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Landscape Features

Check out our Gardens!

Woods Brown Amphitheatre

This is one of the most peaceful yet active places on campus. Whether quietly reading a book, talking with friends, listening to a lecture, dancing during a concert, or participating in a ceremony, you can always find something happening in this memorable space. The Woods Brown Amphitheatre was built and dedicated in 1954 and continues to be one of the most cherished spots on campus. The facility was funded by donations from the class of 1929 and was named to honor George B. Woods who served as the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts from 1925-1945 and Mary Louise Brown who served as the Dean of Women from 1925-1944.

This special green oasis is bordered on three sides by large buildings. The landscape is anchored by the massive Tulip Poplars that shade the seating area. The edges are flanked by extensive plantings with a meandering stream that runs through the peaceful wooded setting. Large trees include Deodora Cedars, London Plane, Gingko, Dawn Redwoods and Hemlock. Smaller understory trees include: Dogwoods, Saucer Magnolia, Sweet Bay Magnolia, Japanese Snowbell. On the ground plain, you will find plantings include a variety of shrubs, many shade-loving perennials and seasonal bulbs.

In the summer of 2007 the amphitheatre underwent an extensive renovation. The stage and walkways were replaced, boulders were placed in strategic locations to provide additional seating opportunities and help naturalize the setting, and new planting areas were introduced.

While visiting, be sure not to miss the breath taking Virginia Bluebells blooming amongst the daffodils in the early spring. The stately stand of Dawn Redwoods. This species which dates back over 65 million years was thought to be extinct until a small stand was found growing in the remote part of central China. Botanists gathered to collect seeds from this exciting find and now the direct descendnets are available at your local nursery for inclusion in your landscape.

friedheim quad

The long rectangular shaped Eric A. Friedheim Quadrangle is the heartbeat of the AU Campus. This bustling space is framed on the ends by the Kay Spiritual Life Center and the Bender Library. Each side is bordered by major academic buildings and the University Center.

The School of International Service (SIS) was the first LEED certified building on campus and the landscape around SIS is one of the first landscapes to be certified by the Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES). Recent additions to the Quad landscape include the Labyrinth Garden in front of Kay and the Ann Kerwin Garden in front of Bender Library.

Historic Hurst Hall, built in 1896, is the first building erected on campus and is named after Bishop John Fletcher Hurst who bought the land to start the university and served as its first Chancellor. Hurst Hall was the first building constructed on the AU campus and the first home of the "College of Liberal Arts." Construction began on March 9, 1896, and the building was completed on February 1, 1898.

presidents garden

Originally known as the Chancellors house, the President's office is situated high on the hill adjacent to the main entrance to campus. The hillside is planted with many shrubs, perennials, and seasonal annuals. The manicured lawn sweeps up from the roadway leading to the entrance terrace. The canopies of the large Pecan, Walnut and Oak trees extend over the building and shade the setting. This garden really comes alive in the spring with 100's of daffodils planted amongst the large masses of Azaleas and Dogwoods. During the spring of 2007, members of the neighborhood deer population decided to raise their new fawn within the fence d garden of the president’s private garden. The protected area made the ideal location for the safe development and foraging environment for the latest addition. Staff from the president’s office "adopted the new fawn and watched her development until she moved out to the "wild" of urban Washington DC.


university gateways

Glover Gate is the main entrance to the AU campus and can be found on Massachusetts Ave. This entrance has the largest seasonal annual display on campus. The garden is always a topic of conversation as it changes throughout the year. The highlights revolve around the interesting use and composition of bulbs, annuals, perennials with a few exotics mixed in. Rockwood Gate is located off Rockwood Parkway and has a shadier growing environment. Interesting combinations of annuals and perennials are grouped with the Japanese Kerria and the shade trees.


battellee hillside

This garden is best viewed from across the roadway. The slope is home to many flowering roses. Be sure to take the steps up to the circular seating area where you can rest within the garden. Trees include Chinese Elm, Heritage Birch and Japanese Snowbells. In the fall the New England Aster and the Miscanthus are always a welcomed sight.

september 11 memorial

The memorial was dedicated on September 11th, 2002 to remember the tragic events of the previous year and to honor 5 members of the AU community who perished that day. The circular plaza consists of three types of stone paving and is defined by 4 curved stone seat walls. The memorial itself is a large carved piece of granite that is located behind one of the stone walls. The space serves as a gateway linking Friedheim Quad to the northern part of campus. An alee of Zelkovas line the new walkway that leads from the circle. Along the walkway you will find several seating areas nestled amongst the extensive plantings that line each side of the walkway. If visiting in the early spring be sure to see the large mass of Scenario with its striking yellow display.

roper park

This hidden gem is one of the most peaceful spots on campus. The garden was established in 2004 as a gift from the university president to his wife in honor of her father. Installation of the plantings was done as a volunteer effort between students, faculty, and staff as a part of the annual Campus Beautification Day. The natural pond serves as the centerpiece of the garden which is nestled under the canopy of the stately Oaks. Many flowering shrubs and perennials surround the pond and seating areas. The stepping stone walkways are inter planted with a variety of interesting groundcovers such as Mazus and Ophiopogon.


spring valley

The entrance plaza is always vibrant with activity. The granite tiered fountain serves as a comfortable gathering spot for students, visitors, and neighbors. The interesting plantings frame the entrance, mask out the busy street and create comfortable nooks for people to gather and engage in conversation.

katzen garden

The Katzen Arts Center is the newest addition to the AU campus. Located across from the main entrance to campus, the Katzen garden completes the streetscape and entrance setting for the university. The linear plaza matches the contemporary architecture of the building. A simple and subtle water feature cascades over the bluestone blocks. The 6000-square foot sculpture garden is located off the main gallery floor. Sculptures also surround the building. The steep hillside along Massachusetts Avenue is planted with large mass of Knock Out Rose and Fountain Grass. The hillside to the west of the building was recently planted with over 100 native trees as a reforestation project.


wcl tenley

In 1987, AU purchased this prime 8 acre site which was formerly the Immaculata School. The pastoral small campus is located about a quarter mile from the main campus. The Tenley Campus is home to the Dunblane Building which is the oldest structure on campus. The grounds at Tenley are anchored by the grove of wonderful shade trees that form the interior courtyard. In 2016, the Washington College of Law relocated to Tenley and now has a state of the art facility. The site includes rain gardens and green roofs.

sue's garden

This hidden gem is located in front of Kreeger hall and was a gift from a former faculty member who taught in the Economics Department. The intimate setting is focused on a central water feature and is a favorite spot for a quiet conversation or peaceful lunch.

Students walking in labyrinth garden

The labyrinth was completed in 2016 and is located in from of the kay Spiritual Life Center. Dedicated to retired University Chaplain, Joe Eldridge, the labyrinth is a popular spot for reflection and meditation. The setting is framed with benches and Sweet Bay magnolias as well as a host of shrubs and perennials.

ann's garden

Located in front of Bender Library, this garden was added in 2017 and is dedicated to Ann Kerwin for her many years of service to AU. The colorful garden is designed to be a "plant library" showing many of the popular perennials, herbs, annuals, and bulbs found across campus.

community garden

This garden is open to the greater community and is a place you can learn and grow your own food. Run primarily by students with support from Facilities Management and the Office of Sustainability, this garden offers a community building experience. Located adjacent to the tennis courts, the community garden is an interesting place to visit as there are always creative ideas being implemented.