Botanica was opened to the public in May 1987 to generate enthusiasm for horticulture and enlighten people through educational, artistic, and cultural experiences. With this mission, Botanica’s gardens and programs expand public awareness of horticulture, educate Kansans about how nature can improve their daily lives, and assist in the promotion of community development.
In 1982, the Wichita Area Garden Council joined forces with the City of Wichita with a unified vision to provide area residents with a center for horticultural enjoyment and education within a landscape garden setting. For the next three years, plans were formulated for the establishment of Botanica as the community center for horticulture. With the assistance of the Wichita Park Board; site selection, building plans, and methods of funding were secured and finalized. Ground was broken in September of 1985 and nearly 2 years later, the group’s vision for Wichita had become a reality.
Since its opening with four gardens and a horticultural library, Botanica has added 30 additional themed gardens and exhibits. This botanical paradise on the plains comprises over 18 acres of stunning gardenscaping that features over 4,000 species of plants both native and new to the region. All gardens are designed to emphasize collections in display settings that feature plants particularly well-suited to south-central Kansas. In addition to the display gardens, an evaluation garden has been added for the specific purpose of introducing and evaluating plants that may be suited to the region. The Gardens are decorated with a collection of 50 elegant sculptures, flowing streams, fountains, and waterfalls that complement the beauty of plants and that create a visually stunning atmosphere.
Botanica, The Wichita Gardens is open year-round and repeat visits offer new surprises as The Gardens change with the seasons. In spring, more than 50,000 tulip bulbs and 120,000 daffodil bulbs bloom along with an assortment of wildflowers and flowering shrubs. Later bloomers include azaleas, irises, roses, peonies, and other perennials. More than 20,000 annuals combine with beautiful perennial color in the summer along with spectacular prairie wildflowers. In autumn, you’ll find asters, liriope, sedum, and more than 5,500 chrysanthemums amongst the backdrop of fall color from trees and shrubs. In winter, The Gardens feature 12,000 pansies, red-twig dogwood, witch hazel, and berried hollies.
As the gardens have grown, so have the educational opportunities. The diversity of the garden display areas provides a rich horticultural and visual learning environment for all visitors. This diversity allows for a consistent growth in the number and variety of youth and continuing education opportunities offered to the community.
Botanica also takes pride in developing the community. In keeping with its mission to promote community development and provide cultural experiences in a pleasant garden setting, Botanica has a wide-array of special events throughout the year. Special events are designed to bring visitors to the Gardens for a variety of activities that involve the community in garden-centered events, that provide entertainment for members, and that encourage attendance. Attendance at these special events accounts for approximately one-fourth of the annual attendance at Botanica.
Plans for continued cultivation include additional educational programming, enhanced special events, and plans for expansion of The Gardens, including consolidated administrative offices and new facilities with the opening of a new events center that opened in 2014, as well as the Chinese Garden of Friendship scheduled to open in Spring 2015.
With ever-changing scenery, educational classes for young and old, and special events to entertain and amuse, we invite you to visit Botanica often and take advantage of all that the Gardens have to offer!