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The Botanical Center, Gardens, Arboretum and other features at Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park
The Friends of the Garden encourage you to visit
Writer and folklorist Vance Randolph was only seven years old when his parents brought him to the Ozarks in 1899, but he knew then that "the Ozark country was the garden spot of all creation." His vision is as true today as it was more than 100 years ago and can be viewed in all its natural beauty, thanks to the public gardens designed, constructed and maintained by the volunteer members of the Friends of the Garden.
Two beautiful adjoining parks, Nathanael Greene Park and Close Memorial Park, form the setting for the new Botanical Center and its botanical gardens. Often referred to as Nathanael Greene/Close Park, both share a common entrance at 2400 South Scenic Avenue in Springfield, Missouri.
Close Memorial Park began in 1998 with the purchase of 55 acres of overgrown, neglected farmland with funds provided by the City of Springfield Public Works, City of Springfield/Park Board and gifts from the C. M. Close family. In the years since, donations from the Close family and other private donors, grants from public bodies, and gifts from various businesses have supported the park’s ongoing development.
Close Park today features 22 gardens, an arboretum containing a number of species of native Missouri trees, open spaces, picnic tables, grills, paved walkways, an open concourse, a section of the South Creek Ozark Greenways Trail, a children’s playground, bronze statuary of children at play, the Dr. Bill Roston Native Butterfly House and a seated bronze statue of civic leader Anne Drummond, overlooking Lake Drummond.
Nathanael Greene Park and Greene County are both named for American Revolutionary War General Nathanael Greene, said to be George Washington’s most gifted and trusted officer.
The park lies on 59 acres of land received in 1975 as surplus property from the United States Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Prisons. Owned and operated by the Springfield-Greene County Park Board, the park is home to the 1850’s-era Gray-Campbell Farmstead, the University of Missouri Extension Master Gardeners Demonstration Garden, the Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden, and a colorful mixed garden created by the Federated Garden Clubs of Southwest Missouri. Other features include a turf garden, the Lions Club History Walk, decorative statuary, scenic walkways, two rent-able pavilions, and picnic areas.
The Botanical Center
Built into a hillside in Close Memorial Park and overlooking Lake Drummond, the new Botanical Center measures 12,700 square feet and serve as a major center of education in horticulture, gardening, nature, and the environment.
It is home to offices for the Springfield-Greene County Park Board, University of Missouri Greene County Extension and its Master Gardeners, 4-H, and other programs; and Friends of the Garden, the non-profit organization that helps to create and maintain the Botanical Gardens and raising funds for the Botanical Center. It includes a combined gift shop, library and also provides space for classrooms, meetings, and exhibits, making possible many programs, seminars, and demonstrations previously unrealized for lack of a location.
Jodie Adams, Director of Parks, summed up the importance of the Botanical Center when she said, “The public wants it. We need it as part of the parks system. This is a great thing for our community.”