There’s something magical about strolling through a botanical garden or arboretum. The gentle rustling of leaves, the fragrant scent of blooming flowers, and the vibrant colors all around – it’s a feast for the senses. And if you’re in Arkansas, you’re in luck! The Natural State is home to some of the country’s most breathtaking botanical gardens and arboretums, including the stunning Garvan Woodland Gardens and the expansive Arkansas Arboretum.
If you’re a plant lover or simply looking to escape into nature, these botanical gems are not to be missed.
Garvan Woodland Gardens
Just south of Hot Springs, this 210-acre garden boasts an impressive 5,000 species of plants, with four acres dedicated to the breathtaking beauty of Japanese horticulture in the Garden of the Pine Wind. But that’s not all – there are also plenty of events to keep you entertained, from “Yoga in the Gardens” to the stunning Daffodil Days and Tulip Extravaganza, where you can feast your eyes on over 150,000 Dutch tulips in full bloom during the spring season.
Surrounded on three sides by the serene waters of Lake Hamilton and with views of the Ouachita Mountains in the distance, Garvan Woodland Gardens is the perfect place to spend a relaxing day soaking up the natural beauty of Arkansas. Stroll through the gardens to discover a vast collection of Japanese maples, take a moment of quiet contemplation at the koi pond and waterfall, or frolic through fields of wildflowers on your way to discovering rare camellias, roses, and over 160 species of azaleas.
Botanical Garden of the Ozarks
The Botanical Garden of the Ozarks is a 44-acre site dedicated to the indigenous flora of the majestic Ozark Mountains. Featuring 12 distinct gardens, from the Shade Garden to the Rose and Perennial Garden, the attraction also houses the only native butterfly house in the region, home to nectar plants and the migrating monarch butterfly.
Here you can learn about living in harmony with the environment in the vegetable and herb garden, let young ones roam free in the children’s garden, or explore different sensations of touch, sight, sound, taste, and smell in the sensory garden.
Immerse yourself in the local flora and fauna of the Ozark Native Garden or discover and rediscover the Four Seasons Garden. This seasonal and cleverly designed sanctuary will greet you with different delights throughout the year. You can also visit the Education Garden and attend sustainability and environmental awareness workshops or walk the 1.5-mile nature trail in search of turtles, frogs, songbirds, and an array of native plants.
The Bernice Garden in Little Rock, Arkansas, is a hub of art and nature that perfectly captures the essence of the state. Wander through the manicured gardens brimming with native plants, herbs, and ornamental grasses, and take in the delightful sculptures and artwork that adorn the grounds. Local artists’ works, such as “Sealed with a Wish,” made from a collection of padlocks, or “Burden Bearers,” crafted with steel and stone, are among the highlights of the Sculpture Garden.
The art doesn’t stop there – the garden also features other fascinating works created from sustainable, reusable, and recycled materials, including aluminum piping and orange traffic cones. If you’re in the area on Sundays, drop by the Bernice Garden Farmers’ Market to sample local produce, herbs, flowers, and deliciously prepared food. It’s the ideal spot for a relaxed Sunday brunch.
The Arkansas Arboretum
The Arkansas Arboretum is a must-visit destination for any nature lover. Located on over 71 acres of rolling hills and lush forests at the base of Pinnacle Mountain, the Arboretum is a true paradise for anyone who wants to immerse themselves in the natural world. With a diverse collection of over 2000 species of trees, shrubs, and wildflowers, the Arboretum is a living, breathing laboratory of plant life.
As you wander through the various gardens and trails, you’ll be transported to different ecosystems, from the rugged beauty of the Ozarks to the tranquil serenity of a Japanese garden. And if you want to expand your knowledge of horticulture and conservation, the Arboretum offers a range of educational opportunities, from workshops to guided tours.
Wilson Park in Fayetteville, Arkansas, is a public green space that brings a slice of natural beauty to the urban landscape. As the oldest park in the region, it has become a popular spot with locals and tourists alike, drawn to its 23 acres of fresh air and the charm of the Ozarks. The park boasts a diverse selection of trees, including a magnificent 100-year-old bois d’arc, an outdoor pool for summer fun and beautifully landscaped gardens ideal for unwinding with loved ones.
You can’t miss the famous Fayetteville “Castle,” a whimsical sculpture by local artist Frank Williams that encloses a natural spring. Finally, there are various recreational programs for those seeking a bit more action, from volleyball to ultimate frisbee and exciting community events throughout the year.