Strolling Through the Gardens of Indianapolis

Experiencing the natural environments that Indianapolis has to offer

The Spring 2023 semester is coming to an end. Fall 2023 courses are opening up for registration, and professors are discussing exams. However, Spring also brings in beautiful, warm, sunny days and clear blue skies. With these weather conditions, many of the gardens and parks of Indianapolis are in bloom. 

If you want a great way to break away from the city scene and experience a more natural environment, here are three places in Indianapolis to visit. 

Holcomb Gardens is a 20-acre park and garden located on the Butler University campus and is accessible to anyone. Within this garden area are several walking paths, waterfalls, a lake, works of art and more. The park is connected to the Indianapolis Central Canal, running parallel to the area. More benefits of this park are the Garden House, the poets’ corner and the philosophers’ bench. The Garden House was built as a resting place for visitors and has a public restroom. A graduate of Butler University, Shelby Mohr, shared her perspective on the gardens during her time at Butler. 

“I loved the gardens. They are beautiful in the Fall and Spring. It was a great place to go and walk when I was stressed. It has a beautiful fountain and great paths,” Mohr said. “It is so pretty. I even did my senior pictures there.”

For students who love poetry and are interested in finding spaces to seek inspiration, the poet’s corner and the philosophers’ bench are excellent areas to explore. In the poets’ corner are benches with famous quotes carved into them from poets across history. Some featured poets include William Shakespeare, Matthew Arnold, Edna St. Vincent Millay and Lord Tennyson. 

At the philosophers’ bench is a bronze statue of Socrates, built by W.V. Casey. In this garden section, visitors can read quotes from famous philosophers such as Plato, Aristotle, John Locke, Jesus Christ and Mahatma Gandhi. This area offers an environment for students who want to spend time pondering philosophical ideals while also connecting to nature. 

A second garden to visit in Indianapolis is The Gardens, a feature of the Newfields Museum. IUPUI students get free memberships to the Newfields Museum and gain free access to The Gardens. This garden is a one-acre space with several sections to explore. One section is called the Formal Garden and contains fountains, walkways and plenty of plant life on display. Roses, evergreens and perennials are highlights. 

A more inclusive section of The Gardens is the Garden for Everyone which allows visitation for all visitors, no matter the physical limitations that someone might have. Sweet-scented flowers, bright, vibrant colors and a bronze sculpture are all notable features of this section. 

Newfields also has a pollinator survey that inquires about any creatures that may have been seen during time spent in The Garden.  This survey is a way for Newfields to find out about the pollinating insects that live or travel through The Gardens. Newfields encourages hosting pollinating creatures. One way the museum promotes this is through a small beehive in Tanner Orchard for them to live in.  

In this survey, individuals are encouraged to list where and when they saw the creature, what the creature looked like, if they know the species name, their confidence level in identification and if they were able to take a picture of the critter. This promotion is just one step Newfields is taking to encourage conservation in The Gardens. 

Lastly, Garfield Park Conservatory holds nearly 128 acres filled with trees, flowers and shrubbery. The Conservatory, a small area within Garfield Park, is an indoor garden for visitors to explore. Entrance to the outdoor park is free, but to experience the Conservatory, there is a $3 entrance fee. 

In the Conservatory, visitors will find exotic and tropical plants. Some of the plants found in the Conservatory include coffee trees, cacao trees, various tropical fruits, such as star fruit and mango trees, and much more. 

As well as tropical fruits and trees, the Conservatory holds more than 800 orchids. These flowers are rotated in and out of the greenhouse so visitors can experience a new exhibit each time they visit. For anyone looking to spend time exploring plants that they may have never seen in person before, the Garfield Park website offers a self-guided tour page so visitors can find out more about the plants that call this Conservatory their home.  

The Conservatory is also home to several koi fish who thrive within some of the water features inside the building. The temperature in the building is quite warm to suit the needs of the plants living inside, so plan accordingly.  

Living and working in a city, we can sometimes forget about the beauty that can be found in nature, and these parks and gardens offer the opportunity for us to reconnect with the world around us.

Alyssa Work (she/her) is a senior majoring in Communication Studies. She is also a social media intern, and this is her first year on the Campus Citizen team.

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