Educational Programs & Activities:

Botanic Gardens

These stories are part of an ongoing educational series written by staff and guest writers. This article by Karen Prather

[Montrose, Colo. | January 2020 | San Juan Silver Stage]

Montrose Botanic Gardens (MBG), now 25 years old, is on the cusp of a massive expansion program that will include five new thematic gardens, water features, and an environmental education center. The Gardens will also be the new home of an historical interpretive exhibit based on the 1880s Jacal Homestead, which will include parts of the old building along with orchard trees grafted from the homesteaded site and an agricultural demonstration area.

The Gardens, leased from the City of Montrose with an existing 50-year lease established in 1996, were created by the Montrose Botanical Society (MBS), a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Twenty-five years ago, the 3.5-acre property resided in a sparsely populated rural area covered in sagebrush, tumbleweed, and cactus. Today, it sits in the middle of a rapidly developing residential area as farm fields turn into homesites.

To ensure the Garden’s future, MBS board president, Lorraine Shide, and members of the board of directors spent 16 months working with Mt. Daly Enterprises Landscape Architecture of Carbondale, Colo., to construct a detailed plan for the construction of the undeveloped acreage. The firm was chosen because of its understanding of the ecological and environmental impact of landscape design in Colorado communities.

Shide, recently retired from the Montrose School District after 42 years, is excited about the education center, which will be an indoor facility, “and perhaps the largest Garden development expected in the coming years.” Board member Rob Clapper looks forward to “bringing a bit of Disneyland to Montrose” when MBG’s logo, depicted in living plants, will be located outside the new covered amphitheater.

The Gardens depend on donations, memberships, and grants. With the exception of special events, such as the Garden of Lights show in December, Garden entry is free. MBG is staffed completely by volunteers and always needs more. Weekly Volunteer Wednesdays include workers of all ages and levels of green thumb. To donate or otherwise support the Montrose Botanic Gardens by volunteering, or if you just want to stay up to date on what’s new, visit their website: montrosegardens.org.

Montrose Botanic Gardens are open every day from dawn till dusk, located just south of the Montrose Pavilion and Event Center, 1800 Pavilion Dr., Montrose, Colorado.