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Thematic Collections

Our thematic collections are not organized into formal beds, but instead are installations found along the periphery of the Garden, on our hillsides, around our pond, along the banks of the Red Cedar River, or against adjoining buildings.


Photos courtesy of Dr. Peter Carrington (witch hazel collection) and Anna McGuffie (all other images).

Thematic Collections

Non-Flowering Vascular Plants

The Non-flowering vascular plant collection highlights ferns, club mosses, and gymnosperms and complements our systematics section (in the Core Collections), which is composed solely of flowering plants.

Witch hazel Collection

We grow many cultivars of Witch hazel (Hamamelis) in one large bed. Please visit in March and discover the diversity of scent and color in these lovely shrubs.

Endangered & Threatened Michigan Plants

These plants represent many different species of plants that are rare in Michigan and are protected by state law. Follow the link to explore the MNFI's list of Michigan's Rare Plants.  

Wetland Plants

Our wetland plants collection is centered around the beautiful pond in our Garden. This collection highlights aquatic and semi-aquatic plants, especially those from Michigan and the Great Lakes Region.

Goldner Daylily Collection

Al Goldner (class of 1941) was a leader in the Michigan landscape industry, a Hemerocallis breeder, and a generous supporter of the W.J. Beal Botanical Garden. Many of his registered and unregistered hybrids are in our collection.

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Asian Hillside

This installation features Asian plants and Asian landscape design elements. Yun Cao, Landscape Designer in MSU’s IPF Landscape Services, designed this installation. You can learn more about it here.

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