PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) − Gardening is more popular than ever and for nearly 100 years, Better Homes and Gardens magazine has been to the go-to source for gardeners.

The magazine is actually owned by the owner of Arizona's Family - the Meredith Corporation.

Just recently, we had a chance to visit our corporate offices in Des Moines, Iowa which includes the gardens of all gardens.

Nestled in the heart of the bustling downtown of the city, is a quiet sanctuary. It is an urban oasis of meticulously managed plants and flowers, called the Better Homes and Gardens Test Garden. It is unlike anything I have ever seen before.

First of all, it's huge. The BHG Test Garden is the size of a half-city block! Just about everywhere you turn, there is something springing to life out of the ground. While it looks like the perfect place to relax, there is a lot of important work that goes on here. 

"So the mission is to take all the plants that a person could grow at home or many of the plant varieties that a person can grow at home and try to replicate the conditions around the country and for our readers in a normal domestic setting," said Stephen Orr, editor-in-chief of Better Homes and Gardens magazine.

"We are trying to kind of cover almost like a living encyclopedia for gardening, that's what we are trying to do here."

The garden's main purpose is two-fold. First, it truly is a test garden. Giant plant companies send different plants to the test garden, where they choose which new shrubs or perennials they'll plant and evaluate.

The second purpose of the test garden is that is serves as a huge, living outdoor photo studio. The plants may serve as the focal point or the background for the cover shot or photo layouts in BHG or any number of Meredith’s most popular magazines and digital platforms. 

Even though it is a working garden, during the summer the garden is open to the public for a couple of hours on Friday afternoons.

It is a popular destination for both locals and tourists. The current test garden celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, becoming a crown jewel in downtown Des Moines.

Tess Rafols wakes you up with a smile as part of 3TV's Good Morning Arizona family. You can find her anchoring with Javier Soto 4:30 a.m.-6 a.m. weekdays, then doing segments and reports until 10 a.m.

 
 


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