Dallas and Fort Worth Public Gardens
As Dallas has become a world class city so have its public areas and gardens become world class. The creation of these gardens and public areas is often fraught with dissension and acrimony. In some cases there is behind the scenes jockeying to rival any Italian Court and more than a few larger than life Texans made this happen. You will find nationally recognized landscape architects and designers involved in most of these projects.
Dallas and Fort Worth are home to world-class gardens including:
1. Dallas Arboretum
2. Fort Worth Botanical Gardens
3. Reflecting Pools at UTD
4. Nasher Sculpture Center Garden
5. Dallas Museum of Art Sculpture Garden
6. Perot Museum of Science and Natural History Garden
7. Texas Discovery Garden at Fair Park
8. George W. Bush Presidential Center and Garden
9. Clark Gardens
10. Freedman Cemetery
11. Margaret Hunt Hill Trinity River Bridge
Many of the public gardens in the DFW Metroplex are established venues but there have been significant recent garden additions such as the new Perot Museum of Science and Natural History and the George W. Bush Presidential Center. The Dallas Arboretum has experienced transforming additions and modifications.
Dallas public gardens have been designed by nationally recognized garden and landscape firms placing the DFW Metroplex as a gardening destination city.
The Dallas Arboretum
The Dallas Arboretum has undergone expansion and transformation. The Woman’s Garden including the Woodland Nymph Garden, the Poetry Garden and the Reflecting pools are a perfect combination of the ‘old’ Arboretum with the new. The garden is located east of downtown Dallas and on the southern point of White Rock Lake.
A Woman’s Garden at the Arboretum is comprised of several smaller gardens including the Pecan Parterre, the Poetry Garden and the Majestic Allee. It was designed in 1997 by landscape architect Morgan Wheelock. In the spring of 2006 Warren Johnson’s design opened with a native Texas limestone bridge featuring a foot hanging garden, and a wellspring. These two beautiful gardens were designed to celebrate the strength, courage, creativity and nurturing demeanor of women.
Fort Worth Botanical Gardens
The Rose Garden at the Fort Worth Botanical Gardens was constructed and is found on the National Register of Historic Places. It is cited by landscape historians as one of four excellent examples of the classic period of the municipal rose garden, an era from 1927 to 1937.
The Japanese Garden was created in 1970 from a former quarry and is considered to be one of the premiere Japanese Gardens in the United States.
Fort Worth Botanic Gardens
Nasher Sculpture Center and UTD Reflecting Pools
Peter Walker’s West coast-based landscape design firm created the gardens at the Nasher Sculpture Center. The same firm designed the $30 million garden project at the University of Texas at Dallas funded almost entirely by philanthropist Margaret McDermott. The UTD gardens encompass 800,000 square feet planted with 5,000 trees and shrubs, including over 400 Claudia Wannamaker Magnolias; a mall and an eternal fog machine!
The Nasher Sculpture Center
The Nasher Sculpture Center is located directly east of the Dallas Museum of Art and designed by Renzo Piano who won the Pritzker Prize for Architecture in 1998,. The Raymond and Patsy Nasher Collection features sculpture located in a beautiful garden with over 300 masterpieces by Calder, de Kooning, di Suvero, Giacometti, Hepworth, Kelly, Matisse, Miró, Moore, Picasso, Rodin, Serra and more. I credit Patsy Nasher for opening my eyes to modern art and enhancing my life tremendously.
The museum was designed by world-renowned architect Renzo Piano in collaboration with landscape architect Peter Walker.
The Nasher’s built North Park, an art filled shopping center in Dallas. Anish Kapoor, The World Turned Outside In, polished stainless steel, 2003, collection of Louis Vuitton located at NorthPark. Dallas, Texas.
Dallas Museum of Art Sculpture Center
This garden, featuring a waterfall and reflecting pool was designed to secure the Nasher Sculpture Collection. Ultimately, the decision was made to create the Nasher Sculpture Center. The DMA then filled their garden with their own sculpture collection.
In the 1970s Dallas initiated plans to create a centralized downtown arts district, which would consolidate the city’s art and cultural institutions and help revitalize the downtown core. The 68-acre Dallas Arts District, located adjacent to the city’s business district, was laid out by the landscape architecture firm of Sasaki Associates. The long term period of development has resulted in vastly different architecture unlike Lincoln Center in NYC where the architecture is monocrhomatic (forgive me NYC/em) and not nearly so exciting as the architecture found in the Dallas Arts District. Read more about the Dallas Arts District architecture here: DFW Art Tour.
Architect Edward Larrabee Barnes collaborated with Dan Kiley as landscape architect for the project, his design for the Dallas Museum of Art, which opened in 1984. Kiley-Walker create planting plans for the space, including the streetscape and museum entry court, interior courtyards, an adjacent parking area and the outdoor sculpture garden. A row of cypress trees create a warm cocoon between the street and the museum. Barnes designed the outdoor sculpture garden.
Perot Museum of Science and Natural History
The Music and Leap Frog garden at the architecturally spectacular Perot Museum is a child magnet. The museum is designed with sustainable features which include cisterned rainwater, solar collectors paneled roof and the garden itself helps to reduce the museum’s carbon footprint.
The acre of rolling roofscape is comprised of rocks and native drought-resistant grasses from the Texas prairies, and different landscaped areas that depict abstract cross-sections of Texas including East-Texas inspired forests with large canopies of trees. The gardens are watered from a rainwater collection from the two 25,000 gallon cisterns.
The Texas Discovery Garden at Fair Park
Fair Park is itself a garden treasure with its ten themed areas include a butterfly habitat, Master Gardeners’ Garden, native wildlife pond, scent garden, shade garden and heirloom rose garden. The Rosine Smith Sammons Butterfly House and Insectarium releases butterflies each day at noon.
During the hard economic times of the depression Dallas sought to be the home of the Texas Centennial Celebration. Dallas Mayor R.L. Thornton met with the officials and his strong competition to host the Centennial from San Antonio, Austin, and Houston in 1936. The Centennial committee inquired whether there would be an esplanade, Thornton reportedly responded,“Not only will it have an esplanade, it will have two esplanades!” The story is that Thornton turned to an aide and asked, “What’s an esplanade, anyway?”
George W. Bush Presidential Center
The son of George H.W. Bush and our 43rd President calls Dallas home when he is not at his ranch. His new love is painting and no doubt we will eventually find his masterpieces re-located to his library on the SMU grounds.
George W. Bush Presidential Center Garden recreates Texas prairie, with a floodplain forest, wildflower meadow, and native Texas grasses. A storm-water management system provides water for the gardens. The rose garden is designed with the same proportions, solar orientation, and formal organization as the White House Rose Garden. A large water garden includes water lilies, irises, and sedges.
The Bush gardens are a mix of cultivated and wild plants found across Texas including wild grasses from Texas’s native blackland prairies, wildflowers found in a meadow, and habitats for butterflies, birds, and other wildlife. Trees indigenous to North Texas are included such as cedar elm, pecans, blackjack oaks.
Clark Gardens and Chandor Gardens
This public 35-acre garden is located in the Weatherford, Texas, area. In addition to spectacular gardens swans, peacocks and guineas roam among pavilions, a meditation garden, lakes, waterfalls and lily filled ponds. The G-Scale railroad circles the gardens.
The Crow Collection of Asian Art Garden
Crow Collection Gone – “Asian Garden” with Grotesquely Large Guardian Lions Takes Its Place
This garden was redesigned after the removal of the Crow Sculpture Collection. In the place of major sculptural works now stands a simple garden designed by John Powell of Weatherford Gardens. The Trammel Crow European Sculpture Collection which included Bourdelle, Rodin, Maillol and other prominent sculptors has been removed to a private mixed used development found on the grounds of the Old Parkland Hospital which is closed to the public.
A great effort has been made with public relations to promote the concept that moving some of the greatest sculpture in the world to a private business park and replacing it with a simple and lovely garden and grotesquely large and cliched guardian lions is a good thing! But this is a private collection and the Crows can do exactly as they please with their sculptures. We all miss them, very much. Send replicas back! You keep the originals, please.
At one point in time visitors would marvel at the Trammel Crow Center. It is now owned by J.P. Morgan Asset Management who plans to build a parking garage due south possibly with apartments above the garage.
Apartments over a garage. Dallas is moving backwards, not forwards.
Freedman Memorial Park
While not technically a garden a significant part of the history of Dallas African Americans is found in Freedmen’s Memorial Park. The Park commemorates a pre-Civil War burial ground in what was once the Freedmen’s Town Area, a small Dallas community formed by African-Americans freed from slavery in the mid-1860s. More than 5,000 freed slaves were buried in a once forgotten cemetery.
This historic and state landmark memorial features figures cast in bronze by artist David Newton. Central Expressway which became Interstate Highway 35 North was originally plotted east Dallas in the mid 1930’s. Central Expressway was located over the African American cemetery without relocating the existing graves. The grave stones were in some instances used as fill for the expressway.
Upon the expansion of Central Expressway the Texas Department of Transportation located some of the original graves. The discovered remains were relocated. The Freedman’s Memorial was first considered in 1989 and dedicated ten years later in February of 1999. The Texas Department of Transportation, the City of Dallas and the African American community, particularly Black Dallas Remembered, a group that collects and disseminates historical information about the local Black community, and the Freedman’s Foundation, raised $2 million for the Memorial. Like most art project this, too, had controversy and dissension. However, the final project is moving and inspiring.
Pioneer Plaza in downtown Dallas commemorates the cattle drives of the old Shawnee Trail, which once stretched north from Dallas. In 1995, the Texas Trees Foundation dedicated Pioneer Plaza to the City of Dallas. A cattle drive foreman sits atop a ridge overseeing his cowboys drive 70 steers down the Chisolm trail.
The concept for the park originated with Trammel Crow and the bronze sculptures were erected in 1995 on a downtown Dallas plaza including three cowboys and 70 six-foot-high longhorn steers. The local art community sneered. Cynics suggested Crow’s underlying motivations were to forestall a new hotel on the site that would compete with one he owned nearby. The historically inclined groused that Dallas, unlike nearby Fort Worth, was never really a cow town.
”I have about eight or ten pieces from Rodin in my buildings here,” Mr. Crow said in an interview with The New York Times. ”Under their sort of criticism, we shouldn’t have any sculpture from Rodin in Dallas. Rodin never even came to Dallas.”
Robert Summers, the sculptor once told a friend that the day Dallas graced its slick, cosmopolitan downtown with his Western bronze sculpture, he’d eat his hat. “I guess I’ll have to eat my hat,” the artist said.
The three cowboys and 70 longhorns are located down the street from the abstract Henry Moore sculpture at City Hall and amid towering skyscrapers.
Critics at the time called the project “Steerassic Park” and the steers, Frankensteers! It least they were witty in their criticism!
Pioneer Plaza represents the largest public open space in the central business district. The park is filled with native plant and a waterfall gurgles trailing into a creek the cattle must cross.
The sculptor was Robert Summers and Slaney-Santana Group were the landscape architects.
Due east of and adjacent to Pioneer Plaza is a 19th Century cemetery and adjacent to that is Dallas City Hall Plaza which contains a wonderful Henry Moore Sculpture.
Trinity River Parks Project
Margaret Hunt Hill Trinity River Bridge Designed by Santiago Calatrava
The Trinity River Parks Project continues to evolve, although the bridge is in place! Santiago Calatrava designed. It’s beautiful. Enough said, y’all. Well, except it was accompanied by the usual Hunt Family squabbling and intrigue, a minor sideshow at the time of construction. That could be a top ten list unto itself.
See more on bridge and Trinity River Parks Projects here. http://redwhiteandyaz.com
Park Projects Plan: http://www.ndna-tx.org/news/trinityproject/images/ProjectMap.pdf