History

1975

Land donated: the beginning

I thought it was about time someone did something for the ol’ town. So many take so much from Dubuque, but leave so little behind.”

-JACKSON (MAC) MARSHALL

In 1975, “Mac” Marshall (1894-1977) donated 51 acres of land — 36 acres of meadow and about 15 acres of walnut timber — to the City of Dubuque with three stipulations:

  • that the land would always be used as a park
  • that he could reside in the farmhouse whenever he wanted
  • that city government begin developing the land within a year

1976

Tri-State Garden Club formed

In 1976, Jim Schwarz formed the Tri-State Garden Club with the purpose of establishing a botanical garden in Dubuque and learning about gardening together. Also, at that time, Frank Hardie had an interest in establishing an arboretum. A collaboration began.

1980

City leases 16 acres of land

The Dubuque Parks Department initially leased 16 acres of Marshall Park to seven Tri-State Garden Club members, with each member contributing $20. These visionary volunteers started it all by planting the trees, bushes and plants, and erecting fences and arbors. It was to be an all-volunteer and all-plants-donated destination.

Jim Schwarz, Gene Heinemann, Mel Gottschalk, Ambrose Hoeger, Marlyn Bausman, Jack Frick, Frank Hardie

At the time, there were just two structures on the property:

  • Marshall’s farmhouse
  • an old hay barn with a lean-to cowshed

The Dubuque Arboretum & Botanical Gardens had begun.

1981

Nurseries donated plants + farm renovation

  • Several nurseries donated rose plants.
  • Rosarians were Ambrose and Dottie Hoeger and Mel Gottschalk.
  • Klehm Nursery (in Rockford) donated 109 peonies and 50 varieties of hostas.
  • Renovation of the farm into a visitor center began. Ron Jungers was the designer and constructor of the project. The interior of the center was completed and work was done on the viewing deck.

1982

Volunteers began to build and plant

  • Gene Heinemann quickly became the leader of the ongoing projects. And Gene and Jim Schwarz took many plant and tree acquisition trips.
  • Volunteers built a rail fence; planted bushes and trees; gutted and remodeled the barn; and removed the old barn. Gene Thompson and Bill Vandewill were major player in the outdoor projects.
  • The first 8 raised annual beds, edged with wood, were planted.
  • The Jodi Bausman Memorial Garden was created with prairie grasses, wildflowers, and old garden roses

1983

Greenhouse added + more plantings

A greenhouse was added on the south wall of the Visitors Center. Jim Schwarz (in charge of growing) donated the greenhouse.

More plantings were added:

  • 8 more raised annual beds
  • 7 perennial beds (the lower perennials)
  • Lilac bushes
  • Conifers on the berms
  • Northern-grown azaleas

1984

More plants and the first wedding!

Planted:

  • Fred Spahn’s Iris Collection (along with Dick Froehn).
  • John Beren’s Gladiolus.
  • Gene Coffman’s Viburnums.

The first wedding was held in the Arboretum.

1985

Visitor Center created

After completely renovating an old barn into a visitor center for guests, a new foundation was poured in 1985, and a porch, offices, restrooms, and a meeting room were created. Ron Jungers designed and spearheaded this construction and went on to build the wedding gazebo and round shade structure in the Hosta Garden.

1987

First burnoff + more plantings

  • The first prairie burn-off of the Jodi Bausman Memorial (Prairie) Garden took place in April.
  • 250 Oriental and Asiatic lilies were planted.
  • Jim Schwarz donated more than 300 new hostas.

1988-1990

Waterfall + more plantings + technology

  • Construction of a 9-foot waterfall (Marlyn’s Falls) began in 1988. It was completed in 1990.
  • New Perennial Gardens were planted above the Rose Garden.
  • The office acquired a computer, requiring better heating and air conditioning in the building. Mary Coffee was then-secretary to Gene Heinemann.

1989

Greenhouse + trellises + deck + porch

  • A greenhouse was added to the side of the McAleece Building.
  • Trellises were added at entrances to the Hosta Shade Garden and the Jodi Bausman Memorial Garden.
  • The Visitor Center deck and Hafeman Veranda were completed.

1991

Amphitheater + Music in the Gardens + Veterans Memorial

  • The Packard Pavilion Amphitheater was built by Ron Jungers.
  • Music in the Gardens (our free Sunday concerts) began.
  • The All Veterans Memorial was dedicated.

1992

Sounds + an Herb Garden + pools + water lines + a greenhouse

  • Sounds in the Garden: 9 outdoor speakers were added. A gift from Delores Petrakis in memory of John Petrakis.
  • a Formal Herb Garden was created.
  • Quiet Pools with benches were finished.
  • Water lines were extended to the Veterans Memorial and the Dubuque Noon Lions Club Playground.
  • Construction began on the big greenhouse behind the McAleece (30’ x 48’ x 18’). Completed in 1993.

1993

Japanese Garden planning + a Butterfly Garden + the Herb Society of Dubuque

Jim Grady spearheaded this garden.

  • Hoichi Kurisu, from Portland, Oregon, came to help design a planned Japanese Garden.
  • A raised butterfly garden, like one seen in England, was constructed in the annual bed area.
  • The Herb Society of Dubuque began.

1994

Japanese Garden construction began

1995

Two “firsts”: a conifer collection + HerbFest

  • The Walter Conifer Collection (more than 400 dwarf and rare conifers) was donated as a memorial by the Walter family of Illinois.
  • The first HerbFest was held.

1996

A second Conifer Collection was added + more construction

  • Dennis Hermsen donated 154 conifers to complement the Walter Conifer Collection.
  • Construction began on a large-equipment storage building (Cleary Building, located behind the McAleece building) measuring 50’ x 98’. Completed in 1997.

1997

Another storage building was constructed

The Tri-State Garden Club erected a 24’ x 24’ storage building in the northeast corner of the grounds.

1998

Roses + McKay Memorial Plaza

  • Marlyn Bausman took over as Head Rosarian. There were 900 rose plants by that time.
  • McKay Memorial Plaza was constructed. The porch and steps were rebuilt with stone. The parking lot was enlarged and paved with asphalt, along with the service road.
  • Judy Curnan was a major volunteer-worker during this time.

Marlyn Bausman

McKay Memorial Plaza

1999

The Visitor Center was renamed

  • The Visitor Center was renamed The Heinemann Center after the passing of Board President Gene Heinemann in November 1998.
  • Bob Buelow became the president of the Arboretum.
  • Iris beds, the butterfly bed, and several annual beds were edged in limestone.

2000

First Children’s Party + Koi Pond filled

  • The first Children’s Party was held.
  • The Japanese Pond was filled with water and seven koi.

2001

A bridge + roads + a garden

  • A zigzag bridge and new parking lot were added to the Japanese Garden.
  • 32nd Street and Arboretum Drive were relocated due to the extension of the NW Arterial.
  • The Peter Rabbit Children’s Garden was established.

2001

The Formal English Garden was created

The concept of the English Garden was developed in 2001 as a tribute and memorial by the children of Georgette (1913-1989) and Frank Hardie (1911-2000), first president of the Dubuque Arboretum. The English Garden was completed and dedicated in July 2004.

2003

The Memorial Walkway was created

A new memorial brick walk was extended from the parking lot to the Herb Garden.

2004

English Garden completed + new president

  • The English Garden was completed and dedicated to Georgette and Frank Hardie. Steve Hardie currently cares for this garden.
  • Jack Frick became the Arboretum’s president.

2005

The entrance gate received a makeover

The stone pillars and metal arboretum sign were erected at the entrance gate.

2015

The Garden of Eat’n was created

Some call it a “food forest,” this aptly-named garden (Garden of Eat’n) is an educational display of a sustainable garden … demonstrating foods we can grow beautifully in our own backyards.

2017-2018

The Heinemann Center was remodeled

With the most recent Heinemann Center remodeling, the building (which houses the the Visitor Center, the administrative offices, and the Gardens Gift Shop):

  • has more historically-accurate, barn-like features (including a weathervane on the cupola),
  • provides better handicap access, and
  • is more energy-efficient.

2019

Conifer Collections + Garden added

  • The Edna Mozena Conifer Collections began.
  • The Hydrangea Garden was created. [Donated and maintained by the Dubuque Master Gardeners.]

2021

Improvements continued

  • The big greenhouse received an updated ventilation system composed of fans and louvers.
  • The Packard Pavilion Amphitheater was power-washed and painted and wooden railings were replaced with metal ones.
  • The trail leading to the Legacy Trees was paved.
  • A storybook feature was added to the Legacy Tree Trail, compliments of the Dubuque Public Library.
  • A cement ADA walkway was added from the lower parking lot all the way down to the pond, thanks to a DRA grant.