Explore the Grounds

The Gerard T. Donnelly Grand Garden

A grand new garden is now open—commemorating one hundred years of planting and protecting trees.

Content Detail

A central attraction for gathering and enjoyment, The Gerard T. Donnelly Grand Garden showcases the beauty and diversity of plants with paved paths, intimate seating areas, sparkling fountains, and spaces for celebration.

It is a long, two-acre rectangle divided into three spaces: the central Centennial Plaza, the Joy of Plants Garden to the west, and the Celebration Garden to the east. All are connected by paved, accessible paths with plenty of benches and seating areas where guests can gather. The commanding vista extends from the Jane Morton Berry Plaza by the Administration and Research Center to the historic Four Columns.

Centrally located a short distance from the Visitor Center, The Grand Garden is near other attractions including the Maze Garden, the Children’s Garden, the Ground Cover Garden, the Sterling Morton Library, the Plant Clinic, the Firefly Pavilion, the Conifer Walk, and the Meadow Lake trail. Accessible restrooms and the Ginkgo Restaurant and Café are nearby in the Visitor Center.

The Grand Garden opened in 2022 in a space formerly occupied by a garden of formal hedges. It is named for the Arboretum’s former president and CEO.

Plants of The Grand Garden

Use this list to identify and learn about the characteristics of the plants founds throughout The Grand Garden. The plants are organized by the color of their flowers and are updated seasonally. Plants found in the display beds of Centennial Plaza are not found here. To learn more about the plants chosen for display beds and containers, visit this page.

Plants with Blue Flowers

Eastern Blue Star

Amsonia tabernaemontana ‘Storm Cloud’
Type:
Hardiness zone:
Zone 4, Zone 5
Sun requirements: Full sun, partial sun
Basic soil tolerance: Moist, well-drained soil
Native to: Central U.S.

Plants with Pink Flowers

Julia Rose Itoh Peony

Paeonia ‘Julia Rose’
Bloom season: May, June
Hardiness zone: Zone 4, Zone 5
Sun requirements: Full sun, partial sun
Basic soil tolerance: Moist, well-drained soil
Native to: Central U.S.

Spice Island Korean Spice Viburnum

Viburnum carlesii ‘J.N. Select A’
Bloom season: May, June
Hardiness zone: Zone 4, Zone 5
Sun requirements: Full sun, partial sun
Basic soil tolerance: Moist, well-drained soil
Native to: Central U.S.

Plants with Purple Flowers

Ornamental Onion

Allium ‘Globemaster’
Bloom season: May
Hardiness zone: Zone 4, Zone 5
Sun requirements: Full sun, partial sun
Basic soil tolerance: Moist, well-drained soil
Native to: Central U.S.

Plants with White Flowers

Allegheny Serviceberry

Amelanchier laevis
Bloom season: May
Hardiness zone: Zone 4, Zone 5
Sun requirements: Full sun, partial sun
Basic soil tolerance: Moist, well-drained soil
Native to: Central U.S.

Golden Raindrops Crabapple

Malus ‘Schmidtcutleaf’
Bloom season: May
Hardiness zone: Zone 4, Zone 5
Sun requirements: Full sun, partial sun
Basic soil tolerance: Moist, well-drained soil
Native to: Central U.S.

Mount Airy Fothergilla

Fothergilla ‘Mount Airy’
Bloom season: April, May
Hardiness zone: Zone 4, Zone 5
Sun requirements: Full sun, partial sun
Basic soil tolerance: Moist, well-drained soil
Native to: Central U.S.

Royal White Whitebud

Cercis canadensis ‘Royal White’
Bloom season: April, May
Hardiness zone: Zone 4, Zone 5
Sun requirements: Full sun, partial sun
Basic soil tolerance: Moist, well-drained soil
Native to: Central U.S.

Rutcan Dogwood

Cornus x ‘Rutcan’
Bloom season: May
Hardiness zone: Zone 4, Zone 5
Sun requirements: Full sun, partial sun
Basic soil tolerance: Moist, well-drained soil
Native to: Central U.S.

Waterlily Star Magnolia

Magnolia stellata ‘Waterlily’ spring
Bloom season: April
Hardiness zone: Zone 4, Zone 5
Sun requirements: Full sun, partial sun
Basic soil tolerance: Moist, well-drained soil
Native to: Central U.S.

White Quamash

Camassia leichtlini ‘Alba’
Bloom season: May, June
Hardiness zone: Zone 4, Zone 5
Sun requirements: Full sun, partial sun
Basic soil tolerance: Moist, well-drained soil
Native to: Central U.S.

Plants with Yellow Flowers

Cornelian-Cherry Dogwood

Cornus mas
Bloom season: March, April
Hardiness zone: Zone 4, Zone 5
Sun requirements: Full sun, partial sun
Basic soil tolerance: Moist, well-drained soil
Native to: Central U.S.

Sugar Baby Forsythia

Forsythia intermedia ‘Nimbus’
Bloom season: May, June
Hardiness zone:
 Zone 4, Zone 5
Sun requirements: 
Full sun, partial sun
Basic soil tolerance:
Moist, well-drained soil
Native to:
 Central U.S.

Wisely Supreme Chinese Witch-Hazel

Hamamelis mollis ‘Wisely Supreme’
Bloom season: May, June
Hardiness zone: Zone 4, Zone 5
Sun requirements: Full sun, partial sun
Basic soil tolerance: Moist, well-drained soil
Native to: Central U.S.

Centennial Plaza

This central circle is the entrance to the garden, providing access in all directions by paved paths. It is ringed by lush beds of colorful blooming plants and flowering trees and framed by a shady pergola with climbing clematis, wisteria, and honeysuckle vines. Nearby fountains provide a backdrop of soothing water sounds. The circle provides places to gather, sit, and relax.

The plantings in the beds that surround the plaza are changed multiple times each year. Find information about all the Arboretum’s annual plantings here.

Joy of Plants Garden

This western garden is designed for beauty, relaxation, and inspiration. It is divided into a series of garden rooms showcasing combinations of small trees, shrubs, and perennials at a home garden scale. These garden rooms, united by a lush green lawn, are shaded by tall trees and lushly planted for color, beauty, and variety, with many places to sit and enjoy their loveliness throughout the seasons. Water flows through sculptural water features, and at the west end a large fountain anchors the Jane Berry Morton Plaza.

Celebration Garden

To the east is a garden in shades of white and green, a magical place for quiet respite or joyous festivities, a place to make lifelong memories. Silvery leaves and white blooms, with pops of gold and red, create a harmonious backdrop for weddings and other celebrations on the velvet green lawn. At the east end are a fountain and a secluded terrace set off by junipers and hydrangeas. Benches along the paths invite guests to sit and relax.

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