Branching Out Blog
Need help finding something?

Horticulture Stories


Stories from the park's horticulture team

A Sneak Peek into Spring: The Story of the Redbud Tree

By Chris Gabbard, Director of Horticulture I have always been fascinated by which living things are related to each other, specifically unexpected relationships. For example, like how the wonderfully cute and amazing sloth is related to armadillos and anteaters in the mammalian group Xenarthra. That fact was always interesting to me. During my years of working with sloths, I would ask people what they thought they were related to, and 90% of people wrongly guessed monkeys. It is no different... Read More
Posted by Sydney Brown at Wednesday, March 15, 2023

What is your favorite plant today?

By Chris Gabbard, Director of Horticulture   Spring is just around the corner and another winter is almost over. As a self-confessed plant nerd, I spent a good share of the colder months reading about new species I’ve yet to acquire, dreaming up new display ideas for the upcoming season, as well as welcoming the return of a sun hat over a wool beanie. Here at Gathering Place, the horticulture team is also approaching the end of our winter project lists which included prairie cutba... Read More
Posted by Sydney Brown at Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Take a Walk on the Wild Side in a Green Urban Jungle

By Stacie Martin After spring rains, Gathering Place blooms. Then, as the spring wildflowers start to set seed and the summer wildflowers kick in, something almost magical happens: Gathering Place transforms. This tidy landscape becomes a green urban jungle, masquerading as a garden that takes on a life of its own. The plantings at Gathering Place are lush and wild, and after five years of growth, the 1.2 million plants are large and in-charge (and stunning!). This green jungle has a natural... Read More
at Monday, June 20, 2022

As the Plants Chill: Winter Preparation Makes Spring Activation!

By Anna Sullivan and Stacie Martin Is it winter? Is it spring? Either way, the plants and the Gathering Place horticulture team are busy preparing for growing season 2022! Plants prepare for spring through dormancy, while the team prepares for spring by mulching, cutbacks, pruning, and turf care.  getting ready for dormancy Deciduous plants may look dead during the winter but looks can be deceiving. To conserve energy, these plants enter dormancy. Endo-dormancy refers to the plant pre... Read More
at Friday, March 4, 2022

This is How We Carefully Removed a Large Tree from the Park

By Stacie Martin Species: red oak tree, Quercus sp.  Height: 110 feet Age: 80-100 years Trees offer many benefits to all things wild and natural. Just like humans, trees are susceptible to diseases and their health declines. This red oak tree’s health was deteriorating prior to construction of Gathering Place. Despite our horticulture team’s best efforts to revive it, the tree entered its final stage of life and had to be removed to prevent poten... Read More
at Sunday, January 23, 2022

Groovy Graminoid Grasslands

By Stacie Martin Between John Williams Way and Midland Valley Trail, two acres of grasslands feature 10 different native graminoids. Graminoids are herbaceous plants with grass-like structures such as leaf blades and include grasses, sedges, and rushes. Grasses are monocots, meaning the seeds germinate with only one leaf. This Canada wild rye germinates successfully in cool temperatures. Canada wild rye’s cousin, Virginia wild rye, shines by the ONEOK Boathouse. Virginia wild rye... Read More
at Thursday, December 2, 2021

Red Oak Tree Removal

“A tree is our most intimate contact with nature”—George Nakashima Species: red oak tree, Quercus sp. Height: 110 feet Age: 80-100 years Trees offer many benefits to our world. Trees cool our streets and city, provide oxygen and food, clean the air, save water, beautify our space, and so much more. Just like humans, trees are susceptible to diseases and their health declines. This red oak tree’s health was declining prior to construction of Gathering Place. D... Read More
at Monday, November 29, 2021

Leaf the Leaves

By Cass Patton and Stacie Martin As the warmth of summer draws to a close, we are seeing fall color and leaf drop on Gathering Place’s deciduous trees! Deciduous trees are those that lose their leaves (unlike evergreens). Fall’s shorter days result in less photosynthesis, and deciduous trees no longer need leaves for food production. To prepare for winter, nutrients found in the leaves are remobilized to the stems and trunk for the next growing season.  COLORFUL LEAVES AT... Read More
at Wednesday, November 3, 2021

September Shade

By Stacie Martin Fall is on our doorstep, but the need for shade is still strong in September! In the horticulture world, a "shade tree" refers to a tree that has a medium to tall height and a spreading canopy of leaves and branches, instead of a tree that is either short or narrow. A shade tree casts a wonderful shadow and is great to have picnics under, to read a book under, and is also a great place for a nap. Some of our favorite shade trees in Gathering Place are oak trees, ... Read More
at Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Wetland Wonderland

By Stacie Martin Gathering Place works to protect the adjacent waterways and wetland areas located near the Park, like the Arkansas River and Crow Creek. The Wetland Gardens and Peggy’s Pond provide a range of services and functions including groundwater recharge, pollutant filtering, habitat and connectivity for wildlife species, recreation including boating and fishing, and an aesthetic sense of beauty. The Wetland Gardens really are stunning! Surprisingly, most plants do not like... Read More
at Monday, August 16, 2021

Good Bugs Don't Bug Me

By Stacie Martin Gathering Place horticulturists are very proud of our Park’s sustainable practices! We love plants, insects, birds, people, and pets. We do our best to provide a safe, healthy environment. To accomplish our goals, we utilize two main techniques: Plant Health Care (PHC) and Integrated Pest Management (IPM). These techniques place an emphasis on providing proper care for the plants, trees, and ecosystems so they are less vulnerable to pest attacks. They encourage a var... Read More
at Friday, June 4, 2021

Fun Facts About Earth on Earth Day

By Stacie Martin Did you know soil is alive? Soil has living, breathing, biological activity and is home to many different types of organisms. Soil organisms include bacteria, earthworms, fungi, and even beetles and millipedes! They feed on organic matter and provide nutritious castings for the soil and plant roots. Soil composition, nutrition, and biological activity are essential to having healthy, happy plants.   This millipede is building soil! It hides in our prairie, eating... Read More
at Thursday, April 22, 2021

Great Evergreen Giants

By Stacie Martin It’s great to see so much green in December! The beginning of the month was unseasonably warm (until recently!) The leaves are still falling and the evergreens are still growing! While many plant species go dormant during the winter, evergreens hold onto their leaves and continue to photosynthesize. This means they continue to clean and remove carbon dioxide from the air!  BROADLEAF SOUTHERN MAGNOLIA There are two types of evergreens- broadleaf and conifers. O... Read More
at Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Autumn Ambiance

By Stacie Martin According to the Fall Foliage Prediction Map created by the National Forest Service, Tulsa should be attaining peak color this week! We are already seeing great color and are excited for more. Michael van Valkenburg & Associates, the landscape architecture firm who designed Gathering Place, designed the landscape to be stunning in all four seasons! Gathering Place has a wonderful display of shrubs, grasses, and trees that are all changing color. To prepare for winter,... Read More
at Thursday, November 5, 2020

Monarch Migrations!

By Stacie Martin We have started to see the fall monarch migration at Gathering Place. The migration is a few weeks earlier than last year, so we hope we can help them continue their flight safely! They love the perimeter of Peggy’s Pond, the Sky Garden, and the prairies.  It is important to have food for the monarch caterpillars and adults during their fall migration from Canada to Mexico. The adult monarchs love the high quality, nectar-producing flowers that are blooming right... Read More
at Wednesday, September 30, 2020

September Celebrations!

By Stacie Martin Happy Birthday, Gathering Place! Happy 918 Day, Tulsa! September marks two years since Gathering Place opened, and the landscape is enjoying two years of growth. It is no secret that plants in Oklahoma have to be tough! We have extreme periods of wet and dry, hot and cold, and plenty of dry, damaging winds. However, if the plants can survive that, they are rewarded for growing Okie roots.  On average, Tulsa has 227 sunny days per year. The US average is 205, so ... Read More
at Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Turf Time!

By Stacie Martin Gathering Place is known for its sustainable and diverse landscape features including prairies, flowers, trees, and a variety of plants. Additionally, the multitude of pathways, attractions, and activities lead to a particular, unique plant underfoot- turfgrass! Turfgrass is invaluable in a Park setting, giving visitors the opportunity to run up hills, enjoy events, and have delightful picnics.  Turfgrass can require more maintenance than trees, shrubs, and perennial... Read More
at Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Water & Irrigation

By Stacie Martin Why do plants need water? Plants are made up of 90% water and use it for many different plant processes including food creation through photosynthesis, carbon dioxide exchange, cooling through transpiration, and meeting the cells requirement for plant structure. Plants that are newly planted or have sustained construction damage require more water than established plants. This is because their root systems are smaller. Watering at Gathering Place is one of the most essent... Read More
at Saturday, August 1, 2020

A Prairie Story

By Stacie Martin Wild Design The gardens at Gathering Place are wild! We have 16 acres of prairie, designed by Michael Van Valkenburg Associates and Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, and we are very proud of them. The prairies can be found throughout the Park, roadways, and trails. The various prairies at Gathering Place are modeled after different Oklahoma ecosystems.     As you enter the Park on John Williams Way, the areas surrounding the round are tall grassland with smal... Read More
at Tuesday, June 23, 2020