By Don Lowe
As area residents and out-of-towners alike explore Lendonwood Gardens in the coming weeks and months, they’ll likely feel even more at home thanks to the newly constructed welcome center designed to help get their tour off to a delightful start.
When considering what all those who stop by might find particularly pleasing about this new facility, board of directors member Pauline Hale says, “We think visitors will appreciate having friendly people to greet them and answer questions about the garden.”
Once inside the welcome center, there are plenty of amenities, and Hale says, “Located at Lendonwood’s front gate, the new building offers space for greeting visitors, receiving admission fees and providing maps and other materials. The front room includes a garden shop, with merchandise featuring themes related to gardens, flowers and nature.
“Two restrooms are included for the convenience of our visitors. There’s also a seminar/meeting room, which could be used for educational sessions about gardening or for meetings of various groups.”
Interestingly, this terrific welcoming place came about after a fire destroyed another building at Lendonwood Gardens a couple of years ago. Hale says, “A rental property was hit by lightning and burned. Thankfully, the house was vacated, so no one was hurt.
“Lendonwood did have insurance on the building, so the question became, ‘What do we do now?’ After much discussion, the board decided Lendonwood’s mission is to help garden visitors have a wonderful experience learning about and enjoying plants. So, the idea was born to build a welcome center to help guests get off to a good start touring the garden.”
The support in helping make this new center a reality has been tremendous, and Hale says, “We’ve been overwhelmed by the number of volunteers who have offered to help staff the new center. Lendonwood does not have paid employees, so we rely entirely on the generosity of supporters.
“We are blessed by people in the community who become members, make donations and help with gardening and special events. Also, the Lendonwood board of directors truly is a working board, as they aren’t afraid to pull weeds, drive a tractor, plant flowers, paint bridges, repair fences, install paved walkways, give tours and much more.”
In mentioning a trio of individuals specifically, Hale says, “Board members Jim and Cindy Reynolds played key roles in the planning and overseeing construction of the building. Board president Jim Corbridge also helped keep the project on track.”
Ultimately, as Hale ponders what makes this welcome center vital, she suggests, “Volunteers provide our visitors with a valuable orientation to Lendonwood, as well as offer friendly assistance to make the garden tour both enjoyable and informative.
“The building itself brings new visibility to the garden among both area residents and tourists. The welcome center also provides space for potential educational experiences for area residents.
“Lendonwood is a magical place, and it can be enjoyed year-round. The garden features an incredible collection of plants (azaleas and rhododendrons, Japanese maples, daylilies, peonies, dogwoods, and unusual evergreen trees and shrubs).
“Lendonwood has the flavor of a Japanese garden design, with its Koi pond, Japanese pavilion, arched bridges, streams, waterfalls and multiple Zen gardens.
“You’ll also find a garden featuring plants designated as Oklahoma Proven, which are those most suited to our area’s climate.
“In addition, we have just added a Monarch Waystation, designed to educate children and adults about the waning population of these beautiful butterflies. Also, Lendonwood continues to be a popular location for weddings, prom-day photos, special occasions and other events.”
Hale is thrilled to be part of this work. “I’m proud of the dedicated volunteers – both in the community and on the board – who value this garden as a true gem of the Four-State Area. We welcome visitors to come and see this magical place.”
Welcome Center Fast Facts
‘Welcome’ Interaction: Board of directors member Pauline Hale says, “The welcome center puts a human face on Lendonwood with our trained volunteers.”
Role of Volunteers: Greet visitors, answer
questions, distribute garden maps, along with operational duties in the garden shop, which
includes selling plants and more.
Where: Lendonwood Gardens and Welcome Center are located at 1308 Har-Ber Road in Grove, Oklahoma.
What: An eight-acre botanical garden near
Grand Lake in Northeast Oklahoma with eight
Features: 1,200 different types of plants; home
to major collections of azaleas, rhododendrons, daylilies, dogwoods and more.
Tour Rates: Along with the usual $5 per person entrance fee, guided tours are $8 per person, and guided tours with tea and cookies served in the Japanese Pavilion are $10 per person. Additionally, groups of three or fewer requesting golf-cart transportation are $5 per person, and groups of more than three requesting golf-cart transportation are $8 per person.
Contact Us: Via phone at 918.786.2938 and/or
email at [email protected].