By John Hil
Gardens throughout Wisconsin bring peace and natural beauty to hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. Our pick for the top 5 public gardens around the state:
Olbrich is famous for its Thai pavilion, a gift from the king of Thailand, and the surrounding Thai garden. There’s a great rose garden, too, among Olbrich’s 16 acres. The gardens won the prestigious Award for Garden Excellence of the American Association of Botanic Gardens and Arboreta in 2005.
These stately gardens, patterned after a typical English country garden, feature broad expanses of lawn and statuary and structures produced in the 1930s by artists and workers of the Works Progress Administration and Civilian Conservation Corps. The rose garden offers beautiful views of the 1,000-acre arboretum of Whitnall Park.
Rotary Botanical Gardens is an award winning 20-acre, non-profit botanic showcase with over 20 different garden styles and 4,000 varieties of plants. The Gardens is home to many dramatic and internationally themed gardens, including Japanese, Scottish, French Formal, Italian and English Cottage Gardens.
One of the 20 gardens in this 3-acre site is modeled after a garden in King Henry the Eighth’s Hampton Court Palace near London. The rest of the exquisite gardens surround the art center, which is located in a Tudor revival mansion built in 1927 by a lumber baron. The rose garden features 100 varieties of roses.
These 47-acre gardens, opened in 1996 at the former site of an orchard, are particularly beautiful in spring, when tulips and other flowering bulbs bloom beneath the apple blossoms. The four-seasons garden is delightful even in winter.