The Allen Centennial Gardens are instructional gardens managed by the Department of Horticulture, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Twenty-two garden styles exist on the 2.5-acre (1.0-ha) campus site with a primary focus on herbaceous annual, biennial and perennial ornamental plants. The gardens are used for instruction mostly by the Department of Horticulture and secondly by departments of art, botany, entomology, landscape architecture, plant pathology, and soils. Class work sessions are limited due to the gardens' prominence on campus, high aesthetic standards, space restrictions, and large class sizes. Undergraduate students are the primary source of labor for plant propagation, installation and maintenance; management; and preparation of interpretive literature. Work experience at the gardens assists students with obtaining career advances in ornamental horticulture. Future challenges include initiating greater faculty use of the gardens for instruction and creating innovative ways to use the gardens to enhance instruction.
The time required to maintain plants on a standardized basis (effort) was investigated in 24 gardens of various plant composition over 5 years. Cluster analysis of data grouped gardens into five clusters based on magnitude and timing of effort. Plants grown in containers required up to 20 times more effort annually than plants grown in other gardens in ground beds. Gardens planted with annuals required about 80% less effort than container gardens but 75% more effort than other gardens evaluated. As the number of taxa in gardens decreased, effort decreased and was less variable throughout the year. Enumeration of effort in relation to garden composition should be used to project management cost for gardens.