Background on the Parks
1975, Nathanael Greene Park, 59 acres, is created. The property was donated to the City of Springfield as surplus property from the U.S. Department of Interior and Bureau of Prisons. The park is named after Nathanael Greene (August 7, 1742 – June 19, 1786) who was a major general of the Continental Army in the American Revolutionary War. When the war began, Greene was a militia private, the lowest rank possible; he emerged from the war with a reputation as George Washington's most gifted and dependable officer. Many places in the United States are named for him including Greene County (Greene County, organized in 1833) and Nathanael Greene Park which is now owned and operated by the Springfield-Greene County Park Board.
1984, Gray-Campbell Farmstead is relocated to Nathanael Greene Park. The Gray/Campbell Farmstead is the oldest house in Springfield, Mo. Along with the oldest house in Springfield, circa 1856, there is a log kitchen, a two crib barn, and a log granary. The House was built by James Price Gray and was later sold to his brother-in law, John Polk Campbell, nephew and name-sake of the founder of the city of Springfield. The house was occupied by the Campbell family from 1865 to the 1950's and was moved to the Nathanael Greene Park in 1984 when the Kansas and James River Expressways were constructed.
1985, the Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden is created on 7.5 acres.
1986, Springfield Sister City relationship with Isesaki, Japan.
1994, Master Gardeners developed the original demonstration garden on land provided by the Springfield-Greene County Park Board. (In 2001, the garden was completely reworked and expanded.)
1998, Close Memorial Park was established in cooperation with the Springfield-Greene County Park Board in 1998, its purchase made possible through a donation from the C.M. Close family. The same year, Friends of the Garden was formed to support the park and now creates and maintains the botanical gardens.
2000, Friends of the Garden incorporates as a 501(C)3 foundation to raise funds for the Botanical Center. Drummond Lake was stabilized, and a Rose Garden was created.
2001, Close Memorial Park, opened in June, includes 55 acres, sited for an arboretum includes a number of mature trees, good soil and plenty of water in the form of the pond and a small stream that trickles across the area.
2003, A Missouri Department of Conservation grant helped expand the park and clear it to create open space. Each year since, thanks to funds from the Close family and the work of volunteers, more gardens have been added and existing gardens expanded.
2006, Greene County voters approve $3 million for Botanical Center.
2004, The Butterfly Garden and 2009, Dr. Bill Roston Butterfly House features host and nectar plants to attract native Missouri butterflies.
2009, Construction of the Springfield-Greene County Botanical Center is begun and scheduled for completion in the Fall of 2010. Designed by H Design Group of Springfield, the Botanical Center will be an energy-efficient “green” building and will seek LEED certification.
2010, The Botanical Center is completed
- The Center’s construction costs are being met by a 2006 voter-approved parks sales tax, funds from the Greene County Commission and the Springfield-Greene County Park Board, and private donations made through Friends of the Garden and University of Missouri Greene County Extension.
- The Center will provide classroom, meeting and exhibit space, an elevated plaza entrance and roof garden, library, combined gift shop and bookstore, and offices for the Springfield-Greene County Park Board; University of Missouri Extension; the Master Gardeners of Greene County; and Friends of the Garden.
- A 20-year Botanical Center master plan calls for it to be surrounded by botanical gardens and an arboretum containing examples of all of Missouri’s native trees.
- Twenty-four of the 45 planned botanical gardens already exist. They are the Entrance Garden, the Butterfly Garden, the White Garden, the English Garden, the Master Gardeners Demonstration Garden, the Federated Garden Clubs Garden, the Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden, and individual gardens devoted to dogwoods, flowering shrubs, hostas, daylilies, iris, lilies, native plants, ornamental grasses, peonies, roses, redbuds, tall prairie grasses, turf grasses, viburnums and others.
- Gardens yet to be created are the Biblical Garden, Bulb and Tuber Garden, Conservatory, Freedom Garden, Heritage Garden, Native Shrub Garden, Perennial Garden, Secret Garden, Sensory Garden, Terrace Garden, Victorian Garden, Weeping Tree Garden, Wetland Garden, Winter Garden, and individual gardens devoted to azaleas, conifers, ferns, flowering trees, Japanese maples, and magnolias.
- Additional attractions in Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park are Lake Drummond; the Gray-Campbell Farmstead; a child's playground; picnic areas with grills; pavilions; statuary; scenic walkways; Lion’s Club History Walk; and the South Creek Greenway Trail.
- The Botanical Center will be owned, operated, and maintained by the Springfield-Greene County Park Board.
Friends of the Garden Presidents
Ann Webster, president 2001
Don Akers, president 2002
Larry Henry, president 2003
Bob Childress, president 2004, 2005, 2006
Paul Redfearn, president 2007
Bob Kipfer, president 2008
George Deatz, president 2009, 2010, 2011
Nancy Hopkins, president 2012
Lisa Bakerink, president 2013, 2014, 2015
A blast from the past — “Botanical Gardens at Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park”
Information by George Deatz, November 2009
Dr. Paul Redfearn, past president (2007) of Friends of the Garden, established this first FOG online photo galley web page Botanical Gardens at Close Memorial Park a few years ago. It features many of Dr Redfearn’s beautiful photographs of the different gardens and identifies some plants throughout the park. It was updated just prior to his move to Independence, Mo. It is original and will take a couple of minutes to load all of the photographs, click on a photograph to enlarge it. Link here: Dr. Redfearn's Original Photo Gallery
Dr. Redfearn helped establish our Native Wildflower Garden that is now on the east side of the park just north of the new Dr. Bill Roston Native Butterfly House. There is a park bench at that location that pays tribute to Dr. Redfearn for being a Springfield community leader. Dr. Redfearn, a retired MSU Professor and past Springfield City Mayor from 1978-1981 was involved in many organizations and traveled extensively throughout the world.
Many of you know Paul and his wife Alice. They moved to Kansas City to be closer to family. My last note from Paul said all was well and they were both volunteers at Powell Gardens.