A Decade of Dwarf Conifers: 10 Years of the Arendt Conifer Garden

Packed with thousands of elegant dwarf conifers that stun year-round, the Arendt Conifer Garden is not only a fan favorite, but a pillar of the Garden as a whole. It’s hard to believe that merely a decade ago it was a simple hill, yet to fulfill its endless potential. Thankfully, that’s when Gene and Betty Arendt stepped in.

Overview of the Arendt Conifer Garden and the Schneider Family Grand Garden, PC: Andrew Gruesen

The Beginning

According to Susan Garot, the Garden’s President and CEO, a conifer garden was always a part of the Garden’s guiding plan. Gene and Betty were longtime volunteers at the Garden, and in recent years, Gene had become a bit of a “conifer-ite”.

A lifelong learner, Gene attended NWTC’s Landscape Horticulture program after he retired. During his schooling, he became enamored with dwarf conifers, and Gene and Betty expressed interest in helping to fund the construction of a conifer area of the Garden. So, with the help of Meissner Landscape of Door County, the Arendt Dwarf Conifer Garden was born.

Gene Arendt (left) and Director of Horticulture, Mark Konlock (right), PC: Teresa Riehl

The Garden Grows

The Arendts’ involvement with the Garden certainly didn’t end there.

Mark Konlock, Director of Horticulture, says that “Gene’s passion for gardening, and for conifers in particular, is infectious,” and that he’s constantly “out there toiling, helping to ensure the Arendt Conifer Garden always looks its best.” In fact, his passion was the driving force that led to the Garden applying to the American Conifer Society. Not only is the Arendt Conifer Garden dear to the Garden, it’s a gem of Wisconsin as a whole. It became a reference garden with the American Conifer Society, one of only two in the entire state!

Accessible path in the Arendt Conifer Garden, PC: Teresa Riehl

While there are thousands of individual dwarf conifers, the garden is comprised of 444 cultivars and 115 species, many of which can be enjoyed from an accessible pathway. In our warmer months, the Arendt Conifer Garden is adorned by low-lying perennials and bulbs, the perfect contrast to the stone and greenery.

Looking Forward

Clearly, the Arendt Confer Garden has been on quite an exciting journey over the past decade, and there’s more to come! An ever-evolving mosaic of greenery, Konlock says that more pops of seasonal color are always on their way, and that the area will require continuous editing as the conifers age and grow. Working day to day with Gene and the dwarf conifers is horticulturist Hayden Stecker. Reflecting on his time, he stated, “Gene is a very hard worker who completely loves his conifers. He is very passionate about maintaining the appearance of the garden.” Stecker continued, “I’ve personally enjoyed working in this garden the past two years and look forward to new and exciting projects to come.”

Gold Heart bleeding heart in the Arendt Conifer Garden

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