Longenecker Gardens

Longenecker Gardens

Part of Ep. 1801 More Places to Visit

Visit Longenecker Gardens at the UW-Madison Arboretum with Professor Emeritus of Horticulture Ed Hassellkus. Longenecker Gardens has more than 2,500 species of trees and shrubs and one of the biggest collections of lilacs in the country. In 2010, Longenecker Gardens celebrates their 75th anniversary.

Premiere date: Mar 06, 2010

TRANSCRIPT+
Wisc Gardener Transcript: 

Shelley:
One of my favorite places to visit is Longenecker Gardens at the UW-Madison arboretum. If you're looking for a place to learn more about trees, shrubs, whether they're maples, lilacs it doesn't matter, this is the place to visit. I'm with the curator and emeritus professor of horticulture Ed. And Ed, I think people forget that you can come here for more than just the lilacs or the crabapples. There are wonderful things to visit and see here. 

Ed Hasselkus:
We have Wisconsin's premier collection of trees and shrubs, over 2500 kinds.

Shelley:
I think that's wonderful it's an unsung hero of the garden. 

Ed:
And you want to come here to see the newest and best, those that have been trial-ed and proven for our conditions. 

Shelley:
And you're the one that has been trial-ing them and proven-ing them! If that's a word, for a very long time. 

Ed:
About 43 years, Shelley. 

Shelley:
So you've seen some of these grow up almost to their maturity, then.

Ed:
Yes, yes.

Shelley:
And you've got some favorite collections here, too.

Ed:
We have one of the biggest collections of lilacs in the country. And we're here today in their full, glorious bloom.

Shelley:
2010 is a special year for Longenecker, too, isn't it? 

Ed:
Yes, 75th anniversary.

Shelley:
Wow.

Ed:
And lilacs were the first planted.

Shelley:
So some of these, not this one, but some of these are 75 years old.

Ed:
Yes, yes.

Shelley:
What about this one right here? It's beautiful.

Ed:
This is an introduction by the US National Arboretum called "Donaldii" in honor of Donald Egoff, who bred these lilacs and other shrubs at the National Arboretum. So here's one that not only has gorgeous and fragrant flowers, but also orange and maroon fall color.

Shelley:
Fall color? 

Ed:
Which is not common in lilacs, generally.

Shelley:
So you get more than one season of interest, too. 

Ed:
Absolutely.

Shelley:
And it smells wonderful. There's another collection that you're proud of.

Ed:
I worked on ornamental crabapples throughout my entire career. We have what we consider to be the most up-to-date collection in the world.

Shelley:
Let's take a look.

Ed:
The 35-acre Longenecker Horticultural Gardens got its start in 1935 by Professor G. William Longenecker. He was actually the first director of the University of Wisconsin Arboretum. He was a landscape architect who had real skill in laying out plants, like we see here today.

Shelley:
Definitely. 

Ed:
So the gardens, they were just called the Horticultural Gardens originally, were dedicated as the G. William Longenecker Horticultural Gardens in 1967. I took over from him as curator in 1966.

Shelley:
Wow.

Ed:
So in this great long history, it's just been the two of us as curators of this wonderful collection.

Shelley:
It is truly a beautiful garden. It’s a wonderful place. Now, we are in, again, one of my favorite spots, the crabapples. And you can just wander through here and get lost and enjoy yourself. But this is one of your new favorites?

Ed:
Yes, well, there are about 175 in the collection. Remember, I wanted to keep right up to date with the newest and best. This one's called "Pink Sparkles."

Shelley:
It's beautiful.

Ed:
Very few crabs have this wonderful rose-pink flower color.

Shelley:
The petals are almost striped, look at that.

Ed:
And it also has, as we talked about years past, highly persistent, tiny bright red fruits, a few still here a year later.

Shelley:
Those are important because people always worry about them falling on the ground and getting icky.

Ed:
That's right. Tiny, bite-sized to birds.

Shelley:
Right.

Ed:
This one, also, is importantly, totally resistant to the apple scab disease.

Shelley:
Which is very important in Wisconsin.

Ed:
It has two important parents. Prairie Fire and Red Jewel.

Shelley:
Well, it's because of your influence I have Prairie Fire in my yard. And the minute I planted it, the cedar waxwing birds showed up and started eating the fruit. So if you have to have a tree in your yard, it has to be a crabapple.

Ed:
Crabs in the Midwest are the most important small-scale landscape tree. 

Shelley:
Definitely. Now, is this something I can find easily or is this fairly new for you?

Ed:
It's so new, so that it's gonna take a while before it is commonly available. But again, we're concentrating here on the very newest and best.

Shelley:
And I think you're doing a very good job of it. This is fantastic. Now, you have another area that's kind of near and dear to your heart.

Ed:
Well, I've been active in the American Conifer Society. And we really have a great collection of conifers, which I would like to show you.

Shelley:
Let's go look. Ed, what does "pinetum" mean?

Ed:
We usually use the term pinetum to refer to collections of conifers, plants that are basically in the pine family. 

Shelley:
Okay, so this is a pinetum?

Ed:
Yes. And so here we have the full array of different kinds of conifers. In the center, we have the low-growing junipers in the foreground, working up behind the bench to upright tree-like junipers. On the left over here, we have pines starting with the low-growing mugo pines in the foreground, up to the full-grown white pines in the background. And then over here to the right we have a collection of spruces much more formal in appearance. And notice the color combinations here. Very blue in the spruces.

Shelley:
Then the golds and the yellows in the middle.

Ed:
Yes, and then the textures. Typically the pines have the coarsest texture habit.

Shelley:
Kind of soft.

Ed:
Yes, notice how they sway in the wind. The juniper is much more finely textured.

Shelley:
If we're buying plants in a nursery, we're always seeing things at a small size. So if we're really trying to find out how evergreens look for winter interest, this is the place to come. We can see the size we can see how they look at maturity. This is fantastic for winter interest.

Ed:
We have full-scale conifers here, of course, but we have what we like to call "garden conifers," those that are smaller scale that are appropriate for many residential landscapes.

Shelley:
And everything is labeled here.

Ed:
Everything has a label. The scientific name, the common name, the year it was acquired, and sometimes they're designated as a memorial to a person.

Shelley:
That's neat. And I think that bench up there looks very exciting.

Ed:
That bench is almost always occupied. And I think the longer you stay here that might be your bench, Ed.

Ed:
All right.

Shelley:
And thank you so much. This is such a wonderful place to visit. And you've done such a wonderful job thank you for sharing it.

Ed:
Pleasure to have you here, thank you.

Shelley:
Thanks.

EPISODE SEGMENTS+
EPISODE RESOURCES+

Download Podcast »

Buy DVD »

Funding for The Wisconsin Gardener is provided, in part, by The Wisconsin Master Gardener Association.