I grew up and earned my Landscape Architecture degree in Northwest Arkansas, so spending a cool summer morning looking at familiar, much-loved plants with my sister and her oldest son was a treat.
The Botanical Garden of the Ozarks looked like a small garden online, but we three plant geeks had to rush off after an hour and a half to meet people for lunch. The garden was cleaning up from a fundraiser the evening before. Even though tents coming down limited taking overall photos, it did not affect strolling the series of twelve themed backyard gardens set around an accessible circular path. In the center was a lawn that focused on a pavilion/stage. This created a sunny center surrounded by mostly shaded display gardens, which was welcome on a summer morning.
We were able to see many plants and take many photos in the gardens around the building and parking lot before we even entered, so by the time we entered and paid our fee, we were already in the experience. Kudos to the responsible rain garden between bays of parking too.
Once in the garden you could look at the map given to you when you paid the affordable admission and decide where you wanted to spend your time. These gardens seemed small when I saw them on a map, but we spent a full 20 minutes in each garden that most interested us: the Ozark Native Garden, the Sensory Garden, and the Rock and Water Garden. The butterfly house was beautiful, filled with plants that thrived in Zone 7 gardens, and had an abundance of informative signage. Most of the others we were able to move a little faster, and each had its charm. A couple we just weren’t interested in that day. That is perfect – providing something for everyone without trying to be all things to all people. Kids can enjoy the butterfly house, children’s garden and soft great lawn; someone wanting time in nature can find a bench in a display garden to read or sketch. Each display garden was very different, most linked with the Streamside Trail through the trees. I thought there was a great balance of accessible walkways through intensely planted display gardens with natural woodland paths with beautiful large stones serving as footbridges.
Plant people and photographers would love the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks. There are many well-signed interesting tree and shrub specimens and large drifts of perennials that sing when they are in bloom (and, I can imagine, when they are showing off fall color).
Visited: Saturday, June 22, 2019
Location: 4703 N. Crossover Road, Fayetteville, AR
Website: www.bgozarks.org 2017 YouTube video
Accessibility: Great hierarchy of paths on a pretty level site lets a wheelchair or stroller around and into the gardens. Short distance from parking to entrance.
Gift shop: Small, same room as where you buy tickets, includes local crafts and signature items.
Note: Started in 1990s. Only butterfly house in Arkansas. Approx. 80,000 visitors/year. Free admission with the AHS Reciprocal Admissions Program
Coolest (to me): Umbrella magnolias in the woods near the Shade Garden, massive plantings of lilies in bloom everywhere, dragonflies abundant around water garden.
Nearby: Northwest Arkansas is a beautiful area with great small town downtown shopping/ restaurants and hiking in natural areas. Fayetteville, Bentonville and Rogers downtowns are very much alive. Nearby Eureka Springs and Crystal Bridges Museum are both well worth the drive.
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