Midwestern Arboreta

When planning your next weekend getaway, stop and visit one of the arboreta in Iowa and surrounding states.  (Arboreta are outdoor living collections consisting mainly of trees and shrubs.)  Spring is an especially good time to visit an arboretum with their colorful spring-flowering trees and shrubs. 

The Bickelhaupt Arboretum (www.eicc.edu/about-eicc/colleges-and-centers/bickelhaupt) in Clinton was started in 1970 by Frances and Robert Bickelhaupt on the grounds surrounding their home.  The 14-acre arboretum includes an Education Center and numerous trees, shrubs, groundcovers, perennials, and annuals.  An outstanding feature of the arboretum is the Heartland Collection of Garden Conifers.  The Bickelhaupt Arboretum is located at 340 South 14th Street in Clinton. The grounds are open free of charge from sunrise to sunset, 365 days a year. 

The 140 acre Brenton Arboretum (www.thebrentonarboretum.org) is located 2 miles south of Dallas Center, Iowa at 25141 - 260th Street.  The Arboretum contains tree and shrub collections and native prairie.  The arboretum is open daily from 9:00 am to sunset and admission is free. 

The Dubuque Arboretum and Botanical Gardens (www.dubuquearboretum.net) is located in Marshall Park at 3800 Arboretum Drive.  The gardens include a large collection of roses (consisting of hybrid tea, miniature, shrub, and old garden roses) and over 1,000 species or cultivars of hosta.  The hosta collection is one of the largest in a public garden in the United States.  Other features include a Japanese garden, an English garden, a conifer collection, and various perennial gardens.  The Dubuque Arboretum and Botanical Gardens is maintained/operated by more than 300 volunteers.  It is open daily from 7:00 am to dusk, 365 days a year. 

Entrance sign to Iowa Arboretum, Madrid Iowa

The Iowa Arboretum (www.iowaarboretum.org) is located on 165 acres in rural Boone County near Luther.  The arboretum contains more than 80 acres of forest, prairie, and meadow.  The “cultivated” 40 acres contain hundreds of species of trees and shrubs, herbs, roses, ornamental grasses, Siberian irises, daylilies, and hostas in 19 different plant collections.  Facilities include the Hughes Education Center (information and educational facility, plus a gift shop), the Cafferty multi-purpose building, a gazebo and pavilion.  The grounds are open daily throughout the year, sunrise to sunset.  The Iowa Arboretum is located southwest of Luther.  Take Iowa Highway 17 to Luther, then go 2½ miles west on Boone County Road E-57.  Turn south onto Peach Street and follow the signs to the arboretum. 

Azalea shrubs in bloomThe Minnesota Landscape Arboretum (www.arboretum.umn.edu) consists of more than 1,200 acres of woodlands, prairies, tree and shrub collections, and gardens in Chaska, Minnesota.  The Oswald Visitor Center has an information desk, the Arboretum Gift & Garden Store, and the Arboretum Café.  The nearby Snyder Building contains the Andersen Horticultural Library, the Marjorie-Deats Conservatory, and Tea Room.  A recent addition to the arboretum is the Tashjian Bee and Pollinator Discovery Center. This building contains an exhibit hall, honey house, working bee apiary, covered picnic area, and gardens filled with pollinator-friendly plantings.  The arboretum is located on Minnesota Highway 5 (approximately 20 miles southwest of downtown Minneapolis). 


The Morton Arboretum (www.mortonarb.org) was founded in 1922 by Joy Morton, founder of the Morton Salt Company.  The 1,700 acre arboretum is located 25 miles west of Chicago on Illinois Route 53 in Lisle, Illinois.  The arboretum grounds are open 365 days a year from 7:00 am to sunset.  The arboretum contains numerous tree and shrub collections.  Also on the grounds are the Visitor Center with the Arboretum Store and Ginkgo Restaurant and Café, a four-acre Children’s Garden, a one-acre Maze Garden, the Sterling Morton Library, a Plant Clinic, nine miles of roads, and 16 miles of trails. 

Other arboreta in the region include the Arbor Lodge State Historical Park and Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City, Nebraska, the Cedar Valley Arboretum and Botanic Gardens in Waterloo, Iowa, and the Muscatine Arboretum in Muscatine, Iowa. 

In our fast-paced, modern world, arboreta are perfect places to relax and enjoy the beauty of nature.

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