11 June 2008

Botanical Garden of the Ozarks in Fayetteville

Borrow some ideas for your garden
Sometimes the best idea for your garden is borrowed from someone else's garden and then adapted to your space and growing conditions.

Since you can't go wandering into other people's yards, the next best idea is to visit public botanical gardens.

The Botanical Garden of the Ozarks (www.bgozarks.org) in Fayetteville is a relatively new addition to the area's botanical attractions. The Gardens are easy to walk among, plants are well identified and the new space makes a pleasant outing.

It took several years for the botanical garden to move from idea to reality and now the first nine gardens are open to the public from 9 am to 8 pm every day except Monday.

“Northwest Arkansas gardeners are the ones behind this entire project,” said Sarah King,
Director of Community Programs.

It's instructive to note that The Botanical Garden of the Ozarks is the result of a volunteer-led, grassroots effort. Incorporated in 1994, the Director, Donna Porter received a grant from the Stanley Smith Horticultural Trust in 1997 to support a paid position for one year. The agreement with the city came in 1997 to use 90 acres of land off Highway 265 on the bank of Lake Fayetteville. Then, the Portico Group specialists in designing botanical gardens, was hired to design a Master Plan.

When Carl Totemeier, Vice President Emeritus of the New York Botanical Garden, retired and moved to the area, he became the Garden's volunteer Director from the spring of 2001 until his death in 2004.

Totemeier provided a clear roadmap for Garden construction and operation. The Fayetteville City Council approved a lease agreement that permits the Botanical Garden to use the site for a minimum of 100 years.
Construction of a timber-framed horticulture center began in 2003, and in July 2004 the Fayetteville City Council approved a grant of $750,000 to be used to complete construction of the center of the parking area.

A friend of the garden, Ed Clement, offered to pay the first year's salary of the Garden's first Director of Operations, Scott Starr.

King said, “Everything from design to plants and hardscape (sidewalks, planters, etc.) is in keeping with our mission of sustainability and using regional materials.”

Other grants aided in the garden's construction.

In 2005, a grant from the Arkansas Forestry Commission supported hydrological studies and development of a plan for stream and riparian zone restoration and in 2006 the City for Garden construction designated a grant from the State Outdoor Recreation Program.

Other major donors prior to 2007 included Tyson Foods, Inc., the Tyson Family Foundation, Barbara Tyson, Ed Clement, the Fayetteville Advertising and Promotion Commission, Wal-Mart/SAM'S Foundation, and the Arkansas State Legislature. Other donors provided funds for theme garden construction.

“Fayetteville artist, Hank Kaminsky designed and constructed a bronze butterfly sculpture and fountain for the Sensory Garden,” King said. “The base will have words in several languages including Braille. The sculpture is a memorial to Master Gardener and Farmers Market vendor Martha Barton and the Master Gardeners raised the funding.”

The Carl A. Totemeier Horticulture Center and the nine Phase 1 gardens were dedicated in 2006. An individual, family or group sponsored each of the gardens.

The individual gardens surround a central lawn and include: Ozark Native Garden, Sensory Garden, Shade Garden, Four Seasons Garden, Children's Garden, Vegetable Garden and a Japanese Garden that is not completed.

“The Shade Garden has plant-laden chairs that were designed and planted by Susan Regan,” King said.

“The Children’s Garden sponsor was philanthropist Barbara Tyson,” King said. “Retired horticulturist Gerald Klingaman built the central structure which probably would have cost us $100,000 if he had not volunteered to do it.”

Membership in the garden includes free admission plus admission to other gardens around the country that are in the botanical garden community of the American Horticultural Society. Admission for non-members is $5. Another benefit of membership is an email newsletter with announcements of upcoming events such as classes and concerts. Basic annual membership costs $35 for an individual and $50 for a family.

King said, “This is a great destination for Muskogee families who love beauty, art and gardens, not just plant people. With only 8 of the 90-acres built, there will be new things to see every year.”

Upcoming evening events include: June 19 Trout Fishing in America Concert and June 22 Greenweave Firefly Festival.

Information: www.bgozarks.org/ Sarah King 479.750.2620 and sarahking@bgozarks.org

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