Indiana public gardens and horticul (more than corn and soybeans)

gvonburgAugust 1, 2006

We have beautiful public gardens in Indianapolis. A garden tourist could spend a nice long weekend here and still not see all there is to explore.

Oldfields, on the grounds of Indianapolis Museum of Art Our estate house and Olmsted-designed gardens were designated a National Historic Landmark in May '04. The newly expanded museum and acres of new landscape open in May of 2005. over 150 acres in total.

There are five other sites I would recommend as must-see in Indianapolis:

White River Gardens (connected to the Indianapolis Zoo. Located downtown about 10-15 minutes from the museum) ;

Garfield Park and Conservatory. Marvelously restored turn-of-the-last century park (how Belle Isle should look). or it is part of the citys park system. Designed by George Kessler.

"Artspark" of the Indianapolis Art Center. They do wonderful education programs. The park is only a few acres but has some outstanding sculpture. The landscape is very new (finished in Sept Â05) and some parts are superior. It connects directly to the White River and part of the city greenway system and a district with some of the best dining and galleries in the city, Broad Ripple.

and two close "friends" and neighbors:

Marian College (less than a mile away) is restoring its Jens Jensen designed landscape. Its campus contains two significant estate houses from the 'teens. contact Deb Lawrence and visit their website

and Butler University (about half mile in other direction) whose campus has worthwhile gardens, a restored 5 acre prairie, and a cool study of urban turtles. contact Prof Rebecca Dolan and a couple of their websites and


also downtown, and a generous walk connected to the Zoo and White River Gardens by a sculpture-filled pedestrian bridge ( over the river ( is the canal promenade. Stretching from the native garden plantings behind the Indiana State Museum and Eiteljorg, there is a broad, paved path on both sides of the canal. ( Beautifully landscaped, the canal is lower than the level of the bustling city streets, making for a cool and tranquil walk even in the summer. The path connects the USS Indianapolis ( and Medal of Honor ( ( memorials and old Military Park with its welcoming shade trees.

Immediately north of this park are two new buildings of the IUPUI campus: the law school and dept of informatics. The buildings are nice enough, but on the east sides of the buildings, facing West Street, are two city blocks of prairie-inspired plantings. These are excellent examples of the lush, sweeping, large-scale, New American style by the firm of Oehme & van Sweden (


for walkers, hikers, bikers in the group, the city parks system's "greenways" of canal tow-path, rail conversion, and linear park trails are worth noting (especially since one of the most scenic runs through our property) and Riverside Park, designed by noteworthy Olmsted contemporary George Kessler

Two other parks in Indianapolis are really a cut above: Eagle Creek which has an excellent nature center, reservoir, and hiking trails is just off I-65 on the northwest side. There is a few $ admission. It is one of the largest municipal parks in the nation. Smaller, but maybe better, is Holliday Park, just off Meridian (U.S. 31) about 6 miles north of downtown. It has a newer nature center with excellent bird viewing, some artistic landscaping and sculpture, and some trails.

Three other possibilities for stops on the way to and from indianapolis is the conservatory in Fort Wayne, Indiana (about half way tween Detroit and Indpls if you take I-94 to I-69). Also there is a former estate, now park and cultural center in Muncie (1.5 hours north of indpls on I-69, about 4-4.5 hours from Detroit) the Minnetrista Center for Natural and Cultural Heritage . Finally, there is an organic farm/dairy/cheese and yogurt factory just off I-65 on the northwest side of town Traders Point Creamery

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    Bookmark   January 5, 2007 at 12:43PM
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macthayer(z9a NV)

Yes, we have some truly beautiful and unique gardens in the Midwest. One need only look for them, and they can be found in nearly every major and some not so big cities. The "coasts" should know that the Midwest is more than just a "fly over zone" when it comes to beautiful gardens! I have to be back in Indianapolis this year (for business) and will make a point of looking up as many of these gardens as I can.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2008 at 12:02PM
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