10 April 2014

Bartlett Arboretum - Unique Experiences Await Visitors

Robin Macy and her husband, Kentucky White, live at Bartlett Arboretum where they are stewards of a garden that was built in 1910 and is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Arboretum, at the corner of Highway 55 and Line Street, is at the edge of Belle Plaine, a little Kansas town south of Wichita, population 1,680.

The house at Bartlett Arboretum
In April and May, while the daffodils and hellebores begin to fade, the Arboretum positively shines with blooming wisteria and the 36,000 tulips lovingly planted by Macy and a team of volunteer gardeners.

An arborist who lives in the hexagon-shaped residence on the property continuously works to maintain
the 20 State Champion trees, as well as caring for the more recently planted trees and shrubs.

Macy said, “I am in the garden every moment there is daylight, except for the hours I spend writing
grant proposals, organizing group tours, doing the paperwork, speaking to promote the garden and
other things that keep the Arboretum going.”

Dr. Bartlett
When visitors walk through the main gate across the street from the parking lot, they face the historic
home on the property built in 1914 by Dr. Walter Bartlett (Video of the Arboretum’s history -http://
bit.ly/1jh4rzP).

From there the path to the left leads to formal gardens outlined with dwarf boxwoods, then down and around to the back of the home where the property can be fully viewed.

The path to the right of the house leads through shady gardens, to the main shade garden, across an
arched bridge and toward the outdoor amphitheater, croquet lawn, classroom building and train depot.

Every path is lined with flowers, shrubs and mature trees to admire. Be sure to grab a map of the trails
and plantings.

The dozens of gardening volunteers, the grants Macy has won and the gifts of friends and visitors have turned Bartlett Arboretum around. When Macy first discovered the property in 1997, she was a math
teacher and musician in Dallas on her way to a blue grass festival.

The owners’ granddaughter was on the property sorting through heirlooms when Macy asked about
purchasing it. Since then, Macy has poured her teacher’s salary into the gardens, renovated the house
and grounds, installed a donated train depot and repurposed it into a classroom and event venue, dug
new irrigation wells, built an amphitheater, created a wildflower meadow, brought renowned musicians
and artists for weekend performances and retired from teaching.

Primarily, Bartlett Arboretum is a haven for everyone who loves gardens and nature, music, crafts, art,
history, environmental education, and fun events. So far, that includes thousands of visitors from all
over the world annually.

Robin Macy in her life's work
Volunteers are the backbone of Bartlett Arboretum. While we were there last week landscape designer
Kim Oblack and Master Gardener Rosalie Hatfield were hard at work in the Terrace O’Paris and the Rose Garden, preparing for the hundreds of guests scheduled to arrive from Tulsa this week.

Soil Sister and Brothers volunteers are gardeners, event cooks, wedding planners, bee keepers, art
shows organizers, and concerts workers. They provide beer making classes, build decks and shape paths.

The Shady Lady volunteers maintain the large shade gardens. The wildflower-prairie garden was planted by 100-volunteers in an area that was bermed and shaped when the property’s Euphrates Creek was dredged and the rich creek soil had to be repurposed.

Chip china backsplash in depot
Go to the website for details about their June croquet party, the chip china classes, concerts or to visit
the garden.

Macy’s group the Cherokee Maidens will play a concert at the Arboretum on May 11. They are
negotiating a performance at Muskogee’s Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame for October, 2014. Her
husband, Kentucky White, former member of the Dixie Chicks, will perform at the Arboretum on Dec 14.

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