Visiting the BH&G Test Garden
This beautiful green space has something to see in all seasons.
The Better Homes & Gardens Test Garden® is temporarily closed until further notice due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Adjacent to the headquarters of Better Homes & Gardens' parent company, Meredith Corporation, the Test Garden is located at the corner of Grand Avenue and 15th Street in downtown Des Moines, Iowa. The Test Garden serves as a display garden, a testing ground for plants, and a photography studio for our company's publications and websites.
Because it is a working space, visiting times are limited to Fridays from noon to 2 p.m., from the first Friday in May through the first Friday in October. Visitors may stroll through the gardens on their own (garden staff is available to answer questions) or groups of 10 or more may request a tour during the open hours. For more information, contact the Test Garden Manager at Better Homes & Gardens at 515-284-3994.
The Mixed Perennial Border
A small flagstone path loops through a border, and a variety of perennials gives it color spring through fall. Bulbs emerge here first, then a series of perennials. Later, the show will become a little more dramatic as grasses grow tall and summer bloomers emerge.
The Shade Garden
This area is especially lovely in spring, as is typical of woodland gardens. Before the trees' canopy closes in with foliage, woodland bloomers such as bleeding heart and Brunnera flower fade. At the same time, hostas and heucheras expand and eventually cover the ground.
A cobblestone path leads you through a more naturalistic section of the garden. Native plants such as Pulsatilla and Baptisia bring welcome spring color to this informal setting. Throughout the summer months, you can sit and enjoy a variety of blooms from Coreopsis, Echinacea, Penstemon and other colorful perennials.
The Vegetable and Herb Garden
In the sunniest corner of the Better Homes & Gardens Test Garden®, a mix of vegetables and herbs are planted in raised beds. The Test Garden plants in beds because of the many benefits raised bed gardens: they provide a longer growing season, promote healthier soil, and they keep your garden clean and compact. Not to mention, raised beds will save your back. In the Test Garden are plenty of fragrant herbs to sniff (like basil, sage, and chives) while getting a sneak peek at some of the newest vegetables the Test Garden is trialing.
When you visit the Test Garden, enter through our main gate on the south side of the gardens. Descend a few steps and join fellow garden enthusiasts for a stroll along the main path, or sit in our central courtyard under a ring of mature crabapple trees and catch up with friends over lunch. A custom-made glass and steel fountain is our central focal point, while scattered benches and patio tables make for comfortable lounging.