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 -- you get the idea. This refreshing blast of color and quiet on half a city block in Des Moines is the Better Homes and Gardens 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 at the top.
Despite its name, the Test Garden is not just a garden. It is an outdoor studio for 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' backyards 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.
Within the 22 different garden spaces are hundreds of perennials, trees, and shrubs -- and a changing palette of annuals and bulbs. The Better Homes and Gardens garden editors and Test Garden visitors find new plants tucked into shady corners, sunny borders, and colorful containers all the time. And when the BHG staff has finished evaluating and photographing plants, they often come out to make room for more new varieties. The Test Garden team continues to plant and replant (and replant) for many reasons, but mostly for our visitors.