19 August 2010
A teaching garden is a public space where everyone from the community can come learn about plants. Most teaching gardens are staffed with volunteers who give tours, teach classes and answer gardening questions. It’s an outdoor classroom, with vegetables, herbs, ornamental plants, and a water feature.
The Linnaeus Teaching Garden is tucked away at the back of Tulsa’s Woodward Park and behind the Tulsa Garden Center main building. The 1.5 acre teaching garden is part of the Garden Center (http://bit.ly/9ZkP90).
Barry Fugatt, horticulturist for Tulsa Garden Center is the director of the Teaching Garden where 230 volunteers provide tours, give classes, answer phones and greet visitors.
Beginning in 2005, Fugatt was instrumental in the original concept , design, and fundraising for the garden. The initial money to start construction came from 3,000 individual donations, and then, companies came forward to donate materials.
Fugatt and the volunteer coordinator, Rebecca Fernandez are in the process of recruiting new volunteers to participate in the 2010 volunteer training.
We are always dreaming,” said Fugatt. “We want volunteers to catch the dream and our enthusiasm.
Fugatt is the former director of OSU Extension-Tulsa and the Linnaeus volunteer modules resemble the OSU master gardener program. The Linnaeus volunteer training begins Sept 8 and ends Dec 2. Each Wednesday, class begins at 9:15 and ends at 2:30.
In addition, 50 hours of volunteering are necessary for certification. The cost is $85.00.
Volunteers learn about plant pathology, entomology, hardscape, water gardening, and plant propagation, plus, take trips to tour nurseries and garden production companies such as Greenleaf Nursery.
When the training is complete, volunteers choose where they want to participate.
Options include children programs, Golden Pond senior services, tours, hospitality, phones, website, education and work in the garden. Half of the volunteers tend to the plants.
Fugatt holds monthly meetings that are attended by 150 active volunteers. Additional training, trips to gardens, planning and other activities happen at those meetings.
The people who volunteer for Linnaeus and the public are all blessed by being here, Fugatt said. The volunteers help us find new ways to bless visitors.
The $2 Million Linnaeus project includes an administrative building, garden shed, glass house, paved walkways, waterfalls, outdoor education area, and a pond. Fugatt says it was accomplished with a zero budget.
All 20,000 plants in the garden were donated by wholesale companies such as Ball Horticultural, Greenleaf Nursery, Goldsmith Seeds, Hines Horticultural, Monrovia, Tawakoni Plant Farm and others.
Our goal was an outdoor classroom where we could teach and excite all ages, Fugatt said. Woodward Park is the jewel of Tulsa’s park system and was the perfect site.
Fugatt said he attended every rubber chicken event he could and visited every business he could think of, showing the renderings and asking for help.
With the favor of God and half a million dollars, we moved ahead, Fugatt said.
Architects, builders, concrete and hardscape companies responded with donations of labor, equipment and materials. Three hundred tons of boulders were donated for the construction of the water garden. Tulsa sculptor, Rosalind Cook, contributed a six-foot tall bronze statue of Carl Linnaeus, the garden's namesake.
The donor companies are identified with signs and plaques outside and corporate materials on display inside the barn-shaped administration building. They are also listed on the website at http://bit.ly/d5ipRR and http://bit.ly/diGaLN.
We want the industries that helped us to be blessed by their contributions, Fugatt said.
Tulsa Gardens Now, an online monthly garden tips newsletter, is on the website at http://bit.ly/9RQAJB.
Southern Living Magazine recently spent three days at the garden, gathering information for an upcoming feature article.
Want to volunteer? Contact Rebecca Fernandez at 918-746-5136 or Barry Fugatt 918-746-5137.