Bluegrass & Blossoms

A Shady GroveEnlarge photo

It happened in a shady grove by Lake Drummond in Springfield, Missouri's Close Memorial Park. All kinds of people came, the young, the old, the in-between, couples, families, and single folk. They brought lawn chairs and blankets and some brought their children. They came to sit in the cool shade, listen to the music, and learn a little about the new Botanical Center.

The Missouri Mountain GangThe Missouri Mountain Gang
The Missouri  Mountain Gang--from left, Larry Mayfield, Roger Hale, Mary Mayfield, Danny Bradley, and Marty Baty--started the music with songs like The Old Home Place, Earl's Breakdown, Bob Wills' Faded Love, and an original titled Full Moon Over Bull Creek.

A Table of GoodiesA Table of Goodies
On one side of the grove, tables with crisp white tablecloths held flyers, brochures, magazines, and other helpful materials, and Friends of the Garden members--from left, Carolyn Gerdes, Susan Boswell, Peggy Sauer, and Sandra Lowther--warmly welcomed visitors and answered their questions.
The Botanical CenterThe Botanical Center
Many visitors got their first view of the proposed Botanical Center building from artist's renderings mounted nearby. (Note: You can find the same renderings in close detail, with descriptions, here.)

Bill in the ShadeBill in the Shade
At another table sat Bill Roston of Friends of the Garden, the creator of the Sensory Garden, the Ornamental Grass Garden, and other of the park's botanical gardens, achievements that have inspired some to call him, "the garden visionary." He doesn't seem to mind.

The Sensory GardenThe Sensory Garden
Two renderings showed visitors the latest garden approved to become one of the 34 botanical gardens that will surround the new Botanical Center. Note:18 of the gardens already exist and can be seen today.
A Closer LookA Closer Look
A closer view of this Sensory Garden plan.
Sensory Garden FeaturesSensory Garden Features
The details. Such gardens are sometimes called "gardens for the blind," but obviously their tactile and aromatic delights can be enjoyed by everyone.
The Labyrinth GardenThe Labyrinth Garden
Another of Bill Roston's visions: a Labyrinth Garden. Labyrinth gardens date back thousands of years and are designed to allow people to walk and meditate. They are not mazes, which are designed to confuse and amuse.
A Fun TestA Fun Test
Bill challenged visitors to identify the scent of these plants by crushing leaves and sniffing them. The reward for a correct answer: an additional chance to win in the hosta drawing. The mystery plants, said Bill, included "Vicks VapoRub plant," pineapple mint, lemon mint, wintergreen, and chocolate mint. Boy, that chocolate mint...mmm, mmm. 
The Young, TooThe Young, Too
As you can tell from the Friends' smiles, another bright note to the day was the genuine interest in the Botanical Center project shown by young people. It's only fitting, as the Center's greatest contribution to the community may well be in teaching youth about plants and nature.
'We Need Volunteers...''We Need Volunteers...'
Susan Boswell told the crowd, "We need volunteers to plain dig in the dirt."  Susan, the Friends of the Garden development director, leads the group's drive for funds and explained how to make a tax-deductible contribution to the Botanical Center project by sending a check to the Community Foundation of the Ozarks with "For the Botanical Center" on the memo line.
'We Need Your Help. Ask Us.''We Need Your Help. Ask Us.'
...said the fanciful lady on the table, a "volunteer" created by Susan.
Guest SpeakersGuest Speakers
Special guests talked about the Center project. Joe Daues, who anchors KSPR-TV newscasts with his wife Christine, enthused that he and Christine especially watch the botanical garden development with great interest. "We had our wedding pictures taken on a very rainy day in the Japanese Stroll Garden almost six years ago," he said. He later said of B&B, "I really enjoyed sitting back and visiting with everybody. I got to see some old friends."
Jodie AdamsJodie Adams
Jodie Adams, director of the Springfield-Greene County Parks Department, spoke passionately of the department's commitment to the Botanical Center project and its importance to the community. "We're very close to our final objective of raising the full amount, and we really, really would like to meet that goal," she said. "Our objective is to go ahead and begin building in the middle or later part of 2009."
Reel GreeneReel Greene
At midafternoon Reel Greene took center stage with such lyrical American and Irish song as Staten Island Hornpipe, Swinging on a Gate, and Top of the Cork Road--from left, Marti Knauer, Steve Widders, Brian Ison, and Linda Widders.
The crowd listened attentively. One woman visitor marveled, "I had no idea all this was out here. I can't believe it. It's wonderful."
The DrawingsThe Drawings
Two experts picked the drawing winners for Susan.
A WinnerA Winner
Winner Rebecca Block of Springfield liked her drawing prize--a 'Stained Glass' hosta.
Another WinnerAnother Winner
Side-by-side with her mom, Sara Landruss, Tina Seal held up her hosta drawing prize.
Jodie & JanJodie & Jan
Jodie Adams and Jan Horton shared some pleasant moments at the event. Jan, an avid advocate of outdoors and environmental concerns and projects, was executive director of the Community Foundation of the Ozarks for some 15 years and played an important role in the creation of  Close Memorial Park.
During a quieter moment, Peggy relaxed with a bit of knitting.
Bob KipferBob Kipfer
Friends of the Garden President Bob Kipfer talks with Susan. Bob, who grows trees and garlic on the same Bull Creek of the song mentioned above, says the garlic was "kind of puny" this year because heavy rains prevented applying the usual sidedressing. "We got 1000 bulbs, but we didn't get the really big silver white ones we had last year."
Signing UpSigning Up
Much to the delight of the Friends of the Garden, several visitors signed up for membership in the group.
Free Garden ToursFree Garden Tours
Many visitors took advantage of one of the day's best features--free tram rides to the park's botanical gardens. The original tram broke down, but parks employee Ben Kellner quickly rustled up three golf carts to fill in. The gardens drew their share of oohs and aahs, especially the Daylily Garden, shown here, which displayed 3500 plants in full flower and every color imaginable.
Gorgeous VarietiesGorgeous Varieties
Incredibly, the Daylily Garden contains some 850 varieties of the plant, including this beauty, 'Ozark Lass.' And as if the Daylily Garden weren't enough, we repeat, the park contains 17 other botanical gardens as well.
A Surprising TurnoutA Surprising Turnout
People came throughout the afternoon. Including park visitors, hikers, and cyclists who happened onto the scene and stayed to listen, the crowd seemed to be about 300.
One of those surprised--and pleased--by the turnout was the garden chairman of Friends of the Garden, Bob Childress (checked shirt), who said, "I think we had at least twice as many people as we had last year. This has really contributed to the awareness of the Botanical Center and the gardens."
Kenny Knauer, who all agreed did a terrific job organizing the event, said he and other Friends of the Garden were "truly thrilled" by the turnout and are already looking forward to next year's Bluegrass & Blossoms.
George's TakeGeorge's Take
Shown here with Kenny, George Deatz, the Friends' publicity chairman, said, "I think the crowd was more than twice as large as last year. We also picked up a few members. We also picked up some garden volunteers, which is great. People who missed the event can still come out and see the gardens. They're still in bloom, and they're beautiful."
A Big SurpriseA Big Surprise
There were no plans to ask for donations, but some folks made them anyway. Susan marveled, "One lady walked up, made a donation, and said, 'You know, we use this park all the time and it's important to us.' We were not prepared for that. We ended up collecting over a thousand dollars for the Center." 
Bob Kipfer said, "People came early and stayed late. The music was fantastic and we had a lot of people who were seeing the gardens for the first tme and realizing what we've got out here. They really enjoyed the tours of the gardens."
A Reunion FeelA Reunion Feel
It was a remarkable day, all right, a day with good music and learning about the Botanical Center. It had something of the feel of an old-fashioned family reunion, and this time the family was the human family.

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