The Tulsa Botanic Garden’s impressive Tandy Floral Terraces open to the public Oct. 3-4.
Greg Gray, Tulsa Botanic Garden board chairman; Barbara Sturdivant, “Reaching for Generations” campaign co-chairwoman; Pat Woodrum, the garden’s founder; and Burt B. Holmes, campaign co-chairman, are among the driving forces behind the botanic garden. Persimmon Ridge LLC, including majority owners Tom Atherton and Gentner Drummond (not pictured), donated 170 acres for the garden site in 2005.
Just as some plants take years to flower or produce fruit, the dream in 1999 of a botanic garden in Tulsa has slowly but steadily bloomed.
This month, the Tulsa Botanic Garden will unveil the A.R. and Marylouise Tandy Floral Terraces, the first phase of the garden’s “Reaching for Generations” campaign.
Named in recognition of a $3 million lead gift from the A.R. and Marylouise Tandy Foundation, the 3-plus-acre Tandy Floral Terraces display more than 7,500 plants, including trees, shrubs, ornamental grasses, roses and perennials on a hillside that offers views of downtown Tulsa from its peak.
Plants were sourced from growers and nurseries in 30 states, including Oklahoma, and the terrace walls were constructed from sandstone dug on-site.
Prominent features of the floral terraces include:
The Garden Cascade: A 6-foot-wide central water channel flowing from the top of the hillside into the property’s 7-acre lake. Seasonal flower beds totaling 5,700 square feet surround the cascade and will provide vivid swaths of color from spring bulbs, summer tropical plants or winter annuals.
Tuteur Allées: Intimate areas on the terraces’ ground level are mirrored on the outer edges of a central lawn. Tuteurs, or obelisk-like garden structures, support a variety of ornamental vines. Crape myrtles enclose the area.
The Rose Terrace: Flowering plants and several small trees casting dappled shade complement a combination of shrub, climbing and “Earth Kind” roses.
The Perennial Terrace: Featuring perennials planted in a color scheme made famous by Gertrude Jekyll, a British garden designer who created more than 400 gardens in the U.K., Europe and the U.S. in the mid- to late 1800s and early 1900s. Two open-air, covered pavilions mark the Perennial Terrace’s outer edge. Small streams flow to the lake.
The Mediterranean Terrace: Home to plants adapted to drier climates, including the Mediterranean, areas of Oklahoma and Texas and the Southwest.
The Square: The pinnacle of the Tandy Floral Terraces. Framed by blue Atlas cedars, a lawn overlooks the garden and provides views of downtown.
Visitors can explore the garden on a wheelchair-accessible walk winding to the garden’s peak or through a central stairway along the Garden Cascade.
With a goal of $17.1 million, the “Reaching for Generations” campaign will fund construction of three more gardens from the Tulsa Botanic Garden master plan: the Children’s Discovery Garden (expected to open in May), the Lotus Pool and the Seasons Garden. Other elements include a multi-purpose building, an entry garden, a production greenhouse and infrastructure.
The Tulsa Botanic Garden is located at 3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive, 8 miles northwest of downtown. Beginning Oct. 8, the garden will expand its operational hours to 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Thursday-Sunday, and will charge admission: $5, age 13 and up; $2, children 3-12; free, members and children under 3. Call 918-289-0330 or visit www.tulsabotanic.org.
F. Todd Lasseigne, CEO and president of the Tulsa Botanic Garden, shares the vision behind the Tandy Floral Terraces.
On the idea for a terraced garden: Our thought was, if we could build a terraced garden, we could create a lot of drama with those stone terrace walls. We could theme it depending upon what part of the garden you were in. If you were in the lower terraces, the theme might be plants that grow better near a body of water. If you’re all the way at the top, it might be plants that can better handle drier conditions. We looked at it from a horticultural standpoint of having a nice opportunity to showcase a wide diversity of plants in about a 3-acre footprint.
On the design of the Tandy Floral Terraces: We thought if we could give the garden some kind of signature by relating it to Tulsa, then it would speak locally and wouldn’t just be a garden you could see anywhere. ... We decided that if we could take some cues from Tulsa’s art deco history, we could infuse that into this garden and make it much more than just another terrace garden.
The elements — the cast stone, the metal work like the railing and the two pavilions — are going to showcase some really cool art deco influences and patterns. We think we are going to add just the right touch to the garden so it isn’t too much, but it’s also significant enough that people will say, “Wow, this is really cool. It looks like nothing I’ve ever seen.”
What will surprise guests most about the terraces? The scale. I think they’re going to come and see this gigantic, beautiful garden, and it’s going to really knock their socks off.
The next phase of development: Over the remaining fall and winter months, we will complete the Children’s Discovery Garden. It’s a garden that serves as a wonderland environment designed for kids to learn ... through play and doing things. We’ve created it through clever use of the land and an overlay of some really exciting artistic features.
October events at the Garden
Oct. 2-3 — Grand opening preview for Tulsa Botanic Garden members
10 a.m.-7 p.m., Friday; 10 a.m.-noon, Saturday.
Oct. 3-4 — Public grand opening
Noon-5 p.m., Saturday; 1 p.m., Saturday, ribbon cutting; 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sunday. Garden tours, music and activities. Free admission both days.
Oct. 8-Nov. 8 — Scarecrows in the Garden
10 a.m.-5 p.m., Thursday-Sunday. Enjoy scarecrows created by community groups, businesses, schools and scout groups along the planting beds of the lake trail. Free with garden admission.
Oct. 17 — Pumpkin Patch
10 a.m.-5 p.m. Kids can run through the hay maze, go on a scavenger hunt and participate in story time or craft activities. Adults can shop glass-blown pumpkins from Tulsa Glassblowing School and metal crafts from the Garden Deva. Free with garden admission.