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NORTHWEST NECESSITIES: Botanical Garden of the Ozarks: A Beautiful Garden is a Work of Heart

A Beautiful Garden is a Work of Heart

The Botanical Garden of the Ozarks (BGO) is poised to have its best season ever. In its third year, the garden now reflects the blood, sweat and tears that went into the many years of initial planning and labor.

The Botanical Garden’s first eight-acre phase (they lease 90 acres from the City of Fayetteville which will be developed as money allows) contains a myriad of woody, herbaceous and exotic plant species through a network of nine individual gardens: Sensory; Ozark Native; Shade; Four Seasons; Vegetable and Herb; Japanese; Rock and Water; Rose and Perennial; and Children’s. Ten sculptures, nine fountains and several commanding architectural works are strategically placed among the numerous flowers and plants, adding visual interest and sensory pleasure. The vista of Lake Fayetteville, the natural flora and fauna which serve as the site’s backdrop to the artistically-planted gardens, make it no surprise BGO receives more than 30,000 visitors annually.

With education as the primary focus of the Botanical Garden, there are programs for all ages. Little Sprouts; Explore BGO Day Camp; Earth Day; and Butterfly Day are just some of the activities in which thousands of area preschool and elementary children will take part. You don’t have to be young to delight in a stroll through the Children’s Garden with its flowing water, lush plants and fun activities, such as the Eagle’s Nest — a vegetation covered perch atop a replicated tree which gives a commanding overview of BGO. Next to the Children’s Garden is the Vegetable Garden, where kids can learn the origin of food and adjacent to the veggies is the popular Chicken Coop, home to several species of chickens. The other seven gardens also have their own individual, beguiling personalities.

The adult programs cover “how to” topics, bird watching, and informative lectures which will delight gardeners and nature lovers. A lecture on Succulents and Cacti will be presented May 19. The Botanical Garden also hosts several fabulous social events: The Firefly Fling in July; Chefs in the Garden in September; Tea Parties, and the holiday-themed Gardenland Express in November. On Sundays from April through October, BGO hosts the Farmers Market from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.; but one of their most popular events is a fundraiser on May 12: Greening of the Garden, includes both a silent and live auction, dinner and entertainment. Tickets are limited to 500.

With lush flowers and plants, the Botanical Garden is a natural for weddings and receptions. In 2009 and 2010, BGO was voted "best place to get married" by a local magazine. Tyson Terrace and the Totemeier Horticulture Center on the BGO campus make ideal venues for any party or celebration.

There’s more growing this year at BGO than flowers and plants. Ball Horticulture Company, nationally recognized for their plants and seeds, has partnered with Botanical Garden of the Ozarks to create a Demonstration Garden featuring a preview of Ball’s 2012 plants. This 6,000-square-foot demonstration area shows what grows well here, color variations and plant varieties. It highlights bedding plants, containers and baskets. This is an outstanding opportunity for visitors this summer to get a sneak peek at next year’s hottest plants.

Another fascinating addition is a 500-square-foot Butterfly House. Scheduled to open in August, this structure will be a self-contained living environment for more than 20 species of butterflies in all stages of development. The Butterfly House will provide the plants, water and everything needed for the butterflies to live. Docents will be on-hand to educate visitors and answer questions. Outside of the house will be a gazebo suitable for an outdoor classroom and shaded waiting area. The Butterfly House will close in October as butterfly season ends. BGO plans a variety of activities in conjunction with the Butterfly House.

The Botanical Garden of the Ozarks is many things to many people: an outdoor classroom for children and adults; a demonstration of people and nature working together to create beauty; a well-designed space for quiet visits and joyful celebrations; and last, but not least, a source of pride for Fayetteville and northwest Arkansas.

Botanical Garden of the Ozarks
4703 N. Crossover Road, Fayetteville, AR • (479) 750-2620, bgozarks.org.; hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week; admission: adults and children, 13 and older, $5; children, ages 5 to 13, $2.50; children, 4 and younger, free. Call for group rates.

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