White River Gardens and Conservatory

The White River Gardens, located adjacent to the Indianapolis Zoo in White River State park, just west of downtown Indianapolis, offer visitors a serene setting of over 1,000 plant varieties in various displays and exhibits. A highlight of a visit to the White River Gardens is the 5,000 square foot glass conservatory filled with plants, flowers, and a large variety of free-flying butterfly species. No trip to the downtown or White River State Park is complete without a visit to the gardens.

The White River Gardens is a must-see on your lists of major Indianapolis attractions, and “things to do in Indianapolis.” This 3.3 acre sister attraction to the Indianapolis Zoo, consists of the large rotunda-like glass conservatory leading into a sprawling, beautifully and masterfully landscaped outdoor design garden, a water garden, as well as a wedding garden for ceremonies and receptions. Also included in the garden property is a gardening resource center, gift shop, and one and a half miles of winding walkways and paths. An impressive indoor/outdoor dining facility offers gorgeous views of the always-interesting downtown section of Indianapolis, Indiana, with its famous Monument Circle, Soldiers and Sailors Monument, American Legion Plaza and more, as well as the glorious Indianapolis skyline to diners.

Construction on the gardens broke ground in 1997, and opened its doors to visitors in June of 1999. The gardens celebrate the spirit and roots of Indiana gardening through a variety of botanical displays. The outside gardens are named for the DeHaan family, who provided the final funding needed to complete the construction of the garden project. The name Tiergarten, meaning animal park, honors the origins of the DeHaan family and coincides with the overall Zoo mission to fully incorporate people, plants, and animals in an educational and informative setting. The five distinct areas of the garden include the shade gardens, the sun gardens with their wandering trails and streams, the design gardens, the water garden, and the wedding garden.

The rotunda entrance to the gardens is an impressive welcoming sight to garden visitors with its impressive 360 degree mural depicting various gardening themes. At 160 feet long and 16 feet high, the rotunda offers a dramatic first impression as they enter the gardens. The mural shows a seamless transition of horticultural activities and various plants as they change throughout the four definite seasons of the Indiana climate. Also, an additional mural piece towers above visitors in a 100 feet long and 10 foot high area featuring a wisteria vine with flowing flowers.

The Hilbert Conservatory hosts four to five seasonal horticultural shows each year. The 5,000 square foot conservatory provides more than ample room for botanical exhibits with its 65 foot high ceiling and 12 foot mezzanine level. Impressive palm trees are visible from the outside as they reach towards the conservatory ceiling. Small fish ponds and a flowing center font provide a tranquil setting for visitors to enjoy as they view the multitude of butterflies fluttering about.

The Dick Crum Resource Center is free to the public and offers gardening tips and educational opportunities to improve your personal gardening knowledge. Skilled horticulturalist staff the resource center and are available to provide gardening advice for not only the plants seen at the gardens, but for plants in your own yard as well.

The outdoor gardens provide an escape from the bustle of metropolitan living with the winding walk leading throughout. Paths lined by tall hedges lead to the water garden in this peaceful setting. Colorful flowers are planted alongside tranquil pools of water as well as aquatic gardening techniques in the pools themselves. A visit to the White River State Park Gardens provides a peaceful setting lined with beautiful plants, flowers, and butterflies, and a living example of nature meeting art in an elegant, introspective, and inspiring manner.

White River Gardens
1200 W Washington St
Marion County
Indianapolis, IN
(317) 630-2001

Visit the website at the Indianapolis Zoo