Public invited to UW Family Gardening Day on May 4

It seems that spring has finally sprung! It’s time to gather ideas for your garden at the UW Family Gardening Day on Saturday, May 4, on the University of Wisconsin–Madison campus.

The free, family-friendly event runs from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. Activities will be hosted at Allen Centennial GardenSteenbock Memorial Library and D.C. Smith Instructional Greenhouse, along with two new venues: the Wisconsin Energy Institute (WEI) and the Botany Garden.

“Spring is here, and it’s time to get growing,” says event organizer Johanna Oosterwyk, manager of the D.C. Smith Instructional Greenhouse. “UW Family Gardening Day is a great way to kick off gardening season with activities and inspiration for the whole family.”

Each location will host a variety of displays and demonstrations. Visitors to the Botany Garden can look at seeds under the microscope, plant native flower seeds, explore plant scents and learn about invasive fungi. The WEI will display information about biofuels and pollinators, and the UW Arboretum will be there with Journey North and monarch activities. At D.C. Smith Greenhouse, visitors can look at insects under a microscope and construct DNA necklaces, and at Allen Centennial Garden, they can pound flowers, see a display of carnivorous plants and learn about insects with the UW Insect Ambassadors.

While supplies last, Allen Centennial Garden will be distributing Pasta Four-Packs (sets of tomato, oregano, basil and pepper plants), the WEI will be giving away poplar trees, and Master Gardeners at Steenbock Library will hand out pollinator-friendly Mexican Sunflowers for visitors to take and plant in their home gardens.

Master Gardeners will also be on hand at Steenbock Library to answer questions and distribute information about gardening resources. Visitors are encouraged to check out the library’s collection, which includes popular materials on cooking, food preservation, gardening and urban agriculture.

While on campus, visitors should be sure to stop by Babcock Hall Dairy Store, which will be open and dishing up ice cream treats from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m.

Allen Centennial Garden, Steenbock Memorial Library and the D.C. Smith Instructional Greenhouse are all located within two blocks of each other at 620 Babcock Drive, 550 Babcock Drive and 465 Babcock Drive, respectively. The Wisconsin Energy Institute is located at 1552 University Avenue, and the Botany Garden is at 1090 University Avenue. Free parking is available in Lot 34 at 1480 Tripp Circle; in Lot 36 just west of Steenbock Library; in Lot 40 behind Babcock Hall; and in Lot 41 at 1820 University Avenue near the WEI.

For more, visit the UW Family Gardening Day Facebook Page and webpage, or contact Johanna Oosterwyk at or (608) 262-3844.

Photos are available at