October is a time for orchids at the Myriad Botanical Gardens and the annual Orchids in October Luncheon is set for 11:30 a.m. on Thursday. The event is a fundraiser for The Gardens and a time to honor the recipient of the 2012 R. Tolbert III Crystal Orchid Award — J. Larry Nichols, CEO of Devon Energy.
“The James R. Tolbert III Crystal Orchid Award is the highest honor we at the Myriad Botanical Gardens can bestow upon a person,” Maureen Heffernan, Myriad Botanical Gardens executive director, said.
The decision to honor Nichols with the award was an easy one, said Christine Eddington, the Gardens director of marketing and communications.
“Larry Nichols’ contribution to downtown Oklahoma City, and in fact the entire state, is second to none,” Eddington said. “We couldn’t think of a more fitting person to bestow our award upon.”
Nichols’ most celebrated contributions to the footprint of downtown Oklahoma City include a makeover of the Gardens area, which was largely funded by a tax increment finance district created by the construction of the Devon Energy Center across the street from the Gardens.
“This is an amenity for everybody,” Nichols said in an October 2011, interview with The Oklahoman’s Steve Lackmeyer.
“Without Larry Nichols’ passion and support for the Gardens, our improvements would not have occurred. His vision and dedication are a gift to everyone who sets foot in the gardens today, tomorrow and for generations to come,” Heffernan said.
Eddington describes the $42 million makeover of the 17-acre grounds of the Myriad Botanical Gardens:
New features include spacious entry plazas, a Children’s Garden, a new visitors’ information center, a grand event lawn and pavilion, a dog park, a seasonal activity plaza and numerous water features.
The Groves, a sycamore tree-lined path along the west side of the Gardens, was inspired by the Tuileries Garden in Paris, France.
The Grand Event Lawn can hold up to 2,500 visitors or provide 28,000 square feet of space for smaller groups to throw around a football, have a picnic, or enjoy any number of passive and active activities.
The Myriad Botanical Gardens’ outdoor grounds include gently rolling hills.
Hundreds of trees, including both native and non-native species, are planted throughout the grounds.
The Gardens’ lake covers two acres and is fed by the existing water table 22 feet below street level. The lake is home to several varieties of fish including goldfish and Japanese koi, some of which reach as large as 20 pounds.
Situated on the lake next to the Crystal Bridge, the Water Stage provides seating for more than 500 people. It has become a popular spot for concerts, theatrical productions, weddings and other special events.
Dotting the outdoor grounds, amid the lake and gardens, stand several large sculptures. Some were purchased by the city of Oklahoma City and some were donated; all are unique and beautiful.