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Facilities and Resources - Lyle E. Littlefield Ornamentals Trial Garden

The Lyle E. Littlefield Ornamentals Trial Garden is a 7 acre (2.9 hectare) facility dedicated to research, teaching, and demonstration in a wide-range of activities involving landscape ornamental plants.Lyle E. Littlefield The facility is roughly divided into equal halves; the Littlefield Garden housing the permanent collection of woody and herbaceous ornamentals (open to the public) and the Research Center dedicated to plant production and maintenance research.

The Littlefield Garden was founded in the early 1960s by Lyle E. Littlefield, then Professor of Horticulture. Today the Littlefield Garden is an integral part of the Environmental Horticulture Program. The mission of the facility is to obtain, plant, and evaluate as wide a range as possible of ornamental plants with potential for use in the northern landscape. Over the last four decades, the Littlefield Garden has amassed a collection of over 2,500 woody and herbaceous plants. Major focus collections exist within the overall collection as follows; crabapple varieties, lilacs, rhododendrons, magnolias, and many more smaller species. All plants in the Littlefield Garden receive extensive evaluation for winter hardiness, ornamental characteristics, cultural requirements, and overall potential for the landscape. The extensive collections provide the University community and the public with a valuable resource for the study and observation of a wide variety of ornamental plants.

Littlefield GardenStarting in 1989, a major redesign and renovation of the Littlefield Garden was undertaken. This project has given students in Environmental Horticulture many opportunities to gain valuable experience in designing, construction, and maintenance of landscape spaces. With much of the renovation complete, the Littlefield Garden is now a popular site for weddings, receptions of all kinds, as well as relaxation and informal recreation. The Littlefield Garden is open to the public 365 days a year from sunrise to sunset.

The research area of the facility houses infrastructure for research on container and field crop production, turfgrass evaluation, propagation, and plant culture. Current research projects being conducted within the facility include:

  • Cold-hardiness of Mountain Laurel, Magnolia, and Japanese Maple.
  • Selection of improved forms of Bunchberry and Japanese Maple for the northern landscape.
  • Performance evaluation of fescue, perennial rye, and bluegrass cultivars.

The Littlefield Garden is associated or works in cooperation with organizations such as:

  • American Association of Botanic Gardens and Arboreta
  • Littlefield GardenNE-9 regional research project on plant germplasm conservation and utilization
  • National turf evaluation program
  • Maine Landscape and Nursery Association
  • American Association of Nurserymen
  • American Rhododendron Society
  • Magnolia Society
  • American Daffodil Society


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