In June, the Daviess Fiscal Court will vote on approving its 2022-23 budget, which includes $100,000 for the Western Kentucky Botanical Garden.
Judge-Executive Al Mattingly said the allocation was because The Garden is “one of the cultural programs that attracts tourists from out of states.”
Laurana Strehl, executive director of The Garden, recently said the changes made this year should bring even more people to the 18-acre property at 2731 W. Second St.
“Everything I try to do is based on the visitor experience,” she said.
“The $100,000 gift from the Daviess Fiscal Court will be used for ongoing improvements that enhance the visitor experience,” said Strehl.
This year, The Garden has a new entrance on Second Street.
Strehl said visitors “will drive up the long driveway to the historic WeatherBerry House and park immediately to the left of the house in a new lot.”
Then visitors will “go to the front door and be greeted and shown through the main hallway and out the back door,” she said.
In 2020, The Garden purchased the historic WeatherBerry House, built in 1840, and its four acres, with plans to convert it into a welcome center and gift shop.
The 4,000-square-foot home was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1992.
Strehl said the Second Street entrance will soon feature an 8-foot by 12-foot granite sign that reads “Western Kentucky Botanical Garden” and the new logo.
There is a new car park next to the WeatherBerry House and 20 more car parks will be added in June.
“We built a winding sidewalk from the visitor center to the garden,” Strehl said.
Charles and Mary Ann Medley donated $150,000 to create the 300-foot Path of Hope & Healing lined with 12 ribbons of glass, each a different color, depicting the 12 most common cancers in Kentucky.
They were made by Daviess County native Brook White, a nationally recognized glass artist.
The trail also includes a 21-foot tall butterfly sculpture created by local glass artist Scott Poynter and local metal artist Chris Schartung.
It is scheduled to be ready in the week of May 23rd.
Nature, said Strehl, has healing powers.
And The Garden is a “place to get away from the world,” she said. “A lot of people are living with cancer and it can be relaxing for them.
“We use as many local companies as possible. We are planning an extensive landscaping master plan for the entrance. We have to do it in phases. It’s very expensive and intense. We have to take it in bites.”
Strehl said: “We’ve lost a lot of entry fees in the past because we didn’t have a manned gate. We’re going to change that.”
A metal gate will be installed at the Second Street entrance.
Strehl previously said Schartung of Yellowbanks Ironworks will build the metal gate, which will have a solar-powered operating system.
She said: “Photography has become huge out here since everyone has become a photographer.
“Volunteering at The Garden has increased noticeably and volunteers are needed now more than ever. We pay special attention to each garden because of volunteers. The Green River Area Extension Master Gardeners Association has a significant presence and is improving the botanical garden in a number of areas.
“The master gardeners essentially picked spots in the garden and committed to improving and tending to their specific areas. Their heart grew for the Botanical Gardens and it really shows in all the work they do.”
She said: “With all the new things happening, we thought it was the perfect time to create a new logo. Our new logo is fresh and represents the essence of the botanical garden experience. We will have t-shirts ready soon and will be selling them in our newly added gift shop.
“Our gift shop will primarily feature items representing Owensboro and the Botanical Gardens. We also stock Steve Hahus local honey, a selection of postcards and Owensboro landmark pewter ornaments.”
The garden opened in 1993 after Dr. Bill and Susie Tyler had donated 10 acres of farmland to the city with the stipulation that 8 acres be used for a botanical garden and two acres as habitat for native wildlife.
Today it includes a large herb garden, a rose garden, an English cottage garden, a Kentucky symbol steppe garden, a Japanese memorial garden, a bog garden, the Moonlite Nursery, the University of Kentucky Extension exhibit garden, and a Western Kentucky University experimental garden.
Keith Lawrence, 270-691-7301, firstname.lastname@example.org