Sunken Gardens

The koi pond at Sunken Garden.

Sunken Gardens features a new floral scheme designed by the Garden Artists every year. These displays feature over 30,000 different annuals.

The only Nebraska garden to be listed in the “300 Best Gardens to Visit in the United States and Canada” by National Geographic’s "Guide to Public Gardens", this enchanting place is important to many. Formerly a neighborhood dumpsite, this 1.5 acres was first developed in 1930, and was transformed into an iconic feature of Lincoln. The Sunken Gardens have been the backdrop to decades of memorable occasions. 

Most recently renovated in 2005, improvements included handicap accessible entrances, walkways and parking, entry garden pavilion, new sculptural elements, restrooms, renovated lily ponds, restored cascading water feature, and additional lawn space for events. Inspiration by artist Mary Buckman is in loving memory of Beatrice

Visitors can tiptoe through the tulips every spring, and watch the thousands of annuals and perennials bloom all summer long. The art installations, varied combinations of trees, shrubs, and perennials provide especially quiet and peaceful points of interest throughout the winter season. 

Admission is free, all are welcomed. Donations are accepted.

Restrooms are open from April to October from 9 AM to 8 PM. 

The 2024 theme is “Golden Hours”

“Golden Hours” As the first rays of dawn kiss the horizon, the Sunken Gardens awaken in a symphony of colors and tranquility. As visitors wander and explore the gardens, they can immerse themselves in the magic of both sunrise and sunset in the capitol city.

Incorporating elements of the city we love and inspired by early spring mornings and late summer evenings, the garden will invite visitors to experience the beauty glimpsed during the golden hours of the day, if only for a moment. Taking inspiration from the City flag, All Roads Lead to Lincoln, we created a design that will draw people to the Sunken Gardens to be inspired by the hope and optimism that tends to lend itself to this space.

Follow the garden East to West as the colors shift and merge to enhance representations of the State Capitol, the Gardens’ art collection, and our living ponds. Stop by Rebekah at the well and experience the serenity and peace that the moving water provides even in the hustle and bustle of the heart of the city. As the oranges and purples of the perfect summer evening set in, take solace in the calming and soothing healing garden and share in this space we love.

Annual themes: 

  • 2024:  Golden Hours
  • 2023:  "Magical Mystery Tour" inspired by Beatles album covers from the 1960s and 1970's
  • 2022:  “A Wonderland” inspired by "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland"
  • 2021:  “Ruby Slippers" inspired by the "Wizard of Oz"
  • 2020:  50 Shades of Pink, a tribute to women
  • 2019:   “Moon River” (Colors: Hot Orange, Orchid, Silver, White and Blue, featuring lunar reflections weaving their down to the lower garden. [Much a one would see if you were viewing the Platte River during a full moon)
  • 2018:   “Sun Salutations”. Colors of fire, reds, oranges, and yellows combined together to welcome the SUNSHINE into our lives.
  • 2017:  "Purple Reign”
  • 2016:  “All things Seuss” using large-leaved, odd shaped, fanciful-flowered, whimsical designs of reds, whites, pinks, yellows and blues that were so popular in all of the books illustrated by Dr. Seuss.
  • 2015:  2015: a Space Odyssey”
  • 2014:  The Spirit of The Thunderbird
  • 2013:  Directions – Only Up
  • 2012:  Mother Nature’s Sun
  • 2011:  “Over the Rainbow”
  • 2010:  “Power of the Peacock”
  • 2009:  “Hachimaki”, Lucky Charms
  • 2008:  “Solar Flare”
  • 2007:  “Purple Haze”
  • 2006:  “Starry Night”
  • 2005:  “Beautiful Butterfly”


Features of the Sunken Gardens

Healing Garden

The Healing Garden (or White Garden) is located on the upper level of Sunken Gardens.  The design was inspired by the famous White Garden at Sissinghurst  Castle in Kent, England created in the 1930’s by Vita Sackville West and Harold Nicholson.  The gathering of white blossoms inspires calm, serenity and meditation.  Visitors are encouraged to experience the ethereal quality of the garden on moonlit summer evenings. 

Perennial Garden

Perennials are located throughout Sunken Gardens but are featured in the upper level on the north side near the "Rotary Pavilion" . There you will find varieties of sun and shade-loving perennials including  hostas, viburnum, and hydrangeas. These plants inspire gardeners of all abilities looking to add perennials to their gardens.  

Annual Garden 

Thousands of annuals are planted each year by staff and volunteers during the Wake up the Bed's event. They are planted corresponding to a different theme revealed each spring.  The garden themes are often influenced by conversations the gardeners have with those who come and enjoy the space. Garden themes have included "Tropicalismo" styled designs; themes inspired by, Van Gogh&rsquo's “ Starry Night”, Dr. Suess, Hachimaki – a stylized Japanese headband, "Power of the Peacock", "Purple Haze", "Solar Flair", and "Moon River".   

Water Features

The Sunken Gardens is home to two Lily Ponds and a cascading waterfall. In addition to providing habitat for aquatic plants, these features also bring the element of water into the garden. Not only lovely to look at, the sound of trickling water engages your senses creating a thoroughly relaxing, peaceful setting. The Lily Ponds bring even more life and beauty into the garden. The ponds are home to colorful and playful koi, hardy water lilies, lotus, and a rotation of tropical aquatic plants.  

Art Installations

Sunken Gardens is home to several of Lincoln's better-known public art pieces. Through the generosity of several Lincolnites, the garden has been embellished with statues and sculptural elements since its creation in the 1930's. "Rebecca at the Well" once graced the bottom pool of the waterfall, but after decades of weathering her concrete form was retired and a bronze replica, "Rebekah at the Well", was placed at the top of the waterfall. "Reveilli" and "Kneeling Figure" can both be found in the upper level of the garden. "Rotary Pavilion" was added in the 2005 renovation, creating a welcoming plaza near the new parking lot, it's laser cut panels tell the story of the four seasons, featuring several whimsical landmarks. In 2022 "Inspiration" by artist Mary Buckman was added to the garden in loving memory of Beatrice "Mike" Seacrest.

Paving the Path

The brick path installation was part of the 2005 renovation. A way to memorialize loved ones, proclaim your love and support to the garden for future generations.  Honor special friends or family members, celebrate graduations or weddings or commemorate holidays by purchasing an inscribed brick to be placed in the walkways at the renovated Sunken Gardens. 

One Flower Forever

One flower will be planted in honor of someone special, annually, at Lincoln's Sunken Gardens 'forever'. All donors receive a commemorative certificate suitable for framing which can be presented to the honoree or honoree's family. Names of honorees will be recorded in the interactive kiosk at the Sunken Gardens Pavilion. 

Garden Manners

For everyone’s enjoyment of the garden, please: 

  • Do not pick the flowers or stand in the displays 
  • Attend to children at all times 
  • Stay on the paths and lawn areas 
  • Leash your dog; pick up and dispose of pet waste 
  • Walk your bicycle 
  • No skateboards or roller blades 
  • No swimming, wading or feeding the fish 
  • No smoking in the garden
  • Pick up and properly dispose of all trash 

For garden tours, please contact 402-441-8267.


Rental Fee/Period:   $180 for 3 hours. $60 per hour for each additional hour.

Capacity:  56 people

Security Deposit:   $100 due 2 weeks prior to reservation.

This venue must be reserved in person. Call 402-441-7847 option 0 for reservation details. 

Reservation Calendar

Park areas are open to the general public during periods reserved for weddings and associated activities. Our staff work hard to keep our park and public garden areas beautiful, but weather happens. Please keep this in mind when scheduling your event.

There may be times that our staff require in-person reservations for some facilities.  
Please contact the reservations staff at 402-441-7847, option 0 for more information including availability.

Commercial Photography

Lincoln's parks and public gardens have provided beautiful backdrops for generations of family photos. When you or your photographer are taking pictures, we ask that you be mindful of, and minimize disruption to, other park users and garden visitors. Please also take care to avoid damaging any flowers, plantings, turf, or park property.

If your photo shoot is large and/or it could disrupt normal park or public garden operations, you make need to seek a Special Use Permit. If fees for photography services are collected on site, a Permit to Conduct Business may be required. Wedding reservations are available at our wedding designated sites. Please contact 402-441-7847, Ext. 0, or email, for additional information regarding both Special Use Permit and wedding reservations.

Thank you and enjoy those beautiful pictures!


Volunteering with Public Gardens

We love all of the volunteers that dedicate many hours of service to the parks, trails, and public gardens. Check out the Volunteer Opportunities section on our website.

Put the Beds to Bed - Saturday, November 4, 2023

About the history, care, and events at Sunken Gardens


Time lapse of growing season, May through October 2021.

 Click image to open larger photo. 


2601 D Street, Lincoln 68502  View Map

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