Lunch With: Pat Woodrum
Executive director, Oklahoma Centennial Botanical Garden
Date: March 6 Time: 12:30 p.m. Place: Dragonmoon Tea Company
A couple of places in “The Square” notwithstanding, of late, Tulsa’s been a little short on those quintessential ladies-who-lunch spots: tearooms. After I spied Dragonmoon’s sign months ago, said a silent “Yippee!” and got a good review from another staffer, it’s become one of my faves.
Knowing my friend Pat Woodrum has to travel a good distance to eat anywhere besides her office, it was my chance to introduce her to this quaint midtown spot, where at least one person in your party is likely to see a familiar face. Sure enough, we bumped into Mary Wheeler Brown, volunteer extraordinaire, whom I’ve known since she was one of my fresh-out-of-college junior high teachers, and Patsy Wynn, Tulsa Herb Society loyalist and longtime friend of Pat’s via the Tulsa Garden Center.
Woodrum and I bonded years ago when we agreed that Tulsa needs to market its rep as a “garden city.” We met for an update on the Oklahoma Centennial Botanical Garden (OCBG) — including the nature experts of all stripes who have swarmed to this 160-acre Oklahoma oasis, which is teeming with flora, fauna and flying creatures that would go unnoticed to the less observant. While most of us are thinking about OCBG’s landscaped gardens, they are appreciating and discovering what is already there in the wild.
To date, University of Oklahoma botanists have identified 380 plant species, and butterfly experts have found an astounding 60 of the 114 butterfly species that flutter by in Osage County, where the garden lies. Members of the Audubon and Native Plant societies, the Oklahoma Forestry Services, archaeologists and experts with the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center near Austin, Texas, are finding, collecting or recording items in their areas of interest.
The last is perhaps the most exciting development. Many aren’t old enough to remember Mrs. Johnson, whose national beautification efforts were sometimes laughed at, but were truly prescient (read about her at www.wildflower.org). LBJ botanists will work with local volunteers to collect our wildflower seeds, a portion of which will go to England’s Kew Garden Millennium Seed Bank, where the goal is to collect and freeze 10 percent of the world’s seeds against extinction by 2010.
For amateur nature lovers, our Oklahoma botanical garden has already set up a lengthy series of Saturday programs at the new temporary visitor center, by the garden’s recently completed seven-acre lake (find the list at TulsaPeople.com).
Woodrum is the perfect person to run this growing garden effort. A onetime Tulsa Garden Center president and the retired Tulsa City-County Library executive director, Woodrum has focused her second career on a passion. (She and husband Clayton always keep a vegetable garden and she loves orchids.) And the scale of the tasks before her, Development Director Carrie Vesely Henderson and Director of Communications Pearl Garrison (also veterans in their fields) is unlikely to intimidate her or them.
I hope you can tell I love this spectacular attraction, too. And with a new entrance, it’s easier to reach. Visit www.ocbg.org to learn more.