In our docent/volunteer training meetings, we didn’t get much time to talk about the park and it’s history. Here is a very informative fact sheet for your reading enjoyment. Lisa Bakerink
Springfield Botanical Gardens Historical Timeline & Facts 2012
2400 S. Scenic Avenue
Springfield, MO 65807
1975, Nathanael Greene Park, 60 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 Association forms a relationship with Isesaki, Japan.
1994, Master Gardeners developed the original demonstration gardens on land provided by the Springfield/Greene County Park Board.
1998, Close Memorial Park was established in cooperation with the Springfield-Greene County Park Board. Its purchase was 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 in Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park.
2000, Friends of the Garden incorporates as foundation to raise funds for the Botanical Center. Drummond Lake was stabilized, and a rose garden was started.
2001, Close Memorial Park, opened in June, includes 54 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.
2001, The Master Gardener demonstration gardens were completely reworked and expanded. The Rose Garden, the first garden established in Close Memorial Park was completed, the roses were planted in April 2001.
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.
2004, The Butterfly Garden was developed and opened to the public.
2006, Greene County voters approve $3 million for the Botanical Center. A 20-year Master Plan is approved by Friends of the Garden and Springfield-Greene County Parks to develop 45 gardens in the Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park.
2009, Dr. Bill Roston Native Butterfly House featuring host and nectar plants to attract native Missouri butterflies was opened.
2009, Construction of the Springfield-Greene County Botanical Center began. Designed by H Design Group of Springfield, the Botanical Center is an energy-efficient “green” building and currently applying for LEED certification.
October 2010, The Botanical Center opens! The facility includes a workshop studio, meeting and exhibit space, an elevated plaza entrance and roof garden, a reference library, a gift shop, and offices for the Springfield-Greene County Parks Botanical Center staff; University of Missouri Extension; the Master Gardeners of Greene County; and Friends of the Garden. The park also added six new playgrounds created by Playcore ®. Look for the “Naturegrounds,” “The Metamorphosis of the Butterfly,” and four Trailpods around the lake including “Trees,” “Falling Leaves,” “A Swinging Toadstool,” and “Dragonfly teeter-totter.” Friends of the Garden complete the Dwarf Conifer Garden.
2011, Friends of the Garden is 1,000 members strong. Missouri Prairie Foundation adopts the Prairie Garden and names it the Kickapoo Edge Prairie in reference to its proximity to the historical location of the Kickapoo Prairie. Missouri Native Plant Society Springfield Chapter adopts the Rain Garden and Wildflower Garden. The Botanical Society of Southwest Missouri becomes a committee under the Friends of the Garden. Friends of the Garden begin construction on the Azalea Garden, the Winter Garden and the Kay Cummins Finnie Memorial Dogwood Garden. Efforts to catalog and create signage for all the plants in the park are initiated. The Greater Ozarks Hosta Society is pursuing national accreditation for its collection.
2012 at a Glance:
- May 11- October 7 – Butterfly House open on weekends 10am-6pm
- May 19 – Young Sprouts hosted by Master Gardeners of Greene County activities for kids!
- June 9 – Bark in the Park
- June 23 – Lily Show
- July 21 – 4th Annual Butterfly Festival
- September 7-9 – Japanese Fall Festival Hosted by Springfield Sister Cities Association
- September 15-16 – Gray-Campbell Farmstead 1860s Lifestyles Expo
- December 1 – Christmas at the Gray-Campbell Farmstead.
- December 1 – 30 – Ozark Garden Railway Society Holiday Train Garden Exhibit
- Major fundraising efforts for the Sensory Garden and Kitchen Studio begin. This garden area will set the stage for conducting horticulture therapy programs, youth education and culinary classes. Many garden rooms, gathering space, and garden attractions to stimulate the senses of sight, sound, smell, taste and touch!
- Current gardens include the Butterfly Garden, the White Garden, the English Garden, the Master Gardeners Demonstration Garden, the Federated Garden Clubs Garden, the Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden, Butterfly Garden, Butterfly House and “Windrider” and individual collection gardens devoted to azaleas, dwarf conifers, dogwoods, flowering shrubs, native shrubs and wildflowers, hostas, daylilies, iris, lilies, ornamental grasses, peonies, roses, redbuds, a restored prairie, turf grasses, and viburnums.
- Additional attractions in Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park are Lake Drummond; the Gray-Campbell Farmstead; playgrounds; picnic areas with grills; pavilions; statuary; over 3 miles of paved, scenic walkways; Lion’s Club History Walk; and access to the South Creek Greenway Trail.
The Botanical Center is owned, operated, and maintained by the Springfield-Greene County Park Board.