Monday, July 19, 2010
Did you know that Tulsa is the site of a 1.5-acre teaching garden? It's true. It's called the Linnaeus Teaching Gardens, and since the summer of 2006, it can be found in Woodward Park at 21st Street and Peoria Ave., just east of the Tulsa Rose Garden. And guess what - you can see it free, and it's open to the public six days a week.
Also? It's beauty and serenity and information and volunteers are totally gonna blow you away. This ain't no garden-variety garden, people.
I'm sorry. I couldn't help myself. Backing away from the pun machine in 3, 2, 1...
Until you can pay a visit to the Linnaeus Teaching Gardens to experience if for yourself, I'm gonna let my two-year-old lead us on a virtual tour of sorts.
Ready? Me, too. Let's go.
The entry into the Linnaeus Teaching Gardens is one of its most beautiful features. It's lined with these huge trees:
And lots of flowers, too, of course.
Hold on a minute. Here's comes an ambulance. Quick - hold your neck!
That's what I do when I hear an ambulance, anyway. To be, you know, unique. Plus, I'd have to exert more effort to reach up to hold my ears, and who has the time or patience for that?
Here's a statue of Carl Linnaeus, Swedish naturalist and father of botany, sculpted by Tulsa's own Rosalind Cook.
After you pass ol' Carl, you see this:
An Oklahoma-grown paradise rolls out in front of you like a carpet - a green-ish carpet, in this case.
As you can start to see here, the garden is arranged into several mini-gardens, each of which demonstrate the latest and most successful techniques for growing vegetables, annuals, perennials, woody plants, groundcovers and what have you. Thanks to our zany weather, gardening 'round these parts is challenging. The folks at the Linnaeus Gardens want the garden to be another ace up the sleeve of Okie gardeners as they attempt to exercise their green thumbs.
Here's my favorite part of the whole garden:
The koi pond.
What I wouldn't give to don some Spongebob Squarepants floaties and take a dive into this thing.
I mean, it looks especially refreshing, is all I'm saying. Because my mom seems to really enjoy taking me places in 100-degree weather that aren't air conditioned.
Yes, Pond. You're looking very delectable indeed.
Look! Here come the koi.
Dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun...DUN DUN!!!
Look! An heirloom veggie garden.
Where you can find...
A Moon and Stars watermelon vine.
Not that the corn itself is that old, mind you. That's just the last time when this particular variety of plant was commonly grown. You're not gonna see one of these babies in a mega-corporate farm.
Grapes! I knew what these were without having to be told, and I had to cry a little when my mom wouldn't let me have some.
She's so mean to me, y'all. Mean and hateful.
Bet you didn't know you could train a fruit tree to grow like this. Well, you can, and it saves lots of space when you do.
Space you could use to grow more grapes, if you know what I mean.
And I think you do.
Did I ever tell you guys about the time that I jumped in a garden pond at Philbrook Museum of Art? And how my mom had to carry me dripping wet through the museum and out to the car in her work clothes because she was there for a newspaper story? It ruled. I wanted to do it again when my mom took me to the Linnaeus Teaching Gardens, but she stopped me in the nick of time.
Let's head to the Children's Garden, shall we?
Yep! The Linnaeus Teaching Gardens has a Children's Garden, just for kids. How cool is that? I told my mom she couldn't come in because she's not a kid but she came in anyway, saying something about how age is just a number and blah, blah, blah.
Sometimes I think my mom must really like the sound of her own voice.
The Children's Garden at Linnaeus is the site of Tulsa Garden Center's Little Green Thumbs program, designed to get little hands in the dirt while using the garden as a teaching tool and to familiarize kiddos like me (well, a little older than me) with the world in bloom just beyond our doorsteps.
Mmm. Another watermelon.
I love watermelon. It's, like, my fave - except for blueberries. But my mom lets me eat more watermelon than she does blueberries.
Can you guess why? Hint: The reason rhymes with shoe loop.
Here's my mommy's most favorite flower ever:
A marigold. She likes how they smell. Me, I like to eat 'em when she's not looking.
Howdy, basil. I won't eat you, but that's only because I'm supposed to. It's nothing personal, really. It's just that, right now in my life, I'm into eating things that most people wouldn't normally think of as food. Ask the dog - she knows.
Check out these Black Eyed Susans.
Since we're so close to Woodward Park, I just gotta pose for a cheesy photo:
There it is! How's that? Pretty good, huh?
Now that we're at the end of our tour, I just want to add that at several times during our trip to the Linnaeus Teaching Gardens, several of the garden's 200-or-so volunteers greeted us, asked us if they could show us anything, and just made general small talk with us. While they were nice, no one attempted to pinch my cheeks. It was fantastic. In fact, if it weren't for the volunteers, we wouldn't have found that awesome children's garden. Mom would have just led me around in hot, sweaty circles until her blood sugar dropped and she'd get too cranky to let me yell at the fish for the last five minutes we were there.
And I really would have missed out on that.
Another thing? If you're interested in joining the ranks of the dozens of volunteers at the Linnaeus Teaching Gardens, the yearly training session is coming up. Mark your calendars for Aug. 14 at 10am, when the fall Linnaeus training will be held at Tulsa Garden Center, 2435 S. Peoria Ave. The twelve-week program equips volunteers to share their love and knowledge of gardening with the public. It's also a chance to meet other gardeners and to go on group trips to other gardens in the region.
If you can't wait to get started, be sure to visit the Linnaeus Gardens website for a wealth of tips on home gardening. There's even a section about bugs.
I like bugs.
If you want to see a different side of the Linnaeus Teaching Gardens and get the inside scoop on its director/founder Barry Fugatt, watch for my mom's article in the August edition of Oklahoma Magazine.