By Sharon Beasly
The weather could not have been better for the GWA Region V meeting to see the great public gardens of Tulsa. October this year in Oklahoma was exceptionally nice and warm, perfect for our time together.
Our first stop was the Linnaeus Teaching Gardens (http://www.tulsagardencenter.com/lgc/index.htm) in Tulsa, Oklahoma’s Woodward Park. The Linnaeus Garden may be small with only l.55 acres, but it packs a punch. We strolled through the entry under a canopy of 100 year old red cedar trees. A few years back one of the old trees died. It had been transformed into a work of art by Clayton Coss (http://chainsawartistry.com/), a chainsaw carver from Wagner, Oklahoma.
At the end of the entry walk, we encountered a statue of Carl Linnaeus who seemed posed to welcome us. In one hand he held a bloom of Gaillardia pulchella, the Oklahoma state wildflower, and in the other hand a botanical book, symbolizing the botanical naming system he developed that is still in use today. We couldn’t resist gathering around old Carl for a group shot.
Barry Fugatt, Director of the garden, met us near the entrance and gave us a tour through the six different garden areas: Water Garden, Fountain Garden, Boulder Garden, Fruit and Vegetable Garden, Herb Garden, and Orchid Shelter. Every garden is a wonderful place for generating ideas for the home landscape.
In addition to the many gardens, the developers also managed to find room for a red barn they used for a learning center, a small greenhouse, and gift shop. All of these features had to be designed to fit on property with a 13 ft. change of level between the highest and lowest points. Somehow they did this without damaging the large trees on the site.
At the end of the tour, we each picked our favorite spot in the Linnaeus Garden to enjoy tasty box lunches from Lambrusco’z Deli in Tulsa. After lunch we drove off to the Tulsa Botanic Garden.
The Tulsa Botanic Garden (https://www.tulsabotanic.org/) is a very new garden endeavor only eight miles from downtown Tulsa but out in the boonies – no kidding – with a master plan designed to have the garden eventually cover 60 acres. Walking the Tulsa Botanic Garden provides plenty of exercise for a day.
In just three years, they have made a good start bringing the plan to life with a seven-acre lake surrounded in part by a fantastic two-acre Children’s Discovery Garden, a three-acre floral terrace divided by a grand cascade of water terraces from the top down into the lake, and a plethora of plants everywhere.
Perhaps the most memorable sight was the whimsical image of the 15 foot Spring Giant statue overlooking the head of a water spring in the children’s garden. It is a bit formidable with deep-set glass eyes, a crawdad nose, and mouthful of large teeth over which water flows. If you walk to the backside of the Giant you can enter a grotto that is his body, complete with stalactites hanging from above.
On the A.R. and Marylouise Tandy Terrace there were wonderful displays of “over 8,000 permanent plants including trees, shrubs, ornamental grasses, roses and perennials set in terraced beds on a hillside which offers views of downtown Tulsa from its peak.” But the area that I loved most was a field where pink and white cosmos were allowed to grow wild. It was a wonderful sight reminiscent of the prairie native to the area.
I do not have enough room to describe all the marvelous features of this new botanic garden but I highly recommend it as a garden to visit. We were fortunate to have President Todd Lasseigne guiding us around the gardens. I hope to return next year for the spring tulip display. Next time, though, I will remember to wear my best walking shoes.
Meet the Author
Sharon Beasley has been addicted to gardening for over 30 years. She gardens on an acre in Newcastle, Oklahoma. Her weekly garden column has been in the Newcastle Pacer (http://www.newcastlepacer.com/73780/2393/1/online-editionthe-newcastle-pacer) since 1992. She is a long time member of the Oklahoma Horticultural Society (http://www.ok-hort.org/) and GWA:The Association of Garden Communicators.