Attempting to start a botanical garden

Discussion in 'HortForum' started by ozzie831, Apr 2, 2022.

  1. ozzie831

    ozzie831 New Member

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    Hey everyone,
    I am on a journey to start a botanical garden in my hometown. I finished up a 2 week existential crisis adventure around the US and during my travels it hit me that my hometown doesn't have one.

    I genuinely feel that a botanical garden would be an excellent addition to my town so Ive been reaching out to as many botanical gardens/forums as possible to gather information about starting my own. Im thinking of making a tropical indoor garden, a place to relax and hangout throughout the year. Since I live in the desert, I figued that it would be a nice compliment to our bleak surroundings. But I dont know which plants to use.

    Any information/guidance would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. Eric La Fountaine

    Eric La Fountaine Contributor Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    That sounds like quite a project. Do you have access to a lot of money? The building would cost a lot to construct and maintain.

    I have never been to Reno, but there is a botanic garden there. Wilbur D. May Arboretum & Botanical Garden
    Looks nice from what I can see on their website. I don't think they have tropical indoor space. But you might ask about that and the feasibility of such a facility in Reno.

    Here are the gardens they do have. Gardens & Groves (washoecounty.gov)
     
  3. ozzie831

    ozzie831 New Member

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    It is quite the project I agree, but it's one of those places that could be around for 100 years. There is a lot of money in Reno, especially these days, and there is a lot of non-profit support. But Im not talking about some massive 50-100 acre garden, the vision is more like the Greater Des Moines Iowa Botanical Garden, which says 7 acres but that probably included the outdoor sections since the dome itself doesn't feel that big.

    The Wilbur May Arboretum is a completely different type of "botanical garden". Its part of a park, the arboretum itself is pretty much a 13 acres walking path that displays trees and some plants that can survive in our climate. The "Garden and Groves" page you linked are just small sections that make up the whole Wilbur May Arboretum itself, they aren't their own separate gardens around Reno.

    Reno is either 85-100 degrees or frozen for 75% of the year, there's maybe 4 months of decent weather (sometimes) not including our massive lack of humidity. So 75% of the year the plants are either burnt to a crisp or frozen, which goes for all of the other gardens in Reno since they are all outdoors. Even the Wilbur Mays website states there's only 120 days of growing season in our area and the garden temps can fluctuate 40 degrees in a single day, which it does. Thus me coming to the conclusion of having an indoor garden with plants that don't naturally survive here, it gives the population the option to see both. So there's no real competition, they can have the natural Nevada side and mine can be the more touristy side.
     
  4. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    You're looking moreso at a conservatory than a garden. Have a look at the Muttart Conservatory in Edmonton for a glasshouse structure that undergoes stifling heat in the summer and freezing temperatures in the winter. There's likely a business case can be made--but the startup costs for the building are significant as Eric mentioned because of the need to regulate temperature / humidity (and needing to have systems that can keep the heat when it is freezing outside or cool things down when the greenhouse effect in the summer would boil the plants). Plus, if a business venture, it needs to look like something at opening, so the plants would have to have some maturity to begin with.

    Not an impossible venture, just a difficult one. We don't have a conservatory at UBC, though there is a public run conservatory nearby (Bloedel Conservatory). I wonder if a trip to San Francisco would benefit your thinking if you went to see the indoor ecosystems display at the Cal Academy of Sciences.

    The American Public Garden Association would likely be the place to research where you might tap into knowledge with conservatories; there will be a similar organization for zoos and the like that have insectariums, etc. if you end up going that route.
     
  5. ozzie831

    ozzie831 New Member

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    Correct, a Conservatory is what I was going for. The Muttart Conservatory looks very nice, Ill have to send them an email. Muttart's conservatory is also a good size at roughly 1.5 acres, while Des Moines is a bit over half an acre.

    I already understand the cost is going to be outrageous, but so is my idea. I feel it has the potential, if designed and marketed correctly it can be an amazing addition. Ive already been in contact with a few companies around town concerning construction, heating/cooling, and a little bit when it comes to start up (since I dont have a business plan written completely, I can only get so far on that end).

    Ive actually already contacted the American Public Garden Association. They recommended a few links around their website, one included a "How to start a public garden", which was pretty handy.
     
    Daniel Mosquin likes this.

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