Home Demonstration Gardens

This wonderful collection of demonstration gardens was the brain child of the Arboretum’s second director, Dr. Francis de Vos and is named in his honor.  The gardens are clustered together for ease of viewing and comparison and encompass backyards, herb, patio, vegetable, cutting, rock, and seasonal gardens as well as a weed exhibit.

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Cutting Garden

The Cross Cutting Garden gives the homeowner a great idea of what perennials and annual plantings they might use for flower arranging.  There are 29 different perennials and annuals represented in the garden (we ask that guests please refrain from cutting or collecting at the Arboretum so that everyone can enjoy the gardens).

Fruit & Vegetable Garden

Many common and often many unusual vegetables easily grown in the Minnesota garden are displayed in this garden.  A water trough feature, espalier apples, a small sculpture Looking for Rain by Miriam Bennett and The Stephen F. Keating Home Greenhouse (a backyard greenhouse) are all part of this garden.  Fruit trees, shrubs and perennials, strawberries (Fragaria) are located outside the fence near the compost bins.  In all we have 32 varieties of fruit trees and shrubs, and 23 perennials.  Each year a new thematic vegetable design is on display.

Garden for Outdoor Living

The Edmundson Garden for Outdoor Living is a wonderful small backyard garden with patio, table and chairs, lawn, a perennial/annual garden and flowering shrubs and trees.  It is amazing what can be accomplished in a small space in a semi formal garden.  There are 7 species of trees, 19 types of shrubs, 57 different perennials and numerous annuals in the garden.

Garden for Small Spaces

The Bachman Garden for Small Spaces represents a small urban space, perhaps a patio area that contains small trees, flowering shrubs, perennials, annuals, vegetables and herbs.  There are 41 different kinds of plants in this garden.

Herb Gardens

Kitchen Herb Garden - Situated just outside the Slade Perennial Garden and the kitchen herb garden has a large collection of 23 genera and 34 species of perennial herbs. There are also approximately 700 annual herb plants put in the ground each year. This garden is probably the most popular of the 6 herb gardens at the Arboretum as visitors are always interested in new seasonings for their food. The Minnesota Herb Society works with Arboretum gardeners and contributes time, money and plants to make this garden a real treat.

Knot Garden - Given by the Lake Minnetonka Garden Club and the Knot Garden represents a period of European history when wealthy barons had the time to make their herb plantings intriguing.  We would venture to guess that like the royalty they competed for the most interesting, beautiful, unusual!  This pattern garden, best viewed from the Kitchen Herb Garden or the Wedding Tower, is comprised of Korean boxwood, Japanese barberry, lavender cotton and germander. A centerpiece of this garden is a fan-shaped Meteor Sour Cherry espalier flanked on either side by two Zestar apple trees also espaliered against the wall in a serpentine pattern. It is a beautiful viewing garden but quite practical given the variety of herbs.

The Cloistered Gardens, Fragrant Herb Garden, Dyers Garden - This unusual set of three herb gardens spills down over the hillside from the Slade Perennial Garden to the walkway leading to the Ordway Shelter.  The garden starts with the Cloister Garden, reminiscent of a medieval monastic garden containing herbs used as medicinal cures and salves.  The arbor has American bittersweet (Celastrus scandens) and hops (Humulus lupulus) growing over it.  There are 59 different genera and 69 species of plants in this garden.

The next garden down the hill, the Fragrant Herb Garden, is filled with fragrant herbs and flowers and it’s a delightful experience to walk slowly through the garden.  There are 72 genera and 95 species in this garden ranging from moss roses (Rosa rugosa) to Gold Band Lily (Lilium auratum).

The lowest level of this series of herb gardens, the Dyers Garden, is along the walkway to the Ordway Shelter.  It contains shrubs, perennials and annuals representing a small selection of plants used for dyes for clothes, making utensils, and personal adornment items.  Plants range from Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) to Yucca (Yucca filimentosa) with 34 species and 30 genera represented in the garden.

The sixth herb garden is in the de Vos Home Demonstration Gardens.  Its description is found there.

Naturalistic Garden

The Ludwick Naturalistic Garden is an informal backyard garden with small stone patio and bench, a wide variety of native and a few non-native perennials, shrubs and trees.  At the upper end is a mother and child sculpture by Michael Price.  The garden is framed by white fir (Abies concolor) and white pine (Pinus strobus) and includes some unusual plants such as sweetfern (Comptonia peregrina) and bladdernut (Staphylea trifolia).  This garden contains some 40 genera with 9 species of trees, 9 species of shrubs and 45 species of perennials.

Patio & Container Garden

Found at one of the wooden alee with hanging pots, patio containers and ends with massive stone planters.  The pots all contain annual and perennial plantings which change yearly and the planters have dwarf trees, shrubs and perennials.  Around 20 different kinds of trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals are displayed in different types of containers.

Rock Garden

At the near end of the de Vos Gardens (near the Visitor Center), the Rock Garden displays a wide variety of alpine plants that are hardy in Minnesota.  The Minnesota Rock Garden Society helps to support this garden through maintenance and donations of plant material. There are 282 different species of rock garden plants represented here.

Seasonal Garden

The Downing Seasonal Garden, along the walk at the inner edge of the de Vos Gardens displays the All American Selections of annual plant winners for the previous year.  It provides a great display for these new introductions which are chosen based on data from trail gardens all over North America.  There are typically 5-7 new varieties chosen each year.

Weed Exhibit

The Behrens Weed Exhibit was added in 2005 with the help of Dr. Richard Behrens, a weed specialist at the University of Minnesota’s Agronomy Department.  It has proven to be one of the most popular demonstration gardens. It is not unusual to hear “oh, so that’s what that weed is!” or “so that’s Creeping Charlie, I have it everywhere”.  The “garden” is a series of “pots” (PVC pipes) with a different weed growing in each.  There are 36 different weeds represented.  (You wouldn’t believe how hard it is to keep the weeds looking good!).