Springfield MO Botanical Gardens at Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park (www.friendsofthegarden.com) is a unique combination of classic garden design, teaching gardens and plenty of features for families with children.
The land on which Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park was built came from a 1975 federal government surplus land donation to the city. The name Close Memorial Park came in 1998 when the Close family contributed funds to add the park to the County Park system.
The 20-year plan that was developed for the garden includes 45 gardens and features. So far there are 24 for visitors to enjoy.
One of the first features that the volunteers added was Gray/Campbell Farmstead where historic buildings were collected to provide families with a farm experience. Exploration includes an 1865 farmhouse, log kitchen, granary and barn. The Heritage Garden features flowers and vegetables grown in the 1860s.
Ten years later the lovely 7 acre Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Gardens were developed. This traditional strolling garden was designed with the help of Springfield’s Japanese Sister City, Isesaki Japan. They designed and installed part of the garden located by the Moon Bridge and Tea House which are replicas of the Ft. Worth Japanese Garden.
The Meditative Garden has been expanded and there is food available for feeding the Koi. Other features that we found interesting was the collection of evergreens, water garden and bonsai area.
The garden was named for friend of the garden, Yuriko Mizumoto Scott. Scott was born in Japan and came to live in the Ozarks as a war bride in 1951. Mizumoto Gardens was the site of the 20th annual Japanese Fall Festival.
Missouri Master Gardeners have developed a demonstration garden that not only has a collection of plants for shade and sun, but herb gardens, vegetable plots and educational signage to teach visitors about insects and diseases as well as the best plants for the area. These gardens are so well-tended that walking through them makes vegetable growing look easy.
When we visited this summer the Wildflower Garden was in full bloom. The design is carefree, giving you a sense that the plants simply sprung up in place. Of course, the garden was planted with carefully selected MO native perennial plants as well as wildflowers that re-seed from year to year.
The Butterfly Garden and the Dr. Bill Roston Butterfly House feature native butterflies in an environment planted with nectar and as host plants for caterpillars.
For anyone interested in improving a landscape, the Native Shrub Garden is a must-see. The 75 native shrubs are clearly identified so you can stroll along the paths, take photographs and jot down the names of native shrubs whose size and shape would fit into your garden.
Our method for visiting botanical gardens is to use the camera to record plant signs, as well as taking notes on paper. Each plant of interest is recorded in the same sequence: first we take a photo of the plant sign (Latin and common name plus growing details).Then, the next photos are of the plant, its flowers or unique leaves.
The Hosta Garden displays over 300 varieties with paths for strolling through the beds. The beds are planted and maintained by the Greater Ozarks Hosta Society. It has been designated a National Display Garden of the American Hosta Society.
Other gardens worth visiting include the flowering shrub collection, daylilies, lilies, ornamental grasses, peonies, roses, redbuds, tall prairie grasses, viburnums, etc.
Visitors who enjoy walking, can stroll the miles of trails. If walking is difficult, a free tram runs on the weekend from April through October, picking visitors up at the parking lot and looping around the gardens, attractions, picnic areas and playgrounds.