Arbor View Gardens in Clintonville, WI is the brainchild of Andy and Sharon Gleisner. Our story began in 1975 when Andy and Sharon purchased a 40-acre rural farmstead. The Gleisners planted the first trees on our location in the same year. At that time, the land consisted largely of open farmland landscaped mainly with box elders.
The couple’s original intention was to have a country home and land where they could live with nature and pursue their hobby of growing plants. After seeing their first Magnolia bloom several years later, their hobby exploded into a passion of collecting and growing plants from around the world, all of which are non-invasive and adapted to the local climate.
Over the years, Andy and Sharon have been able to bring together an eclectic collection of a thousand varieties of woody plants, the largest in Northeast WI. Because they identified the species and kept records, it technically became a botanical garden.
By 1995, friends who were visiting the gardens were astounded. A good friend and constant visitor, Dr. Lewis Thomas, made a history changing statement, “This garden is all very beautiful, but who gets to enjoy it? If you should decide to open this to the public, I’ll give the first donation.”
After Dr. Thomas’ remark, the couple was further encouraged by Dr. Edward Hasselkus. Dr. Hasselkus is Andy’s university horticulture professor at Madison, who had become the Gleisners’ lifelong friend and mentor back in their college days. He is also the curator of the Longnecker Horticultural Gardens in Madison. Dr. Hasselkus provided wise advice to Andy and Sharon along with nearly 20% of the woody species in the collection.
After years of planning and hard work, Arbor View Gardens was born in the autumn of 2000. From the beginning, the Gleisners’ vision for Arbor View Gardens has always been to provide a peaceful and pleasant garden setting in which people can discover plants, interact with each other, and seek a natural balance in their lives. Put simply, time to smell the roses, to not only learn about the natural environment but also to enjoy it.
Our plant collections began with trees and shrubs, with the first efforts concentrated on the west side of the residence for windbreak. Over several years, the increased tree growth moderated formerly extreme winter and spring winds that had made gardening difficult for the Gleisners. Andy and Sheri will always remember spring in 1988, savoring the scent from the first Magnolia to ever bloom on this land.
Our public garden underwent drastic changes since 2000. Andy and Sharon understood that for the arboretum to succeed as a public institution, it must appeal to a larger segment of the population, apart from woody plant enthusiasts.
Many other elements of gardening have been incorporated into our location, such as perennials, vegetables, fruits, art, water, and garden structures. Throw in a few other concepts such as environmental awareness, land history, invasive species, and delight in nature’s beauty, and you have the present day version of Arbor View Gardens.
While the overall site master plan has since been designed by a professional landscape architect, Andy and Sharon have always designed points of interest and individual gardens. To this day, the couple continues to do so.
Trees are just one category among many that gardeners are interested in seeing and learning about. Along with woody plant collections, we now have comprehensive groups of hosta, bearded iris, daylilies, and peonies in our location. Finally, we have a large number of plants representing different genera, which comprise the perennial gardens that are situated in varying environmental conditions.