Thursday, December 29, 2005

Garvan Woodland Gardens "Holiday HIGHlights 2005"

Photographs by ©Anne Marchand

Our holiday adventure was filled with views of the Ouachita Mountains near Hot Springs, Arkansas and the sweetness of visiting mom and dad. The night after Christmas, we visited a transformed Garvan Woodland Gardens. The magical light show reminded me of Diwali, the Festival of Lights in India. Hindus, Jains and Sikhs celebrate Diwali and use the occasion to celebrate life and strengthen relationships. Our stroll through the gardens was a similar celebration. I love a good metaphor and this enchanting display capped off a wonderful visit with family.

Over twenty acres of prime Garden real estate is transformed into a holiday wonderland, featuring a million plus lights, animated characters, and hand-made structures. "Holiday HIGHlights 2005". The seven-week festival of lights is enhanced with the addition of musical entertainment including choirs, quartets, vocalists, and instrumentalists.

Garvan Woodland Gardens is a dream of Verna Cook Garvan, described as a brilliant businesswoman by those acquainted with her, who realized she could not solely succeed in preserving her private woodland garden or provide an accessible place of repose for the people of Arkansas without help. In 1985 she donated the land under a trust agreement to the University of Arkansas School of Architecture. The U of A department of landscape architecture, a division of the School of Architecture, began the daunting task of documenting every plant species. Garvan Woodland Gardens is an example of The Natural State at its best: a canopy of pines reaching skyward providing protection for delicate flora and fauna, gentle lapping waves that unfold along the 4 ½ miles of wooded shoreline, and rocky inclines that remind us of the surrounding Ouachita Mountains. The Gardens are a beautifully crafted response to those who may have doubted one determined woman's vision for a world-class botanical garden.

Garvan Woodland Gardens
550 Arkridge Road - P.O. Box 22240
Hot Springs National Park, AR 71913
800-366-4664 • 501-262-9300

1 comment:

  1. Anne,

    As you were, my husband and I were pleasantly surprised by the wealth of hidden gems here in our new home town. For example, as professional cellist who used to live only three hours away, I was shocked to learn of the first-rate Hot Springs Music Festival, an annual event that attracts 200 pre-professional classical and jazz musicians from around the world.

    (Note: Although I am a travel writer and public relations professional, I am not paid to promote our city nor any of the properties or events I've listed. These are just our personal favorites!)

    Ours is a unique demographic here in Hot Springs, where the median age is 42. A healthy percentage of us have incomes of $100K or more, and we support 12 championship golf courses and 27 non-profit organizations directly related to the visual and performing arts. Having hosted a Historic District Gallery Walk the first Friday of each month for nearly 16 years, Hot Springs was recently named #4 Art Town in America. February 2006 marks the 200th consecutive Gallery Walk!

    There are definitely other great things to do in addition to the Hot Springs Music Festival, held the first two weeks of June each year. Early September brings the annual Bluesfest and Hot Springs Jazzfest.

    By late October, the city swells with nearly 20,000 people for the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, one of four preliminary sites for the Academy Awards in the documentary category.

    From January through April, hotels and restaurants are booming with racing fans at Oaklawn Jockey Club, a 102-year-old thoroughbred racetrack.

    Cradled by the Ouachita Mountains, three pristine lakes lure the likes of FLW Bass Fishing Championships. The breathtaking bounty of botanical beauty you so beautifully described is Garvan Woodland Gardens, located on a 210-acre peninsula of Lake Hamilton.

    Our particularly outstanding accommodations include Lookout Point Lakeside Inn, one of only three Arkansas inns listed on the Select Registry. Many folks enjoy the convenience of Embassy Suites Hot Springs, an all suite hotel adjacent to Summit Arena, was ranked #1 Embassy Suites worldwide for 2004. You'll find adult locals politely congregating in the atrium around the piano bar during happy hour.

    Looking for lunch? For eclectic urban cuisine, check out the award-winning Cafe 1217, recently featured as one of the best deli's in the country on The Food Network!

    Best of all, Hot Springs is packed with people who understand hospitality. Sure, we have attractions. But without the people who live here, we'd be a ghost town instead of a resort town.

    Local people. Local events. Hot Springs' REAL attraction.
    Come see us again!
    Rebecca McCormick,
    Executive Editor, Hot Springs Life & Home and Wayne's Mom