Annual Garden

The Annual Garden at Boerner Botanical Gardens   "Flowers are words
which even a babe may understand."


Arthur Cleveland Case


T
he Annual Garden, also commonly referred to as the walled garden, serves as the main entrance to the formal gardens.

As the name suggests, the Annual Garden is composed primarily of "Annual" plants, which are those plants that bloom for only one year. (In contrast, "perennials" bloom for a number of consecutive years.) Because Annual plants live only one season, we replant this Garden every year, making it exciting and full of change.


The Annual Garden was a part of the original plans and was first used as a demonstration area for vines, ground covers, Annuals and experimental plants.

Originally an elm stood at each corner. Three of the elms fell victim to Dutch Elm Disease. The fourth, after years of being held together with wires bolted into it, succumbed to storm damage. In 1999, a Dutch Elm Disease-resistant American Elm was donated by its developer, Dr. Eugene B. Smalley, UW–Madison professor emeritus. The elm grows at the site where the last of the original elms once stood.

Some of the original plantings remain healthy and vigorous. At each corner of the fountain located in the center of this Garden is a single Pfitzer juniper planted when the gardens first opened.

The low walls of the Annual Garden were built of native glacial stone by WPA workers. In the southeast corner there is a gazebo, the stones of which came from the old summer kitchen of the Kilbourntown House at Estabrook Park.

Every year the best of the new bedding plants in seed catalogues are incorporated into the design of the Annual Garden. It serves as a showcase for plants that have done well in the controlled areas of the trial and test Gardens. Of course, the real test is how well these plants perform in a true Garden setting.

You will see many pieces of Garden statuary in this garden and elsewhere in the formal Gardens. Most were produced under a WPA Program in conjunction with Milwaukee's Layton School of Art. In the Annual Garden you will find statues of a boy and girl, a sea crab and a turtle, a sundial, and sculpted bench bases, each the creation of students at the Layton School of Art.

Before you leave the Annual Garden, stand near the fountain and take in the view. This fountain is a focal point to the formal Gardens. From here you can see the long grassy malls extending south and west and anticipate the rest of your visit.

Just to the west of the Annual Garden are the Perennial Borders.
Go to the next garden


Boerner Botanical Gardens
9400 Boerner Drive, Hales Corners, WI 53130
(414) 525-5600