Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens, Overland Park, Kansas

Conservation in Overland Park, Kansas is very important to the residents. In honor of their feelings Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens was started. They are a leader in the city for both environmental issues and community development. The arboretum is an educational, cultural, and recreational place for the Kansas City area.

The park is located on 179th street, west of Antioch. It is open seven days a week from 8am to 7:30pm between April 10th and September 30th. Winter hours are 8am to 5pm. Overland Park Arboretum is closed on Christmas Day. Admission is free, but the park accepts donations for those who wish to keep the park going. To ensure interest in the park remains, classes and local events are provided. Eighty- five percent of the property at the Arboretum is dedicated to preservation and the restoration of ecosystems. The rest of the park is set up as a botanical gardens and for the Environmental Education Visitors Center.

In 2006 further work was completed on Overland Park Arboretum to create thirteen new gardens and four conservatories. They also built a new visitors center. The gardens added were a rose garden, training garden, home gardens, Rill garden, and wedding green. Currently there are 300 ecologically dedicated acres with identification plates at various points discussing the area and the plants. Hiking trails take visitors through much of the land. About six miles of paved and wood chip hiking trails will take visitors through the Blue River and Wolf Creek Bisects of the park.

To explore the gardens more fully, visitors have the Erickson Water Garden, Lakeside Amphitheater, Learning Arboretum, Legacy Garden, Marder Woodland Glen, Rotary Children's Discovery Garden, Monet Garden, and Xeriscape Garden. Claude Monet is one of the most famous French painters. Overland Park Arboretum decided to recreate his French gardens with special visual effects, color harmonies, and garden accents. The garden has tiers of colorful flowers with arbors and trellises. Some of the flowers fall over rock walls and along the paths.

Xeriscape Gardens show how the land can be water efficient as well as pleasing. Water rushes over rock into a pool, where visitors can sit on the bridge to watch the flow of water in a greenery area. Part of the mission of the Overland Park recreation area is to help with restoration. Prairie restoration reclaims land that has been lost. In 2002 160 acres were bought by the park to begin the project. Big Bluestem, Little Bluestem, Osage Indiangrass, and Sideoats Grama are all plants that are part of the restoration. There is a plan for three year rotation of reseeding, haying, and burning which helps simulate the wildlife and buffalo grazing of the past.

The Arboretum and Botanical Gardens provides a free tour. Tours can be arranged Monday through Friday, but should be scheduled three to four weeks in advance. Groups are also welcome to visit the gardens. Twelve or more individuals must be part of a group. Schools must choose a specific date for visiting to ensure the park does not become over crowded.

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