Outside the offices of the corporate headquarters of Better Homes & Gardens, near the heart of downtown Des Moines, 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 is the Better Homes & Gardens Test Garden®. Here's everything you've wanted to know about our little piece of paradise.
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. Though it's located downtown, the garden is landscaped in the style of a backyard—or, actually, multiple backyards: No matter where you are, 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.
The mission of the Better Homes & Gardens Test Garden® is to serve gardeners nationwide by providing garden-tested, firsthand information about plants, gardening methods, garden styles, projects, and ideas. The bounty of different plants and varieties in the Test Garden does just that.
Within the 22 different garden spaces are hundreds of perennials, trees, and shrubs—and a changing palette of annuals and bulbs. The Better Homes & Gardens garden editors and Test Garden visitors find new plants tucked into shady corners, sunny borders, and colorful containers all the time.
To test plants and offer fresh ideas, the garden changes every year. Arbors and trellises are replaced with new designs; old plants come out to make room for new ones. The Test Garden holds plants that are not yet available from nurseries or garden centers; if these plants prove to be good performers, BH&G is ready to tell readers about them when they first come to market.