Garden Destination: Garvan Gardens, Lake Hamilton Shore, Arkansas

garvan garden chapel

Completed and dedicated in 2006, the Anthony Chapel, designed by Jennings + McKee is the new star of the Garvan Gardens.   Garvan Gardens is located on the shores of Lake Hamilton and is the creation and gift of Verna Cook Garvan.

From the Garvan Gardens website:

“The site for Garvan Woodland Gardens was purchased in the 1920’s after a clear-cut in about 1915. Mrs. Garvan loved this beautiful place so much that she never allowed it to be cut again. In 1956 she began to develop it as a garden and possible future residence. She was intimately familiar with the land and laid out each path, marking every tree to be removed. Verna also personally chose each new plant and selected its location.

Over the next forty years, Mrs. Garvan planted thousands of specimens which now form an impressive collection. There are hundreds of rare shrubs and trees, some over 40 years old.”

The Anthony Chapel is an extraordinary work of art that highlights the beauty of the natural elements and the dense woods that surround it. The soaring 57-foot, open-rafter ceiling, supported by massive pine columns and crossbeams and provides beautiful views of Lake Hamilton.  It reminded me immediately of the Wayfarers Chapel (built by Frank Lloyd Wright’s son) near where my in laws live in Palos Verdes, CA.  It is unsurprising since both have an FLW connection.

Upon her death, Mrs. Garvan left the property to the Department of Landscape Architecture through the University of Arkansas Foundation. ,

It was Mrs. Garvan’s wish that the Gardens be used to educate and serve the people of Arkansas, providing them the joy and repose it had offered her. She noted the devastation of the environment that had taken place in her lifetime and wished to preserve a remnant of the twentieth century’s natural grandeur for generations to come.

image from the becker

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rochelle greayer

Hi, I'm Rochelle and for 18 years I have worked as a landscape designer, author/writer, and design teacher. I've designed residential and hospitality (for hotels, restaurants, and spas) gardens across the USA and in the UK, Europe and the Middle East. After many years of teaching garden design topics in person, I launched the PITH + VIGOR Boot Camp series in early 2018. Through my blog, social media, and online courses (Garden Design Bootcamp and Planting Design Boot Camp) I aim to help homeowners learn how to confidently design and create home gardens that reflect their own personal and unique style.


  1. jil casey on June 7, 2011 at 11:57 pm


  2. Steph N on June 8, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    What the chapel really reminds me of is Thorncrown Chapel in Eureka Springs.

  3. Vicki Wright on September 23, 2011 at 8:01 pm

    This also reminds me of Thorncrown Chapel in Eureka Springs as well as The Marty Leonard Chapel in Fort Worth Texas. Both were designed by Fay Jones who studied under Frank Lloyd Wright.

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