Olbrich Home Bolz Conservatory

Don't Miss...

Ol' BearThe Bears are Back in town!

August 12, 2016

The bears are back! An attraction that has transformed into an annual tradition is waiting at the Gardens. For over 25 years, a topiary adult and baby bear have been displayed enjoying a picnic at Olbrich Botanical Gardens. This annual attraction is created by the hard work of the five horticultural interns. The bears’ structure is a combination of peat moss and Alternanthera planted tightly within a wire frame, and within the body of the bears lies a hidden irrigation unit. The process of planting and installing takes roughly a week, and will produce enjoyment at the gardens into the fall season. 

Photos: Ol' Bear in 2016 (top)

              Historical image of Ol' Bear (bottom)

Ol' Bear - historical image











Gravel GardenGorgeous Gravel Gardens

July 8, 2016

In the last several years, Olbrich has seized the opportunity to improve its sustainability and experiment with a new gardening technique by establishing four gravel gardens. Exhibited at the main entryway to the botanical center, a prominent gravel garden established two years ago displays vibrant blooms of purples, oranges and yellows.

Beauty and low maintenance are two factors that ring true for Olbrich’s gravel gardens. Above the surface these gardens are composed of beautiful drought tolerant plants; below the surface is what makes them low maintenance. A gravel buffer system is established by using four to five inches of quartzite which prevents the roots of weed seedlings from reaching the soil, but allows drought tolerant plants to thrive due to their extensive Coneflowerroot systems. While gravel is a major component of this garden style, at first glance you may not see much of it in the gardens at Olbrich. By spacing plants close together to create a tight-knit plant community, the shade from overlapping foliageworks to inhibit weed seeds’ exposure to sunlight, resulting in less seed germination, weeding, and maintenance.

Vibrant blooms and low maintenance seems too good to be true, but once you come to Olbrich and see it for yourself, you’ll be a believer! 

Avery Marcott

Horticulture Intern


Peony Perfection

June 3, 2016

Summer's heat is bringing lots of blooms to the Garden! At Olbrich, peonies are beginning to unfold with each passing warm summer day, so don’t miss the beautiful blooms of more than 62 different cultivars on display. Visit the Event Garden to see the most peonies in one place, (donated by Roy Klehm of Song Sparrow Nursery) or stroll through the rest of the outdoor gardens to see their pretty petals brightening up the Rose, Perennial, Herb, and Sunken Gardens, too.

Avery Marcott

Horticulture Intern

Peony Collage


        Peonies                       Peonies


Peony Collage







Olbrich Botanical Gardens is operated as a public-private partnership between the City of Madison Parks Division and the Olbrich Botanical Society.
Olbrich Botanical Gardens | 3330 Atwood Avenue, Madison, WI 53704. | Phone: (608)246-4550 | Fax: (608)246-4719