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 from the highway that would unfold as a series of pictures for the visitor. Much later, small parking areas were added at these vistas to allow the public to pause and enjoy the views.
With his bequest Fee wished that the Gardens be for the benefit and education of the public – a mandate that has continued through the years under the direction of MSU s Horticulture Department, the Division of Campus Parks and Planning and presently Land Management. Hidden Lake Gardens has continued to develop with land acquisitions, construction of buildings, and the establishment of educational programs. The original 200 acres have grown to 755 acres which includes a 120 acre arboretum that consists of plant groups such as crabapples, lilacs, maples, evergreens, and shrubs. The Visitor Center building was built in 1965 and the conservatory was added in 1968.
The Visitor Center which also houses a library, exhibits, auditorium, meeting rooms and a gift shop. The Conservatory includes tropical plants, arid plants, and a variety of flowering houseplants. A picnic area with shelter is available without reservations.
In 1981, Justin C. Harper gave the Gardens a major gift of over 350 dwarf and rare conifers which, 31 years later, became the main attraction during the American Conifer Society’s annual National Meeting. In 2010 an ACS Reference Garden Grant was used to purchase plants for The Harper Collection of Dwarf and Rare Conifers, provide funding to move plants within the Collection and to support regular maintenance of this outstanding collection.
Plants added to the Collection included Thuja koraiensis Glauca Prostrata’, Cupressus nootkatensis Glauca Pendula’, and Pinus densiflora Jane Kluis’.
Plants from the Collection were also propagated by the staff of the Gardens. These include Picea abies Merrell Broom’, Cupressus nootkatensis Green Arrow’ and many others which were grafted or rooted in our propagation facility. In turn, many of these plants have been sold to individuals in order to support the Collection and to insure that there are examples of these plants in other collections for the security of the plants for future generations.