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New Addition Open at Linnaeus Teaching Gardens

Midtown Tulsa’s Linnaeus Teaching Gardens have been growing.

The Peggy Helmerich Horticulture Center adds classroom space and gets rid of a couple metal storage sheds blocking views of the arboretum. Peggy Helmerich started an effort to build the center six years ago and says the final straw was finding dump trucks parked in the way.

"And I said, 'What are you guys doing here?' And they said, 'We park here. We're supposed to be down about a mile and a half, but this is so good and so convenient,'" Helmerich said. "And I said, 'You gotta be kidding me. This is the treasure of midtown. This is the rose garden. You can't do this to us.'"

The gardens' director of horticulture, Barry Fugatt is happy to have the additional space.

"And this building will be booked almost continuously through the next gardening year to teach youngsters and seniors, young married couples coming, wanting information on how to landscape their home and how to grow veggies and on and on," Fugatt said.

Linnaeus gardener John Orsulak said before the horticulture center’s opening, gardeners mostly worked out of a barn.

"The barn is original. It's over 100 years old, so it has limitations," Orsulak said during the grand opening celebration. "It's more of a welcome center, so you don't have the room to do something like this, even, with large groups, so this is just opening up, doubling the size of what we can use."

The new center was designed in a Kentucky horse barn style to match the existing barn.

Peggy Helmerich and the Helmerich Trust donated most of the money for the $1.6 million project. The city performed some site work.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.