Top-Notch in Tulsa

September 29, 2008 | By | Comments (17)

Barry (left) and I hang with our homey, famous botanist Carl Linnaeus. Carl looks a little stiff, but that’s only because he’s shy.

If I asked you to identify the “City of Gardens,” how many of you would say Tulsa? Not many, I’ll bet. And up until a few days ago, I wouldn’t either, but then I paid Tulsa a visit.

You enter the garden through this arbor bordered by gnarled old red cedars. Can you believe this place is only 2 years old?

I was there to speak at a fancy, high-class banquet that people of my ilk seldom get invited to, except that, well, I’m so darn funny. Plus, I don’t charge very much.

The flower shrubs in the foreground are ‘Rose Creek’ abelia, a fantastic, low-growing, new introduction that blooms from spring until fall and is great for attracting butterflies.

Everything’s Bigger in Oklahoma
The purpose of the banquet was to show appreciation to the most generous donors to the future 240-acre Oklahoma Centennial Botanical Garden. It’s currently under construction (they’ve already dug a 7-acre lake that’s over 100 feet deep – you could hide Jimmy Hoffa in there) and when these people say they aim to create a world-class botanical garden, they’re not just smoking hay. The City of Tulsa has already provided $44.7 million worth of infrastructure and completing the Garden will cost about another $40 million. When completed, it will feature a slew of theme gardens, including:

• Oklahoma Wildflower Garden
• Children’s Garden
• Rose & Fragrance Garden
• Oriental Garden
• Folk Garden
• Mexican Garden (my favorite – never seen this anywhere else)

A very well-done water garden. Who wouldn’t want this in their yard?

The site for the garden is really spectacular in the Osage Hills overlooking downtown Tulsa. I look forward to seeing it when it’s complete and they’re officially dedicating my statue. Thanks to Pat, Pearl, and Carrie for making my visit so enjoyable. To learn more about this garden, go to

In this garden, sorghum is an ornamental! How many kids (or adults) would know sorghum if they saw it?

Hanging with Barry
The morning following the banquet, I got to talk plants and gardening with Tulsa’s Maharishi of Horticulture, Barry Fugatt. Long-time garden columnist, teacher, and Director of Horticulture at the Tulsa Garden Center, Barry is almost a cult figure to Tulsa gardeners. If he says do it, they will. Stay away from the purple Kool-Aid, Barry.

The Fountain Garden contains more than 30 kinds of perennials and 20 kinds of shrubs. Those blue flowers next to the reflecting pool are ageratum.

Barry gave me a tour of the most recent addition to the Garden Center, the Linnaeus Garden. It’s named for Carl Linnaeus, the “Father of Botany,” who’s responsible for the binomial system for naming plants in Latin, which allows all of us who know our Latin names to look down on those who don’t.

This is the Fruit and Vegetable Garden. No pesticides are used.

Only two years old, this is one great garden. All of the plants in it are donated by the horticulture industry. Its purpose is to teach both expert and novice gardeners about all kinds of plants – trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals, vegetables, herbs, and even agronomic crops like sorghum and cotton – and how to incorporate them into a pretty garden. A highly trained group of volunteers that I spoke to briefly during my visit maintains it.

Another view of the Fruit and Vegetable Garden. My vegetable garden never looked this good.

If you get a chance to visit Tulsa, a trip to the Linnaeus Garden at the Tulsa Garden Center is a must. For more info, go to Here are some photos I took while I was there.

New plants await at every step. The one with blue flowers (front left) is a selection of Mexican petunia (Ruellia), a drought tolerant perennial everyone should grow.


  1. Grumpy Gardener (His Magnificence)

    Unfortunately, no. Plans have slowed since the recession took hold.

    March 29, 2012 at 3:02 pm
  2. Chicago Neighborhoods

    A 7acre lake is pretty big for a botanical center. Any idea what type of aquatic life it is going to be filled with?

    March 28, 2012 at 5:50 pm
  3. Jack Darrington

    Hey great post here. I wouldn’t have thought of Tulsa as a garden haven either but these sure are some amazing pictures. I just wish I could hire a moving service to pack up some of these gardens and bring them, along with their respective gardeners, to my house and just replace my “garden” with these.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:55 pm
  4. Grumpy Gardener (His Magnificence)

    Hi Ohio Movers,
    You need to take just one drug at a time.

    March 10, 2010 at 12:48 pm
  5. Movers in Ohio

    hi roni this is comment is good for my theme related and good comment site for my site is benfit nice comment
    Ohio Movers – Ohio Moving Companies and Moving Services

    March 10, 2010 at 5:33 am
  6. Grumpy

    Have no fear…the Grump shall return!

    October 9, 2008 at 10:14 am
  7. Mary Harmon

    Nooo… a medical appointment kept me from the garden center for your visit. I’m not just a green thumb now; I’m green with envy of my Linnaeus Garden friends, since you’re one of my favorite dishers of the latest dirt. Thanks for the lovely words and photos of our unique Tulsa jewel.
    Doesn’t look like a mere toddler, does she? Please come again.

    October 9, 2008 at 1:32 am
  8. Lynda S.

    Thank you for visiting our beautiful garden and posting the pictures. Please come again when you have more time to share more stories.

    October 8, 2008 at 11:20 pm
  9. Grumpy

    Do you think you could post some pictures? I know every inhabitant of Grumpiana would like to see how their display of plastic flowers stacks up against the pros in Tulsa. My gut feeling is, it’s hard to beat an Okie at hokey.

    October 8, 2008 at 2:18 pm
  10. pam Hodge

    This is the honest truth. I have two different neighbors that do just what you recommend. They rotate their plastic flowers by season. One has actually planted a virtual field of plastic mums this year. Keeping up with these Joneses is a full time job! It’s going to be hard to make them envious. Any ideas????

    October 8, 2008 at 11:36 am
  11. Grumpy

    Plastic mums were definitely a good move and a sign of a serious and tasteful gardener. Your neighbors must be envious.

    October 1, 2008 at 9:43 am
  12. Pam Hodge

    After your talk I promptly went home and changed out the plastic poinsettias in my hanging baskets with plastic mums. (Would that help my garden qualify to be in Southern Living?) Thanks for that tip and all the others AND for putting the pics of our wonderful garden out there for others to see.

    September 30, 2008 at 11:42 pm
  13. Patricia Johnson

    Beautiful photos of our garden. We enjoyed your short talk, and hope you come back to entertain us again with your knowledge of flowers, etc. and your humor.
    We think the Linnaeus Garden is a Tulsa Gem.

    September 30, 2008 at 5:48 pm
  14. Grumpy

    To all the flower judges out there — I said only NICE things about you (trust me). I’d like to come back, Bob. All the great gardeners in Tulsa put your heads together and find me some beautiful private gardens. In return, I promise to do a story on the Linnaeus Garden the next time I’m there. Grumpy

    September 30, 2008 at 4:37 pm
  15. Bob Burlingame

    Your talk was much to short. Please come back to Tulsa. I particularly liked your comments on flower judges!

    September 30, 2008 at 4:09 pm
  16. aft

    You did us proud! Thanks a billion!

    September 30, 2008 at 1:40 pm
  17. sjn

    Thanks for your very funny talk and for these wonderful pictures of our garden.

    September 30, 2008 at 12:31 am

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