By Shawn Chitnis


DENVER (CBS4) – The Denver Botanic Gardens announced it will reopen Friday with limited attendance — requiring members and the general public to reserve tickets online in advance. Staff have kept working for the past two months while the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown the state.

(credit: botanicgardens.org)

“Life goes on… our major job is to take care of living collections and also preserve collections, maintain all of our facilities,” said Brian Vogt, CEO of Denver Botanic Gardens. “Behind the scenes, a lot of work has been going on, a lot of plants have been evolving, a lot of things have come to fruition, but nobody’s there to see it.”

While closed to the public, staff engaged with its members and others through social media. Vogt says it helped them connect with more people than they would normally based on visitors on their grounds. The programming they offer online and in person will benefit from that experience.

“It gives us yet another way to connect more people with plants from a broader audience,” he said Wednesday.

A cherry blossom tree at the Japanese garden in the Denver Botanic Gardens (credit: Peter Pereira)

During the summer, the Botanic Garden usually can welcome 4,000 guests in one day. Concerns about the coronavirus will keep that number to 1,000 until further notice. Members and non-members will need to go online to reserve a ticket or purchase entry for a scheduled time. There will not be an option to purchase admission on site. All guests will need to wear a face covering while inside the Gardens.

“When you do come, it’s really important that you wear one of these, a lot of people find these uncomfortable or irritating,” Vogt told CBS4 while wearing a mask. “This is such a small price to pay.”

Markers across the garden will help people maintain the minimum social distance of six feet. Signs even make light of the fact that the length needed is the same as the infamous Corpse Flower on their grounds. Their restaurants will be open, selling food in a curbside setting for people to eat, away from each, other around the gardens. By limiting their attendance to a quarter of their usual number, they estimate each acre can hold 11 people while giving them enough space to avoid spreading the virus.

“From one week to the next, the whole world seems to change so our job every single day is to take the facts and the situation that are presented to us and do our very best job,” he said. “That’s our whole society’s job.”

Denver Botanic Gardens Chatfield Farms has yet to determine when it will reopen, staff explain the two locations are in different counties so they could not coordinate the openings together.

“We just want to make this a great experience, whether you’re wearing a mask, you’re sitting on a rock, or sitting on a chair down the road, let’s pull community together and find some level of restoration in gardens.”

LINK: botanicgardens.org/denver-botanic-gardens-phased-re-opening-plan

Shawn Chitnis

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