The Springfield Botanical Gardens
Welcome to a special page about the Springfield Botanical Gardens in Springfield, Missouri, now the home of 36 beautiful public gardens and the Springfield-Greene County Botanical Center.
What the Botanical Center and the Gardens are doing for people in the Ozarks region, and indeed for all of the Midwest, is a marvelous story. This is our own personal view of that story, along with notes and quotes from others.
The Springfield Botanical Gardens are located at 2400 S. Scenic Avenue in Springfield. The Center phone number is 417-891-1515.
|What IS a Botanical Center, Anyway?|
A botanical center is a place where people can learn about plant life.
It can provide classes, workshops, exhibits, and demonstrations to help in identifying, growing, and caring for plants of all kinds.
Botanical centers also include botanical gardens, which are quite literally teaching gardens that allow people to see, study, and enjoy up close plants that grow well in their regions, how to grow them, and how to use them to beautify one's own surroundings.
And there's more, as you'll see....
|When and How Did the Botanical Center Open?|
The Grand Opening of the beautiful Botanical Center building was held the week of October 11-17, 2010. To the surprise and delight of many, legendary folksinger Judy Collins gave a free concert on the last day, Sunday. Judy shared with the audience a delicious sense of humor, stories, and many of the songs that brought her world fame, all in a voice seemingly as clear and brilliant as in her youth.
Note: As for that sense of humor, Judy, then 73, greeted the audience with, "I'm so glad to be here. These days I'm glad to be anywhere."
|Where are the Springfield Botanical Gardens?|
The Springfield Botanical Gardens and the Botanical Center are in two public parks, Nathanael Greene Park and Close Memorial Park, which adjoin and are often referred to as "Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park." The entrance is at 2400 South Scenic in Springfield, Missouri.
Amazingly, even though the Gardens, the Botanical Center, and other park attractions comprise one of our region's greatest assets, many people still don't know they exist. Our job here is to help out with that, and we'll tell you even more about the park below. For now, though....
|What Does It Cost to Visit the Springfield Botanical Gardens?|
Are you ready? Admission is FREE to one and all. The Botanical Center building itself is open from 8 am - 8 pm Monday through Saturday and 11 am - 6 pm Sundays.
|THE BOTANICAL GARDENS|
For many visitors the most exciting attractions at the Springfield Botanical Gardens are the gardens themselves. Incredibly, the complex is now home to thirty-six Botanical Gardens. Most of them are covered on this website. You can see and learn about them on the Real Gardens page or by clicking the links here. Listed alphabetically they include the Azalea Garden; Arboretum; Butterfly Garden; Columbine Garden; Daylily Garden; Dr. Bill Roston Native Butterfly House; Dogwood Garden; Dwarf Conifer Garden; English Garden; Entrance Garden at Close Memorial Park; Ethnic Trail of Trees; Federated Garden Clubs Garden; Flowering Shrub Garden; Heritage Garden at the Gray/Campbell Farmstead; Hosta Garden; Iris Garden; Lily Garden; Master Gardeners Demonstration Garden (which includes gardens of Vegetables [the Potager], Herbs, Turf, Shrubs and Perennials, Native Plants, and Ornamental Grasses); Meditation Garden (within the Japanese Stroll Garden); Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden; MSU Flower Trial Gardens; Native Shrubs Garden; Ornamental Grass Garden; Peace Garden; Peony Garden; Redbud Garden; Roof Garden Plaza; Rose Garden; Viburnum Garden; "Windrider" the Planted Butterfly; White Garden; Wildflower Garden; Winter Garden; and Woodland Garden.
|A Map of the Gardens|
We had to include these photos we took because even though they're not all that clear, they do show a new map of the Botanical Gardens. Developed by Master Gardener Christine Chiu, the map is mounted in the lobby of the Botanical Center. It beautifully details the locations of all the botanical gardens. If you click on the photo at left then enlarge it a bit in your browser, you should be able to read the locations. At right is the entire map. We're hoping it'll be published soon and made available to the public.
|FUNDING THE GARDENS|
Sales taxes, grants, and private contributions built the Botanical Center. Now the foremost goal is to ensure the ongoing creation and maintenance of the beautiful Botanical Gardens through a major endowment fund. All of us can help, and all gifts are tax deductible. Contributions can be made by sending a check with "Friends of the Garden Growth & Maintenance Fund" on the memo line to
The Community Foundation of the Ozarks, 425 E. Trafficway, Springfield, MO 65806.
| A Winning Choice for a Lively Gardening Region|
This young woman became the first director of the Springfield Botanical Gardens. Her name is Katie Steinhoff and she's a horticulturist, landscape designer, outdoorsperson, and much, much more. You can read her colorful bio here.
|THE PARK PARTNERS|
The lifeblood of the Springfield Botanical Gardens is the generosity of a great many people and organizations. Here is a list of the organizations designated as Park Partners. For more info on each, simply click on the name: Brentwood Garden Club; Cherry Court Garden Club; Ever Green Garden Club; Gray/Campbell Farmstead Association; Greater Ozarks Audubon Society; Greater Ozarks Hosta Society; Hillbilly Gardeners Garden Club; Iris Society of the Ozarks; Master Gardeners of Greene County; Missouri Master Naturalists--Springfield Plateau Chapter; Missouri Native Plant Society; Missouri Prairie Foundation; Ozark Daylily Club; Ozark Garden Railway Society; Ozark Greenways; Ozarks Regional Lily Society; Rose Society of the Ozarks; Southwest Missouri Camera Club; Springfield Area Herb Society; Springfield Host Lions Club; Springfield Orchid Society; Springfield Public Works; Springfield Sister Cities Association; Springfield Water Garden Society; University of Missouri Extension--Greene County.
|THE BOTANICAL CENTER BUILDING|
The12,768-square-foot Botanical Center building and its 125-foot glass facade are designed to let in maximum natural light with a sense of interior and exterior flowing together. Its architects, H Design Group, also employed energy-efficient mechanical and lighting materials and systems to qualify the Center as a "green building" and it now awaits LEED certification.
Built against a hillside to blend into the landscape, the Botanical Center also features a spacious rooftop plaza that provides an open vista to the park, large containers for seasonal plant displays, and 6,000 square feet of terrace, which affords a beautiful space for outdoor meetings, classes, and special events. Visitors can enter the main building through the doors shown at left to take stairs or an elevator to the lobby. At right, the east entrance features a sign, a small plaza, and raised beds with beautiful plantings that may reflect seasonal changes or serve as special horticultural exhibits.
|INSIDE THE BUILDING|
The Botanical Center houses the lobby at left and offices for the Center coordinator, its horticultural interpreter, University of Missouri Greene County Extension, Master Gardeners, and the Friends of the Garden volunteer organization. It also contains a horticultural library, a gift shop, a horticultural library, and classroom, meeting, and exhibit space that makes possible many events previously unrealized for lack of adequate locations.
The gorgeous stained glass window is the work of artist Robin Coulter-Crabb.
|THE HORTICULTURAL LIBRARY|
The Horticultural Library in the Botanical Center building is up and running. "It's a fantastic resource," says Director Katie Steinhoff, shown at left. "We have books on every subject of existing and future gardens as well as specific interests for gardening in Missouri and the Midwest, and ideas that would be great for the homeowner."
Funded by a generous grant from the Susan Boswell Foundation in memory of Susan's mother, Lois K. Boswell, the library also provides a laptop computer and Internet access. Susan, a member of Friends of the Garden, says many private individuals and organizations have donated books and book-buying money, which gifts are much appreciated.
Note: To donate books to the library, call Katie Steinhoff at 417-891-1515. To make a tax-deductible donation of funds, a check with "library contribution" on the memo line may be sent to the Friends of the Garden, PO Box 8566, Springfield, MO 65801.
|'The Public Wants It. We Want It....'|
So said Jodie Adams, the parks and recreation director who, though quick to credit others, led in the decade-long campaign to make the Botanical Center a reality. For us, this photo taken the day it opened shows the vision, enthusiasm, achievement and elation that so distinguished her service to Springfield and Greene County. For Jodie's remarkable biography, click here. Note: The bio is slightly dated; Jodie retired as parks director in November 2011 after serving with the department for--hold on to your hats--38 years.
|The Beginning--A $3 Million Vote of Confidence|
It all began when voters in 2006 approved a 1/4-cent sales tax to provide $3 million to build the Botanical Center. We're careful with public money in the Ozarks, but the vote wasn't all that surprising given that we're also one of America's liveliest gardening regions. In fact, Springfield in 2005 was ranked third in the nation in per capita spending on lawn and garden supplies and services.* Our region and our people truly deserved a Botanical Center. Now, we have one.
* (Source: The 2005 Missouri University Extension Annual Report.)
|The New Parks Director|
Succeeding Jodie Adams as parks director is Bob Belote, who formerly served as assistant director. At the same time Miles Park, Mike Crocker, and Kim Reser have been named assistant parks directors. Of the new team, Jodie had high praise. "They absolutely have the heart, the desire, the education and the passion," she said. "They truly love people. They want to help people. They want to see our community a great place to live, work and play. That's how they think."
| ||More About Close Memorial Park|
People are more and more discovering Close Memorial Park and its amenities. This bronze sculpture, for example, touches virtually all who see it. It's of a beloved civic leader, Anne Drummond, shown reading by the lake that came to bear her name. Other park attractions include vast open spaces, scenic walkways, children's playgrounds, 26 beautiful botanical gardens, an Arboretum containing Missouri native trees, a portion of the Ozark Greenways Trail, a spacious concourse, picnic tables, and grills. All form a wonderful setting for the Botanical Center, which overlooks Lake Drummond.
| ||More About Nathanael Greene Park|
Named for American Revolutionary War General Nathanael Greene, said to be George Washington's most trusted officer, this park has some wonderful features: the 1850's-era Gray-Campbell Farmstead, where visitors can see how our first settlers actually lived; the Master Gardeners Demonstration Garden, a great teaching garden; the Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden; a colorful cottage garden created by the Federated Garden Clubs of Southwest Missouri; a turf garden; the Lions Club History Walk; decorative statuary; scenic walkways; two rentable pavilions; picnic areas; and wide open spaces. It's a marvel fir its own sake and combined with Close Park is virtually a garden oasis.
| ||WHO ARE THE FRIENDS OF THE GARDEN?|
The Friends of the Garden are a nonprofit organization of volunteers from many different backgrounds, professions, livelihoods, and life experiences, all united in the mission to sustain the Botanical Center and create and maintain the botanical gardens. The group formed in 1998 and has now grown to more than 800 members.
| ||CAN I JOIN THE FRIENDS OF THE GARDEN?|
Absolutely, and it's easy. A $25 donation is tax deductible, will help the Center, and will also buy you a Friends membership that includes a free season pass for two to the Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden, discounts on gardening seminars and workshops, and participation in a great gardening community. You can download a membership form here.
| ||Today's Friend of the Garden President|
Today's president of the Friends of the Garden is Lisa Bakerink, whose hands-on contributions to Springfield Botanical Gardens programs have been legion. Lisa will now spearhead FOG's ongoing fundraising and garden creation and maintenance and, in addition, continue to manage the Docents Program for the Springfield Botanical Gardens Dr. Bill Roston Native Butterfly House. At right, not afraid to break a nail, she digs into a workday in the Botanical Gardens' beautiful Hosta Garden.
| ||A 'Get It Done' FOG Leader|
Leading the Friends of the Garden for 2012 was president Nancy Hopkins, who former president George Deatz said brought to the task "a real get-it-done attitude." Nancy, who taught middle school for 30 years, did indeed get it done, organizing and carrying out several major FOG projects.
|The Botanical Center Handbook|
We can't think of a better way to get a grip on exactly what the new Botanical Center in Springfield, Missouri, is and what it does for all of us than the Botanical Center Volunteer Handbook. It's written by Center coordinator Katie Steinhoff and you can download your own copy by clicking here. (It's a Word file.) We give it two thumbs up, and that's only because two is all we have.
|Weddings and More|
This website receives many inquiries about how to rent space for weddings and other events at the Botanical Center and Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park in Springfield, Missouri.
We're just a website about gardening in the Ozarks and don't sell any products or services. Thanks to the Springfield-Greene County Park Board, however, we can help you download the info you need, including a price list. All you have to do is click here.
|Three Valuable Websites|
For the very latest information on Botanical Center projects, events, and activities, beautiful photos of the botanical gardens, and important links, click here for the Friends of the Garden website. For the latest on info, events, and activities covering every aspect of gardening, click here for the FOG Blog. Finally, University of Missouri Extension-Greene County, which also raised funds for the Botanical Center, provides excellent information on gardening, horticulture, agriculture, homemaking, and much more here.
| ||'We Are Excited About This New Building'|
So said David Burton, University of Missouri-Greene County Extension civic communications specialist, during the drive for Botanical Center funds. Today he adds, "Our offices in the Botanical Center, along with the great class space available in the building, have allowed us to expand the audiences we reach with our educational programs. Last year we reached over 43,000 people in Greene County with a variety of MU Extension programs -- like Master Gardener trainings -- and the Botanical Center space helps make that possible."
| ||'A Great Shot in the Arm....'|
The Botanical Center would be "a great shot in the arm to the Master Gardeners program," predicted Gaylord Moore as he was retiring as Missouri University Extension horticultural specialist. Moore, who won countless friends throughout the region with his service in the position, enthused that the Center would guarantee the program a location for classes and workshops and that the gardens would serve to demonstrate "everything that has to do with plants, fruits, vegetables, trees, shrubs--you name it." His prediction has proved true.
Patrick Byers, who succeeds Gaylord Moore as Missouri University Extension horticulture specialist for the Southwest Region, is winning friends with his friendly, knowledgeable, hands-on help with commercial and home agriculture, the Master Gardeners and Master Naturalists programs, seminars, public outreach, and other services. Patrick holds degrees in commercial horticulture from Nebraska, in horticulture from Missouri University, and a masters in horticulture from the University of Arkansas.
| ||'We are all stewards of the earth....'|
"We are all stewards of the earth, and our children can be led into this path through the Center's classes and programs." They're the most telling words yet on the Botanical Center project, and they came from Susan Boswell, a mother of four who obviously cares about the world today and the world to come. As Friends of the Garden development director, Susan worked tirelessly--and successfully--in leading the public drive for funds.
| ||'It will be a place the city will be proud of...|
...said Paul Redfearn, former Friends of the Garden president, professor emeritus of botany at Missouri State University, and former mayor of Springfield. Paul has made many contributions to the Botanical Center project, including donating plants to and providing beautiful pictures of the botanical gardens now present in Close Memorial Park. You can see many of his photos here.
| ||Raising the Money, and More|
Marketing veteran George Deatz as Friends of the Garden publicity chairman played a major role in Botanical Center fund-raising by getting the word out about all of the benefits it would provide. George subsequently served three terms as FOG president, from 2009-2011, helping raise the group's membership to over 1,000 and greatly expanding its achievements with the Botanical Center and the gardens.
| ||'A Great Opportunity...'|
Bob Kipfer, avid conservationist, retired M.D., and vice-president in the Missouri Master Naturalist program of the Department of Conservation and University of Missouri Extension, believes that a botanical center is a "necessity in any major metropolitan center." He's especially committed to the Botanical Center Arboretum as "a great opportunity to have the most complete collection of Missouri's native trees."
| ||'That tree? Well, that's a...well, er, uh....'|
For those who would like once and for all to be able to identify Missouri's trees, here's some major help. The Arboretum already contains most of the state's native trees, and more will be added. Bob Kipfer and George Deatz have prepared a map showing the trees' exact locations, including GPS coordinates. Extra good news: The map is available to the public free of charge.
| ||'An Excellent Source...'|
As Friends of the Garden garden chairman, Bob Childress helps plan the botanical gardens, obtains plants, and does the physical work of helping plant and maintain them. Given all that, we take him seriously when he says that the Botanical Center will be "an excellent source of information for people who are looking for ideas for landscaping and gardening."
| ||A Generous Gift to Close Memorial Park|
Bravo to the Botany Shop Garden Center in Joplin, Missouri, for donating dozens of beautiful shrubs and trees to Close Memorial Park in Springfield--hydrangea varieties like 'Endless Summer,' 'Blue Moon' wisteria, 'Fantasy' crape myrtle, and more, and redbud, maple, holly, elm, and other trees. Owner Mike Shade grows thousands of trees and shrubs, we're told, specializing in red maples and selling all over the nation. The Shop's website has more info here.
| ||A Gift in Memory|
A beautiful way to honor loved ones and support the Botanical Center is to purchase a brick in the Memorial Walk in the English White Garden in Close Memorial Park. The bricks may be purchased for a $50 donation mailed with the desired inscription to Friends of the Garden, P.O. Box 8566, Springfield, MO 65801. Any questions can be directed to Bob Childress, Garden Chairman, 417-838-9454
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