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Reference Gardens

Since 2008, the American Conifer Society has been partnering with public gardens throughout the United States to recognize noteworthy conifer collections through a special designation,   ACS Reference Gardens.   These gardens provide wonderful opportunities to educate the public about growing conifers, using conifers in a home landscape and building enthusiasm about conifers and the American Conifer Society. To receive this Reference Garden designation, a garden must meet several criteria, including the number of conifers in their collection, accurate labeling of the conifers and appropriate maintenance of the conifer collection.

View a map of the Central Region gardens.

OH – The Dawes Arboretum

The Dawes Arboretum was established in 1929 by Beman Dawes and his wife, Bertie. The idea for an arboretum came to Beman during his youth in Marietta, Ohio, where his father’s lumber business supported the family. About 1917, Beman Dawes purchased 140 acres of the old Brumback farm in Licking Township. The farm, known as…

IA – University of Iowa Gardens

  The University of Iowa has two gardens on its grounds that have been accepted into the ACS Conifer Reference Garden Program in 2014. The University’s first foray into dwarf conifer gardens was in 2004. Inspired by Dennis Hermsen, Ed Rinderspacher, and Pam Maurer among others, they installed a garden at the University’s Hancher Performing…

IA – Bickelhaupt Arboretum

  The Bickelhaupt Arboretum is a 14-acre outdoor museum of select, labeled trees, shrubs, groundcovers, perennials and annual flowers. The Arboretum was developed by Robert and Frances Bickelhaupt in 1970 in response to Dutch Elm Disease, which destroyed the majority of large street trees in Clinton, Iowa. The Heartland Collection of Garden Conifers is the…

MI – Hidden Lake Gardens

Hidden Lake Gardens was donated to Michigan State University in 1945 by Harry A. Fee, an Adrian businessman with a penchant for landscape design. Upon his retirement in 1926, he purchased Hidden Lake along with 200 acres of land surrounding it and proceeded to repair the old farmhouse, build a greenhouse, and construct a road…

MO – Powell Gardens

The newest CNR Reference Garden, Powell Gardens was profiled in the Winter 2013 issue of Conifer Quarterly.

OH – Rowe Arboretum

The Rowe Arboretum was started in 1926 by Stanley and Dorothy Rowe on their estate in the then quiet village – now suburb of Cincinnati – Indian Hill. Over the years the Rowes hobby grew into a collection which at times numbered close to 5,000 different trees and shrubs. Visitors in those days were allowed…

WI – Green Bay Botanic Garden

  Green Bay Botanic Garden is located in Green Bay, Wisconsin.   The garden’s Arendt Conifer Garden features more than 325 dwarf conifers representing 275 taxa. Over 3,250 complementary colored foliage and flowering perennials and shrubs accent the conifers. Limestone boulders were brought in from local quarries to develop the terraced garden. The garden highlights the…

WI – University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum, Longenecker Horticultural Gardens

  The University of Wisconsin Longenecker Horticultural Gardens is located in Madison, Wisconsin. The garden’s conifer collection had its beginning in 1939 with the planting of a large grove of white pine. Additional taxa were added in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. Starting in the bicentennial year of 1976 and continuing through today, additional conifers…