Local Gardens and Green Spaces
Need some inspiration for your garden, or just want to get outside? Here are a few publicly accessible green spaces in the Lawrence area and beyond!
The Audio-Reader Sensory Garden: The fully accessible garden on the grounds of the Baehr Audio-Reader Center at 1120 W. 11th Street in Lawrence is filled with flowers, herbs, and accessories to delight the senses. Plants with interesting textures, such as Lamb’s Ear, intermingle with fragrant leaves of mint and lavender. Plants are in raised beds, making a hands-on experience easy for pedestrians and wheelchair users. The garden is open to the public, but tours are available by appointment. Call 785-864-5336 for more information.
Baker Wetlands and Discovery Center: These wetlands encompass 927 acres of wildlife habitat, and are home to hundreds of species of birds, animals, and plants. Several trails are open to the public, and more are planned. The wetlands are open to the public from dawn to dusk.
- Douglas County 4-H Fairgrounds, 2110 Harper Street, Lawrence
- Monarch Waystation No. 1, behind Foley Hall at 2021 Constant Avenue, Lawrence
- KU Native Medicinal Plant Garden, north of K-40 on E 1600 Rd.
- Tom Swan Park, Baldwin City
Japanese Friendship Garden: The Japanese Friendship Garden, located on the north side of Watkins Community Museum at 1045 Massachusetts Street, represents the cultural ties between Lawrence and her sister-city, Hiratsuka. The garden contains a wisteria covered arbor walkway, an arbor house, large rocks, water and imaginative lighting. Plantings include Japanese maples, yoshino cherry trees, yews, bamboo, juniper, and mugho pines as well as azaleas, spirea, viburnum, Siberian iris, and peonies.
KU School of Pharmacy Medicinal Garden: The pharmacy garden, on the south patio of the KU School of Pharmacy at 2010 Becker Drive, is made up of five themed beds and provides information on some 70 species of medicinal plants, many native to Kansas and the Great Plains. An extensive signage system provides information about the historical uses of each individual plant, about each bed and about the garden overall.
KU Student Rain Garden: A flagship demonstration project for the students of KU and the surrounding community, the garden is sited in front of the new addition to the Student Recreation Center. This 5,200 square foot rain garden is home to 2,500 native plants from up to 18 different species. It was created to encourage student involvement on campus in areas of sustainability, and demonstrate sustainable landscaping and storm-water management practices to promote bio-diversity.
Lawrence Community Orchard: This orchard occupies 1/3 acre in the Burrows Creek corridor of East Lawrence, at 830 Garfield Street. It is currently planted with 77 individual productive woody plants composed of 23 species. It also includes a fruit tree nursery, a timber frame kiosk, a rustic supply shed and botanical identification signs. It features many aspects of a food forest design with nitrogen fixing species and a layered productive canopy. The Lawrence Community Orchard is open from dawn to dusk.
Lawrence Rotary Arboretum: Besides trees with identification markers, the Lawrence Rotary Arboretum also consists of walking paths, a pergola, a gazebo and a Waterwise Xeriscape Garden. The arboretum is located at 5100 West 27th Street in Lawrence.
The Native Medicinal Plant Research Garden: The garden site, located at 1865 E. 1600 Road in Douglas County, includes a research area; an interpretive garden just inside the front gate, with seven themed beds holding about 70 species of medicinal plants, each with an informational sign; and the KU Student Farm, made up of two sections of individual plots where KU students, faculty and staff grow their own vegetables. The garden is open to the public from dawn to dusk.
Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens: This 300-acre site aims to promote leadership and exploration of environmental and ecological issues, and community development in the Kansas City, Kansas area. They serve as an educational, recreational and cultural resource for the public to enjoy a wide variety of native and hybrid trees, shrubs and plants. Their facilities include eight natural ecosystems, traditional botanical gardens, trails, and a Visitors Center.
Powell Gardens: Powell Gardens is a not-for-profit botanical garden located just east of Kansas City, Missouri. Set on 970 acres of lush, rolling hills and windswept meadows, Powell Gardens offers breathtaking display gardens, interesting architecture, a nature trail and a year-round calendar of special events and classes for the entire family.
Prairie Acre Demonstration Garden: The KU campus and the Lawrence community are engaged in restoring the biodiversity of the only historical remnant of native prairie left on main campus, located down the hill and south from Blake and Twente Halls, and just above Sunnyside Avenue at the south entrance to campus. Containing a wide range of native plant species, this demonstration garden provides visitors with the chance to get a closer look at many of the native plants that can be found in prairie acre and other remnant tallgrass prairies.
Prairie Park Nature Center: Prairie Park Nature Center’s 100-acre nature preserve, located at 2730 Harper Street in Lawrence, incorporates wetlands, woodlands and prairie habitats and a five acre lake, as well as walking trails for bird watchers and wildlife enthusiasts and educational programs to the public, schools and local groups.The education building features natural habitat dioramas, displays and live animals, including a live bird of prey collection with eagles, owls, hawks and falcons.
Rockefeller Native Prairie Trail: The Rockefeller Native Prairie is a 10-acre remnant of original native prairie with a rich diversity of more than 200 native plants—including two endangered species, the western prairie fringed orchid and Mead’s milkweed. This is one of only four locations in the world where both species occur together. The 0.4 mile Rockefeller Native Prairie Trail is ADA-compliant.
South Park Rose and Butterfly Gardens: Lawrence’s oldest park, located at 1141 Massachusetts Street, is home to two beautiful gardens. On the east side of Mass Street, a rose garden encircles a historic granite fountain. On the west side of Mass, a butterfly garden is located near the playground area. (Pro tip: A particularly delightful time to enjoy these gardens are on Wednesday evenings in the summer, when the Lawrence City Band offers free concerts.)
Union Pacific Depot French Theme Flower Garden: Maintained by the Parks & Recreation Department’s professional landscaping staff, this garden’s spectacular array of colors in the summer makes for an ideal place for outside events. The Union Pacific Depot (which is also the Lawrence Visitors’ Center) is located at 402 North 2nd Street in Lawrence.
Weaver Courtyard: Located immediately south of Spooner Hall at 1340 Jayhawk Boulevard on the KU campus, this garden is in the process of being restored as part of an interdisciplinary architecture project that includes the integration of native plants, new sculptural elements, and historic stonework techniques.
For a list of walking trails in the Lawrence area, check out Clark Coan’s Handy Guide