Allen Centennial Gardens - UW Madison

Allen Gardens is an outdoor classroom and botanical gardens named after Oscar and Ethel Allen - prominent professors at the University of Wisconsin's School of Agriculture. This garden was established in 1989 - the 100th anniversary of the School of Agriculture. Thus, the garden earned its name: Allen Centennial Gardens.

These gardens are set on the grounds of a Gothic Victorian style residence, the former residence of the dean of the School of Agriculture School. It now serves as the architectural anchor for the gardens. The gardens themselves present meandering pathways through formal gardens - including a French garden, rose garden, iris garden, Czech crevice garden, and many more. The variety of horticulture here keeps this place laughing with colors in all seasons.

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English Cottage Garden

A city the size of Madison is lucky to have one pretty good botanical garden; but Madison is home to two outstanding public gardens: Olbrich and Allen. This is the benefit of having the third largest research institution in the world located in your downtown. The University provides the Arboretum, Vilas Park Zoo, Allen Centennial Gardens, UW Hospital, Chazen Art Museum and on and on. The UW is a city that lives inside a city.

So, if you are in need of some cheer, spend the day between Madison's gardens. Most flower children will gravitate towards Olbrich - the City of Madison's proper botanical gardens. But, those who make it to Allen Centennial Gardens are in for a special treat.  Even though Centennial Gardens is much more compact, it is not short on horticultural excellence. It can be described as a basket overflowing with floral delights. And ... to be honest - if color is what you are looking for - Centennial Gardens has twice the blooming color of Olbrich - especially in the mid-to-late summer months.

When classes are in Fall or Spring sessions it can be a challenge to find parking near the gardens. Don't attempt to test your luck by parking in a permit only lot - UW Transportation

Woodlands Garden
relishes the chance to tow your car and they will charge you $300 to get it back ... trust me - I know. There is a public garage nearby. But, it is often full. And, driving on campus during passing period could be described as an attempt to survive a zombie apocalypse.

So, here is a tip (actually two). One, you can park at the Lake Street ramp and walk from Memorial Union along the Lakeshore path up to the Lakeshore Dorms and turn in to reach Centennial Gardens. This is an awesome, short, and easy walk. Also, you can take the Route 80 bus on campus for free. So, park near the edge of campus and grab the 80. It makes a circuit all day long through the campus and usually stops at any given bus stop every 15 minutes.

You can take your time at Centennial Gardens. You can take time to learn about the herbs (flowers) here. Or, you can enjoy a quick saunter along its winding paths. It is a refreshing 20 minutes or meditative afternoon. Either way, you will find what you desire, and what you need at Centennial Gardens.

Directions and Map

Entrance Fee: Free
Hours: Dawn to Dusk 365

Parking: On weekends: Park in this lot for free: 43.075005, -89.414580
Parking: Park Here for 2 Hour Meter: 43.077511, -89.411990
Garage Parking: 43.076313, -89.414475
Transit: The Route 80 Madison Metro Bus is a free campus bus. Just step on.
Campus Bus Routes
"The UW Campus Bus is free to all riders. Click on the route number below for schedules and maps. All campus routes are also on the official UW campus map. When riding the campus bus, be sure to remain behind the yellow standee line at the front of the bus for safety. Standing beyond this line obscures the driver's view and can lead to crashes.

Routes 80 and 84 provide daytime service. Service calendar for Routes 80 and 84.

Routes 80, 81, and 82 provide nighttime service. Service calendar for Routes 81 and 82."

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Address for your GPS: 620 Babcock Dr, Madison, WI 53706 
| coordinates: N43.076450, W089.412698 |

From Milwaukee1 Hour 25 Minutes
From Madisonn/a
From Green Bay2 Hours 25 Minutes
From Wausau2 Hours 25 Minutes
From Minneapolis4 Hours 30 Minutes
From Chicago2 Hours 30 Minutes


Allen Centennial Gardens - UW Madison
Allen Centennial Gardens - UW Madison

Allen Centennial Gardens - Madison WI
Allen Centennial Gardens

Allen Centennial Gardens - Madison WI
Allen Centennial Gardens - Madison WI

Allen Centennial Gardens - Madison WI
Allen Centennial Gardens - Madison WI

Allen Centennial Gardens - Madison WI
Allen Centennial Gardens - Madison WI

Allen Centennial Gardens - Madison WI
Allen Centennial Gardens - Madison WI

"Based on a design by Czech Botanist Josef Halda, this style came into use in the 1990's to denote a type of rock garden in which most of the surface is composed of closely set stone; the plants are inserted when small into the narrow crevices between the rocks. Crevice rock gardens are designed and built to emphasize conditions favorable to plants in high alpine zones. Creating a garden like this improves the survival rate of alpine plants in the Midwest because it forces deep root growth which prevents loss to drought or winter soil haeving. If when the air temperature is hot, the roots keep the plant cool and healthy."

Czech Crevice Garden - Allen Centennial Gardens - Madison WI
Czech Crevice Garden - Allen Centennial Gardens - Madison WI

Allen Centennial Gardens - Madison WI
Allen Centennial Gardens - Madison WI


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