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Eureka! Bright Fall Colors at Ozarks Botanical Gardens


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Eureka Springs Gardens
Eureka Springs Gardens
    Eureka Springs Gardens
Eureka Springs Gardens
       
 
Eureka Springs Gardens
Eureka Springs Gardens
    Eureka Springs Gardens' focal point, Blue Spring
Eureka Springs Gardens' focal point, Blue Spring
   
September 3, 2002


Eureka! Bright Fall Colors at Ozarks Botanical Gardens
*****
By Kerry Kraus, travel writer
Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

Thousands of brilliant mums in full bloom will soon welcome autumn at Eureka Springs Gardens, a 33-acre botanical garden in northwest Arkansas. Mid October is when the mums are expected to be at their peak, and they should flower well into November. Mixed in between the mums and the thousands of other flowers and plants are hardwoods which often have vivid fall foliage at the same time, making the gardens a colorful fall oasis.

The gardens also feature azaleas, forsythia, roses, philodendron and peonies as well as masses of annuals and perennials. Other trees on the property include sweet gums, oaks, birches, magnolias and maples. Circling the gardens is a wooden boardwalk with overlooks and benches along the way. Most of the walk is barrier-free.

Eureka Springs Gardens' focal point, Blue Spring, is one of the largest in the northwest Arkansas Ozarks. According to Manager Robert Tharp, the spring has been tested by The Nature Conservancy, which determined it to be one of the purest remaining in Arkansas. "The cobalt blue spring, which gushes 38 million gallons a day, is what sets Eureka Springs Gardens apart from others," Tharp said. The spring has been sounded to a depth of 510 feet, but the actual bottom has never been reached.

Recorded history of the spring details it as the last homeland of Native Americans in the area. Here, Native Americans made boats and traded them to trappers and hunters who would in turn fill these crafts with furs, bear oil and beeswax before heading down the White River and eventually to New Orleans. Because of the exceptional quality of the boats, locals later called the Native Americans the "Strong Boat Indians."

An archeological dig at the site unearthed artifacts dating to 8000 B.C. Legend has it that the waters were sacred, which caused warring Native American tribes to lay down weapons and enter the area in peace. One of the garden's attractions is a bluff where Native Americans camped, and hieroglyphics are still visible on the stone walls. Additional connections to Native American history were forged when the Cherokee Trail of Tears passed through the area in 1838 and 1839.

One of the most popular spots on the crystal clear lagoon formed by the spring is the Pavilion on the Water. The gazebo-style structure juts out into the water and provides an excellent vantage point for viewing the surrounding flora. Rainbow trout also lurk around the pavilion, waiting for handouts from visitors. The spring also provides water for the underground irrigation system that keeps the gardens blooming.

The natural beauty of the attraction makes it a popular site for weddings and destination for groups. Locations often used include the Woodlands and Meadow Gardens gazebos, the Azalea Terrace, the Wildflower Pavilion, Terrace on the Spring, and the Pavilion on the Water. Each of these sites are capable of holding varying group sizes, and list of local ministers and caterers is available at the gardens.

Adding to the garden's overall atmosphere, two vistas along Carroll County Road 210, which provides access to the gardens, have been cleared of brush. According to Tharp, this created for visitors traveling to the gardens clear views of the White River Valley and surrounding Ozark Mountains.

New at Eureka Springs Gardens is a 15-minute film shown on a big-screen television that depicts the history of Eureka Springs and provides narration about the gardens. It contains footage from a vintage film on Eureka Springs shot by Henry Ford around the turn of the 20th century. Also, visitors can take home keepsakes of the gardens at the gift shop, the Petal Pusher, where floral gifts, fountains, stationary and other unique mementos are sold.

The gardens are open April through October from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. In November and March, the hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is closed during the winter months. Eureka Springs Gardens is located five and a half miles west of Eureka Springs, just off U.S. 62. For more information, contact one of these numbers: color and seasonal display hotline, (501) 253-9256; group reservations, (501) 253-9244 and wedding information, (501) 253-5904, or visit www.eurekagardens.com.

Eureka Springs banker John F. Cross recently purchased the gardens, returning it to his family who owned it more than 60 years ago. Cross' grandfather, former U.S. Rep. Claude Fuller, owned the property until 1939. Cross' plans for the site include renovating all existing buildings.

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Submitted by the Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism
One Capitol Mall, Little Rock, AR 72201, (501) 682-7606
E-mail: info@arkansas.com

May be used without permission. Credit line is appreciated:
"Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism"

ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF PARKS & TOURISM
1 Capitol Mall, 4A-900 - Little Rock, Arkansas 72201 | 1-800-872-1259 or (501) 682-7777 (V/TT)
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