Gardener’s Delight


Experience Garvin Woodland Gardens
By Lisa Perry
If you are a garden enthusiast, or if you just like to walk through the woods, then you would surely enjoy a trip to Garvin Woodlands Garden in Hot Springs. The garden features 210 acres of woodland gardens and is surrounded by four and a half miles of beautiful Lake Hamilton. It was built upon the vision of Verna C. Garvin who donated the property to the University of Arkansas in1985. Since then it has grown into a respected botanical garden, and it continues to grow with new areas and buildings expanding the possibilities for exploration.
There are numerous trails throughout the garden that provide for a pleasant stroll and viewing. The Garden of the Pinewoods features over 60 types of Japanese and other Asian maples as well as hydrangeas, azaleas, Oriental dogwoods, cedars, and viburnums. There are several bridges, including the Sunset Bridge and the Full Moon Bridge, which offer views overlooking the stream that cascades throughout this area and culminates in a 12 foot waterfall and reflecting pond with multicolored koi.


The Flowering Border and Ellen Edmondson Great Lawn is another area of interest and beauty. It hosts English style plantings around a lawn of zoysia grass in a wide variety of colorful, flowering and tropical specimens. It is artistically replanted each season with almost 10,000 square feet of floral displays. Many of the plant varieties have name markers, so this is a wonderful area to find plant selections that you might like to try in your own garden. Roses, cannas, iris, lilies and dahlias are some of the perennial jewels you can also find there.
Warren’s Woodland Walk is a mile long path past some more seasonal plantings nestled beneath the canopy of oak, hickory, pine and ash trees. Caladiums, impatiens, coleus, angelwing begonias, and bloodleaf are some of the annuals that line the walkway for summer color. Camellias, abelias, hostas, oakleaf hydrangeas, ferns, native grasses, and wildflowers such as coreopsis, echinacea, and oxeye daisy are spread throughout the garden.
Side paths are available to wander through the forest and down to views of the lake and surrounding mountains. Fragrances of jasmine, honeysuckle, native azaleas, or sweet olive trees float on the breeze when they are in bloom. Numerous birds may be heard or seen such as woodpeckers, herons, hummingbirds, kingfishers, swifts, ducks, geese, and grebes.
The sound of the Singing Springs can also be heard as it falls gracefully down the side of the embankment. There are stepping stones that meander beside it and allow for close observation or photographs at various levels. And there is a lovely overview of the springs from the Millsap Canopy Bridge.
The Hixson Family Nature Preserve provides another pathway over the Lowland Boardwalk near the lake’s edge. It is a great place to view water birds and then continue on the one mile trail through the 45 acres of pin oak, water oak, gum, cypress trees and native plants. It offers numerous vistas of Lake Hamilton, occasional benches for resting or soaking in the natural setting, as well as 75 species of birds and another natural spring.
Future expansions for the garden include the Evans Children’s Adventure Garden which will be viewed from the 450 foot long, 20 foot tall access bridge. A new rose garden is also in progress and promises to be a rose lover’s delight.
There are many other attractions in the garden including Anthony Chapel with its 60 foot high roof and glass walls, the Evans Celebration Garden, which compliments the chapel, the Anthony Family Carillon, the Weyerhaeuser Bonsai Garden, and the Model Train Garden.
This time of year the garden is open seven days a week from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.  It is located at 550 Arkridge Rd. which is just off Carpenter Dam Road in Hot Springs. Admission is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors (55+), $4 for children 6-12 years old, and children under 5 years of age get in free. Golf cart tours are offered for an additional fee. There are memberships to the garden available also, and they can be reached at 501-262-9300 or 800-366-4664 or www.garvingardens.org.

A Florida Garden in Arkansas
By Lisa Perry
After living in Arkansas for twenty some odd years, we moved to Central Florida to set up residence there. I had been fortunate enough to have had a number of friends here in Arkansas who had “set me on the gardening path,” and who had shared a great deal of their knowledge of plants and the art of garden maintenance. I even thought that I had learned a few things and had a fair bit of knowledge “under my belt.” I was ready, willing and enthusiastic about moving forward on my garden there, and I did proceed to plant as much and as fast as I could.  However, it didn’t take long for me to realize that gardening in Florida was a “whole new ballgame,” and that it was almost like being on an entirely different planet! Even the plants that I had grown to know and love here behaved in a completely different manner there. Things that loved sun here might need shade there, and things that loved shade here might want sun there! Things that needed lots of water here might not need much there, and visa versa. There didn’t seem to be much rhyme or reason about it, so I did a lot of research and asked a lot of people a lot of questions to try to monitor and adjust myself to the different kinds of dirt, climate, and thriving plant varieties. And I am happy to say that through the research, and a bit of trial and error, I had a modicum of success.
So, about a year and a half ago, when I moved back to Arkansas, I set about readjusting myself to the set of gardening “rules” that apply here, and to “unlearn” what I had learned in Florida and to “re-learn” what I had “unlearned.”  But I also wanted to bring back the knowledge and the cultivation of some different plant varieties that I had come to love there. I was pleased to find out that I could find a number of them here in the local plant nurseries, and that they could be successfully grown here under the right conditions and if I had a place inside for them to spend the winter.  I even accidentally left some of them in the ground over the winter and thought that would be their untimely demise only to find that they returned in the spring, still happy and ready to grow again.


One of my favorites is datura or angel’s trumpet. It can grow into a small tree size in Florida, which mine did, but it is best kept in a large pot here in Arkansas. It does like a lot of sun, but it can take a bit shade. The foliage is soft, tender, elliptic and large and has a delicate nature that requires a lot of water. It can have a tendency to wilt if it doesn’t get enough water, and it seems to also desire a good amount of food in order to keep blooming. I like a color booster and a time release food to keep the blooms coming throughout our warm season. It has the habit to bloom in “flushes,” which means there are numerous blooms and then a period of no blooms, and then another period of blooms in a couple of weeks. The blooms are wonderful nine inch long trumpet shaped, delicately fragranced flowers that hang downward. I have some that are peach, some that are yellow, and I have also seen white varieties. Mine are all growing in tree form, but I have seen them pruned to have numerous branches and a fuller shape. All daturas are very poisonous, so you would need to keep that in mind if you have small children around. They can be propagated easily from cuttings and seeds, and they do need to be protected from the cold here in winter. They are well worth the trouble if you like large flowers and a sweet smell, and they will bloom repeatedly throughout the warm season.
Another one of my favorites is Phaius grandiflorus, or the nun’s cap orchid. This one, unlike most orchids, is a terrestrial instead of an epiphyte. That means it grows in the dirt instead of being an air plant that generally grows in trees. This one spreads profusely in the Florida forests, where it can take on a wild, native quality. Here in Arkansas, however, it needs to be grown in a pot and protected against the cold weather. I wouldn’t expose mine to anything less than 35


degrees F, but I have seen information on the internet claiming it has been left out in down to 20 degree F weather. It has medium colored, large foliage that grows straight up out of the ground. It sends up 10 – 15 inch stalks in late winter to early spring that bloom numerous small maroon, white, and yellow orchid shaped flowers that last for weeks.  It is a lovely plant that needs to be kept in the shade when it is out in the garden. I try not to let it get too dry, but it doesn’t like to be too wet either. Other than the protection form the cold, it is a fairly easy care and highly rewarding plant.
I am sure that most of you have noticed the numerous tropical hibiscus varieties available here. This is a great, showy, evergreen shrub with lush, dark green foliage and large, bright, colorful blooms. They are pretty disease resistant overall, but they do like regular watering and lots of food to keep them blooming.  Once again, they have a habit of  blooming in flushes, so there will be periods when they have lots of blooms, and periods when they may not have any. They will bloom repeatedly, though, throughout the summer if kept well fed, and the choices of colors and blooms are numerous. Some have the traditional, single layered flowers, while others have a double layered bloom that gives them more of a spherical shaped quality. Red, orange, yellow, peach, coral and multicolored varieties are available. They are sold as annuals here, but if you keep them warm during the winter season, they will stay green and be ready to bloom again next spring. They like it hot and in the sun. They can take some shade, but probably won’t bloom as well as if they were in the sun. They work great on the patio or out in the flower beds.
The Australian tree fern is another tropical that is well worth the minimal extra effort required. As a member of the Cyatheaceae family, these single, brown, furry trunks support large, feather-leaved fronds of lacy fern foliage. In the tropics and sub-tropics they can grow to be 20 feet tall with multiple fronds cascading overhead. Here in Central Arkansas they are best grown in containers in a deep shaded area. Their delicate foliage is easily burned with too much sun, and they require consistent watering to keep them moist. They also like the humid tropical air, so misting or watering the leaves regularly is a good


practice. They do not like fertilizer sprayed on their leaves, however, and whole fronds will turn brown and die back in response to that. They can be lightly fertilized on the roots with a water soluble fertilizer or a mild time release granular fertilizer. There are no flowers, but the lush foliage is rewarding enough. They cannot tolerate cold temperatures, so they must be moved to a protected, warm area inside as soon as temperatures start dropping near freezing.There are a number of other plants that I learned about in Florida, and I will write more about them in later articles. In the meantime, these are some fairly low maintenance plants that are very rewarding and give the garden some variety as well as a tropical flair. Happy planting.

NOTE:  Mexican petunia, Australian tree fern, Nun’s cap orchids, Gingers, Hibiscus, Golden daisy shrub, Shrimp plant, Bromeliads, Schefalara, Norfolk Island pine, Fiddle leaf fig, Rubber plant, Ti plant.