Educational Garden Tours

Longenecker Garden Tours

The Arboretum offers a series of free informational tours for gardeners featuring Longenecker Horticultural Gardens and the Wisconsin Native Plant Garden. Spring and summer tours are most Wednesdays at 7 p.m., and fall tours are on Saturday afternoons. See listings below for dates and topics. Tours are open to the public and begin at the Arboretum Visitor Center. They are intended for adults.

With more than 2,500 types of plants on display, Longenecker Horticultural Gardens feature an internationally recognized collection of trees, shrubs, and vines and is a major resource for the study of landscape plants by educators, the public and the nursery trade. The gardens hold major displays of lilacs, flowering crabapples, viburnums, conifers and many other plant groups.

The 4-acre Wisconsin Native Plant Garden surrounds the Visitor Center with several hundred species native to Wisconsin. The garden serves as an introduction to ecological restoration and the restored and managed plant communities in the Arboretum. It also demonstrates how to incorporate native plants into home landscapes.

Longenecker Gardens tours will be led by curator Ed Hasselkus and other local experts. Wisconsin native plant gardener Susan Carpenter leads the Wisconsin Native Plant Garden tours.

Tours take place rain or shine, except in the case of severe weather. While every effort will be made to keep to the following schedule, information about schedule changes will be available by calling the Arboretum at (608) 263-7888.


Spring and summer tours are Wednesday evenings, from 7 p.m. until dark

April 23 — Native Plant Garden Tour: Early Signs of Spring
As trees and shrubs begin to leaf out, Dutchman’s breeches, twin-leaf and rue-anemones might be blooming in the woodland gardens. In the prairie gardens we may find Pasque flower, prairie smoke and bird’s-foot violet.

April 30 — Longenecker Horticultural Gardens Tour: Early Spring Flowering Woody Ornamentals
This tour, led by Ed Hasselkus, professor emeritus of horticulture and the garden curator, will include the yellow and Little Girl Series magnolias, early lilacs and rhododendrons, and other spring flowering plants.

May 7 — Longenecker Horticultural Gardens Tour: Flowering Crabapples and Lilacs
In this tour, Dr. Hasselkus will concentrate on flowering crabapples and present highlights in the Gardens’ large lilac collection.

May 14 — Longenecker Horticultural Gardens Tour: Azaleas and Rhododendrons
Dr. Deb McCown of Knight Hollow Nursery will discuss growing and caring for azaleas and rhododendrons in the Madison area.

May 21 — Longenecker Horticultural Gardens Tour: Small Ornamental Trees
Dr. Laura Jull, professor of horticulture, will highlight some of the Arboretum’s interesting and unusual ornamental small trees.

June 4 — Longenecker Horticultural Gardens Tour: Shade Trees
Laura Wyatt, WDNR Urban Forestry, will lead the group through the Gardens’ extensive collection of larger trees while discussing strategies for growing healthy trees in urban/suburban conditions.

June 11 — Native Plant Garden Tour: Woodland, Savanna and Prairie Gardens
Celebrate the beginning of summer by visiting our woodland, savanna and prairie gardens.

June 18 — Native Plant Garden Tour: What’s Blooming?
Find, compare and learn about flowers on native trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants.

July 9 — Longenecker Horticultural Gardens Tour: Summer Highlights
Led by Jeff Epping, director of horticulture at Olbrich Gardens, this tour will include summer-flowering cultivars.

July 16 — Native Plant Garden Tour: Native Gardens for Pollinators
This tour will feature summer-blooming species. We will highlight plants and gardening practices that support essential pollinators in urban/suburban landscapes.

July 23 — Longenecker Horticultural Gardens Tour: Conifers
Learn about evergreens from fir (Abies) to hemlock (Tsuga) on a walk through the Gardens’ spectacular conifer collection. You will learn about “garden-sized” conifers of many kinds.

August 20 — Native Plant Garden Tour: Native Grasses
We will take a closer look at color, size and features of native grasses, from tiny mustache grass to big bluestem.


September 20 — Native Plant Garden Tour: Fall in the Native Plant Garden
Color, fruits, seeds, late blooming plants, late-season insects—we will find these and more in the varied gardens around the Visitor Center.

October 11 — Longenecker Horticultural Gardens Tour: Featuring Fall
Don’t miss the lovely range of fall color in our woody plant collection. Leaves, fruits and form will be highlighted in this tour, led by Laura Wyatt, WDNR Urban Forestry.