Over 3,000 visitors celebrated the grand opening of the Children’s Discovery Garden at Tulsa Botanic Garden in May. Encompassing almost two acres the Children’s Discovery Garden is designed as a wonderland garden environment for experience-based learning for children and families. The focal point of the north half of the garden is the Stream Valley, with a shallow stream surrounded by natural boulders offering opportunities to explore.
The Spring Giant, a water source for the stream, is a one-of-a-kind 15’ tall fantastical head created with rebar and hand-sculpted concrete to look like stone. A “salivating” water curtain inside the open mouth of the face fills a raised basin from which kids can scoop water to use for painting on the slate Art Wall nearby. The top of the structure includes a hidden planting bed where “hair” for the Spring Giant will be planted and changed annually. Musical instruments are mounted in a plaza behind the Spring Giant near a curved wall and seating area.
The Stream Valley includes three “spitting” animal fountains representing Oklahoma wildlife including map turtles, leopard frogs and a raccoon with sunfish. The Stream Valley feeds into the Round Pond which is home to aquatic plants including water lilies and papyrus. Bog bowls nearby offer opportunities for visitors to see carnivorous plants such as Venus fly-traps, sundews, and pitcher plants.
The Meadow, is planted with prairie grasses and flowering perennials with trails for exploration. Larger than life insect whirligigs hover above the meadow and children can make the insects on each whirligig “fly” by turning a wheel.
A naturally occurring grove of post oaks, located at the highest point of the Children’s Discovery Garden, is home to the Tree Fort, offering vantage points through windowed portals set among the tree limbs. Oversized, ornate Oak Thrones, created by Oklahoma artist Clayton Coss offer great photo opportunities for families.
Over 350 different kinds of plants, more than 7,500 total, comprise the Children’s Discovery Garden.
Designers for the Children’s Discovery Garden include landscape architect Tres Fromme of 3.Fromme Design as well as Tulsa firm Howell & Vancuren.
The Children’s Discovery Garden is the second of four gardens to be completed as part of the three year Reaching for generations capital campaign.
The A.R. and Marylouise Tandy Floral Terraces, a 3-acre ornamental garden, opened in October 2015.