Our Latest Addition Makes It Easier To Get To Our Front Door

Como Park Zoo & Conservatory Opens New Gardens

Minnesota Garden

The Minnesota Garden & The Circle Garden 

The Minnesota Garden and Circle Garden replaces the large open turf forecourt in front of the Visitor Center with a formal garden layout that is reminiscent of the historic public gardens that were adjacent to the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory in years past. The space was envisioned for gardens since the 1996 master plan that recommend bringing back some of the early elements of Como Park that once stood after the Conservatory was built in 1915.  This area once held outdoor gardens including Aphrodite’s Garden, a Peony Garden and an Iris Garden and a pergola.  The historic gardens were removed starting after 1920 and by 1974 a large parking area was installed and later moved in 2005 with the addition of the Visitor Center.

The new gardens feature 5,000 Minnesota native cultivars, and several plants that have been selected from the historic plant lists. In addition, all plant material purchased for the project follows a city ordinance that requires plants to be grown free of pesticides that ultimately benefits insects including butterflies and honey bees.  

Incorporated within the gardens is a new circle turnaround that provides a safe and convenient designated loading and unloading location for school buses, guests with limited mobility, and larger groups. There is also a 16’ art piece titled “Little Giants of Como”, plenty of seating, and plant lined pathways that lead visitors to Como’s front door.  

“We knew we needed to make Como Park Zoo & Conservatory a more accessible venue for a variety of different modes of transit, including a more convenient drop off zone,” said Como Campus Manager Michelle Furrer. “With these new amenities, gardens, and pathways, along with the Como Shuttle stop’s new location, it is the hope that these improvements will help ease traffic flow for both pedestrians and vehicles.”

In 2010 Como Park Zoo & Conservatory developed the Como Regional Park Transportation Improvement Plan that focused on mitigating congestion and enhance access. In 2014 phase one was funded through a bonding appropriation with Minnesota State Legislature that included roadway improvements in Como Regional Park including around McMurray Field and Midway Parkway.  Phase two, which included the Minnesota Garden and the Circle Garden, began in September 2016 and concluded in early June.

Funding for the new gardens came from Como Friends and the Legacy Amendment Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund.  The Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund receives 19.75 percent of the sales tax revenue resulting from the Clean Water, Land and Legacy amendment  to support arts, arts education and arts access, and to preserve Minnesota’s history and cultural heritage.

Visitors are encouraged to share their photos of the new Gardens using the hashtag #MyMMC.