Friday, July 07, 2006

A tranquil space to avoid the cranes and watch the ducks

Downtown Madison isn't the only location teeming with construction sites, detours, and huge tower cranes. The west end of the University of Wisconsin campus is also clogged with cranes and construction sites - and the inevitable traffic detours.

But there's a tranquil space in the midst of all this hubbub, sheltered from the threat of certain demise by its landmark status, and open to anyone who cares to visit from dawn until dusk. It's the Allen Centennial Gardens, located not far from Babcock Hall on the agricultural campus. And the Mallards in the photos I posted earlier this week live here.

Allen Centennial Gardens is "centered around a stately Victorian gothic house" that served as the home of the College of Agriculture's first four deans. In 1984, the house was placed on the National Register of Historic Places, thereby ensuring its protection from bouts of rampant construction fever.

A horticultural teaching garden, maintained by volunteers and members of the UW-Madison Department of Horticulture, the Allen Centennial Gardens are named in honor of Ethel Kullman Allen, a Madison resident who, for over 40 years, "conducted important research on leguminous plants and in collaborations with her late husband [Dr. Oscar Nelson Allen], compiled and published authoritative work on their research in the field of legumes," and her husband. She died May 7, 2006 at the age of 98.

Here's an interior view of the garden, showing the bridge that spans part of the water garden.

A waterfall in the rock garden

From May 15 through the first weekend in October, couples may reserve the Allen Gardens for a wedding -- but they have to hold their reception elsewhere.

A view of the water garden and the bridge that passes over it. The Mallards swim in the water garden and live nearby.

A closeup of a lily pad in the water garden

There are many different kinds of gardens within the 2.5 acres of Allen Centennial Gardens. This rock marks the entrance to the orchard garden.

Some of the trees in the orchard garden were already weighed down with fruit last week.

There are several areas within the Allen Centennial Gardens to sit down, relax, and maybe eat your lunch. This seating area features a authentic Terrace chairs in "Winter Terrace White."

This is one of my favorite spots to sit and read a book. It's peaceful and quiet and offers a bit of protection from the summer sun.

And if you're more interested in impressing your friends with your horticultural knowledge than relaxing with a book, you'll discover that many of the plants have name tags, so you'll know what to call them.

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