Nothing is better than spending the day outside surrounded in the beauty of nature. Walking through a botanical garden can be relaxing, invigorating and a fun, learning experience. Arkansas is the natural state and our mild winters allow us to have quite a few great botanical gardens. During the spring and summer, these places come alive with color and life.
Many botanical gardens feature native plants, so you can learn a little about the flora of the state while being surrounded by nature. A few of these gardens are either in the city limits or close enough to make a quick trip. Garvan Gardens in Hot Springs is just a few hours away, but Wildwood Park is in the city. Even if you're staying in downtown, you can take a trip to the Arkansas Historic Museum and see their herbal garden. You could also consider the Gardens at the Old Mill.
This 210-acre park is located near Hot Springs National Park. The gardens showcase floral landscapes, free-flowing streams, and waterfalls, as well as architectural structures in a natural woodland setting. There's also a Japanese Garden, many rare shrubs and flowers and rock gardens. Located at 498 Arkridge Road, Hot Springs National Park, AR 71913. Call 501-262-2711 or 888-530-6873.
This 86-acre site currently includes seasonal plantings in a small area, a meadow where you can spot wildlife, a lakeside hiking trail, and a self-guided tree identification tour. The master plan for the site includes a more impressive planted garden. However, it's worth looking at in its current state. Located at the Fayetteville-Springdale border on Crossover Road (Highway 265).
Wildwood Park for the Performing Arts
Wildwood's gardens are located on 105 acres with a mission to celebrate the arts and nature. The gardens of Wildwood include the pavilion daffodil garden, which is a spring daffodil and a flowering tree garden. You can also find The Richard C. Butler Arboretum featuring natural woodland plants, the Bruce Garden featuring native perennials, ferns and grasses, the Doris Gay Asian Garden, the Hunter's Glen and the BOP Water Garden. The gardens are located in Chenal Valley, just a 20-minute drive from downtown Little Rock.
The Old Mill is located in North Little Rock. While it's technically a city park, they have pretty impressive gardens on the property. Located on Lakeshore drive.
While not a garden in its purest sense, the Historic Arkansas Museum's tour has lots of great plants to look at. Most notable is the medicinal herb garden. It features native and imported plants used by settlers and native Americans for healing. It is located outside of the Woodruff Print Shop. The Museum can be found at 200 E. Third Street in downtown Little Rock.
It's not your traditional garden, but leave it to a water bottling company to say, "Forget the soil." The Mountain Valley Spring Water company has some hydroponic gardens on their tour showing how plants can be grown in natural mineral water without soil.
Eureka Springs Gardens
This garden has 33 acres of hardwood trees, select native plants, and ever-changing flora. They have woodlands, meadows, hillsides and rock settings. You can also see some native wildlife. Located at Scenic Highway 62 West (5 miles west of Eureka Springs), Box 362, Eureka Springs, AR 72632. Call 501-253-9244.
State Capitol Rose Gardens
The Capitol grounds include many flowering plants but the most impressive are the rose gardens. The Capitol boasts over 1,500 rose bushes in two gardens. They also have beautiful cherry blossoms for a few weeks of the year.
The Arboretum is dedicated to preserving the native, rare, and economically important flora of the West Gulf Coastal Plain region of the United States. It's a great place for seeing lots of native trees, flowers and birds and a few exotic flowers and trees too. Located at Mount Holly Road and Timberlane (adjacent to El Dorado High School), El Dorado, AR 71731-7010 (870)862-8131.
This is an interesting garden in that it's made to mimic a nineteenth century garden. Descendants of early settlers were interviewed and research was done on plants and garden style. Various vignette gardens are interlaced among curvilinear walks and large shade trees to create the mood for the historic mansion. Located at 400 S. Walton Boulevard, Bentonville, AR 72712 (501)273-9664.