Love Garden

The elegant arches of the Garden Gates frame a sweep of emerald lawn bordered by magnificent perennial flower beds, backed by the imposing presence of Love Library. This is Love Garden, the traditional entrance to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln city campus.

The Garden Gates always remain open, inviting the community to visit the campus and enjoy the garden's ever-changing colors and textures.

Garden gates at Love Garden
The Garden Gates at Love Garden

Love Garden originally was a formal rose garden, with clipped euonymus and juniper hedges and beds of red roses surrounding a large lawn. A complete renovation begun in 1981 created the present garden. The new design produced greater interest by using diverse plants to provide more seasonal change and contrast in size and textures than the formal rose garden.

The perennial beds soften the edges of the paired walks leading to the library, but their symmetrical placement recalls the garden's historical design and echoes the angular mass of Love Library.

Dwarf yew hedges maintain the formality of the old garden, now balanced by the informal feel of the colorful perennial flower beds. The traditional expanse of lawn ties Love Library to similar open spaces south of Canfield Administration building and the College of Business Administration and acts as the setting for the jewel-like flower beds.

A Garden Walk

Strolling past the perennial beds on a June day, a visitor passes through varying patterns of sun and shade cast by the garden's trees. Plants in the beds are chosen to fit the different growing environments created by the trees.

Just inside the Garden Gates, young serviceberry trees (Amelanchier x grandiflora) are too small to cast much shade, so Phlox maculata, Heliopsis and Coreopsis verticillata thrive in the long hours of warm sun.

Farther along the walk, a group of Eastern redbuds (Cercis canadensis) offers the shade enjoyed by Jack-in-the-Pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum), gooseneck loosestrife (Lysimachia clethroides) and celandine poppy (Stylophorum diphyllum), and lush groups of Sedum and lady's mantle (Alchemilla mollis) prove their versatility as lovers of sun and shade. White meadow anemone (Anemone canadensis) flowers gleam from a pool of June shade and large heart-shaped wild ginger leaves (Asarum canadense) look handsome throughout the growing season.

At the end of the walk, near the library, the deep shade created by mature pin oaks (Quercus palustris), Japanese pagodatree (Sophora japonica) and redbuds is a cool, dim home for columbine and ferns. Shade also provides an opportunity to showcase plants with colorful and textured foliage. Here, smooth, bright green hosta leaves and the elegant bronze-red leaves of Heuchera micrantha 'Palace Purple' combine for a lovely effect.

The eight perennial beds are a Nebraska version of traditional herbaceous English borders, using masses of color and varied heights and depths to maintain visual interest. The overall effect is informal, belying the time and effort spent on design. Carefully chosen species provide a sequence of bloom and color from early spring until frost, but the garden'' season doesn'' end there. Plants with interesting textures and seedheads remain to enliven the garden in the winter months.

A group of sun-loving perennials adjoining the lawn illustrate the careful planning of colors, textures, heights and bloom times required for an effective border.

A fine example is a small group of plants near the north end of the walk, consisting of Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia), zebragrass (Miscanthus sinensis 'Zebrinus'), Moonshine yarrow (Achillea x 'Moonshine') and dwarf fountaingrass (Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Hameln'). Tall, upright zebragrass makes a bold season-long statement with its dramatic striped foliage, while alongside it the airy, silver foliage of Russian sage is covered with an understated haze of blue flowers from July to September.

In front of the zebragrass, shorter Moonshine yarrow boasts bright yellow blooms that perfectly match the yellow stripes on the grass. The flowing, mounded from of dwarf fountaingrass completes the tableau, its rich green, fine-textured leaves contrasting with the fern-like gray foliage of yarrow.

Labor of Love

Caring for such a large garden can be a labor-intensive enterprise. The task is eased by beginning with excellent soil, enriched each year with additional compost. No chemical fertilizers are applied to the beds and pesticides are used only when absolutely necessary.

Wood chip mulch maintains moisture and keeps down the weeds in the beds. Deadheading, or removing spent flowers, is an ongoing chore. It often means simply clipping off dead flowers, but some early summer-blooming perennials, such as geraniums, salvia and veronica, can be cut back almost to the ground after flowering. This stimulates a flush of new growth and a second bloom.

Certain perennials, such as Autumn Joy sedum and Moonshine yarrow, begin to flop of thin out after a few years. Dividing these plants by lifting them in the spring, cutting them into clumps and replanting restores their vitality and results in additional plants for use elsewhere on campus.

Love Garden Plant List

Latin Name Common Name
Achillea millefolium 'Paprika' Paprika Yarrow
Achillea 'Moonshine' Moonshine Yarrow
Aconitum carmichaelii 'Arendsii' Arends Monkshood
Actaea racemosa Black Snakeroot
Ajuga reptans 'Black Scallop' Black Scallop Bugleweed
Ajuga reptans 'Bronze Beauty' Bronze Beauty Bugleweed
Allium senescens 'Glaucum' Ornamental Onion
Amsonia ciliata Fringed Bluestar
Amsonia hubrichtii Arkansas Bluestar
Amsonia tabernaemontana Willow Amsonia
Anemone canadensis Meadow Anemone
Anemone x hybrida 'Honorine Jobert' Honorine Jobert Anemone
Anemone hupehensis var. japonica 'Prinz Heinrich' Prince Henry Anemone
Anemone sylvestris Snowdrop Anemone
Aquilegia canadensis Wild Columbine
Aquilegia vulgaris 'Nora Barlow' Nora Barlow Columbine
Artemisia versicolor 'Sea Foam' Sea Foam Artemisia
Arum italicum 'Pictum' Variegated Italian Arum
Aruncus dioicus 'Child of Two Worlds' Child of Two Worlds Goatsbeard
Asarum canadense Wild Ginger
Aster novae-angliae 'Andenken an Alma Potschke' Alma Potschke Aster
Aster novae-angliae 'Purple Dome' Purple Dome Aster
Aurinia saxatilis Basket-of-Gold
Baptisia australis Blue False Indigo
Baptisia minor Dwarf False Indigo
Belamcanda chinensis Blackberry Lily
Boltonia asteroides 'Snowbank' Snowbank Boltonia
Buddleia 'Petite Purple' Petite Purple Butterfly Bush
Buddleia 'Royal Red' Royal Red Butterfly Bush
Calamagrostis x acutiflora 'Karl Foerster' Karl Foerster Feather Reed Grass
Calamagrostis brachytricha Korean Feather Reed Grass
Callirhoe alcaeoides 'Logan Calhoun' Logan Calhoun Prairie Poppy Mallow
Centranthus ruber Red Valerian
Centranthus ruber 'Albus' White Valerian
Cerastium tomentosum Snow-in-Summer
Ceratostigma plumbaginoides Plumbago
Chrysanthemum x rubellum 'Clara Curtis' Clara Curtis Chrysanthemum
Clematis integrifolia Solitary Clematis
Conoclinium coelestinum Hardy Ageratum
Coreopsis verticillata 'Zagreb' Zagreb Threadleaf Coreopsis
Cornus sericea 'Kelseyi' Kelsey Dogwood
Crambe cordifolia Giant Kale
Echinacea purpurea Purple Coneflower
Eragrostis trichodes Sand Lovegrass
Eutrochium purpureum Joe-Pye Weed
Euphorbia polychroma Cushion Spurge
Filipendula rubra Queen of the Prairie
Filipendula ulmaria Queen of the Meadows
Filipendula vulgaris Meadowsweet
Gaura lindheimeri 'Corrie's Gold' Corrie's Gold Gaura
Gaura lindheimeri 'Siskiyou Pink' Siskiyou Pink Gaura
Genista tinctoria Woadwaxen
Geranium pratense Meadow Cranesbill
Geranium pratense 'Dark Reiter' Dark Reiter Cranesbill
Geranium psilostemon Armenian Cranesbill
Geranium sanguineum Bloody Cranesbill
Geranium x cantabrigiense 'Karmina' Karmina Cranesbill
Gypsophila oldhamiana Manchurian Baby's Breath
Gypsophila paniculata 'Bristol Fairy' Bristol Fairy Baby's Breath
Heliopsis helianthoides 'Summer Sun' Summer Sun Heliopsis
Hemerocallis 'Happy Returns' Happy Returns Daylily
Hemerocallis 'Hyperion' Hyperion Daylily
Hemerocallis 'Stella d'Oro' Stella d'Oro Daylily
Heuchera micrantha var. diversifolia 'Palace Purple' Palace Purple Alumroot
Heuchera 'Stormy Seas' Stormy Seas Coralbells
Heuchera 'Venus' Venus Coralbells
Hypericum calycinum Creeping St. John's Wort
Hypericum frondosum 'Sunburst' Sunburst Golden St. John's Wort
Iris sibirica 'Caesar's Brother' Caesar's Brother Siberian Iris
Liatris spicata Spike Gayfeather
Lilium 'Harlequin' Harlequin Hybrid Lily
Lilium lancifolium (syn. L. tigrinum) Tiger Lily
Lilium superbum Turk's Cap Lily
Lilium 'White Tiger' White Tiger Lily
Limonium latifolium Sea Lavender
Linum perenne 'Lewisii' Blue Flax
Liriope spicata Lilyturf
Lycoris squamigera Surprise Lily
Lysimachia clethroides Gooseneck Loosestrife
Malva alcea 'Fastigiata' Hollyhock Mallow
Mertensia virginica Virginia Bluebells
Miscanthus sinensis Maidengrass
Miscanthus sinensis 'Rotsilber' Red-Silver Maidengrass
Miscanthus sinensis 'Strictus' Porcupine Grass
Monarda 'Alba' White Beebalm
Monarda 'Cambridge Scarlet' Cambridge Scarlet Bee Balm
Monarda 'Marshall's Delight' Marshall's Delight Bee Balm
Monarda 'Raspberry Wine' Raspberry Wine Bee Balm
Nepeta x faassenii Faassen's Catmint
Oenothera berlandieri 'Siskiyou' Siskiyou Evening Primrose
Oenothera macrocarpa Missouri Evening Primrose
Paeonia lactiflora 'Peter Brand' Peter Brand Peony
Papaver orientale 'Prince of Orange' Prince of Orange Poppy
Papaver orientale 'Scarlet O'Hara' Scarlet O'Hara Poppy
Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Hameln' Dwarf Fountain Grass
Pennisetum orientale Oriental Fountain Grass
Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red' Husker Red Penstemon
Penstemon pinifolius Pineleaf Penstemon
Perovskia atriplicifolia Russian Sage
Phlox maculata 'Alpha' Alpha Phlox
Phlox paniculata Tall Garden Phlox
Phlox subulata 'Pink' Pink Moss Phlox
Phlox subulata 'White' White Moss Phlox
Physostegia virginiana Obedient Plant
Polygonatum sp. Solomon's Seal
Potentilla recta 'Warrenii' Sulphur Cinquefoil
Pulsatilla patens Pasque Flower
Pulsatilla vulgaris 'Rubra' Red Pasque Flower
Rudbeckia fulgida 'Goldsturm' Goldsturm Black-Eyed Susan
Salvia pratensis Meadow Sage
Salvia verticillata 'Purple Rain' Purple Rain Sage
Sedum 'Autumn Joy' Autumn Joy Sedum
Sedum kamtschaticum Russian Stonecrop
Sedum kamtschaticum 'Variegatum' Variegated Russian Stonecrop
Sedum spectabile 'Meteor' Meteor Sedum
Solidago canadensis 'Golden Baby' Golden Baby Goldenrod
Solidago sphacelata 'Golden Fleece' Golden Fleece Goldenrod
Sporobolus heterolepis Prairie Dropseed
Stachys byzantina Lamb's Ear
Thymus serpyllum Mother-of-Thyme
Tradescantia ohiensis Ohio Spiderwort
Veronica austriaca subsp. teucrium 'Crater Lake Blue' Crater Lake Blue Speedwell
Veronica 'Darwin's Blue' Darwin's Blue Speedwell
Veronica spicata 'Blue Charm' Blue Charm Speedwell
Veronica 'Sunny Border Blue' Sunny Border Blue Speedwell