After many years of planning and construction, the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens is ready to cut the ribbon on its new 28,000 sq. ft. Grand Greenhouse Conservatory. The Cheyenne Botanic Gardens is Wyoming’s only public botanic garden.
It is unheard of to have a botanic garden in a city the size of Cheyenne (pop. approx. 60,000), but with the help of volunteers, an active non-profit partner (Friends of the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens) and City support, Cheyenne has been able to support an award-winning, innovative project. The doors will be opened to the public with a ribbon-cutting ceremony scheduled for Monday, August 14, at 10 a.m. at 710 S. Lions Park Dr.
The public is invited to participate in the ribbon cutting by bringing their own scissors to commemorate the new unique structure. The project also includes renovation of an existing greenhouse, to be completed in 2018. The project was mainly funded by a voter supported, countywide 1% sales tax, along with local fundraising, which helped to outfit the new building with plants, furniture and more. The total dollar amount for the renovation and construction projects, including in-kind donations, is approximately $20 million.
Besides featuring a large tropical plant collection, the facility also has a water feature, venues for meetings, events, and is the only botanic garden in the world that has a Navy submarine periscope. “Our periscope is part of our science education that centers on eyes, light and sight, and also includes an area for telescopes (for star viewing) and microscope stations,” said Shane Smith, Director of the Gardens. The design also includes many areas for the public to linger and enjoy the many tropical environments of the building.
“This new Grand Conservatory marks a win for Cheyenne, the High Plains, and Front Range. It will not only be a community gathering spot and a place to enjoy tropical plants, but also an indispensable educational resource,” said Casey Sclar, Executive Director of the American Public Gardens Association, which represents over 600 member public gardens across North America. Sclar noted, “There are over 121 million visitors a year to US botanic gardens, which is almost as many visitors as there are to all professional sporting events combined. But, botanic gardens have an even broader demographic than professional sports.”
Under Smith’s direction, the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. Smith speculated that, “this place will be Cheyenne’s living room that will function as a gathering place and an investment in Cheyenne’s quality of life, resulting in increased tourism, conferences, and a unique event center. During the campaign for the funding of this building, the Gardens often said it was a place, ‘Where everybody goes, and everybody grows,’ so finally we get to let people in.”
Initially, the building will be open from 10 am through 6 pm, Wednesday through Sunday, with plans to increase open days as staffing and operations are ironed out. General admission is free although donations are appreciated.