Explore Dow Gardens A Natural Haven in Michigan

Dow Gardens is a breathtaking garden in Midland, Michigan. It’s a top spot for anyone who loves nature. You can walk through beautifully designed spaces and see all kinds of plants. It was started in 1899 by Herbert Dow, who made the Dow Chemical Company, and his wife Grace. Since then, it’s become a favorite place for families and people who enjoy the outdoors.

One of the coolest things at Dow Gardens is the Canopy Walk. It’s the longest of its kind in the U.S., goes for 1,400 feet, and reaches up to 40 feet high. While you’re way up there, you get stunning views and a special way to be among the trees. Nearby, there’s a playground with natural things to play on like tree stumps. This area lets kids climb and balance, adding to the fun.

The Children’s Garden has won big awards and is full of things like flower and veggie gardens. It also has fun water things to do and play areas. Kids really like it because it’s fun and interactive. Families should check it out when they visit Midland, Michigan. There’s always something interesting happening, no matter the season.

Key Takeaways

  • Dow Gardens offers a premier botanical experience in Midland, Michigan.
  • Established in 1899 by Herbert Dow and his wife Grace.
  • The Canopy Walk is the longest in America at 1,400 feet and 40 feet high.
  • The playground uses natural elements to provide engaging activities for children.
  • The Children’s Garden has won national awards for its interactive design.
  • The garden is highly recommended for its family-friendly atmosphere and seasonal attractions.

Introduction to Dow Gardens

Founded in 1899 by Herbert Dow, and his wife Grace, Dow Gardens has a deep history. It started as their family’s private haven but transitioned into a beloved public space by 1930. Now, it’s a mix of historical and cultural beauty. You can see amazing sights and learn about the past, including The Pines, a significant home.

The History and Origins

Herbert Dow’s vision shaped Dow Gardens into a place of stunning natural beauty. He wanted to blend art with scientific plant knowledge. Notably, the apple orchard became the site of the Grace A. Dow Memorial Library in 1955. The garden grew with new features over the years, such as unique red bridges. These changes, along with visits to exotic locations by the Dow family, added a diverse charm to the Gardens.

Location and Accessibility

Found in Midland, Michigan, Dow Gardens is a calm spot away from the city. It has over 3 miles of pathways for easy, barrier-free exploration. The Gardens even provide wheelchairs for anyone who needs them.

Recent additions like the Whiting Forest and a canopy walk make the visit even better. And, with support like the Information Center, visitors can make the most of their trip.

1930Dow Gardens opened to the public
1930Herbert Dow passed away
1955Apple orchard partly removed for Grace A. Dow Memorial Library
1968Portion of apple orchard cut for Midland Center for The Arts
1973Major landscaping changes
1977Construction of Information Center
1983Expansion of Information Center
21st centuryWhiting Forest and Canopy Walk added

Canopy Walk: A Unique Experience

The Canopy Walk at Dow Gardens is a thrilling adventure. It gives visitors an amazing view from above. It’s located in Whiting Forest and is 1,400 feet long. It’s also 40 feet high, making it the longest in America. It’s truly something you won’t want to miss.

Features of the Canopy Walk

This walk at Dow Gardens is unique because it has three parts that go outwards. It offers great views and fun activities. The orchard platform is the highest point, at 40 feet. A glass bottom lets you see through to the forest. There’s also a rope bridge that takes you to different pods, letting you play high in the air.

Another part of the walk is above a forest pond. It’s 25 feet high, giving you a great view of the water. These features make your visit something special, especially in the fall when the trees change color.

Accessibility and Safety Information

The Canopy Walk is made for everyone. It’s easy to get around on it, even with a wheelchair or stroller. The walkways are wide and have ramps. There are also safety features like netting and strong railings.

Whiting Forest has other paths that are also easy to walk on. They’re safe and not slippery. This makes sure that everyone has a great time.

The Playground at Whiting Forest

interactive playground

The Playground at Whiting Forest is a perfect spot for families. It’s full of natural features that invite kids to play. They can have fun with slides on hills, new swings, and exciting tunnels. This space is all about letting kids use their creativity and move a lot.

Why It’s a Must-Visit

This space blends into the natural world around it. Kids can play with tree stumps, big rocks, and even a fun water area with steps to jump on. It’s not just about playing; there are things to do that help them grow strong and imagine new worlds. Parents don’t need to worry either. Safe areas like a rock wall and special swings are there for kids to use, surrounded by secure fences.

Nearby Amenities

Right next to the playground, there are places to get drinks and yummy bites. The Whiting Forest Café offers warm drinks and tasty snacks. You can sit on chairs that look like tree branches. There are also tables outside for picnics and places to sit. And don’t forget, there’s a water fountain with a special spot for refilling water bottles.

Playground DesignNatural play elements including slides, tunnels, and rock wall
Safety MeasuresSecure gated environment and adaptive swing options
Nearby AmenitiesWhiting Forest Café, outdoor café tables, picnic benches, water fountain

Children’s Garden: A Family Favorite

The Children’s Garden at Dow Gardens has become a top choice for families in Midland, Michigan. Covering 110 acres, it adds a lot of fun and learning for kids. It’s specially designed for young adventurers.

Interactive Elements

Central to this garden are its fun water and play areas. Kids get to have hands-on experience in flower and vegetable gardens. Plus, they can have a blast in the water, perfect for those hot days.

Award-Winning Design

This garden has won praise for its smart and fun design. Not only is it a cool spot for families, but it also holds awards for being great at attracting kids. It includes a creative playground with climbing stuff and cool slides for fun times.

Admission FeesCost
Children (Aged 6-17)$1
College Students (with ID)$1
Children (Under 5)Free
Annual Pass$20.00

Families should plan to spend about an hour at the Children’s Garden, especially if they have kids who are 8 or younger. It combines great design and things to do for kids and their families. This garden is a place you shouldn’t miss, offering an enriching experience for everyone.

Floral Displays and Seasonal Blooms

seasonal blooms

Dow Gardens is famous for its bright floral displays and stunning seasonal blooms. This is a perfect place all year for people who love gardens. There are new colors and textures every season, making each visit special. It’s a paradise of beautiful plants that changes all the time.

Best Times to Visit

To see the seasonal blooms at their best, choosing the right time is key. While the gardens are always beautiful, some times show off amazing flowers:

  • Spring: Tulips, daffodils, and more start to bloom.
  • Summer: Roses, dahlias, and bright hydrangeas are in full view.
  • Fall: Chrysanthemums and colorful leaves steal the show.

Types of Flowers and Plants

At Dow Gardens, many types of flowers and plants are carefully chosen. Here’s a list of the best from recent years:

YearStandout Varieties
2020Castor Bean ‘Carmencita Pink’ (Seed), Dahlia ‘Venti Golden Yellow’ (Vegetative), Dianthus ‘Jolt Pink’ (Seed), Gomphrena ‘Horton’s Revenge’ (Vegetative), Rudbeckia ‘Cappuccino’ (Seed), Zinnia ‘Holi Scarlet F1’ (Seed)
2019Dianthus ‘Green Ball’, Celosia ‘Bright Sparks Burgundy’, Salvia ‘Fairy Queen’, Petchoa ‘Supercal Premium Cinnamon’, Kangaroo Paw, Celosia ‘Asian Garden’ (Vegetative)
2018Coleus ‘Velveteen’, Carex ‘Pheonix Green’, Lantana ‘Luscious Citrus Blend’, Colocasia ‘Heart of the Jungle’, Nicotiana ‘Only the Lonely’, Ipomea ‘Sweet Caroline Green with Envy’ (Vegetative)
2017Eucalyptus ‘Steel Tower’, Sunpatiens ‘Compact Electric Orange’, Euphorbia ‘Breathless Blush’, Rudbeckia ‘Indian Summer’, Coleus ‘Redhead’, Mecardonia ‘GoldDust’ (Vegetative)
2016Alternathera ‘Little Ruby’, Angelonia ‘Archangel Pink’, Browallia ‘Endless Flirtation’, Cleome ‘Seniorita Blanca’, Cleome ‘Seniorita Mi Amor’, Cleome ‘Seniorita Rosalita’ (Vegetative)
2015Interspecific Impatiens ‘Big Bounce Cherry’, Impatiens ‘Sunpatiens Compact Blush Pink’, Cleome ‘Pequena Rosalita’, Lantana ‘Landmark Sunrise’, Cyperus ‘Baby Tut’ (foliage), Salvia ‘Albazin Tobasco’ (Vegetative)

Every year, Dow Gardens introduces new and exciting plants. There is a mix of traditional and modern varieties, making it a great place for anyone, all year long.

Pathways and Nature Walks

barrier-free pathways

At Dow Gardens, there are more than 3 miles of barrier-free pathways. They are designed for everyone to enjoy nature walks. Visitors can explore the garden at their own pace, no matter their mobility.

The reflective benches are placed along the landscaped paths. They offer places to sit, relax, and take in the beauty. Perfect for finding peace or just enjoying the view, these benches make the experience more mindful.

The paths at Dow Gardens connect its different attractions with ease. Visitors won’t miss anything in this natural paradise. These pathways show the garden’s dedication to making nature accessible to all.

If you’re looking to see the gardens from high up, check out the canopy walk. It’s 1,100 feet long and up to 40 feet high. You’ll see a stunning view of the forest and even a nearby apple orchard. There’s also a cool hammock and a beautiful overhang by the forest’s ponds on this walk.

Dow Gardens combines accessibility with beautiful design and nature’s peace. These carefully crafted paths welcome everyone to enjoy the garden’s tranquility. They are meant to make sure all visitors can experience the beauty of Dow Gardens.

Canopy Walk1,100 feet elevated pathwayOpen sky view, apple orchard, forest overhang
Barrier-Free PathwaysOver 3 miles of accessible pathsInclusive design for all visitors
Reflective BenchesStrategically placed for relaxation and reflectionComfort and mindfulness

Butterfly Conservatory: A Magical Experience

The Butterfly Conservatory at Dow Gardens is a magical world of butterflies. It welcomes over 4,000 visitors yearly. People come from all over to see the beautiful butterflies.

The event “Butterflies in Bloom” started in 1998 and is now famous. It brings in about 40,000 guests every year. Since 2009, the conservatory has added many new butterfly species, reaching over 100. These butterflies come from places like Costa Rica, Asia, and Africa.

Types of Butterflies

The conservatory is known for its many different butterfly species. You can see types from the southern U.S. and rare ones like the black-tipped diadem. Last year, they received only one of these special butterflies.

The facility is safe and right for these butterflies. It has a USDA-approved setup. Every day, workers make sure the 2,000 butterflies have what they need to eat, like nectar and bananas.

Conservation Efforts

The conservatory is not just about beauty. It also works hard to protect these butterflies and their homes. The event “Butterflies in Bloom” happens from March to April. It lets people learn and enjoy in a special way.

More than 75 volunteers help make this event happen. It’s timed to avoid big crowds. This way, visitors can feel close to nature. It shows how much Dow Gardens cares about saving these butterfly species in all kinds of weather.

ConservatoryUnique FeatureLocation
Purdy Butterfly HouseLargest open-air butterfly house, 9,000 sq ftHuntsville Botanical Garden
Butterfly WonderlandLargest butterfly conservatory in the USA, over 3,000 butterfliesArizona, USA
Niagara Parks Butterfly ConservatoryOver 2,000 tropical butterfliesOntario, Canada
Cambridge Butterfly ConservatoryThousands of free-flying butterflies in a 10,800 sq ft gardenOntario, Canada
L’Insectarium de MontrealButterfly House & Insect ZooMontreal, Canada

Events and Activities at Dow Gardens

Dow Gardens is more than just beautiful scenery. It’s a place where the community gathers for dow gardens events and special programs. These bring everyone together to enjoy and learn about nature. You can take part in fun gardening events and exciting seasonal activities.

Annual Events

Dow Gardens holds festivals each year to celebrate the seasons and get people involved. The Growin’ Gardeners program, for kids, is especially loved. It teaches children about plants and insects while they care for a garden plot. This is done with help from knowledgeable staff and volunteers. Additionally, in the summer, kids enjoy Storytime in the garden, listening to fun stories.

Special Programs

Aside from yearly events, Dow Gardens offers special programs. Kids can learn to climb trees safely in Kids Tree Climbing classes. This is a fun way for them to stay active and enjoy nature. Also, there are Pop-up Garden Explorations. These hands-on sessions cover new topics each week without needing to sign up. With these and Storytime, there’s something for everyone, and no registration is needed.

For more on what’s happening at Dow Gardens, check the Dow Gardens Events Page.

Growin’ GardenersAward-winning children’s gardening program covering various botanical topics.Annual
StorytimeEngaging storytelling sessions held in the Children’s Garden.Weekly (June-August)
Kids Tree ClimbingOutdoor tree climbing classes for children using a moving-rope system.Special Program
Pop-up Garden ExplorationsWeekly explorations of different garden topics without the need for registration.Special Program


Dow Gardens is a beautiful mix of garden art and fun outdoor activities. It includes the Canopy Walk, Butterfly Conservatory, and the Children’s Garden. These spots welcome people of all ages, inviting them to explore nature. Whether you’re visiting to learn, relax, or get inspired, Dow Gardens in Midland, Michigan, guarantees a great botanical adventure.

In 1899, Herbert Dow and his wife, Grace, started this place. Now, it combines lovely gardens with peaceful Whiting Forest. The Canopy Walk, stretching 1,400 feet and 40 feet high, offers amazing tree views. The Children’s Garden is a fun learning area that’s known nationwide for its inventive design.

Dow Gardens makes it easy for everyone to enjoy nature. You can stroll along the Color Garden with its 22,000 bulbs or the calming Stream Walk. It’s the perfect spot for families and a must-see in Midland, Michigan. Most importantly, it honours its founders’ dream by being a place of natural beauty and a top spot for unforgettable plant experiences.


What is the history behind Dow Gardens?

Dow Gardens In 1899, Herbert Dow and his wife Grace founded Dow Gardens. Herbert was the founder of the Dow Chemical Company. It started as a private garden but is now known across the nation as a place to enjoy nature.

Where is Dow Gardens located?

Dow Gardens is in the heart of Midland, Michigan. You can find it at 1809 Eastman Ave, Midland, MI 48640.

Are the paths at Dow Gardens accessible?

Yes, Dow Gardens offers over 3 miles of paths that everyone can enjoy. There are even wheelchairs available for those who need them. This ensures everyone can see and enjoy the beauty of the gardens.

What is unique about the Canopy Walk at Dow Gardens?

Dow Gardens boasts the longest canopy walk in the U.S., covering 1,400 feet. It stands 40 feet above the ground. This walk includes netting enclosures, glass-bottomed platforms, and beautiful forest pods. People can also cross a hanging bridge made of ropes.

What amenities are available near the Playground at Whiting Forest?

There’s a nice spot nearby – the Whiting Forest Café. It’s perfect for grabbing a snack or a drink after playing at the playground.

What makes the Children’s Garden at Dow Gardens special?

The Children’s Garden is not just a place for kids; it’s a learning adventure. The garden has fun flower, vegetable gardens, and water activities. It features interesting playgrounds too. It’s also known for its amazing design.

When is the best time to visit for seasonal blooms?

Visit when you love to see flowers in bloom. Each season brings a different flower show. For the best view of flowers and plants, check the garden’s website for the latest details.

What can visitors expect from the Butterfly Conservatory at Dow Gardens?

The Butterfly Conservatory is a special place for butterflies. It’s designed to teach people about protecting butterflies and their homes.

Are there any special events or programs at Dow Gardens?

Without a doubt! Dow Gardens has lots of events, like festivals and educational nature programs. There’s always something new and exciting happening at the gardens.
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