The Heritage Gardens project, which began in the spring of 2006, reflects the region’s prairie, native, and ranching cultures. It is a living, teaching collection on the campus of Chadron State College. The Gardens are a cultural, historical, and environmental learning space.
The Heritage Gardens around the Center consist of several distinct collections
- Located behind the Center, to the West, is Old Jules’ Orchard. This garden contains a sampling of small fruits and fruit trees that were grown by the Sandoz family. The plants, featured here, are still available to gardeners today.
- Immigrant Plants occupy a small bed to the southeast of the Center’s front steps. These non-native plants were brought by early permanent settlers to the High Plains.
- Traditional Plants of the Lakota are located just northeast of the front steps. These native plants were here before permanent settlers arrived and were used by the Lakota peoples as they traveled through this area.
- The Sandhills Collection is planted at the feet of the Mari Sandoz bronze figure. “Mari’s Prairie” includes many grasses and wildflowers collected, with permission, near her grave in Sheridan County.
- Woody Plants of the Pine Ridge grow beneath the shade trees on the east side of the Sandoz Center and throughout the Center landscape.
- The Claude Barr Collection showcases plants described in Barr’s definitive book Jewels of the Plains. Barr was a pioneer in the low-water gardening movement.
The Heritage Gardens at the Mari Sandoz High Plains Heritage Center will:
- Display and interpret plants used historically in traditional and permanent settlement cultures
- Continue the landscape work specified in the original plans for creating the Sandoz Center
- Broaden the holdings in the current plantings so they may be used as teaching collections for Range Management, American Literature, History, and Biology courses.
- Display and interpret native plants to help facilitate multicultural understanding of traditional plant uses
- Illustrate the components of High Plains ecosystems
- Provide hands-on learning opportunities for students at all levels.
- Develop the campus landscape setting to reflect the region’s prairie, native, and ranching cultures
- Illustrate the botanical diversity of the region which the College resides and serves.