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Posted on Sat, Nov 26, 2011 : 11:56 a.m.

Field trip to the MSU horticulture gardens will make you want to plan a return visit

By Jim and Janice Leach


Janice Leach | Contributor

One afternoon this past July, Jim and I headed to an evening meeting in Lansing. We left home early to avoid work traffic and arrived with time to spare. We contemplated our options for just a few minutes before we made our way to visit the Michigan State University Horticulture Gardens for the first time.

Fourteen acres of gardens awaited us. We didn’t have time to visit them all, but we did enjoy a really nice walk through several of the gardens.

The Perennial Gardens were particularly lovely and meticulously maintained. Curved walkways wind between large beds with clearly marked labels with scientific, cultivar and common names. Benches scattered throughout the garden provide comfortable spots to sit and admire the gardens and pond.

We wandered through the Rose Garden next. This section has a formal layout and high walls that place the rose plants at eye-level for easy of viewing and smelling.


MSU Horticulture Vegetable Gardens

Janice Leach | Contributor

The Vegetable Demonstration Garden provided the majority of the ah-ha moments for us. The clever staking techniques on display certainly caught our attention. Again, the well-labeled varieties growing next to each other allowed us to compare the growing plants.

We were especially interested in the mason bee houses in the garden. Mason bees are known for being industrious pollinators for orchards and home gardens. I would like to have some in our garden next season.

The last area we visited — and perhaps the most delightful — was the Michigan 4-H Children’s Garden. Although we traveled without children, we wandered the alphabet garden and found our way through the maze. Bridges, fountains, trains and more are interspersed throughout the beds. It seems a safe and popular space to let your toddlers run off some energy.

There’s no admission charge to the gardens, although the parking in the lot requires feeding tokens into the meters. Paid parking seems to be the trend among gardens.

Since we only had an hour to spare this time, our visit to the MSU Horticulture Gardens was a brief one. We definitely will plan a return trip and allow more time to explore and learn in this beautiful setting.

View more photos of the MSU Horticulture Gardens on our website.

Janice and Jim Leach tend a backyard plot in downtown Ann Arbor, where they try to grow as many vegetables and other plants as possible. For the last four years, they've published gardening tips, photos and stories at their 20 Minute Garden website.