University of Minnesota Test Gardens

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(Last Updated On: June 25, 2018)

The University of Minnesota has a variety of trial gardens and fields where they experiment with plants of all types. These can provide a refreshing taste of the country for city dwellers. They also offer good gardening information for anyone interested in growing flowers or vegetables at home.

Field crops in the city

We used to pass by the University of Minnesota’s test fields pretty regularly.

I loved to see the fields of corn and soybeans right here at the edge of the city. Especially just a short distance from the confounding array of shops and pavement in and around Rosedale Mall!


These belong to the University of Minnesota. They are test plots where university students and researchers experiment with new crops and growing methods. But it feels like suddenly landing in farm country.

Less obvious are smaller-scale vegetable and flower gardens that brighten up the roadway near the horticultural buildings on campus.

Display and trial gardens

These smaller gardens are display and trail gardens maintained by the University of Minnesota. They provide educational programming for students and outreach to the public, as students maintain and conduct research in the gardens, but they are also open to the public. Visitors can stop by just to enjoy the gardens or learn from the information brochures and signs posted in the garden.

The gardens are a bit spread out, and some are more interesting than others. Look for the outdoor classroom area, water garden, restored prairie (which can be beautiful or not depending on the season), and the annual and perennial trial gardens.

I was surprised how poorly tended some of the gardens were when I visited. But they were still lovely, with plenty of flowers and a few song birds.

It’s not a big enough garden to be worth a long trip, but it’s a nice place to wander through if you are in the area.

The University of Minnesota’s Display and Trial Gardens have their own website with information on visiting the garden. Find what’s in bloom on their Facebook page

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