Back in 1987, a group of volunteers and staff formulated a master plan for the Dallas Arboretum.  An important part of that plan was adding a formal entrance and visitor center for the gardens.

Just last month, after more than 15 years of planning and two years of construction, that vision became a reality with the opening of the Trammell Crow Visitor Education Pavilion.

“We knew we had to have an official entrance to the garden, to welcome guests and interpret what they’ll see that day,” says Arboretum president Mary Brinegar.  “Until now, we’ve just had the entrance booth, where we’d give you a map and hop our greeters and guides would help you find your way.  This will be a much more efficient and professional process.”

At the new entrance, visitors will still receive a map and help from greeters and guides, but they also can watch an orientation film before they begin their tour.  Nearby is a new dining area, serving light meals and coffee, and a gift shop that’s twice the size of the old one.

But while those areas are important additions, they’re actually a small part of the facilities’ six new buildings.  More space means more classes – for children and adults – which can now be offered nearly year-round, with subjects ranging from raising bulbs, orchids and herbs to using lighting, irrigation and wood in landscaping.

The pavilion also includes new offices for Arboretum staff and volunteers; something Brinegar says was sorely needed.

“In the Degolyer home, we had always hidden our staff away in basements and back rooms,” she says.  “Now they have a civilized place to work.  They can be so much more productive.”

Naturally, the facilities are surrounded by beautiful gardens.

“You will not believe the horticulture that’s gone into it,” Brinegar says. “Container pots everywhere you look, huge mums everywhere, a sea of yellow, orange and green.”

Cindy Timms, a neighborhood resident and Arboretum board member, says she thinks the pavilion is a good match for what the original planners had in mind.

“I think it fits in very well with the original vision,” she says.  “And it will fit in even better three or four years from now, when the plants bring the gardens to the building, and the building to the garden.  As time goes by, it will be a very nice addendum to the Arboretum.”

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