Public Gardens

Public gardens have proven to be Terra’s most powerful forum in our quest to design and build landscapes that teach, inspire and succeed.  To keep our finger on the pulse of the public garden world, we have been members and supporters of American Public Garden Association for more than two decades.  Our participation in APGA has also allowed us to forge lifelong relationships with active and retired public garden professionals who serve as trusted advisors and friends, strengthening our ability to do our job well.  We strive to serve gardens of all sizes and derive equal pleasure from helping new gardens get into the ground or empowering seasoned gardens to refocus and rebrand.


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Charles Kelley King, once the president of Ohio Brass Company, created a trust for his 47-acre estate to become a public garden upon his death, which occurred in 1953.  Since then, Kingwood has become one of the most beloved assets in Mansfield.  Yet, with the economic downturn of 2008 and the acquisition of an additional non-congruent 6 acres, the Trustees and Board felt it was time to create an overall master site plan.  They hired Terra Design Studios and our team members, The Seckel Group for architectural services, The Acorn Group for the interpretive narrative and EMD Consulting Group for strategic vision.  In collaboration, we prepared a Master Plan that elevates the story of the King legacy, improves the visitor experience and weaves in 21st century topics, such as environmental sustainability, culinary gardens and natural heritage. 

The Master Plan’s first phase, also designed by Terra and our team, is called The Garden Gateway Project.  It includes a 13,500 s.f. Garden Gateway Center, expanded green parking lot and updated maintenance facilities, renovation of the original Carriage House and its surrounding gardens, new Welcome Cypress Garden, Bosque, Draffan Event Terrace and Grand Perennial Garden.  The Grand Perennial Garden contrasts a traditional rainbow border garden, which follows the design principles of Rosemary Verey, with a contemporary Peit Oudolf-style New Perennial Meadow designed by Austin Eicheid.  The Auto Court, arrival Moat and entry bridge, and Welcome Cypress Garden highlight artful rainwater capture and cleanse.

Kingwood met, and exceeded, their $9 million capital campaign goal.  The Garden Gateway Project is under construction and is expected to open in the summer of 2020.

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Fellows Riverside Gardens is one of the true gems of Youngstown, Ohio. It occupies the northern-most tip of Mill Creek Metroparks, and enjoys commanding views of Lake Glacier to the south and Youngstown’s skyline to the north. Terra Design Studios began a revision to the Master Plan in 2006 which included an intense public participation phase to develop a sound program for the Gardens that represents the stakeholders’ goals and values. The plan capitalizes upon the foresight of its administration to continue to upgrade and improve upon the historical essence of the Gardens by gently overlaying 21st century demands on the site. One of the primary goals of the Master Plan is to improve the visitor experience for both a vehicular and pedestrian standpoint. The existing residential street grid will be re-aligned to improve the Gardens’ visibility, create safe intersections, and improve access for delivery vehicles. Inside the Gardens, pedestrian circulation will be improved to meet accessibility guidelines and provide clear wayfinding.

After the completion of the Master Plan, Terra assisted the Gardens in redirecting their brand from that of a traditional rose garden to one of sustainability. We redesigned the Great Lawn to include an artful stormwater solution to long-standing drainage issues; amplified biodiversity in the newly-created Ohio Woodland Garden through the addition of native plantings; welcomed visitors into the treetops by way of a future Canopy Walk; and helped grow the next generation of Earth’s stewards in the pollinator-pleasing Family Garden. In an effort to encourage a more diverse audience, additional garden spaces are specifically planned to entice new visitors, such as families and birdwatchers.  



More than 900 acres of restored prairie, woodlands, and wetland embrace a collection of display gardens and E. Faye Jones prairie-style architecture at Powell Gardens. Officially designated as a botanical garden in 1988, Powell Gardens has evolved from a Boy Scout camp to a horticultural destination that celebrates the natural and cultural heritage of the region.  Cindy Tyler was involved with Powell’s stewardship for over fifteen years, beginning with the updated Master Plan in 2000 and continuing with the design Heartland Harvest Garden, the nation’s largest seed-to-plate garden, and the Fountain Garden and its surrounding terraced beds that comprise the Insectary Gardens.  When Powell purchased additional U.S. 50 frontage in 2013, Terra, along with Maurice Jennings, updated the arrival experience and entry garden plans.  

 Powell was awarded the prestigious 2019 Kessler Legacy Award.



Cindy Tyler began her involvement with the Naples Botanical Garden while a partner with MTR. During that period she led the development of the Master Plan and prepared designs for one of its first phases: the upland trail to the upland habitat. When the Garden named Brian Holley as Executive Director, he called back to revise the Master Plan, under his direction; Cindy worked with the design team in Naples to develop a plan whose central theme was “Plants and People of the 26th Latitude”, with a stronger focus on what draws people to gardens – color.

Also key to the redevelopment of the Master Plan was the desire to set a clear example of wetland conservation to the community. A strong conservational message was woven through the redesign of the Plan to preserve all existing wetlands of significance, and the ensuing design challenge was to create a lake system that still provided spectacular views and sufficient fill for the project while avoiding wetland disturbance.

The revised Master Plan also responded to the dire need to reduce operating and construction costs for Phase One of the Master Plan. The resulting Plan provided flexibility for future phasing and lower operating construction costs while maintaining a dramatic and powerful design. This ultimately set the stage for international designers to create horticulturally-rich gardens, such as the Kathleen & Scott Kapnick Brazilian Garden designed by Raymond Jungles (pictured one) and the Marcia and L. Bates Lea Asian Garden designed by Made Wijaya (pictured three).   

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Tucson Botanical Gardens - Tucson, Arizona [MASTER PLAN]

Tucson Botanical Gardens (TBG) is a beloved six-acre green oasis that provides Tucson residents easy access to a unique place of beauty, respite and unusual tree and plant species.  The legacy left by the Porter family and Harrison Yocum invites visitors to take a step into the past and explore gardening strategies from the 1930’s while also showcasing 21st century gardening styles for the Tucson region.  On the heels of a game-changing Frida Kahlo exhibit in 2016, TBG leadership wished to evaluate the site for other unrealized ways to:

1.     strengthen fiscal sustainability

2.     diversify and grow their visitor and membership base, with a focus on families

3.     enhance the visitor experience

4.     share the rich history of the Gardens

5.     elevate educational programming.

TBG engaged Terra to lead the master planning team, which included DesignGroup and Grant Getz for architectural design; EcoBotanic Designs for butterfly and orchid conservatory consultation; and Greg Carlson Engineering, Inc. for storm water management support. Phase One will likely include:

1.     a new ticketing and visitor arrival experience

2.     an iconic Butterfly and Orchid Conservatory and Pollinator Garden

3.     relocated and expanded Cafe and Garden of Eatin’

4.     Yocum Rock Garden

5.     a portion of the FUN (Families Unplugged in Nature) Zone, a nature and loose parts play area for families

6.     a new Maintenance and Volunteer Center.

The final Master Plan was presented and approved in April 2019, and plans are underway to launch a capital campaign for its first phase of implementation.