As Muskogee’s Parks & Recreation Superintendent from 1948 to1977, Art Johnson was responsible for the planting of the now famous Azalea Gardens in Honor Heights Park. Less well known was his passion for dogwoods. The dogwood has special interest every season of the year: in spring with flowers; in summer with beautiful foliage; in fall with brilliant red berries and vivid autumn color; in winter because of its picturesque horizontal manner of branching. The arboretum began with over sixty varieties of Dogwood trees and shrubs. Enhancing the existing arboretum program, it offers exposure of the collection to a variety of visitors including tourists, scientists, students and walkers.
Honor Heights Park and its Arboreta are members of the Oklahoma Botanical Garden and Arboreta, a statewide organization supporting gardens of trees, flowers, shrubs and fauna for education and pleasure.
C. Clay Harrell Arboretum
The C. Clay Harrell Arboretum, dedicated on June 20, 1992 is named in honor of C. Clay Harrell, Muskogee’s former City Manager, founder of “A More Beautiful Muskogee” and tireless advocate for community beatification. The Arboretum’s winding paths and scenic pond provide visitors a comfortable place for observation and contemplation while also illustrating proper planting and maintenance procedures for a variety of landscape trees both native and adaptable to Oklahoma’s climate. The trees in the collection are sponsored as memorials and honoraria through donations. A plaque by each tree commemorates the name of the person or group being memorialized along with information about the tree including its common name, scientific name, and optimum sunlight and soil conditions.
Art Johnson Memorial Dogwood Collection
Elbert L. Little, Jr. Native Tree Collection
The Elbert L. Little, Jr. Native Tree Collection, dedicated on June 17, 1993, offers visitors a chance to see and study the diverse forest ecologies of Oklahoma and their economic, aesthetic and ecologic contribution to the state. The trees are grouped in their own natural habitat with elements of their indigenous ecologies incorporated. The collection is named for Elbert L. Little Jr., a native of Muskogee and author of 24 books including the reference book and field guide, Forest Trees of Oklahoma.