Explore inspiring gardens from the comfort of your own home. We’re sharing immersive video and photos from eight community gardens in Wisconsin that were captured at the peak of the summer and autumn seasons. PBS Wisconsin staff used a special 360 degree camera to record these unique and beautiful outdoor spaces. Within each virtual immersive experience, you can walk through the gardens for a touch of spring-like warmth and lots of gardening and landscaping inspiration. Learn more about each of the featured gardens below, and click on the image or title link to take a tour of these inviting spaces.
You can explore the 360 videos in all directions! If you are viewing the experience on a desktop, click and drag your mouse to pan your view point. You can also click the arrows in the upper left corner of the screen to navigate the 360 video. On a tablet or mobile device, drag your finger across the screen to pan left and right and use your fingers to move your view up and down.
Olbrich Botanical Gardens features 16 acres of outdoor display gardens showcasing the beauty of Midwest hardy plants in a setting of prairie style architecture. Olbrich’s Thai Pavilion and Garden, the only one in the continental United States, features an innovative tropical garden in the Midwest. The Bolz Conservatory, a sunny 50-foot-high glass pyramid, houses a diverse collection of tropical plants, a rushing waterfall, free-flying birds, and blooming orchids year-round.
Allen Centennial Garden is the artful living laboratory and public botanical garden of the Horticulture Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The Garden serves as an outdoor classroom for UW-Madison students and the surrounding communities, providing meaningful learning opportunities for visitors of all ages. The 2.5-acre garden features thousands of ornamental plants, including annual flowers, perennials, tropicals and temperannuals, deciduous trees and shrubs, and conifers. Landscape architecture and landscape design styles are featured and highlighted.
The UW–Madison Arboretum is a teaching and research facility, and the site of historic research in ecological restoration. The 1,260-acre Arboretum features tallgrass prairies, savannas, wetlands and several forest types, as well as flowering trees, shrubs and a world-famous lilac collection.
The UW–Madison Botany Garden is an important resource for both teaching and research, serving as reference for the different plant families, genera and species represented. It also provides an area for leisure where examples of plants from around the world demonstrate the diversity and beauty of the plant kingdom. The UW-Madison Botany Garden was the first garden in the world to be based on the new Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (APGIV) system of molecular classification of plants.
The Lakeshore Nature Preserve is a 300-acre outdoor teaching and research laboratory on the UW-Madison campus. The Preserve stretches for more than four miles along the south shore of Lake Mendota protecting woodlands, wetlands, prairie, and savanna. It is home to many species of wildlife, including the Federally Endangered Rusty Patched Bumble Bee, and is recognized as a Wisconsin Important Bird Area.
Rita Thomas documented her home garden in Fitchburg, Wis. (Zone 5A) from March to October, 2020. Her photos feature not only plants, but the birds, insects and weather conditions she observed. Rita’s garden is designed to accommodate most of her interests. There is an area to grow vegetables, a small rock garden, sunny and shady areas, lots of shrubs, feeding and nesting areas for birds, a potting shed, and a garden room with Rita’s favorite place to relax, a hammock. Rita’s first 16 years gardening were spent collecting plants, creating, designing, and redesigning gardens. She retired in 2003 and added the fences, paths, buildings, patios, and defined beds with rock and brick.
The Low Technology Institute operates a research-based subsistence garden on less than an acre in Zone 5A, 25-minutes south of Madison, Wis. A third of an acre is given over to traditional vegetable plots that use cardboard and straw mulch to reduce weeds, while another third of an acre provides space for field crops, including potatoes, corn, wheat, rye, oats, and flax. An in-ground greenhouse provides some winter growing space, and a high hoop-house boosts our summer production. The group is also building up their perennials, such as fruit trees, grapes, and currants. This year, they challenged themselves to grow all of their own food on site.
Since the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic in the United States, a group of students, staff, and community members have been growing food on one acre of land at UW-Madison. The COVID-19 Mutual Aid Garden is a collaborative living-learning laboratory where food is grown in an agroecological manner in order to feed and support the greater-Madison community during these challenging times. The group hopes this space demonstrates how agriculture can be a climate solution through water retention and the building of soil as well as a space to train students and community members in the practical skills needed to grow food, to farm, and to revitalize rural-urban flows.