Tulsa Botanic Garden, an Oklahoma jewel

Good morning! This will have to be a quickie because I’m behind on my writing projects due to arm surgery. I’m fine. My fingers are still numb, but I’m told it may take up to a year for the nerve to heal. Still, I’m finally back typing and touring. On Saturday, I joined my Region V GWA buds and toured two gorgeous Tulsa gardens that are open to the public. Today I’m featuring the Tulsa Botanic Garden, Oklahoma’s newest public garden.

There is a twenty-five year master plan to finish this Oklahoma jewel–but, are gardens ever really finished? The staff at TBG are already off to a great start having completed the A.R. & MaryLouise Tandy Floral Terraces in 2015 and the Children’s Discovery Garden this past May. I walked the Tulsa Botanic Garden last July with President and CEO, Todd Lasseigne, and Communications and Programs Director, Lori Hutson, after my talks for the Tulsa Herb Society. It was amazing to return in October and see plants already settled in.


We again toured the Tulsa Botanic Garden with Todd, and I always enjoy his personal thoughts about the garden, hearing first-hand what they are trying to accomplish in the short and long term. I also try my best to soak up his superior plant knowledge. He knows so much more than I ever will, and he’s very generous with his time and talent.

The Children’s Discovery Garden

Below is a gallery of photos from the children’s garden. I don’t think my photos capture the magic of this garden which is fully enclosed to keep children safe. It’s a wonderland of four of the five senses, touch, scent, hearing and sight. They left out taste to prevent children from eating plants they shouldn’t. Many plants are poisonous, and it’s good to teach people when they’re young.

I couldn’t believe how much the children’s garden grew in only a few months. Lord-a-mercy! If I could encourage you to grow two plants in an Oklahoma garden, it would be coleus and black elephant ears. Black elephant ears will even grow in full sun with irrigation, and nothing, other than ornamental bananas, has such presence. I love how the trees selected for the garden highlight native selections along with some fascinating cultivars. I should’ve made more notes about the trees, but I spent most of my time taking photos. These were all taken with my iPhone because I left my bigger camera at home. I didn’t want to lug it around all day.

Sometimes, I just want to be a tourist, you know?

The A.R. & MaryLouise Tandy Floral Terraces

Designed in the Art Deco style reflecting Tulsa’s historic past, the terraces are formal garden rooms. For those who don’t know, oil exploration was the driving engine behind Tulsa’s economy and still is for much of Oklahoma, although we have diversified. This was especially true during the 1920s, and much of Tulsa’s architecture, including their historic downtown, was completed during the Art Deco period. How appropriate for the terraces to reflect this heritage.

From TBG’s website.

Visitors can explore the garden’s four terraces – Lawn, Rose, Perennial and Mediterranean- on a serpentine, ADA accessible walk winding to the Garden’s peak or through a central stairway along the Garden Cascade.

Here are some photos. Click on an individual photo to enlarge it.


One of the most interesting things they did in the terraces was using coleus as hedges. In its native climate, the humble coleus is a shrub-like perennial so it makes sense to use them in Oklahoma as a summer hedge. Our climate is hot, and coleus are easier to grow than boxwood. Plus, you can change them out with the seasons.

One final thing, and then I’ll let you go. I love the experimental nature of the plantings. For example, Todd decided to plant a river or meadow of Cosmos bipinnatus ‘Sensation Mix’ between the floral terraces and the children’s garden. So much prettier than more mown grass, and their river-like effect reminded me of the Lurie Garden in Chicago. Cosmos is native to Mexico, and this meadow was a pollinator buffet while we were there. Enlarge the photos and feast your eyes on this beautiful scene. They are planning to add a native wildflower meadow at the other end of the terraces next spring. That means they’re planting seed now.

If you get a chance to visit Tulsa, don’t miss this beautiful garden. I’m so proud it’s in my home state, and I can’t wait to see what’s next. They are planting bulbs next week so expect a beautiful bulb extravaganza next spring.


  1. I hope your hand continues to heal. I’m trying to recall what the problem was, but it sounds like perhaps carpal tunnel surgery?

  2. slgardener says:

    Great article Dee.

  3. Oh, I will definitely add this to my “must see” list. I remember enjoying Tulsa when I was there before–something about it–kind of an “east meets west” and pleasant climate kind of thing. Anyway, it looks like an awesome botanical garden. The photo of you in the carved chair is so cute!

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Beth, you would love it. Next year will be even better.

  4. What fun to have a place like this to visit. It will be interesting to watch it evolve.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Hi Lisa! Yes, it will. I’m so excited. These don’t happen very often anymore.

  5. Coleus as a hedge! Who’da thunk it? Did they trim it to shape?

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Yes Kathy, they keep it trimmed all summer. Those coleus are coming out this week though to provide space to plant bulbs for spring bloom!

  6. What a lovely idea to use the cosmos in that way! Thanks for these photos. I’ll have to visit the next time I’m home!

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Yes, I thought it was really fun.

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