Mystic Creatures at Garvan Woodland Gardens

Image care of Garvan Woodland Gardens.

This summer Garvan Woodland Gardens in Hot Springs will be the scene of “Mystic Creatures”,  an imaginative display and the first exhibit of its kind in Arkansas. The exhibit, which will be open to the public from June 1-August 31, will showcase the ancient art of topiary and include ‘living’ sculptures made of plants.

The pieces range in size and combined are covered in nearly 20,000 plants. The sculptures include a Sasquatch, the Fairy Gourdmother house (which you will be able to go inside), the Magical Sea Serpent (16 feet tall and 42 feet wide from the tip of the nose to the tail) and the Shroom family.

“We were looking for summer displays we could do that would appeal to kids as well as grown ups,” said Sherre Freeman of Garvan Woodland Gardens.

The pieces will be on display at the Koi Pond, Promenade, and Pavilion and the Sasquatch will move locations so that people can “find Bigfoot.”

The displays are based on a modern technique called mosaiculture. This is a horticultural art that involves creating living artworks made from plants with colorful foliage.The pieces at Garvan will feature ‘manicured plants covering structural steel frames that tower over visitors, wind through lawns and plantings, and ‘walk’ through the forest.’

“They’ve been working on this in the shop since January,” said Freeman. “They fabricate these steel forms, cover them with landscaping fabric, fill that with potting soil, then put in a drip irrigation system on each structure that will keep them watered while they were growing these plants in flats in the greenhouse. They all got planted and then they have to grow out for about a month and a half so that the forms are filled in with the colors.”

The exhibit is a cooperative project of the garden’s in-house design teams and the landscape architecture department in the Fay Jones School of Architecture at the University of Arkansas. The Atlanta Botanical Garden, which hosted the “Imaginary Worlds” mosaiculture international display last year, assisted the garden in creating the exhibit.

The event is free for members, or $10 for adults, $5 for children ages 6-12, free for children ages 5 and younger, and $5 for dogs. Garvan Woodland Gardens is the botanical garden of the University of Arkansas and is open from 9-6 daily. For more information call 501-262-9300 or visit


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