From 1905 to 1932 during the zoo years at Manito this area was covered with decorative hedges and paths to different areas of the zoo. Reports list animal cages along the wall to the current Rose Garden. With the records that are available, it is hard to determine the different uses of the space before the zoo closed. When the zoo closed in 1932 the space was vacant until John W. Duncan designed the perennial gardens in 1940. They were named for Joel E. Ferris in the 1960s because he was a former park board member and civic leader.
Today the perennial gardens thrive for most of the year unless covered by snow. There is a memorial bird bath and butterfly garden on the East side of the perennial garden and the blooms attract butterflies in the late spring and early summer. Most of the perennial garden is found teaming with bees cross pollenating and helping the different herbs and flowers throughout the growing season.