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Monday, August 19, 2013

Lots of Change in the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens

Maybe you grew up playing in Fort Worth's Botanic Gardens. Maybe you didn't. It's a magical place where children dream of fairies and knomes, and adults escape the hum drum of the city life roaring just outside the garden's gates. This place means something different to everyone, but either way it is important to the city of Fort Worth, and for this reason people who care deeply for the gardens have come together to return the favor. A lot is about to change for the better. 

As the oldest and largest botanic gardens in the state of Texas, the Fort Worth Botanic Garden is nationally recognized as a historical site and for it's beautiful rose gardens.The garden's history started in 1912 when a small portion of land was roped off for a large city park. In 1933 it was purchased by the Fort Worth Park Commissioners. Originally 38 acres, the gardens now encompass 109 acres in the middle of the city.

This year the Fort Worth Botanical Society just nominated their youngest president ever, 34-year-old Rattana Mao. She's a ball of energy and ready to make this place even more magical then the place where she remembers and grew up playing. She grew up in a poor family that fled Cambodia during one of history's worst cases of genocide under Pol Pot's death grip. She did lose four siblings to starvation and illness while in Cambodia, but when they came to Fort Worth new happy memories were created at all of the free places our city had to offer. Her favorite escape from poverety were these gardens. This became her happy place where imaginary worlds came to life at no cost. She's here to give back. 
Sarah Junek volunteering in the Backyard Vegetable Garden.

In April the gardens opened their Backyard Vegetable Garden. It is a place where anyone in the community can learn how to tend and grow a garden. The garden has harvested so much organic produce that they have had to donate tons to the Tarrant Area Food Bank. Soon they will offer "farm-to-fork" cooking classes using their seasonal vegetables. Children starting at age 18 months can now participate in free classes in the vegetable garden. Adults can learn how to grow potted citrus plants on their own back porch, learn about sparkling wines in the Japanese Gardens, and even take photography classes. 

August 21 the gardens broke ground on the new Victor and Cleyone Tinsley Rock Springs Garden. The Rock Springs were the original 38 acres I previously mentioned. They were never manicured into a rose garden or vegetable garden. Largley unused, the Rock Springs had fallen by the wayside. Now they are putting in four lakes surrounded by walking paths, Texas native plants and covered with bridges. This project should be completed by Spring/Summer 2014.
Plans for the Victor and Cleyone Tinsley Rock Springs Project

And, the Japanese Gardens will celebrate its 40th anniversary this year. Expect a large festival and fun for the whole family coming November 2013!