Garden Conservancy Open Days is an award-winning national garden education program. The Garden Conservancy introduced Open Days in 1995 to share exceptional gardens with the public, providing access to outstanding examples of design and horticultural practice.

Garden Conservancy Open Days is America’s only national private garden-visiting program, and is made possible by the work of hundreds of volunteers nationwide. The Garden Conservancy is a national nonprofit supported by mostly by individuals.

Author and activist Michael Pollan, writing in Vogue, said, “What the Garden Conservancy has launched is an institution. [Open Days] could do more for horticultural cross-fertilization than anything to hit the American garden since, well, the bumblebee.” Since its inception in 1995, Open Days has introduced more than one million visitors to thousands of private gardens around the country with the help of hundreds of volunteers.

The Friends of Villa Terrace are pleased to be a nonprofit Open Days partner with the Garden Conservancy. A portion of the proceeds from this Open Day will be shared with the Friends who are responsible for the care and maintenance of Villa Terrace’s Renaissance Garden.

On July 16, four of Milwaukee’s most celebrated private gardens will be open from 10AM to 5PM. Villa Terrace’s Renaissance Garden will be open from 10AM to 4 PM.

Visitors may begin the tour at any of the following participating gardens:

Hill Top House, River Hills
This fifteen-acre estate is composed of pathways, ponds and a stream; parterre, fountain and sculpture gardens; and woodland gardens colonized by ferns, lilies, wild geranium, ginger, sweet woodruff and spring ephemerals. The 1929 English Georgian-style residence sits hilltop, overlooking a manicured lawn. Formal hedges define the gardens. Trees, shrubs and perennials make for enchanting surprises every step of the way.

Dragonfly Farm, Mequon
Over fifteen acres focus on native species in traditional gardens, meadows and wetland. Restored one-and-one-half-acres of wetland, a poultry barn, and over two miles of walking trails. Explore a berry and soft fruit garden, a cutting garden, a veggie garden, and a small orchard. Other captivating destinations include an oak grove, a grape arbor, an allée of chestnut crabapples, and two ponds.

Two Oaks, Grafton
Boasts a woodland, plant collection, water feature, meadow and edibles on over thirteen acres. The buildings on the Two Oaks property are designed in an eighteenth-century American Tidewater Plantation tradition. Discover the English garden landscape and park replete with many water features, statuary, and garden ornaments, temple mount, and obelisk graveyard.

The Chimneys, River Hills
This private garden features a formal rose garden, perennial and vegetable gardens, water and woodland gardens, and an extensive arboretum. Located on fifteen acres of land with beautiful vistas, the gardens were created after clearing the land of invasives, but preserving standout specimen native trees. The arboretum includes collections of native, European, and Asian trees and shrubs to frame the vistas and water gardens.

Villa Terrace Renaissance Garden, Milwaukee
A 16th century Tuscan style garden on Lake Michigan. Originally designed by landscape architect Rose Standish Nichols who collaborated with architect David Adler. Renovated by Dennis Buettner and supported by the Friends of Villa Terrace, this garden can be a transporting experience. The home is an elegant museum, celebrating the decorative arts.

The Garden Conservancy is a national nonprofit dedicated to saving and sharing outstanding American gardens. It launched the Open Days program in 1995 as a means of introducing the public to gardening, providing easy access to outstanding examples of design and horticultural practice, and proving that exceptional American gardens are still being created. The Open Days program is America’s only national private garden-visiting program, and is made possible by the work of hundreds of volunteers nationwide.