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“Dense, intimate botanical collection” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Allen Centennial Gardens

Allen Centennial Gardens
620 Babcock Drive, Madison, WI 53706
608-262-1549
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Ranked #11 of 52 attractions in Madison
Type: Gardens
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Attraction Details
Owner description: Located on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, these public gardens serve as outdoor classrooms in the study and research of plant identification, ecology and site management techniques in horticulture.
Madison, Wisconsin
Senior Contributor
33 reviews 33 reviews
9 attraction reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
“Dense, intimate botanical collection”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 27, 2012

Somehow keeps out the city noise, and envelops you in scene after scene of gorgeous gardens, from the pond, to rock gardens, roses, and a North wall made from cross between a clematis and a demon.

Visited June 2012
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
joedragyn, Manager at Allen Centennial Gardens, responded to this review, July 29, 2012
Thanks for your review! Not sure what you are referring to as the North wall but assuming it is the fact that our north fence is covered with Clematis terniflora, the sweet autumn clematis - that's nearly 20 years worth of growth! Come back in late summer, early fall and it will be a wall of extremely fragrant white blooms which then turn into fascinating delicate seed heads that last well into winter.
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36 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
  • English first
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English first
Redmond, Washington
Senior Contributor
22 reviews 22 reviews
12 attraction reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
“Nice, small garden”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed July 24, 2012

This is a nice place to stop by if you are walking around the university campus, but it is not huge and so probably not worth going out of your way to visit. It is a free attraction. There was a group doing wedding photos while we were there. Pretty, but small.

Visited July 2012
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
joedragyn, Manager at Allen Centennial Gardens, responded to this review, August 5, 2012
The Gardens are small compared to some major public gardens so I understand our 2.5 acres doesn't compare in magnitude to a public garden like Chicago Botanic with over 300! However, we still think it is worth the trip in, especially if you are a gardener. Within that 2.5 acres you will find no less than 26 individaul garden areas that vary dramatically but transition from one to another nicely. Most of our visitors say they love the size because it is easy to manage and see everything in 1-2 hours. When I give tours, we hardly get through it all in an hour. I expect the casual visitor who is not a gardener or into plants will find it a quick walk but if you are into plants I guarantee you'll be there longer than you expect! Check us out at allencentennialgardens.org to see the enormous variety and large number of plants and ideas we manage to fit in 2.5 acres!
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Fitchburg
Top Contributor
51 reviews 51 reviews
15 attraction reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
14 helpful votes 14 helpful votes
“Secret Garden”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 19, 2012

Allen Centennial Gardens are easily accessible on the University of Wisconsin campus, just off Observatory drive. These gardens are maintained by an army of dedicated volunteers. That kind of dedication seems to be in response to the outstanding collection of plants and the variety of displays. This year's kitchen garden features a myriad of options for raised bed, container and staked gardens. Check out the demonstration lasagna or layered garden. If produce is not your thing, check out the formal knot garden, one of the largest rock gardens in the Midwest, or the water garden. Everything is labeled, from trees to annual plantings. Your head will be filled with too many ideas to remember, so take a camera or note pad. With free admission, there's no reason not to return to see the gardens in every season. When you're done, turn right and head to the popular Babcock ice cream outlet, only two blocks away. As you lick your cone on the way back to your car, continue past the gardens toward the Porter Boathouse and take in the views of beautiful Lake Mendota.

Visited July 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
joedragyn, Manager at Allen Centennial Gardens, responded to this review, July 29, 2012
The Gardens are small compared to some major public gardens so I understand our 2.5 acres doesn't compare in magnitude to a public garden like Chicago Botanic with over 300! However, we still think it is worth the trip in, especially if you are a gardener. Within that 2.5 acres you will find no less than 26 individaul garden areas that vary dramatically but transition from one to another nicely. Most of our visitors say they love the size because it is easy to manage and see everything in 1-2 hours. When I give tours, we hardly get through it all in an hour. I expect the casual visitor who is not a gardener or into plants will find it a quick walk but if you are into plants I guarantee you'll be there longer than you expect! Check us out at allencentennialgardens.org to see the enormous variety and large number of plants and ideas we manage to fit in 2.5 acres!
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Madison, Wisconsin
Senior Contributor
31 reviews 31 reviews
15 attraction reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
“Allen Centennial Gardens”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 27, 2012

Beautiful gardens and a great place for just sitting and being.

Visited June 2012
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
joedragyn, Manager at Allen Centennial Gardens, responded to this review, July 29, 2012
Thanks for that evaluation - sound like you enjoyed the beauty of the Gardens. We provide both education and inspiration for students, gardeners, and green industry AND a place to come for peace, solice and immersing yourself in beauty. There are a wide variety of areas with very different "feels" to accomplish that. One thing we enjoy is that our University setting brings us "regulars" who might be staff or students or live close enough that we are a destination for lunch or breaks. We know many people by name and have several visitors who we see DAILY except for inclement weather.
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Minneapolis Mn
Top Contributor
202 reviews 202 reviews
17 attraction reviews
Reviews in 49 cities Reviews in 49 cities
106 helpful votes 106 helpful votes
“Compact, diverse, beautiful.”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 25, 2012

Tremendous variety in a small space, tenderly cared for by faculty staff and students of UW. And Free!

Visited June 2012
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
joedragyn, Manager at Allen Centennial Gardens, responded to this review, July 29, 2012
Your nice comments brings up a little known fact. The Gardens are on the University property and are considered teaching gardens (as well as public) but they are also 100% operationally funded, including salaries and benefits! I am the only full-time employee, I have 3 interns in the summer and some very dedicated volunteers assist us with huge amounts of labor. In spite of limitations, we are pleased to offer the Gardens absolutely free to anyone who wishes to visit - 365 days a year! How can one not take advantage of free?!
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