Just as flowers bloom, trees grow taller and shrubs denser, the Friends of the Garden has grown to include more than 1,000 members and has created more gardens for the public to enjoy at Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park.
In 2009 when George Deatz began the first of three terms as president of Friends of the Garden, the volunteer organization had 250 members. “People make an organization strong,” said Deatz. “The more members we have, the more gardens we can create, build and maintain.” The count stood at 800 last fall and recently crossed the thousand-plus milestone, a portion of that increase due to the merger of the Botanical Society of Southwest Missouri into the Friends of the Garden.
The mission of the Botanical Society was to help maintain the Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden, located in the northeast corner of the public park and arboretum at 2400 S. Scenic Ave. Now, members will incorporate that mission under the umbrella of the Friends of the Garden.
Gardeners always have room for one more flowering bed, and Friends of the Garden members are always busy adding to the more than two dozen gardens that dot the countryside of the 114-acre park.
Gail Wright led a group of Friends of the Garden volunteers, including Deanna Armstrong, J.J. Averett, Jessy Bolan, Bob Childress, Ann Gunion, Avis Holloway, Tom Lakowske, Ed Miller and Yuriko Scott, in planting the most recent addition, a Winter Garden, three tear-shaped beds located southwest of the Botanical Center northwest of the Viburnum Garden.
The Winter Garden, a year-around garden experience, will feature ornamental grasses, Hellebores, hydrangeas, dogwoods, witch hazel, dwarf conifers, early bulbs and other plants, said Wright, who also serves as secretary for Friends of the Garden. The garden will include benches, a water feature, a swing under a pergola, arbors at the entrances and irrigation in later phases as funds become available.
The Azalea Garden, located east of the Botanical Center, is adorned with about 20 varieties of more than 200 spring-flowering shrubs, plants donated by Dow and Linda Whiting, owners of Garden Adventures Nursery in Nixa. Dow Whiting designed the garden of raised beds under shady hackberries and five varieties of Japanese maple and other trees. Friends of the Garden Board member Ruth Arneson, vice president of Marisol International, donated funds for the hardscape and ornamental trees.
Dow Whiting helped plant the garden as well as Tom Lakowske, Frank Mason, Bob Childress, Dick Brunskill, Ruby Miller, Joe Kleiber and Ed Miller.
Tax-deductible $25 annual memberships and contributions to the Friends of the Garden Growth and Maintenance Fund can be sent to P.O. Box 8566, Springfield, Missouri, 65801.
Friends of the Garden, Inc. PO Box 8566 Springfield, MO 65801 417.891.1515 | EMAIL
The Springfield-Greene County Botanical Center2400 S. Scenic AveSpringfield, MO 65807
The Friends of the Garden mission is to "inspire the discovery, understanding and appreciation of nature by creating and maintaining gardens at Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park and by supporting the mission of the Springfield-Greene County Botanical Center and Park Board."