George Deatz outside the Botanical CenterGeorge Deatz stands outside the Botanical Center during a Grand Opening function in October of 2010.It's hard to believe that my third year as president of Friends of the Garden is over. As you know a lot of great things have developed around the Botanical Center & Gardens this past year with the help of our many volunteers and all of our members.

The Azalea Garden is in place with the exception of some stone work and the foot bridge; it was adopted by Kim Hutter. The Winter Garden phase one is complete with phase two already underway. The concept was introduced by Bill Roston with the working design by Gail Wright. Bill Roston is currently designing and working on a water feature for the garden.

A major donor agreed to fund construction and maintenance of the Kay Cummins Finnie Memorial Dogwood Garden. A first class design by Katie Steinhoff is in place and work on the garden has already begun. The Ethnic Tree Trail Memorial, including 32 black gum trees, donated by Jim Mauldin and his group is almost complete.

A paved sandstone area with arbor were installed for weddings and other events in the Dwarf Conifer Garden. The gardens all have an official "adopter" including Avis Holloway who joined the Dwarf Conifer Garden crew of Ed and Ruby Miller.

All of the Close Memorial Park gardens we wanted on automatic irrigation (the Rose Garden isn't included due to potential problems with disease) are now on line with the completion of the Redbud Garden during November.

Merger of the Sensory Garden with the proposed Parks Department Kitchen Garden is a work in progress. The Entrance Garden has been redesigned by Katie Steinhoff to expanded it. Construction should be ready to start in 2012 with funding assistance from another private donor.

In Close Memorial Park we had three major "Garden Extreme Makeovers" in 2012. The Ornamental Grass Garden by Hannah Renner with her volunteers and the Hosta Garden organized by Tom Lakowske along with the Greater Ozarks Hosta Society. The Redbud Garden was brought to life by Stan Horsch working with a dedicated crew.

The Ozark Daylily Society members and Ozarks Regional Lily Society with Frank Mason worked hard on their respective gardens to improve their presentation to the public, these gardens should be a stand out this coming year. A major donation of plant material was provided the garden and the Missouri Native Plant Society planted it in an area developed by Friends of the Garden volunteers just south of the Wildflower Garden.

Three additional major improvements were made to the support structure of the gardens. A major donor funded an 810 foot section of blacktop trail along the east side of Close Memorial Park connecting the Mizumoto Japanese Stroll garden and the Gray-Campbell Farmstead to the South Creek Greenway. The trail base was graded with rock provided by the Parks Department. Electrical service was brought to the south side of Lake Drummond to serve the Dwarf Conifer Garden thanks to the efforts of Friends of the Garden members Ed Miller and Bob Childress working with the Parks Department. Finally Friends of the Garden and the Parks Department worked together to extended 4 inch water lines east and south of the new Botanical Center to help with the gardens complex irrigation system.

The Bill Roston Native Butterfly House had record attendance that exceeded 17,000 during 2011 keeping Scott Cunningham and his group of volunteer docents busy from mid May through September. The very successful Butterfly Festival repeated again last July, thanks to Cindy Wills and her group of over 100 volunteers. The end of September Lisa Bakerink with her group of volunteers held our second successful Monarch Watch Butterfly Tagging day. The Butterfly House Operations Group is planning to start a Junior Docent training program this coming spring centered around 5th graders with an adult partner.

During the year we participated in many community events from the Lawn & Garden Show, to Young Spouts, the Japanese Fall Festival, and the Botanical Center anniversary to name a few. Along the way we sponsored the 2011 January Bee Keeping Class, Tablescapes, the Easter Egg Roll, and Santa & Friends.

The merger of the Botanical Society of Southwest Missouri and FOG was officially completed the end of October. The new Japanese Gardening Group is at work to identify, prioritize, and plan the funding needed for maintenance projects throughout the Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden. The 7.5 acre garden has been adopted by Don and Nancy Schmidt working in conjunction with the Parks Department and other volunteers.

According to Kauleen, it looks like we have 1038 current members as of mid December. Katie Ryland has done an excellent job as our Membership Coordinator helping build our excellent membership base.

Of course, we have an excellent slate of new officers ready to take over in 2012; Nancy Hopkins, president; Christine Chiu, vice president; Cindy Baird, secretary; Brent Bothwell Palmer, treasurer.

I am quite sure there is more "news you can use" that I have missed! News like our excellent, informative website maintained by RJ Jacob. Plus our quality newsletter tucked inside each new issue of the fantastic Greene Magazine. Both are edited by George Freeman and distributed by his partner Mike Noggle.

Thank you for the commitment that you made this year to Friends of the Garden and our community asset, Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park, home of the Springfield-Greene County Botanical Center & Gardens.

I look forward to seeing you around the gardens during 2012.

My best regards,

George Deatz
President 2011