A Complete Guide to the BHG Test Garden

The Better Homes & Gardens Test Garden® includes 22 distinct areas with hundreds of plantings that bloom all summer long.

The Better Homes & Gardens Test Garden® is the best place to see the creativity and skill of our editors in real life. In half an acre of space in downtown Des Moines, Iowa, the garden holds more than 2,500 shrubs, trees, perennials, vines, and annuals within 22 distinct areas, including a shade garden, a rose garden, a shrub collection, and sunny borders, to name a few.

BHG Test Garden Logo

Visiting the Test Garden

You can visit the Test Garden and take a stroll around when it's open to the public. Hours are Fridays from noon to 2 p.m., from May through September. Use this handy map, below, for a self-guided tour. (Groups of 10 or more may schedule guided tours during the open hours by appointment. Call 515-284-3994 to make a reservation.)

illustration of bhg test garden plan numbered
Illustration by Gary Palmer

From the main entrance of the BHG Test Garden, you can walk in either direction on the circular path that leads all around the space. However, if you head to your left, you can follow the order of each garden space on the map above. Simply match the numbers on the map to the numbers listed below to discover all of the distinct areas of the Test Garden's beautiful landscape.

  1. The courtyard
  2. The rose garden
  3. The southwest terrace garden
  4. The shade garden
  5. The fragrant path
  6. The conifer collection
  7. The clay garden
  8. The garden room
  9. The meadow
  10. The cutting garden
  11. The mixed perennial garden
  12. The shrub walk
  13. The mixed border
  14. The tool shed and storage area
  15. The mixed conifer and shrub garden
  16. The hillside garden
  17. The vegetable and herb garden
  18. The arbor and daylily garden
  19. The pond and cascade
  20. The southeast terrace garden
  21. The deck
  22. The rock garden

Each garden area is designed to show plants and ideas that can add beauty to many yards in different climates and growing conditions. The shrub walk, for example, displays large and small shrubs with colorful foliage, fragrance, and flowers that add just the right touch to a front or backyard. The rose garden shows varieties that thrive and bloom with no use of sprays. The mixed perennial garden combines early and late bloomers, providing color from spring through fall.

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