Allen Centennial Garden on UW–Madison campus

July 16, 2022

Allen Centennial Gardens, a free public garden at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, offers a lovely garden stroll around a Queen Anne mansion. The garden was our final stop on the recent Madison Garden Bloggers Fling Tour. Before the fling started, I also had a quick visit with friends on a bright sunny afternoon. These photos are from two visits.

Built in 1896, the historic home was once the Dean’s home. Today it appears to be in need of a renovation, but it is still an attractive focal point somewhere in the neighborhood garden.

Iron urns add period style to the roof’s wide stone steps, which display everything from agaves to chard. Beyond, an oval of lawn is surrounded by conifers, deciduous trees, shrubs and perennials, which screen the campus buildings rising above the garden.

A smoky-red cane echoes a painted balustrade.

More red appears in the leaves of a beautiful Japanese maple overlooking a large lily pond.

the pond

I was noticing all the red! Here are the beautiful flowers of a Carolina allspice bush (Calycanthus floridus)

Golden leaves and flowers are also eye-catching in rocky dry gardens.

The dry garden surprised me a little, seeing as we were in a country of lakes and precipitation (rain and snow). But the heat- and gravel-loving plants were certainly enjoying the 90-degree temperatures in late June.

A crack garden – today’s dry-garden trend – also looked lovely.

A miniature mountain range with dry-loving sedum and other small plants tucked into the crevices

Wild flowers bloomed there too.

A wider angle shows a gazebo and red Japanese maples.

Gazebo view

The formal garden on a hot sunny afternoon…

…and on the last day of the fling.

Conifer Path – Love those blues

Golden and blue-green leaves

Beautiful blue alliums


And alliums like sparklers!

Next: Clematis abound in Janet Aberg’s garden. For a look back at an American Chestnut near-extinct tree at the UW Arboretum, click here.

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All material © 2022 by Pam Penick for Excavation. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

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