The Gardens

While most of our property is wild, there are a few cultivated gardens.

The Education Garden

Closest to the building, this garden contains plants native to North America. On occasion, you will find frogs in the solar powered fountain, bunnies under the broad-leafed plants, or even a nest of turtle eggs.

Most obvious, perhaps because it is at our main entrance, is the Education Garden.

This garden was made possible in part by donations from the Peterson family in honor of Helen Peterson and in memory of Naomi Foster. Volunteers work tirelessly to make this garden a showpiece for the Center, filling it with native plants, labeling each specimen, and keeping the weeds at bay. A stone walkway allows students to get close to the plants, and to see some of the natural occurrences: this garden has been home to duck eggs, turtle hatchlings, baby bunnies, and chipmunks to name a few.


“Bob’s Garden” is undergoing changes and will feature a kitchen garden section, as well as the traditional sensory plants, caterpillar food plants and butterfly nectar plants.

In the “front yard” is our most formal garden – an herb, kitchen, and butterfly garden named in honor of one of our early founders, Bob Hallquist. Bob’s Garden contains a variety of plants, many of which are very fragrant. School groups that visit on field trips are challeged to smell the leaves in an effort to find the “toothpaste plant,” the “pizza plant,” and the “make-your-cat-crazy” plant. It contains the Butterfly Garden, with nectar and host plants, and the Kitchen Garden, showcasing many different types of food you can grow in a small space.

Along the Universal Trail that travels around the edges of this garden are raised beds. These are the Sensory Gardens and are raised to allow wheelchair and stroller occupants to take full advantage of the smells, colors and textures of the plants.

False Solomon Seal

Poison Ivy is making it difficult to keep Ferd’s Garden looking its best. We have some interesting plans for moving Ferd’s Garden to a new location and turning this space into a demonstration rain garden. Come be a part of the garden crew and contribute your ideas – and labor, too, please!

Our “driveway garden” is named in memory of a very dedicated volunteer who was tragically killed in a bicycle accident. The Ferd Stenta Memorial Wildflower Garden is a work in progress, currently in the center of the circular driveway. The intent is to create a wildflower garden that is a “field guide” to the common wildflowers seen along the trails. By having these plants in a garden, those not capable of walking all the trails can still see the wildflowers. A plan is in motion to move this garden to a more accessible and poison ivy free location.

Walk around to the back of the building and you will find a demonstration Bird Garden.  In addition to several styles of bird feeders you will see a bird bath and plantings selected for  food, shelter, or nesting materials they provide to our backyard birds.

Completed Summer 2012 is our Pollinator Garden. This garden is designed to provide and immediate and neccessary snack spot for our honeybees. A variety of flowers is found here, blooming from early spring through fall to provide a constant nectar source. Other pollinators, such as wasps, butterflies, hummingbirds, beetles, flies and moths were also considered when choosing plants. Have a seat on the bench and watch the pollinators visit!

To read a Saturday article about the plants in our gardens, click here.