Gardens of The Learning Fields
Garden #1 Welcome Garden
The Welcome Garden is beside the steps to the Isaac Witt Education building and along the walkway from the south parking lot. The garden is designed to welcome visitors and demonstrates options for foundation planting. We use perennials to give constant blooms from early spring to late fall.
Garden #2 Vegetable Garden
This is a 20 x 40 foot demonstration garden designed to feed a family of four to six. The garden is used to educate those who have never grown their own vegetables. The garden demonstrates spring, summer and fall gardening.
We grow vegetables that a majority of families would like to grow and eat. We try at least one unfamiliar vegetable as a learning example. We have room to rotate the crops. The garden area along the fence has been added for vining crops. Smaller gardens were added for corn and blueberries. While not organic, we use very little pesticides and have compost from the landfill to improve the soil.
The soil is tested yearly by the University of Arkansas Extension office. This service is free to every resident of Arkansas.
Newley added to our garden is one raised bed for senior citizens. It is 33” x 48” x 16 ft. long. The bed is filled with garden soil and amended with compost.
Garden #3 Medicinal Herb Garden
Our medicinal herb garden demonstrates the second oldest use of plants, after food for the ailments of mankind. The quadrant design for these beds has been used since medieval times. The plants themselves are mostly common herbs, often thought of as cooking herbs but almost all have medical value. The herbs are commonly used externally on the body as antiseptics. We have learned that some can be harmful for your health if taken internally ie. Comfrey. Many healers and herb doctors distributed medicinal herbs with beneficial effect, but we discourage using plants in the medicinal beds for that purpose. THESE BEDS ARE FOR EDUCATIUONAL PURPOSES ONLY.
Garden #4 The Herb Spiral
This garden was designed based on a unique European design. The raised bed provides good drainage and warm soil for the plants. The water feature at the end of the spiral helps cool the bed in summer and warms it a little in the spring. Most of the herbs in this garden are used for cooking. This garden was created and is maintained by the Master Gardener Herb Committee Herbal Adventures.
Garden #5 Memorial Fountain. Serene landscape for meditation and memories.
Garden #6 Traditional Asian vegetables and mints. Producing Asian vegetables and mints in raised beds.
Garden #7 Rose Garden
The rose garden is maintained by a Rose Society member and is designed to demonstrate how to grow and care for roses in our locale. The garden features old and new varieties.
Garden #8 3 Sisters Garden
Heirloom seeds of corn, squash and beans. Demonstrates the native American technique of companion growing with squash to shade the corn roots and corn stalks provide structure for beans to climb. See our website for full story.
Garden #9 Ray Baker Rose Garden.
The Ray Baker Rose Garden is a memorial to the late Ray Baker, Mayor for Fort Smith for 20 years (1990-2010). The “Rose” is the official flower of Fort Smith. The Ray Baker Rose was developed, propagated and patented by the Fort Smith Rose Society in honor of Ray Baker. The Ray Baker Rose is a unique and beautiful red hybrid tea rose grafted on Fortuniana Root Stock. The Rose Society was founded in 1938 and maintains care of the garden.
Garden #10 Butterfly Garden
The Butterfly Habitat Garden is designed to showcase plants for attracting butterflies and hosting caterpillars. The beds host 5 major families of butterflies that are in the River Valley. If you look closely, you may find a beautiful baby butterfly chomping away on the leaves of a host plant. The Monarch butterfly portion is a Monarch waystation garden. There are many ideas that you can incorporate in your home garden to provide an oasis for butterflies in your neighborhood.
Garden #11 Cutting Garden
This garden shows what plants can be grown for floral arrangements. Flowers in this garden start popping in early spring and leave us in late fall. Fresh flowers available for cutting almost year-round.
Garden #12 Blackberry Patch
In the blackberry garden we are growing thornless primocane and floricane varieties developed and released by the U of A. Our goals are to (1.) Demonstrate the planting, fertilization, irrigation, pruning, trellising, and maintenance of these plants and (2) evaluate berry production and quality.
Garden #13 Compost Demonstration Garden
Compost is an essential product that will enrich any garden. Composting is a process of combining organic materials normally discarded, such as grass clippings, leaves, kitchen leftovers and garden plants. This process allows nature to break down the coarse materials into useable product to be tilled back into the garden. I call it “garbage to black gold”. Come see the process working at the compost demonstration site.
Garden #14 Blueberry Garden
The goals of this blueberry garden are to (1) demonstrate the planting, fertilization, irrigation, pruning, and maintenance of these plants and (2) determine which varieties do we in the River Valley. The garden contains Rabbiteye, Southern Highbush and Northern Highbush varieties.
Garden #15 open to be adopted by Master Gardeners or members of the community.
Garden #16 Children’s Garden
A garden for children to have a safe and fun place to learn how to plant, grow and harvest plants. The children who accompany their parents to The Learning Fields quickly get bored looking at grownup projects. This garden is designed to let the young generation learn where their food comes from while participating in activities in a safe educational environment.
Garden #17 Labyrinth Garden
Labyrinths are known to have existed for thousands of years and ancient ones have been found among many cultures, including American Indian, African, Celtic, Greek, French and Italian. The labyrinth at The Learning Fields is a winding single path that leads to and from the center of the labyrinth. Along the path are many plants such as Green Santolina, Lavender, Echinacea, Black-eyed Susan’s and Red Hot Poker. Above the rock bench seat is a Muscadine grapevine. There is no wrong way to walk the labyrinth, so just take your time, relax, enjoy and leave your stress behind.
Garden# 18 Native Plant Garden
The garden provides examples of native Arkansas plants and a bog garden. Native plants are our heritage and provide extraordinary benefits for people and wildlife. This garden encourages habitat biodiversity. It is our intentions to encourage the public to use native plants for landscaping around their homes and gardens to bring back a portion of that Native Plant Garden Habitat.
Native plants are adapted to our region and after becoming established native plants require little water or care.
Native plants provide important ecosystem services and are valuable resources for pollinators and many birds, insects and more. Find practical ways to incorporate these plants into your landscape.
Garden #19 The Rock Garden.
The rock art garden displays a cheerful and creative combination of seasonal live flowers and painted rocks. Visitors will find in the spring colorful painted snakes, a dragon fly, a butterfly, turtles, a mama cat and kittens, rabbits, a duck, lady bugs as well as fruits, vegetables and flowers surrounded by Liriope and vinca. During the winter, the garden will have pumpkins, bats, fall leaves, candy corns, squirrels, Christmas wreaths, snowman and snowflakes. A clay pot horse named Scooty’s watches over the garden at all times.
Garden #20 Gourd Patch
The gourd patch demonstrates simple, inexpensive ways to grow a crop in a much smaller space, than usually required. Growing vertically on sturdy supports saves space, allows air circulation to reduce disease and provides easy access and inspection of the growing vines and fruit for early identification and eradication of any pest.
Garden #21 Fig Trial
A ten-year plant trial to determine what fig trees will grow and produce in the River Valley. Preliminary results posted on our website with a final report in 2025.
Fig trees that are proving out are propagated and can be purchased in our spring plant sale.
Garden #22 The Gazebo Garden
The Gazebo Garden focus is on edible landscape. The plantings range from low growing ground covers to shrubs and trees. The garden also contains an off-grid water feature. Note the muscadine plants along the sidewalk.
The Great Tomato and Market Garden. Under Construction.
Produce for Learning Fields income. Produce will be sold to raise money to support The Learning Fields.
Garden #23 The Pumpkin Patch
The Pumpkin Patch demonstrates how to grow pumpkins in your own backyard or garden.
Garden #24 The Gelene Gish MacDowell Wildflower meadow.
The south side is a wildflower meadow which changes and progresses each year.
The north end is a sunflower field. Photo opportunities abound!
Garden #25 The Beehives
The beehive at The Learning Fields is a special garden designed to grow the world’s most effective pollinators. The beehive project is a primary contributor to The Learning Fields and is financially self-supporting through the harvest of natural honey and by products.
Garden # 26 Arkansas Native Tree Arboretum
Alongside the military walking trail that runs through old Fort Chaffee you will find native trees of Arkansas. The Abortorium goal is to return all native trees that once flourished in Arkansas.
Garden #27 The Elephant Topiaries. Located at the north end of the wildflower meadow. Under construction.
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