The Northwest Michigan Botanical Garden, which started as a dream just three years ago, will be built upon an 80-acre site on the southwest side of town. The Botanical Garden Society (BGS) of Northwest Michigan has begun a massive membership drive to fund the project.
The land is located between 3 Mile and 4 Mile roads, north of Hammond Road in East Bay Township. It is ideal topographically because it offers 49 acres of uplands, 31 acres of wetlands, two ponds, a creek, views of East Grand Traverse Bay and an abundance of wooded areas featuring poplar, maple, beech, pine, cedar, birch, willow and ash trees.
Highlights of the proposed garden include indoor and outdoor display gardens featuring collections of significant plants and native species. Research gardens will serve as a living laboratory for cutting edge horticulture and education. Demonstration gardens will explore current topics in relation to horticulture such as erosion control and basic plant care. And new Destination Gardens will provide a setting for family picnics, weddings and special events. Visitors will enjoy a café, gift shop, walking trails and park areas.
MOVE OVER, MEIJER
Like Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids, the project will be a regional attraction. The gardens will be open year-round, serving the 13 Northern Michigan counties north of M-55 and west of I-75.
Fundraising efforts for the past year have been focused on BGS membership. Currently the society boasts 500 members and hopes to reach an overall goal of at least 1,000 supporters.
The Botanical Garden Society will host its first large fundraising event on Saturday, May 22, when Holly Shimizu, executive director of the United States Botanic Garden in Washington D.C., will visit Northern Michigan as a guest speaker.
Shimizu is a world-renowned horticulturist who also currently serves on the board of directors of the American Association of Botanical Gardens and Arboreta and was recently selected as a member at large of the Garden Club of America. For 12 years she hosted The Victory Garden, a gardening television show on PBS and HG TV. She has created gardening videos, written for numerous books and magazines and has been the recipient of many horticultural awards and honors.
Botanic gardens today reach out to visitors by offering places of beauty, sanctuary, and education about the natural world as well as horticulture and botany, said Shimizu. Public gardens are centers for culture and community. They offer exciting ways to appreciate the value of plants and opportunities to connect with ones natural surroundings.
Shimizu will speak about the Magic of a Botanical Garden at 10 a.m. at the Presbyterian Church of Traverse City, located on 701 Westminster at Airport Access Road. Cost of the event is $25 and includes a reception hosted by the Friendly Garden Club.
Following the reception will be a tour of the Botanical Garden site led by BGS chairman Tim Volas.
It is quite at honor for us to have Ms. Shimizu come and speak to our community, said Royce Ragland, BGS member. She has a real idea of how botanical gardens can benefit a community and create excitement.
If interested in attending the event, call 231-933-3768. If interested in BGS annual membership call the BGS office at 231-935-4077.
As a footnote, starting in June, the Botanical Garden site will be open for viewing on the first Saturday of each month. A guest speaker will be featured and guided tours will be offered to those interested. The first presentation will be on Saturday, June 5, beginning and 10 a.m. with Rebecca Lessard, director of the Wings of Wonder program. Lessards talk is entitled Raptors and Their Habitats The event is free and open to all.