection of other restored ecosystems. The Arboretum is an oasis of nature surrounded by urban and suburban areas.

Gravel gardens at Epic Systems gardens





Our final Friday destination is Epic Systems gardens, near the suburb of Verona. Epic is a leading healthcare industry information technology company, and the second-largest employer in the Madison metro area. Its campus gardens are whimsical and unique—like a playground of garden types and styles. Epic is on the edge of Wisconsin’s Driftless Area, too, so the views of the surrounding countryside are dramatic.


The Thai Pavilion at Olbrich Botanical Gardens


Saturday midday, June 25, takes us to Olbrich Botanical Gardens, voted one of the top 10 most inspiring gardens in North America by Horticulture magazine. Olbrich’s 16 acres include an indoor, tropical conservatory, and outdoor sunken, perennial, herb, meadow, rock, wildflower, rain, serenity, shade, hosta, birch, rose, and event gardens.


Olbrich’s Thai pavilion and gardens, tucked beyond a winding pathway, are must-see features, too. The Thai pavilion was a gift to the University of Wisconsin-Madison from the Thai government and the Thai chapter of the Wisconsin Alumni Association.



Mixed plantings at Rotary Botanical Gardens



On Sunday, June 26, we drive south, with a stop at Kopke’s Greenhouse, home to plentiful annuals and perennials.

Our midday destination is Rotary Botanical Gardens, in Janesville, Wis. Rotary is a 20-acre, nonprofit community garden, and a National Display Garden for the American Hosta Society, the American Hemerocallis Society, and the Hardy Fern Foundation. It features 26 distinct garden themes and more than 4,000 types of plants.


Train display at The Flower Factory





On the way back to Madison, we’ll stop in at TheFlower Factory, formerly a public garden and once the source of the Midwest’s largest selection of perennials, hostas, and ornamental grasses. The owners still garden, and we’re honored to visit their expansive property.



Victorian house at Allen Centennial Garden



Our final event of the Fling, on Sunday late afternoon, is a visit to Allen Centennial Garden, a cozy 2.5-acre garden in the heart of Madison. The garden is built around a stately Victorian gothic house, which was one of the first buildings on the UW-Madison agricultural campus and served as home for the first four deans. Though compact, this garden is divided into 14 distinct areas. It serves as an outdoor classroom for campus students and visitors, alike.

Our thanks goes out to the personnel at all of these amazing public gardens. They all are wonderful Madison-area treasures!




Visit this link to register for the Madison Fling!

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