For students at Oklahoma Christian University, attending a university located close to 10 miles from downtown Oklahoma City, OK means easy access to all the amenities it has to offer. One popular location, the Myriad Botanical Gardens and Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory, celebrates its 30th anniversary this month.
According to its website, the Myriad Gardens originally opened March 25, 1988 and hosted over 200,000 visitors in its first five months of operation. In 2011, the gardens underwent a $30 million makeover and saw a range of upgrades including a dog park, ice skating rink, amphitheater and more.
Senior Shaylin Hicks said she was an Oklahoma Christian tour guide during her sophomore and junior year and always mentioned activities students might enjoy in downtown Oklahoma City, OK. She said the Myriad Gardens are a popular location for students to visit.
“[During tours], I always mention the Myriad Gardens, just because every time you go down there, it’s either always busy or they’re always building something in the garden to make it more appealing,” Hicks said. “I just feel like anytime a group goes downtown, you’re always going to somehow walk through the Myriad Gardens.”
Although the gardens are located directly across the street from the tallest buildings in the city, Hicks said it is a beautiful place to enjoy the tranquility of nature. She said her fiancé proposed to her in the Myriad Gardens, so the location is particularly memorable for her.
“To me, the Myriad Gardens will always hold a special place in my heart, just because that’s where kind of my life changed,” Hicks said. “There’s something just about being in a garden— walking around on a stone path—that just makes it different than just walking on the sidewalk or something like that. I just think a lot of focus is around the buildings and a lot of people kind of forget about the nature of downtown.”
Oklahoma Christian Director of Freshman Experience Kirby Killen said her department used the Myriad Gardens as the venue for a concert in 2015 during freshman orientation, which is known as Earn Your Wings. She said the performers were the Vanderzees, who previously attended Oklahoma Christian.
“We wanted to be able to show off Oklahoma City to our freshman class, letting them know that a super cool, growing city is just next door,” Killen said.
Hicks, who works as the university’s welcome center coordinator, said Oklahoma Christian’s events office has not hosted an event in the gardens, but she has heard positive things about other events students have attended there. She said it could be a good location for an ethos event or student activity in the future.
“We could always incorporate some part of downtown—especially the Myriad Gardens—here at OC,” Hicks said. “I think there’s just so many events you could have there, but you would have to pick the right time of year.”
In addition to the Myriad Gardens’ close proximity to the university, Killen said the gardens provide an environment for students to get off campus and have fun in a comfortable environment. She said her experience working with the staff at the gardens was positive and easy.
“Everything was clean and ready for us when we got there,” Killen said. “The environment is so pretty and even feels a little secluded for those that maybe aren’t a fan of city life.”
To celebrate their 30 years of operation, the gardens will provide the public with free admission Sunday, March 25 from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.