Volunteers are taking a once private ranch and turning it into a botanical garden for Temple.
In 2011, the Talasek family donated the Bend O' the River Ranch to the city and a small group of volunteers has partnered with city officials to make it the crown jewel of the Temple Parks System.
Zoe Rascoe has worked diligently with a few volunteers to make the project happen.
"Botanic gardens from all over the state, and really all over the country, have offered to help us and help us learn how to do this— even to the extent of giving us plants," Rascoe said.
City officials are very excited about the gift because of the opportunities its location provides.
"It was like a dream come true. It's the only park we have that's along the river in the city,” Ken Cicora, Temple’s Parks & Leisure Services Director, said. “The opportunity here to build this into a botanic garden would just be really special for Temple."
The Talasek family donated the ranch in honor of former legislator and Temple Native Reuben Talasek who died in 2008. Some residents may even recognize the ranch from previous events hosted by the Talasek family.
"They hosted Fourth of July parties after the Belton Fourth of July Parade,” Rascoe said. “Horses and all would come out to the property. Many different events have been held here for the public, so lots of folks have been on the property before."
Rascoe also says the ranch's cabins and wide open spaces make it a perfect venue for large events.
The hope is that the botanic garden can become a place to learn and look at beautiful plants.
"This probably in the long run is going be our nicest and the crown jewel of all our parks when it's all built out."
In its heyday, Bend 'O the River Ranch hosted presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and George Bush Sr., as well as broadcast personality Art Linkletter.
Even though the botanical garden is still in the planning stages, the park is available for rent.
You can find out more about the park online at TempleParks.com.