College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences

Department of Horticulture

WSU Display Garden

Student designed and built

Welcome to the Display Garden

Old Horticulture greenhouses

The old Horticulture teaching greenhouses – photo courtesy WSU Hort Club

Since they were built in 1951, thousands of students passed through the trio of horticulture greenhouses on Wilson Road, just across the street from Johnson Hall. In 2007, the greenhouses were razed and new instructional greenhouses were built elsewhere. At the suggestion of then WSU President V. Lane Rawlins, and following the conceptual plans of former WSU landscape architecture professor Phil Waite, the two-thirds acre site of the old greenhouses would be reused as a Display Garden. Landscape architecture students began designing and building the Garden in 2008.

Display Garden Conceptual Plan by Phil Waite

Display Garden Conceptual Plan by Phil Waite

Sustainability – of resources and place

Sustainability is the overarching concept behind the Garden. Students focused on sustainable design for each phase, keeping the old concrete walls of the original greenhouse to define the Garden’s perimeter, and reusing concrete from the greenhouse floors, as well as other building materials, many of which were repurposed from building projects on the Pullman campus.

Purple Coneflower. Photo by Caroline Pearson-Mims

Purple coneflower – photo by Caroline Pearson-Mims

Plants were chosen for their adaptability to Washington’s growing conditions and for their ability to thrive with a minimum of supplemental inputs, including water and fertilizer. All plant material removed from the garden is recycled at the WSU compost facility and WSU compost is utilized in the planting beds, closing the loop.

Outdoor rooms

The separate spaces or outdoor “rooms” of the Garden are, in part, defined by the traces of the old greenhouses. Curbed planting beds have been kept, and are planted with a variety of ornamental grasses, trees, shrubs, and perennial plants. The greenhouse stem walls, too, form rooms – one covered by a shade structure, or pergola.

To learn more about the Garden, visit the links above, left.

Students in the LA 363 class, Landscape Architecture Club members, and volunteers prepare garden beds for planting, fall 2011 – photo by Leigh Anne Barr


The Display Garden is located between the Lighty Student Services Building and Ensminger Pavilion, adjacent to the Grimes Way Playfield – across the street from Johnson Hall.

What’s the difference between display, demonstration, and research gardens?

A display garden is permanent in character. It may display design in a specific style, for instance, Italianate or Japanese, or illustrate particular topics, such as sustainability or xeriscaping. A display garden is designed to look good all the time.

Lavender growing at the front of the Shade Garden

A demonstration garden proves that something is possible. For example, a variety of methodologies that could be employed to protect a marginally hardy plant through the course of our hot, dry summers and cold winters could be demonstrated.

A research garden explores what is possible. In this type of garden, several varieties of a particular plant would be planted in randomized, replicated plots and their cold hardiness and drought resistance tested, knowing that several would die and their appearance would be less than aesthetically pleasing. While this would no doubt be instructive, it wouldn’t showcase the university.

Plants in bloom in one of the old Wilson Road greenhouses

Plants in bloom in one of the old Wilson Road greenhouses – photo courtesy WSU Horticulture Club

To donate to the Display Garden, please contact us. Thank you for your support.

Department of Horticulture, PO Box 646414, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164-6414, 509-335-9502, Contact Us
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