Jaime Green's lyrical documentary ventures up the garden paths and down the Euphrates Creek, exploring how this 100-year-old wood made it into our lives today. This short film was underwritten by the Kansas Humanities Council as part of initiative Kansans Tell Their Stories for the state's 150th anniversary.
Located 20 miles south of Wichita, the century-old, historic Bartlett Arboretum is home to massive cypress, oaks and champion Japanese maples. For nearly 100 years many generations of Kansans have enjoyed this unique sanctuary once touted as "the only mature arboretum between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains."
In 1910 Dr. Walter Bartlett, a general practitioner from Belle Plaine, purchased about 40 acres of pastureland along a winding stream called the Euphrates Creek. A consummate naturalist, Dr. Bartlett collected waterfowl and minerals, but the hobby that continued throughout his lifetime and into a second century and a fourth generation was his passion for horticulture and his varied collection of trees. In the 1930s the arboretum became an approved government testing ground; the Department of Agriculture sent plants and trees from all over the world to Belle Plaine to see if they could be grown locally. In 1926 the first Tulip Festival was held at the arboretum and it was open each year until 1942 when World War II made it impossible to get help or import bulbs. In celebration of the 1961 Kansas State Centennial the garden was again open to the public and then closed officially for good in the mid-1990s.
In its mature state the arboretum has great educational value. Each year many students of botany visit the grounds. But mostly it remains a haven for wildlife, artists, nature and bird lovers, brides and grooms. The Bartlett Arboretum is privately owned and is not endowed or subsidized. Current steward Robin Macy and her volunteers are in the process of restoring the grounds, rebuilding bridges, removing dead and diseased plant material and trees in an effort to preserve this favorite retreat. Although the property is no longer open daily to the public, Ms. Macy makes the gardens available for educational purposes, concerts on the lawn and for private functions.