Greater Tulsa Reporter
BOTANIC SOIL: Ground was broken for the Tulsa Botanic Garden’s Children’s Garden on April 18. From left are Mayor Dewey Bartlett, Jr. with grandson, Chairman of the Board Greg Gray, Terry and Pam Carter with granddaughter, Garden CEO Dr. Todd Lasseigne, Judy Zarrow and Bill Major of The Anne & Henry Zarrow Foundation, Elizabeth Hagans, Shirley Martin of Hille Foundation, Marianna Vesely, Bonnie Klein and Tres Fromme, garden designer.
The Tulsa Botanic Garden is growing in unexpected ways. Flowering perennials budding along gravel walks are naturally found in this season of rebirth. Now this spring, Tulsa Botanic Garden has expanded its themed gardens with the groundbreaking of its Children’s Discovery Garden on April 18.
With two acres planned to open next spring, funding such a large enterprise will not be easy. DIG: Day In the Garden, is an annual fundraising event that supports Garden initiatives. This year, proceeds will go towards the Children’s Discovery Garden. All of Green Country is invited to attend this third annual DIG, to be held Saturday, May 9, from 4-7 p.m. at Tulsa Botanic Garden.
A family-friendly outdoor picnic, DIG will offer attendees a chance to tour the entire Garden while enjoying live music by Klondike 5 String Band and Paul Benjaman Band. Guests of all ages are encouraged to join a rousing, entertaining game of Lawn Twister, or decorate and plant a pot for Mother’s Day. Children will enjoy face painting and pony rides.
Event co-chair Brooke Sturdivant is bringing four generations of family members to the event. “Everyone in my family loves Tulsa Botanic Garden. It’s wonderful to see the excitement on children’s faces as they play on the lawn or take walks around the lake. We’re planning our DIG: Day In the Garden to be an enjoyable and relaxing picnic that will entertain everyone in one of the most idyllic settings in Tulsa.”
Catered, traditional picnic fare of grilled hot dogs and a variety of sides will satisfy active attendees who hike the ¾-mile Lake Trail or dance the afternoon away to live music. Cool drinks, including beer and wine, will be served under shading tents set up around the Visitor Center and seven-acre lake. The Garden recently completed extensive infrastructure projects that brought electricity and city water to the Visitor Center, which will be air-conditioned.
At the April 18 event, over 200 people participated in day-long festivities, highlighted by the ceremonial groundbreaking. Morning rain threatened to cast wet shadows upon the proceedings, but sunlight broke through the clouds in time to shine on the official ceremony. Mayor Dewey Bartlett joined other dignitaries in turning over the garden’s first soil. With his children and grandchildren in attendance, he emphasized how much Tulsa Botanic Garden adds to the variety of outdoor activities offered in Tulsa.
Bartlett elaborated, “The Children’s Discovery Garden is an important addition to environmental education in our city, and will allow Green Country students opportunities for hands-on learning about the rich ecological diversity of Green Country. I know my own grandchildren will enjoy exploring hidden pathways among colorful flowers, and climbing the Tree Fort.”
The Children’s Discovery Garden will encompass almost two acres in a fantastical “wonderland” garden environment offering experience-based learning opportunities for children and families. The focal point of the garden will be the Stream Valley, with the water source emanating from the Spring Giant, a 15’ rugged stone face entered through a hidden grotto. The Meadow will offer exploration of trails through tall grasses and flowering perennials as well as larger-than-life insect whirligigs hovering above. A grove of post oaks, at the highest point of the Children’s Garden, will house the Tree Fort, offering vantage points through windowed portals set among the tree limbs.
“Tulsa Botanic Garden is designed for the entire Green Country community,” explains Garden President and CEO, Dr. F. Todd Lasseigne. “The Children’s Discovery Garden will be no exception to this. While it certainly will reach our youngest guests on their level, all visitors will enjoy its whimsical elements – like sculptures and planting designs – as well as its educational components. The DIG is a great way to raise awareness and support for this important space at Tulsa Botanic Garden.”
At last month’s groundbreaking, children decorated masks designed with the face of the Spring Giant, with help from Garden staff and volunteers. Margaritte Knezek, Tulsa Botanic Garden Programs Assistant, helped over 50 children color and build kites to fly, which were sponsored by the Tulsa Wind Riders Kite Club. “One young girl spent almost an hour stenciling the Spring Giant on her kite. I know it will be something she will treasure for years to come.”
Jenny Clyde attended the groundbreaking with her husband and daughter. “We’d never been to the Garden before, and wanted to celebrate my birthday with a family-friendly outing. We love nature activities, so it was a perfect place for us. We will definitely go back, and the DIG sounds like a great party to help support the Garden.”
Lindsay Hunter, DIG co-chair, knows more Tulsans are learning about the garden, and believes the DIG’s low ticket prices will fit most budgets. “The DIG is a great value for couples and families, with dinner, drinks, and three hours of entertaining activities. This is a wonderful time to enjoy the Garden with fellow supporters, or with other first-time visitors. Everything in Tulsa Botanic Garden appeals to a wide variety of people, and we expect to see many new faces coming out to join us.”
General admission tickets for the event are $50 for one adult, $75 for two. Garden member discount tickets are $25 for one person or $40 for two adults. Children are free with a paid adult. Ticket reservations can be made by calling 918-289-0330.
The Children’s Discovery Garden is the second of four planned gardens in a capital campaign launched last November. The A.R. and Marylouise Tandy Floral Terraces, a formal ornamental garden, is slated to open this October. The capital campaign is part of Tulsa Botanic Garden’s recent master plan for developing 60 acres of gardens over the next 25 years. The plan was developed with help from landscape architects from Dallas, Atlanta, and Tulsa.
This master plan concentrates garden spaces around its seven-acre lake. Planned are an Amphitheater on the north side; the Children’s Discovery Garden, Floral Terraces, and Inspiration Gardens on the west; along with a Chapel, tropical Conservatory, and Edible Gardens on the east. These gardens will highlight the worldwide importance of plants to human civilization.
Contrasting with these formal gardens will be the remaining 110 acres of the property. Visitors can stroll a three-quarter mile trail around the seven-acre lake. A one and a half mile hiking trail winds through native Cross Timbers forest and prairie.
Tulsa Botanic Garden is located eight miles northwest of downtown Tulsa. The Garden is open every Friday and Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and offers a gardening talk, plant hike or drop-in activity each week. For tickets to the DIG, more information, or directions, call 918-289-0330 or visit www.tulsabotanic.org.