Located in the low hills of west-central Louisiana, this garden and forested recreation area, originally nicknamed the “Garden in the Forest,” was established in 1956 on the site of a nineteenth-century rock quarry and former clear-cut forest. In the 1930s Andrew Jackson Hodges and Nona Trigg Hodges purchased 107,000 acres which they replanted as a forest conservation area; 4700 acres of this land was designated for Hodges Gardens. Opened as a public garden and private residence, the Hodges’ vision reclaimed and repaired a landscape stressed by both logging and rock mining operations.
Donald Bush of Hare & Hare was hired to design the main garden area, which features northwest Arkansas flagstone throughout and sensitively incorporates both natural and quarried landforms in the landscape. The garden is prominently located above and adjacent to a 225-acre constructed lake. It features rose gardens and natural areas and is also animated with constructed waterfalls, streams, bogs, and fountains. Walker & Walker Architects of Shreveport designed most of the structures in the garden, including a Modernist visitor center, a lookout tower, the Hodges private residence, the Louisiana Purchase Memorial, and the Willow Point Fountain. A Lord & Burnham greenhouse complex, originally used as a conservatory for plant display and a cultivation laboratory, is also still extant.
In 2007, the Hodges Foundation donated 948 acres of the original Hodges Gardens to Louisiana’s Office of State Parks.