About the Gardens
Guests are invited to take a walking tour of the gardens or listen to a free audio tour that provides a history of the home, the Phillips family, and information about the landscape architects and their design. The essence of the garden design continues to be Italianate, complementing Villa Philbrook with outdoor spaces for viewing nature. The south garden boasts a sensory garden complete with meditative niches, created from plant materials and wrought iron featuring similar arch designs found in Villa Philbrook.
Visitors can observe many newly planted native Oklahoma plants, a variety of pathways, bridges, a sculpture walk, and a refurbished creek. Ease of access is achieved with all trails connecting and ADA accessibility available throughout the gardens.
The formal gardens to the east that descend to the tempietto were part of the original design and construction, while the gardens extending to the summerhouse at the south of the property were conceived later and completed in 2004.
History of the Gardens
The breathtaking art inside Philbrook can hardly be separated from the breathtaking nature surrounding it. A trip through the gardens leaves a lasting impression on young and old alike.
The original garden designs were a collaborative effort between S. Herbert Hare of Hare & Hare, Landscape Architects & City Planners and Edward Buehler Delk, architect, both of Kansas City, Missouri. Working in tandem with Delk, Hare created a design for Villa Philbrook that combined Italian, English and French garden iconography and featured plants native to the area. The strict geometry of the triple-ramped, walled and gated garden stretches past the balustrade walk, grotto and mirror pond into an area of repose, where the gracefully scaled tempietto marks a point of termination. Beyond the special hierarchy of the formal garden lies the pastoral grove. In their scheme for Villa Philbrook, the architects were clearly inspired by Villa Lante, an Italian country estate north of Rome designed by Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola in 1566.
In 2002, Howell & Vancuren completed plans for a major garden renovation with the approval and support of Elliot Phillips, son of Waite and Genevieve Phillips. This new era in the life of Philbrook's gardens was completed in 2004, creating a lush, fresh look for a botanical treasure and true work of art.
Friends of the Gardens
Friends of the Garden is a group of Philbrook supporters who are passionate about Philbrook's gardens and who share this interest with other garden enthusiasts in our community.
Funding from Friends of the Garden supports our annual garden operating expenses. This group also sponsors public lectures on garden design, landscape architecture and other related topics. Members attend VIP events with nationally-recognized speakers and enjoy custom-designed travel to distinguished gardens.