Founded by Verna Cook Garvan, Garvan Woodland Gardens is a 210-acre site, recognized as Arkansas’ premier botanical garden. It is located near Hot Springs National Park, one of the oldest parks in the nation.
Though the garden site was purchased in the 1920s, Garvan began to develop it as a show garden in 1956.
Within a span of 40 years, the garden became charming with an impressive collection of plants and flowers such as camellias, magnolias, azaleas, and roses of antique varieties. Presently, it is home to hundreds of natural and exotic plants.
In 1983, Garvan donated the land under a trust agreement to the University of Arkansas School of Architecture, and she maintained control of the property until her death in 1993.
It now functions as an independent department of the U of A School of Architecture.
In April 2002, the garden was opened to the general public, thereby fulfilling Garvan’s dream to utilize it for educational purposes and serve the people of Arkansas.
Garvan Woodland Gardens is noted for its floral landscapes, free-flowing streams and waterfalls, as well as breathtaking architectural structures in a natural woodland setting. The garden hosts weddings, outdoor ceremonies, and receptions.
Educational programs are also organized here. The Paul W. Klipsch Amphitheater, the Woodland Nature Preserve, Evans Children's Adventure Garden, Garden of Pine Wind, Verna Cook Garvan Pavilion, Millsap Canopy Bridge, Old Brick Hill, and the Ellipse are some of the prominent areas in the garden.
The Paul W. Klipsch Amphitheater, located in a woodland setting, is an elegantly sculpted amphitheater with a seating capacity of about 500 people, where concerts and theatrical presentations are organized.
A must-visit area is the Woodland Nature Preserve, which has over 70 species of birds such as the pileated woodpecker, tufted titmouse, and green heron.
The Evans Children's Adventure Garden is tailored to youngsters, with a host of facilities such as tree houses, stone climbing slopes, crawdad holes, and a cave with waterfalls.
Designed in Japanese style, the Garden of Pine Wood covers more than four acres and includes three streams that arise from sources modeled after the natural springs that inspired America’s first Federal Reserve in 1932.
The Verna Cook Garvan Pavilion is an open-air pavilion designed by world-famous architects E. Fay Jones and Maurice Jennings. One can enjoy the natural beauty of the Hot Springs and the gardens there.
The Millsap Canopy Bridge, 120 feet in length and 18 feet in height, provides a panoramic view of a ravine filled with native cinnamon fern, oak leaf hydrangea, and dogwood. A collection of rhododendrons, donated by the Ozark Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society, can also be seen there.
The Ellipse is a reinterpretation of Garvan's original landscape. It is a colorful garden, presenting pansies and tulips in spring, impatiens and begonias in summer, and chrysanthemums and violas in fall.
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