Outside the offices of the corporate headquarters of Better Homes and Gardens, near the heart of a traffic-clogged downtown, lies an oasis of green -- and yellow, and red, and purple, and -- you get the idea. This refreshing blast of color and quiet on half a city block in Des Moines, Iowa, is the BH&G Test Garden. And as gorgeous as our garden is, sometimes visitors get the wrong idea about it.
The plan below shows the general layout of the Better Homes and Gardens Test Garden. North is toward the top.
Despite its name, the Test Garden is not just a garden. It is an outdoor studio for our photographers, a venue for corporate entertaining, and a meeting and lunch spot for employees. While inner-city, the garden is landscaped in the style of someone's backyard. Or, actually, several someones' backyard. Because anywhere you take a look in our garden, if you turn ever so slightly, you will have a whole new vista. And so will our cameras, as we set about photographing how-to sequences and plant portraits, and documenting the performance of new plants. In all, there are 22 distinct areas in the Test Garden.
Of course, no one else's backyard has 22 garden rooms and beds; 2,500 trees, shrubs, and perennials; 17,000 bulbs; and a changing palette of 500 annuals. And when the BH&G garden editors are finished photographing a plant or garden plan, out it comes, often to the chagrin of Test Garden manager Sandra Gerdes. "And just when it was looking so good," she tells us. But we will continue to plant and replant (and replant) for many, many reasons. Mostly, though, we do it for you.