Compton Gardens is located in Bentonville, Arkansas, on the property that was formerly the residence of Dr. Neil Compton, whose efforts during the 1960's, were a big factor in saving the Buffalo River from being dammed by the U.S. Corps of Engineers.
Dr. Compton's former home has been remodeled into a Conference Center that can be rented for seminars, workshops, retreats, weddings, and other private events. Detailed information on rentals is available at www.peelcompton.org .
Just inside the entrance of the Conference Center is an exhibit room that tells the history of Dr. Neil Compton. Starting with his birth in 1912, I learned that Neil Compton attended Bentonville schools, then graduated from UAMS in 1939. His professional career included being a county health officer, a U.S. Navy Medical Corps member, and an OB/GYN physician in private practice in Benton County. The glass case contains his favorite shirt, which reflects his lifelong passion for exploring and photographing the outdoors.
Dr. Compton's canoe is a visual aid to illustrate how it was the EXPERIENCE of floating the Buffalo River that convinced the appropriate government policy makers to re-examine the 1956 plan to dam the Buffalo River at Gilbert, Arkansas and Lone Rock, Arkansas. During the time of re-examination of the issue, Harold and Margaret Hedges of the K.C. Ozark Wilderness Waterways organization arranged for U.S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, a noted conservationist, to float the Buffalo River. (Author's note: When I learned about the connection of Harold & Margaret Hedges to Justice Douglas's float trip on the Buffalo, it made me especially thankful that my son and I had the opportunity to float the Buffalo River with them, as well! In fact, the Hedges were a great help to my son and I, because we had a metal canoe with a hole in the bottom. The Hedges came up with a way to fix it, after confiscating all the chewing gum that was in our church group that day, and skillfully applying the gum to plug up our leaky canoe!) When the Ozark Society was formed, along with its legal entity called "Save The Buffalo, Inc.", Dr. Neil Compton was elected its first president. It is only fitting, that a generous gift from the Walmart folks (see photo insert) is responsible for the Neil Compton Exhibit Room, since Dr. Compton was the physician for various members of the Sam Walton family in Bentonville, for many years.
Having grown up less than 20 miles from the Buffalo River, about the only thing I knew about it as a kid, was that it was the location where my friends and I went to swim. We passed many a summer afternoon, splashing in the water, and jumping off the bluffs at Pruitt, under the Highway 7 Bridge. If the dam had been built, that swimming hole, and its gorgeous bluffs, would be deep under water. So here is a belated THANK YOU to the Hedges, and Dr. Neil Compton, for your successful efforts to SAVE THE BUFFALO RIVER!
This "Three Bears" sculpture marks the parking lot for Compton Gardens. A friend who lives close by told me she uses this parking lot often, when she is visiting Crystal Bridges Museum, rather than the parking lot adjacent to the museum.
From the parking lot, a visitor can connect to the Crystal Bridges trails, as well as the trails of Compton Gardens.
A great way to learn about the flora and fauna of this green oasis is by participating in one of their FREE Tuesday Tours, held during the spring.
There are placards such as this throughout the gardens that can help you get your bearings, plus tell you about the various aspects of the garden that are in the vista you are observing. I find it is helpful to take a photo of the map of a new place I am visiting, so I can refer to it later, if needed.
This trail is set up for both walkers and those on a bicycle, and is just one example of trails within the 6.5 acres of the property.
This chestnut tree has the special designation of being an "Arkansas Champion Tree". I would say Dr. Neil Compton, also is deserving of the designation "Arkansas Champion", and in fact, he was the recipient of numerous awards for his public service.
I especially liked the way the landscaping was done along this woodland stream, so that it would be just as attractive when it was dry, as when water was running through it.
There are numerous places along the trail, where visitors can get off the paved path, and venture onto native stone areas.
This man-made bench blends in with the contours of the land, and looks like a perfect place for a "Kodak memory moment"!
The circular "amphitheater" style of landscaping shown in the foreground of this photo, blends in with the circular designs of the round building that contains pubic restrooms.
This area of Compton Gardens has been designed with features that make it a place to watch the native birds, as they flit from branch to branch of the canopy of trees above.
Just a short walk on the trail from Compton Gardens will put you at the lower entrance the the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art ( www.crystalbridges.org ). I combined my visit to Compton Gardens with a visit to the Normal Rockwell special exhibit on display at the museum until May 27.
This photo insert shows the way that the trails entrance to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art works in harmony with the trails of Compton Gardens. It reminded me of one of the verses from the 30-Day Church Challenge, currently going on at First Baptist Church in Mountain Home ( www.myfbcmh.com ). The verse is from Roman 12:16, and says "Live in harmony with one another." I am very thankful for the ways that the trails of Compton Garden and the trails of Crystal Bridges "live in harmony with one another", and I hope I can follow their example in my own life. I know doing so will give "Miles of smiles" !! Tricia