Click here for a sneak peek at the new area from Gardening with Janet Carson seen Monday on Arkansas at Noon.
The 210-acre Garvan Woodland Gardens, located on the shores of Lake Hamilton, is part of the Fay Jones School of Architecture’s Department of Landscape Architecture.
University officials and benefactors Bob and Sunny Evans will share ribbon-cutting duties at the 11 a.m. ceremony.
University of Arkansas Chancellor G. David Gearhart said: “The Evan Children’s Adventure Garden will delight children for generations to come, allowing them to engage with nature while at play. We are grateful to Bob and Sunny Evans for making this day possible.”
The Benham Group of Lowell drafted the conceptual design for the children’s garden under the direction of Brent Vinson, formerly a landscape architect with the company and a ‘93 graduate of the Fay Jones School of Architecture.
The 1.5-acre garden, intended for children between four and 12 years of age, provides a series of stone ledges leading the way to an ADA-accessible cave. The man-made cavern can be accessed at the top through a large crevice created by mammoth boulders or from a wider opening located behind a 12-foot waterfall that cascades into a wading pool at the bottom of the hill. An elevated walkway circles the garden, allowing adults to observe children as they navigate the stone passageways and explore the water features.
David Slawson, a nationally-recognized Japanese garden designer, spent weeks on site guiding the placement of the ancient boulders that shape the children’s garden. More than 3,200 tons, or 6.4 million pounds, of stone were used in constructing the project, most of it transported from quarries in Arkansas.
Bob and Sunny Evans hope that children who visit their namesake garden will discover a new best friend – nature.
“I know they will find that it is much more exciting to climb and explore than to sit in front of a TV and play video games,” Sunny Evans commented.
Well-known for their philanthropic endeavors in the Hot Springs area, Bob and Sunny Evans have contributed $1.6 million to Garvan Woodland Gardens since 2004.
“The Evans’ $600,000 gift is the reason we are able to open this phenomenal facility now, instead of months, even years, down the road,” stated Bob Bledsoe, executive director of Garvan Woodland Gardens. “Bob and Sunny have been as anxious about this project as two little children on Christmas morning. It’s finally time to open their present.”
Garvan Woodland Gardens is currently raising funds for the final phase of the children’s garden, which will include three large tree houses, each offering a different lesson about nature, and five smaller, pod-type structures that will serve as overlooks and connectors to the primary tree houses. The price tag for the final phase is estimated at $800,000.
Several organizations and private donors have committed approximately $175,000 to the project, including a $104,750 grant from the Ross Foundation to construct one of the interpretive tree houses.
The University of Arkansas took over the management and development of the Gardens after Verna Garvan’s death in 1993. The property includes more than 44 acres of masterfully sculpted gardens and numerous architecturally significant structures, including a pavilion designed by AIA Gold Medal winner Fay Jones and the award winning, wood and glass Anthony Chapel designed by Fayetteville architects Maurice Jennings and David McKee.
In 2008, approximately 135,000 people from all 50 states and 38 foreign countries visited the Gardens, selected by the readers of Southern Living magazine in the January 2009 issue as the 9th best garden in the South. The Gardens also functions as a living laboratory for the university’s landscape architecture students, providing hands-on design opportunities through summer internships.
Click here for more information about Garvan Woodland Gardens, including driving directions, or call (501) 262-9300 or 800-366-4664.