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“Hidden Treasure on UW Campus”

Allen Centennial Gardens
Ranked #23 of 105 things to do in Madison
Certificate of Excellence
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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.
Reviewed July 31, 2012

Upon entering Allen Centennial Gardens, there is no hint of all that awaits. Hidden on the UW campus, in the middle of Madison Wisconsin, surrounding a beautiful old mansion, are a variety of gardens ranging from a wooded shade garden to sunny rock gardens, to formally shaped and laid out hedges and perennials to vegetable gardens to cascading flowering slopes. Have I said enough to get you wondering? Allen Centennial Gardens is well worth the visit, even if you are not on campus. We were not.

Thank Jane S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
joedragyn, Manager at Allen Centennial Gardens, responded to this reviewResponded August 5, 2012

Thanks for your kind review! One other reviewer wasn't sure it was worth a trip onto campus if you weren't there already - I'm glad you felt it was worth your trip! Things are looking really great right now in spite of the drought and extreme heat - if you are tired of brown, come enjoy!

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74 - 78 of 91 reviews

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.

Thank Catdrchris
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
joedragyn, Manager at Allen Centennial Gardens, responded to this reviewResponded 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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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.

Thank jules51r
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
joedragyn, Manager at Allen Centennial Gardens, responded to this reviewResponded 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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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.

Thank OPINIONATEDGUEST
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
joedragyn, Manager at Allen Centennial Gardens, responded to this reviewResponded 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.
Reviewed June 27, 2012

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

Thank CynthiaK007
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
joedragyn, Manager at Allen Centennial Gardens, responded to this reviewResponded 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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