Wednesday, May 22, 2024 May 22, 2024
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The Hidden Gems of the Dallas Arboretum

A closer look at the city's favorite garden.
Elizabeth Lavin

If He Plants It…

Dave Forehand has put down many roots in the city’s favorite garden.

Dave Forehand arguably has the most beautiful office in Dallas—the grounds of the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden, where he has strolled day in and day out for 17 years as the organization’s vice president of gardens. His tenure has included the development of many additions to the lakeside arboretum, including the Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden.

Yet even amid the gardens of plenty, he has been known to single out a few favorite spots and hidden gems that visitors may have overlooked. “As you approach A Woman’s Garden, there are a couple of dawn redwoods, a cousin to the California redwoods,” he says. Here? “They were thought to be extinct, but were found in a remote valley in California. Pacific redwoods won’t grow here, but these are more adapted. They’re not as tall; they do get wide in diameter.”

Another favorite, also in A Woman’s Garden, is a bronze statue of a fawn with four frogs at her feet on loan from the Dallas Museum of Art. It was commissioned for the Texas Centennial Exposition at Fair Park in 1936. The newest garden for Forehand to add to his rounds is A Tasteful Place. “We’re bringing the garden into the kitchen,” he says. Roll up your sleeves, put on your gloves, find a good knife, pull up a chair. You can bet Dave Forehand won’t be too far behind.

The Arboretum during Dallas Blooms, which returns on February 24.

How Dave’s Garden Grows

It’s hard for a plant guy to start naming names, even if it’s plants he loves. “In my life, I’ve loved every plant that ever existed at some point or another.”

Yet he knows that a Dallas garden is not a Colorado garden, a Boston garden, or an English garden. So he copes, and happily so. Below are some of his picks for a beautiful garden amid the highs and lows of Dallas’ climate.

Maple Marvels:
Forehand loves Japanese maples for their brilliant color and ease of growing. They’re small trees that do well in morning sun and afternoon shade. Planted under a larger tree or by themselves, they’re a statement-making addition to your landscape and easy to maintain.

Pear Pleasure:
Anything edible is a plus. Forehand favors Kieffer pear trees for their good looks and adaptability to Dallas.

Good and Leafy:
Forehand has had good luck with artichoke plants in his own garden. Last year, he recalls, one especially cold day knocked out an artichoke plant, but it immediately started sending up shoots when the weather warmed up. “I must have had 50 artichokes from it,”
he says.

They’re a pleasure to watch grow, and good for the garden, too. Host plants such as salvia, gaura, and pentas attract butterflies and hummingbirds and other pollinators.

Water wise:
Don’t overwater a mature garden or underwater new plants, especially young trees. “The tree pulls all the water out of the root ball to stay alive. It needs to be well watered,” he says.