Gardens and Collections

The Horticulture Display Garden at the West Central Research and Outreach Center (WCROC) expands nearly three acres of beautifully landscaped garden beds and attractions. The garden includes plantings and research from several plant breeding companies from around the world.

We invite you to look, smell and touch, but please do not dig, pick or cut any flowers or plant materials. The University of Minnesota is continually conducting research on flower, vegetables and landscape plantings.

Most plants are identified with small tags.

The Horticulture Display Garden is open daily from dawn until dusk. Admission is free.

One of the largest and most impressive displays of annual flower varieties and cultivars in the Upper Midwest can be found in the Horticulture Display Garden.  The Garden features hundreds of annual flower cultivars from plant breeding companies around the world.  Cultivars are grown from seed or are vegetatively propagated in our greenhouse, and later transplanted into the Garden by early June.  All flowers are labeled, allowing visitors to take note of top performing cultivars under regional conditions.  More on our annual flower trials.

Heritage Garden

This unique garden takes a step back in time to the early 1950's.  Relax on the front porch while enjoying plant materials typically found from the 1950's homestead.  A Quilt Garden adorns the front lawn along with a paved walk-way and wooden arbor.

Meditation Garden

During the 2014 and 2015 growing seasons, staff at the Horticulture Display Garden put in a Meditation Garden thanks to the financial support of four individual families.  Each family designed and dedicated their garden in memory of a loved one.  The Meditation Garden offers a meandering path, ornamental grasses, a water feature, pergola, sculpture, fieldstone, soothing colors, and places to rest and relax. Read more about the Meditation Garden, or watch the progressive video of how we made it all come together.

Shade Garden

A meandering trail through our Shade Garden offers visitors a chance to see perennial plant varieties, annual flower cultivars, woodland species and ferns that are best suited for shade. More than 100 varieties of hosta are also on display, some of which come from the Ken Anderson collection. Visitors can also enjoy seeing Minnesota's state flower, the Showy Ladyslipper.  Water features, split rail fences, and arbors adorn the paths throughout our Shade Garden, as well as offers several relaxing places to sit and enjoy the beauty of the Garden.

Tropical Garden

Located next to the Water Garden, guests can get a touch of the tropics. The Tropical Garden has many unique tropical plants which may include citrus trees, banana plants, cacti, roses, tropical hibiscus, gardenia and lantana.

Water Garden

The sights and sounds of the Water Garden are soothing to many visitors. Enjoy the many aquatic plants and Koi fish.

All-America Selections

Since the 1990s, the Horticulture Display Garden has served as an All-America Selections (AAS) Display Garden, showcasing flower and vegetable varieties proven to have superior performance under regional conditions. Our garden was selected as an AAS Trial Ground site in 2011, testing new flower and bedding plant varieties before they are released to the public. Our garden is the currently the only Trial Ground site in Minnesota.  Visitors can take note of outstanding garden performers, both for annual flower varieties and vegetables.

Other Gardens & Collections

  • Designed as a homeowner's "backyard garden", the Wes Gray Garden has a variety of peonies, irises, shrubs, seven varieties of hardy hibiscus and many perennials.
  • Our Garden features several varieties and colors of lilies, including asiatic, aurelian, orienpet and orientals. Another unique feature in the garden is a display of 14 azalea varieties, all developed by University of Minnesota researchers for winter hardiness.
  • Ornamental grasses are located all throughout the garden. Visitors will find varieties suitable to Zone 4.
  • Our garden provides shelter and food for many birds and butterflies, allowing visitors an opportunity to enjoy bird watching from park benches in the shade.
  • Located throughout the garden, visitors will see newer releases of trees and shrubs adapted for our area, including an impressive display of crabapple trees.