The Children's Garden at Stephen F. Austin State University in Historic Nacogdoches

The Children's Garden in Historic Nacogdoches

The Children's Garden at Stephen F. Austin University in Historic Nacogdoches

The Children's Garden is one of several theme gardens at Stephen F. Austin University's Mast Arboretum,
a 19 acre horticultural complex located in the eastern university district between Wilson and
University Drives on the banks of La Nana Creek. Mast Arboretum, the 8 acre Specialized
Ruby Mize Azalea Garden, and the 40-acre Piney Woods Native Plant Center are ongoing
horticultural projects of the Departments of Foresty and Agriculture at Stephen F. Austin
State University. The purpose of these projects is to acquire, develop, study, conserve and
promote native, ornamental, rare, and hybrid plants and woody species of the southern forests;
to study the flora, fauna and ecosystems of East Texas; to provide an educational and aesthetic
environment for students, visitors, and local citizens; and to showcase demonstration gardens
that are models of horticultural practice and garden aesthetics and design.

The Children's Garden at the north end of Mast Arboretum is recognized
for its timber framed Pavilion, a 28 square foot solid-wood post and lintel structure that won
the Excellence in Wood Design Award sponsored by the Texas Forestry Association when it was
erected in 1998. The Pavilion serves as an outdoor classroom and link between local school districts
and the university to promote awareness of the environment and horticultural practices. Surrounding
the Pavilion are gardens containing 75 cultivars of herbaceous perennials and woody plants
including Abelia and Vitrex trials and a Fruit Collection.

The Bronze Sculpture of 3 Children fishing from a log over
the water garden contributes to the aesthetic design of the Children's Garden. On a
smaller scale the sculpture repeats the triangular rhythms of the pavilion and converts
its geometric abstraction into a diminutive personification. A flying or aerodynamic triangle with
an upward curving lower line is formed by the convex log of the sculpture, the horizontal main beams
of the Pavilion, and the horizon of the sky, with a sequenced set of enclosures from smaller to greater
being: (1) sculpture, pavilion, horizon; (2) water, earth, sky; and (3) human, abstract, ethereal. The
sculpture of the children playing implies, in the imagination of the visitor, the carefree, original first garden
of the past. Walking over That Water by the small bridge we enter into the second garden, that of the Pavilion
representing this moment of time. The Pavilion, as the middle garden, yokes the unattainable imagined garden of the
ethereal future with the imagined carefree perfect garden of the past. Only in the art of the Pavilion can the other two gardens
be known: Where those unrealizable states of perfect past and future gardens are transformed into the work of art in this moment
of time, and where art, at any given time, though always imperfect, represents the highest level of perfection that can ever be known.

(Next Picture: A Sculpture in the Children's Garden)