From manicured, European-inspired courtyards to thriving utopias nestled within the heart of bustling cities, gardens across the state beckon visitors during the sun-soaked months of spring and summer. Take a spellbinding journey surrounded by the sweet sights and sounds of blossoming flowers, towering trees and flourishing countryside. Explore the top gardens featured below and delight in soul-inspiring strolls through these living Oklahoma treasures.
Honor Heights Park – Muskogee
Situated on the western edge of Muskogee in eastern Oklahoma, the renowned 132-acre Honor Heights Park is famous for its stunning azaleas, which are prominently displayed throughout the surrounding area and within the park’s popular azalea gardens. In the spring, their delicate white, pink, red and purple blooms burst onto the landscape during the month-long Azalea Festival, often considered one of the best spring events in the South. Celebrate the beauty of the blooming azaleas with a springtime parade, food vendors, arts and craft displays, and live entertainment.
Honor Heights Park also features over 200 varieties of roses in a stunning array of colors in the masterfully landscaped rose garden. Walk around the reflecting pond to admire the central fountain and the azaleas that handsomely line the edge of the water, or wind your way down the paved path to Honor Heights Lake to rent a swan-shaped paddleboat for a ride on the water. Stroll up Honor Heights Hill to view the perennial gardens and the waterfall cascading down native stone.
Paved walkways run throughout Honor Heights, making the park easily accessible and providing trails for running and bird watching. The park is also a perfect destination for family outings or gatherings. Bring the kids for fishing or take them over to the splash pad for spray jets that catapult water high into the air. Spend a day at Honor Heights and enjoy a romantic picnic or a cookout with the whole family with gazebos, picnic areas, public restrooms and water fountains scattered around the park.
Lendonwood Gardens – Grove
Tucked away in a wooded area just outside of Grove, the Lendonwood Gardens combine American and Asian gardening techniques to create a diverse and charming green space. Take a guided tour, available by appointment, or set out on your own through the lush gardens. This eight-acre expanse features more than 1,200 species of plants set amidst native trees, as well as transplants such as dawn redwood and Himalayan cedar. Stroll to the daylily display area to see the bright blooms of around 500 varieties of the plant, and then marvel at the deep, rich colors added to Lendonwood by more than 75 varieties of Japanese maple trees.
In the American Backyard Garden, crape myrtles, marigolds and zinnias are on display. Relax underneath the elaborate gazebo encircled by roses, and then explore the nearby Japanese pavilion. Admire the views from this peaceful sanctuary, which overlooks a pond filled with koi. Another highlight of the Lendonwood Gardens is the azalea garden – a one-acre space dedicated to not only colorful azaleas, but dogwood, magnolia and flowering redbud trees.
Philbrook Gardens – Tulsa
A visit to Tulsa’s Philbrook Museum of Art would be incomplete without a tour of the amazing gardens that surround it. Constructed for Villa Philbrook when it was still a home, the original design combined Italian, English and French garden attributes. The Philbrook Gardens were intended to showcase native plants and trees, and the gardens have retained this mission throughout the decades. To this day, the gardens offer superb outdoor spaces for viewing Oklahoma’s natural environment at its finest.
To experience the Philbrook Gardens is like walking out into a serene, Italian villa. Look down from the museum’s back terrace to notice the symmetrical design of this formal garden. A diamond-shaped, terraced lawn invites you to step deeper into the surrounding oasis. A dramatic water feature is the center of attention – it begins with a fountain at the base of the museum, continues down the hill as a creek running in a manmade waterway, then over landscaped rocks as a waterfall into reflecting pools. Wander the walkways surrounded by perfectly-manicured hedges, bushes and flowers. The tempietto, a Roman-inspired chapel, beckons visitors to savor a moment of contemplation while taking in the scenery. A glance toward the museum offers a breathtaking view of the gardens.
Head to the south side of Philbrook Museum and you’ll find another garden area. Hedges and trees line the rectangle-shaped garden, leading to a fountain featured at the far end. As you peruse the garden, take a moment to admire the wrought-iron niches.
While the horticulture of the Philbrook Gardens is the highlight, not to be overlooked is the outdoor sculpture collection that adorns the space, known as the Westby Sculpture Walk. This al fresco gallery showcases works from the 1870s to present day, including Prayer by Allan Houser and Oklahoma Autumn by Eric Baker. The Philbrook Gardens are completely ADA-accessible, and walking tours, as well as a free audio tour, are available.
Tulsa Botanic Garden – Tulsa
Situated on the outskirts of Tulsa is Tulsa Botanic Garden, a 170-acre paradise featuring a seven-acre lake, over 8,000 varieties of plants and 110 acres dedicated to preserving native fauna found on tallgrass prairies. Wander along Lakeside Promenade until you reach the garden’s crown jewel – the A.R. & Marylouise Tandy Floral Terraces. Here, guests can awe at the immaculate Garden Cascade flowing down the hillside surrounded by 50,000 spring bulbs and other accent flowers, trees, shrubs and ornamental grasses.
After ascending each terrace, head back to the Visitor’s Center for a map and then set out to explore 1.5-miles of the diverse Cross Timbers Nature Trail. Hikers will notice a mix of forestry, prairie grasses and native wildflowers – a unique ecosystem created by the junction of the Western Prairie and Eastern Woodlands.
Be sure to visit The Children’s Discovery Garden to experience a two-acre wonderland perfect for the young and young-at-heart. Come face-to-face with the Spring Giant, a 20-ft stone sculpture inspired by 18th century European gardens. Follow the water flowing from the giant’s mouth to find more water fountains and an interactive art wall. Guests can also climb the tree fort to overlook the grove’s canopy, meander the meadow for sightings of spring insects or tread the Bog Bowls to watching Venus fly traps enjoy their next meal.
Tulsa Garden Center & Teaching Garden at Woodward Park - Tulsa
Located in the heart of Tulsa, a horticultural haven including the Tulsa Garden Center, Municipal Rose Garden and Linnaeus Teaching Garden awaits at Woodward Park to whisk visitors away into an elaborate garden getaway. Explore the grounds to discover reflecting pools, intricate hedge designs, English ivy-covered terraces and ruby-hued roses as far as the eye can see. Completed in 1921 and originally home to a Tulsa oilman, the Tulsa Garden Center curls around the original Italian villa-style mansion. Today, visitors can catch a glimpse of the mansion’s ornate design elements and then wander into the immaculate grounds waiting outside. Visit the conservatory, added to the property in the 1930s, to view succulents, water plants, orchids and more.
The Italian Renaissance-style Rose Garden was founded prior to the establishment of the Tulsa Garden Center in 1934 and 1935 as a WPA project. At 900 feet long, this scenic area features five terraces built on a gently-sloping hill. As you explore each terrace, you’ll notice how hedges and trees are used as design elements complementing the approximately 5,000 roses, representing over 250 varieties, which grace the garden.
The Teaching Garden at Woodward Park is a lovingly cultivated space. Gardens here include a fruit and vegetable garden, water garden and herb garden, which are used as educational tools to demonstrate the latest and most successful techniques for growing plants in the natural environment. Every plant in the Teaching Garden is well-labeled and easy to observe. As you tour the herb garden, enjoy the aroma of lavender, rosemary, mint and sage, then visit the centerpiece water garden to view water hyacinths, lily pads and elephant ears as they flourish along cascading waterways.
Myriad Botanical Gardens & Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory – Oklahoma City
Steps from skyscrapers in downtown Oklahoma City, the Myriad Botanical Gardens and Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory provide a sanctuary amidst the urban landscape. Reopened to the public in November 2022, the glass-encased, tube-shaped Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory features much more than one would expect – entire ecosystems flourish here, from a lush rainforest to an arid desert. Over 1,000 plants from all continents except Antarctica fill the conservatory, from humble cacti to towering palms that reach skyward. The conservatory’s renovations include a breathtaking, two-floor cascading waterfall, improved accessibility with elevator additions, incredible sculptures, root walls and reflecting pools, plus other surprises waiting to be discovered.
Surrounding the Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory are 15 acres of multi-purpose grounds known as the Myriad Botanical Gardens. Native and non-native trees are scattered about, providing shade and a habitat for birds. Meander along the walkways through gardens, across bridges, around fountains and over streams. In the center of the gardens, a two-acre lake sits under the Crystal Bridge and is home to goldfish and koi.
During warm weather, concerts, plays and special events like the annual Lunar New Year Celebration are hosted at the water stage that sits on the lake. An interactive children’s area is also featured within the gardens, offering a hedge maze, climbing playground, a splash fountain and more. Bring your four-legged friend out to the dog park to run around and mingle with other furry friends. Don’t forget to take a second glance at the strategically-placed outdoor sculpture collection as you explore Oklahoma City’s much-loved garden paradise.