Gardens & Natural Areas

The UW–Madison Arboretum is just a few miles south of campus in the heart of the city, but its 1,260 acres take visitors to the wild side. Gardens, prairies, woods and more than 20 miles of trails will make you forget the city’s bustle. Tours and classes are available.

The Lakeshore Nature Preserve is a 300-acre outdoor teaching and research facility on the UW-Madison campus. It includes woods, wetlands, prairie, savanna, and research/community gardens, four miles of shoreline, and 12 miles of walking trails. The Howard M. Temin Lakeshore Path extends from the Memorial Union, past Picnic Point, and ends at Oxford Road in Shorewood Hills. For thousands of years, Native Americans have lived along the shores of Lake Mendota. Within the Preserve are examples of ancient earthen mounds used for burials and ceremonies. Near Willow Creek is a group of effigy style mounds. Other mound groups can be found on Observatory Hill, Picnic Point and at Eagle Heights Woods.

Allen Centennial Gardens is a teaching garden with a great diversity of plantings and hardscapes. The major emphasis is on herbaceous ornamental perennials but the site features many other plantings including annuals and woody plants. Here is a video detailing the gardens.

The Botany Garden is located between Lathrop and Chamberlin halls. More than 500 species represent plants from all over the world.

The Botany Greenhouse is a refuge of greenery and serenity, showcasing more than 1,000 species in distinct aquatic, desert and tropical communities. Tours available by appointment.

The D.C. Smith Greenhouse is a tropical conservatory with 11 growing rooms. Tours available by appointment.

Early morning sunlight rakes across a highly invasive reed canary grass (right) that is encroaching on the natural prairie species (left) located within the Greene Prairie site inside the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum.
A bicycle pedestrian pedals along the Howard Temin Lakeshore Path at the University of Wisconsin-Madison during spring on May 10, 2011. The area is part of UW-Madison's Lakeshore Nature Preserve. (Photo by Bryce Richter / UW-Madison)