Explore the Gardens

Hanging Garden

The Hanging Garden

The Hanging Gardens preserve some simple stone terracing from H.J. Lutcher Stark’s original garden.  This terraced area was replanted in honor of Stark, who likely created this garden in his original Shangri La to indulge his interest in exotic tropical plants. The new version in today’s Shangri La includes even more varieties of plants, such […]… read more
Color Garden

The Color Garden

The Color Garden demonstrates the many shades of one single color that can be seen in nature. One can forget that pink is a shade of bright red, with many other shades in between. As the seasons change, the “main” color featured in the garden will vary and may include hues such as blue, red, […]… read more
Contrast Garden

The Contrast Garden

This garden takes advantage of the huge variety of color that plants express. Like a living color wheel, the plants in this garden complement each other. Visitors may see gold and purple or green and red depending on the season. Boxwood hedges create a frame for annual flowers.  No matter what the colors may be […]… read more
Line Garden

The Line Garden

Lines make up the composition of this garden, with most plants growing in confident vertical lines and others in contrasting horizontal patterns. A prominent plant is the horsetail (Equisetum), an evergreen plant with a hollow green stalk, rudimentary leaves, and a very long history. Since Roman times, the horsetail has been known as the “scouring […]… read more
Shape Garden

The Shape Garden

This garden includes plants that can grow naturally in a specific shape or be trimmed to create one. Shapes in this garden include columns, circles, squares, pyramids, and more. A prominent plant is the dwarf yaupon (llex vomitoria nana). As the Latin name suggests, this native plant has toxic berries, though birds can eat them […]… read more
Texture Garden

The Texture Garden

This garden features visual and physical elements of texture. The specimens in The Texture Garden express texture in a visual way – you’ll notice qualities of coarseness or fineness through leaf size and arrangement. Giant upright elephant ears (Alocasia macrorrhizos), also called giant taro, are used here for their leaf size and shape, as well […]… read more
Branching Room

The Branching Room

The walkway and sculpture in this room combine with the contorted Japanese maple to make an effective visual image.  The cut-outs in the Branching Room sculpture reference the forked stems of a Japanese Maple tree.  … read more
Stripe Room

The Stripe Room

This garden room uses the striping elements of canna pretoria, dwarf zeba maiden grass and carex ice dance. The sculpture was inspired by the naturally stripping on the canna leaves, in grasses and aspidistra.… read more
Spiral Room

The Spiral Room

The sculpture and walkway in this garden depict plants with spiral growth habits.  These include corkscrew willow, curly leaf Juncus varieties and seasonals. The sculpture depicts a Curly Willow’s stems twisting around each other; the corkscrew willow is in the same family.… read more
Circle Room

The Circle Room

This sculpture, walkway, and planting reflect circular plantings found in the plant world.  These include silver dollar Eucalyptus, varieties of ligularia, and other plants. The round leaves of a Silver Dollar Eucalyptus Tree convey the theme of the circle garden sculpture.… read more
Wetland Garden

Wetland Demonstration Garden

Throughout the years as birds nested at Ruby Lake, the quality of the water was drastically altered due to their droppings.  The high population of birds caused a significant buildup of nitrogen and phosphates.  The lake became eutrophic and was covered in duckweed, which, over the years as it died, might have build up and […]… read more
Pond of the Blue Moon

Pond of the Blue Moon

In James Hilton’s novel Lost Horizon, the mystical Shangri-La was located in a valley called the Valley of the Blue Moon. Within Shangri La, the Pond of the Blue Moon is the area chosen to reflect the original Shangri-La gardens of Lutcher Stark, who was inspired by Hilton’s novel. Stark used the reflection of blooming […]… read more
Victorian Greenhouse

Victorian Greenhouse

This 1917 greenhouse originally stood on the grounds of the Victorian W.H. Stark House and was constructed by noted greenhouse manufacturers Lord and Burnham, the company responsible for the world-renowned Phipps Conservatory, New York Botanic Gardens, and United States Botanic Garden. Today, the greenhouse is used as an epiphyte house on the grounds of Shangri […]… read more
Exhibit Hall

Exhibit Hall

The Exhibit Hall shows the story of Shangri La from past to present.  Visitors can listen to interviews and read accounts of the gardens.  A fog wall separates past Shangri La from exhibits of the present.  An interactive house boat allows visitors to look out on Ruby Lake. The house boat pays tribute to Lutcher Stark as he too had […]… read more

Discovery Theater

The Discovery Theater seats 80 visitors.  Shown is an 8-minute movie produced by Donna Lawrence, a filmmaker from Louisville, Kentucky that has produced movies for the Smithsonian, Lewis and Clark Museum and many others.  Ms. Lawrence has won numerous awards and her Shangri La film captures the beauty of Shangri La.  After the movie, the screen […]… read more