The Prairie Garden Trust is the brainchild of Henry and Lorna Domke, present stewards of this 600-acre gem nestled in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains in central Missouri. They have artfully restored multiple native ecosystems to reveal the magic of nature and inspire those who will visit.
Presently, PGT is their home. They engaged Terra Design Studios to create a master plan to prepare the site experientially for public visitation. We arrived for our first site visit expecting restored prairie, and we were thrilled to discover that PGT is much more. One hundred acres of prairie is complemented by 500 acres of oak-hickory forest, savanna edges, bottomland forest, aquatic habitat, and an amazing collection of dramatic geologic formations cloaked in mosses and ancient lichens. We discovered the treasures of Hillers Creek: coral reef fossils in the creek bed; Native American cave dwellings in the limestone bluffs; and a blue heron rookery in its towering sycamores. Remnants of a pottery community that presided on site in the mid 1800’s are still intact near Lorna and Henry’s home.
The resulting master plan choreographs the visitor arrival sequences and views, suggesting a new entrance drive that invites the visitor to decompress by previewing several of the native landscapes along the way to the visitor center. The Garden of Elements, an artistic “designed” composition of the classic elements as they are featured along the trails offers horticultural gardens close to the visitor center. Lorna’s Loop, the core mile-long trail that links signature ecosystems and focal points on the upper plateau features “nature gardens”, enhanced native plantings. Lastly, tertiary trails for those in good hiking boots expose visitors to the rugged, raw beauty of the landscape at PGT.