The Botanic Garden in Traverse City Comes Alive

The Botanic Garden on the grounds of Historic Barns Park in Traverse City is bursting with growth and life. We checked in with The Garden’s Karen Schmidt about how planting and prep across the garden’s 25 acres are coming to fruition.

What should those craving color and life expect to see in bloom this spring?

This spring will be a truly beautiful one at the garden. We have more than 50,000 bulbs in the various gardens, including 40,000 daffodils, hyacinths and Glory of the Snow bulbs in the long Sugar Maple Allee. There will be lots of tulips in the Koeze Stable Garden and the adjoining Secret Garden. Those are the only places where we can grow tulips because the deer are not able to get into these gated walled gardens.

What’s new at The Botanic Garden?

We begin work this spring on the Pollinator Garden, which will feature lots of bright flowers that attract butterflies, hummingbirds, bees and other pollinators. Work on the Judith Groleau Healing Gardens begins this spring, too.

Tell us more about the Healing Gardens…

The first project will be the installation of a 60-foot-wide stone labyrinth, which will be wheelchair accessible. It is a copy of the famous Chartres Cathedral labyrinth in France and will take 12 weeks to construct over the summer. But just as exciting is the arrival garden, which will feature a Native American Medicine Wheel. We are working with members of the Ottawa and Chippewa Band of Grand Traverse for their assistance in the design. The Healing Gardens will also include a Medicinal Plant Garden and small pocket Meditation Gardens.

And there is a close-knit team behind the scenes at the gardens, correct?

Each team has a captain and once a week the captains walk their gardens with our horticulturist who advises them on what they need to do that week. We also have a team of trained docents who give free daily tours from April 1 through October 31. A third team of volunteers is our grounds and maintenance team (we call them the Possums) who do the heavy lifting. In total, we have 325 volunteers and are always looking for more. We are almost all volunteers, including our 20-member board.

—Karen Schmidt is Botanic Garden Board Chair

March Events at The Botanic Garden

Ferntastic! | Sunday, March 10, 3–4:30 p.m.

Angie Lucas, Senior Land Steward at the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy, will present an overview of native fern species found in our region, identification tips to use while exploring the woods or wetland trails, and other fun fern facts.

Landscaping for the Birds, Bees, and Butterflies | Wednesday, March 13, 7–9 p.m.

Local experts Brian Zimmerman and Tom Ford will discuss how to create a garden landscape to attract bees, butterflies and birds, beginning with native plants. Guidance on plant selection, nesting boxes, mason bee houses, and providing water for wildlife will be shared.

Square Foot Gardening for All | Thursday, March 21, 7–9 p.m.

Sandi Clark, MSU Advanced Master Gardener, will discuss the history of square foot gardening and share her wisdom on building, utilizing and reaping the benefits of a square foot garden. Take home Sandi’s presentation and a copy of Mel Bartholomew’s book. $30.

Register for all classes here. Proceeds from paid Botanic Garden events benefit the garden. For free event registration, you’re able to make a donation online through MyNorthTickets when you check out.