Garden Writers Symposium
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
September 28-Oct 1, 2007


As a member of the GWA we all look forward to the Annual Symposiums. They are held in places that many of us have not visited before and sometimes they surprise you…this was one of those…Oklahoma City was remarkable, not just for the sights we saw but also the people who live there…we had a blast and I know I look forward to Portland in 2008!

The symposium started with registration and in the afternoon new members were greeted at their own reception, then the booths opened up for us to discover what was new in the way of plants, tools and new garden information. This evening I was invited to dinner at the Museum of Art, in the Museum Cafe where cowboy hats sat at each place setting…with pink ribbon around the brim! The Museum is incredible and with much to see, including the permanent Dale Chihuly exhibit. We were greeting in the foyer in fact with one of his pieces that I heard was about 60 feet tall…very impressive and very magical with his trademark angels among the glass pieces. For those of us not invited out to supplier dinners this evening, there was the official reception and keynote speaker to attend.

The next day was up early, have breakfast and then head out to see some gardens! We visited the Oklahoma State University, OKS campus to see the AAS display garden and the AAS flower and vegetable trial garden along with a fun stop at the local market which was right next door to these gardens. After this we visited the Minick Garden, which showcased the many uses of stone and finally the beautiful and huge working ranch called Express Ranch…Wow, we were all blown away with the size of this place, the gorgeous water garden, the expanse of land, the oil derrick on the land and of course the Clydesdale horse that they have brought over for us to look at.

In the afternoon I took the opportunity to visit the Myriad Botanical Gardens, just down the street from our hotel, the Sheraton Oklahoma City. It was beautiful inside and outside, there was a very hot wedding going on…in fact we met the bride in the giftshop where we were cooling down and of course checking out the goodies. The Myriad was a cornucopia of plants…truly a wonderful place to visit. Then back to the supplier booths to snoop around some more for some cool new stuff.

Our Annual Business meeting was held bright and early Sunday morning, always with a nice breakfast though, then it was time to head out again to see more of Oklahoma. There were buses for us so that we could get on and go to specific places including downtown, Bricktown, and some private gardens. We also had the opportunity to visit the OKC National Memorial, which was so beautifully done…it was incredible to know that what once was is now this. Also worthy of mention is the 80 year old American Elm tree on the property that is now called the Survivor Tree. The tree was almost cut down to recover pieces used as evidence that hung from its branches yet this tree has come back…as a beacon of hope. Truly remarkable how trees want to live and bring a sense of peace to our lives. Then we visited the McMayhill & Baker Garden. This was truly an eclectic mix and it worked…everyone was smitten by it and some came back for more. This evening we attended a very special event at Deep Fork Tree Farm and Arcadia Farm…who knew a tree farm could be so much fun!! On the way out we stopped at the biggest soda pop bottle you will ever see and sampled the many different kinds of soda…delicious! Each species of tree was labeled with these beautiful signs and each section was perfect – what a showplace for trees. We toured Arcadia Farm in hay wagons…what a hoot that was, just trying to stay on…there were plenty of stations along the way serving up all kinds of gourmet treats and by the time we actually got to the dinner…we could have been full. The centerpieces of flowers were beautiful and the deserts were so good!

On Monday after breakfast we visited the Nichols Hills area…a very upscale village surrounded by the city. As you can see by the pictures, it was truly a great time. Then it was time to get back to the hotel and change for our GWA Awards Banquet that was held at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. Now I would be the first to tell you that I am not into cowboys, but this museum was a place that everyone should see when they come to OK. Talk about moving…right from the beginning with the statue of the tired native American on his horse…I was so moved by it…then all the other paintings that showed the life of the cowboy…it was truly an eye opener for me. Outside, the grounds are peaceful and full of sculptures among the trees, ponds and flowers. There are four distinct gardens to wander through as well as a wonderful area for children.

Another year has come and gone and with that new friends and old friends met and had a wonderful time on Route 66. Thanks to all for organizing such a memorable symposium for us! We not only saw your beautiful city and surrounding areas, but we learned so much from all of the sessions presented.




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