Garvan Woodland Gardens, located just outside Hot Springs, Arkansas, was officially opened to the public with a dedication ceremony on April 7, 2002.
However, the 210 acre botanical garden has a history that goes back several decades. A significant aspect of that history involves the timber industry in Arkansas, so it is very appropriate that the Weyerhaeuser Bonsai Garden (shown in this photo) is located near the entrance to the gardens.
This miniature garden railroad depicts that history in a "moving" way, through its use miniature replicas of significant aspects of the garden's development. It all started when a Malvern, Arkansas, businessman (Arthur Cook) purchased the acreage in the 1920's for the purpose of harvesting timber. But, shortly after the acquisition, much of what he purchased was submerged in water due to the building of Carpenter Dam by Arkansas Power and Light. The body of water this dam created was called Lake Hamilton. When Mr. Cook died in 1934, his wife and two daughters acquired the land, along with several other businesses. The younger daughter, Verna, who had married Patrick Garvan, managed the property and businesses. Verna Garvan was inspired to conserve the property and turn it into a garden.
Youngsters and train enthusiasts can enjoy a meal or snack from the Chipmunk Cafe, which is adjacent to the garden railroad, while they watch the train circle through the diorama that is full of historical details.
These gardeners are working on the Flowering Border Frames of the Ellen Edmondson Great Lawn. Since the mission of the garden is to be a resource center for people desiring to improve their knowledge of plants and gardening, you never know who you will come across "digging in" to this experiential learning!
This is the open center of glass panels of the Verna C. Garvan Pavilion. The pavilion has flagstone floors and native stone walls, and was designed by internationally known architects E. Fay Jones and Maurice Jennings.
This is called the Joy Manning Scott Full Moon Bridge and is a part of the section known as the "Garden of the Pine Wind". Genesis 2:15 speaks of another famous garden: "And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it." The word Eden in Hebrew means "delight" or "enjoyment", so the Garden of Eden was a garden of delight or enjoyment. The same is true for Garvan Woodland Gardens---a place of delight and enjoyment!
Since the garden has four and a half miles of Lake Hamilton shoreline, there are many locations throughout where one has a beautiful view of the lake, and surrounding mountains. A boat dock is provided for those garden visitors who want to arrive via water, instead of the highway.
One of the highlights of the spring season is called "Tulip Extravaganza" and features more than 100,000 tulip bulbs planted each year. They were just beginning to open up when I was there.
In this part of the Southern United States, it is not uncommon to see camellias bloom in the winter, so that is a good time to visit the Camellia Trail. There are huge bushes of camellias of all different colors.
A newer section of the gardens features these gorgeous flagstone patios, along with the structure shown with the shake shingle roof. A variety of special events can be accommodated at this venue.
I was fortunate to have these two knowledgeable volunteers give me a tour of the garden via electric cart. Most major trails at Garvan Woodland Gardens are ADA accessible, but for an additional fee, golf cart tours are also offered.
The massive size of the stones making up this landscaped hillside can be appreciated when you realize that the two red dots in the center of the photograph are people! The legal trust agreement between Mrs. Garvan and the landscape architecture program of the University of Arkansas School of Architecture, to operate the gardens, was signed in 1985. It is obvious those landscape planners gave their considerable expertise to make the hillside look as though it had always been the location of a beautiful waterfall.
There is nothing like bright sun,shining through a field of daffodils, to make one's heart shout with thanksgiving about the beauty of God's creation!
This roof appears to be "floating" in the woods, partly because the columns constructing it, are of the same colors as the surrounding tree barks.
When you get closer and go inside the "floating roof", you will find yourself in the Anthony Chapel, designed by architects Maurice Jennings and David McKee. The chapel will seat 160 people and is available for rental.
Adjacent to the chapel is the Anthony Family Carillon. This structure is a 57-foot copper clad bell tower that chimes hourly.
The Pratt Welcome Center is where guests pay the nominal admission fee, and is also the location of a well-stocked gift shop. There you will find any and all items related to gardening. The Welcome Center also has educational classrooms, comfortable indoor seating, and restrooms.
If you have read this far, you may have noticed that most of the landmarks in Garvan Woodland Gardens are named after someone. That is because the Gardens operate as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. The people whose names are mentioned, through their generous donations, have left a legacy that will benefit thousands of future visitors. This photograph of a bridge is symbolic of the responsibility each of us have, to provide a "bridge" to future generations, that will teach them the value and the beauty of God's creation that we call Planet Earth. If you would like to contribute to this vision, by visiting the gardens, or making a contribution, just phone 800-366-4664 or click on www.garvangardens.org . It is an expedition that will give you "Miles of Smiles"! Tricia