Green Side Up

Garden talk with Gazette community blogger Janice Peterson.

Fall is a great time to visit public gardens

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Janice Peterson
Monday, September 30, 2013

With autumn officially here the garden season is starting to wind down. Planting for the most part is done yet it's not quite time to put the beds to rest. At this point I don't really care if a few weeds gain hold in my garden. This is a great time to visit public gardens! They are still in good shape and it's the perfect opportunity to get ideas for your own garden next year. And the cooler weather makes garden touring a pleasure.

We are fortunate to have quite a few wonderful gardens within a 50 mile radius of Rock County. Madison has Olbrich Gardens and Allen Centennial Gardens (which is located on the UW campus and within walking distance of Babcock Hall's ice cream parlor!). In Rockford there is Anderson Japanese Gardens and Klehm Arboretum and Botanic Garden. And of course in Janesville we are very fortunate to have Rotary Botanical Gardens. These are all great gardens and I try to visit them as often as I can.

Last week I took a busman's holiday and visited Boerner Botanical Gardens in Hales Corners, Wisconsin (about 60 miles from Janesville). BBG is part of the Milwaukee County Parks system which includes parks, hiking paths, an arboretum and the Wehr Nature Center. One of my favorite areas at BBG is the trial gardens where they test up-and-coming varieties. They are an All-America Selections display site for flowers and vegetables. I love to go through and see how plants that photograph wonderfully in magazines really look when grown in southern Wisconsin! They also have an amazing rose garden that I was wowed by (and I don't even particularly like roses). The signage is quite good there also, so you can take note of plants you like. Beautiful buildings, statuary, water features and fun plant combinations rounded out the visit.

All of these gardens are participants in the American Horticultural Society reciprocal admissions program, which gives free admission or other benefits to over 300 gardens in North America. My membership at Rotary Botanical Gardens allows me to take advantage of this great perquisite when I travel in the U.S. and Canada. For me visiting gardens is the best way to vacation, even if it's just a day trip!

Janice Peterson has worked as a grounds horticulturist at Rotary Botanical Gardens in Janesville since 2002. She is a master gardener with the Rock Prairie Master Gardener Association. Though her education is in plant science, she considers her love of gardening and strong back to be her true qualifications. Janice is a community blogger and is not a part of The Gazette staff. Her opinion is not necessarily that of The Gazette staff or management.

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