Take a trip into the gardens to experience nature in a way you never have before. Botanica Wichita opened in 1987 with four gardens and a horticultural library, but now has more than 30 themed gardens and exhibits that keep new visitors and return guests coming back for more.
The botanical paradise on the plains is planted around more than 18 acres of stunning gardenscaping, featuring more than 4,000 species of plants native and new to the region. The flowers change with the seasons as workers keep the gardens in pristine shape, changing out plants and spicing up the exhibits. The changing of leaves in the fall to the snow-glistening trees in the winter make Botanica the perfect photo opportunity.
In 2011, Botanica created its Downing Children’s Garden, an educational, imaginative, interactive environment where families can enjoy, discover and appreciate the natural world. From exploring giant bugs to climbing around carved trees with faces and limbs, kids follow a journey through their own imagination in the Downing Children’s Garden. Stop and play in the fountains, or make chalk creations outside the party barn. The Downing Children’s Garden is suited for all ages.
Installed in 2012, the Gene E. Spear Railroad Garden has a train that runs throughout the day. The exhibit includes miniature passenger cars and Santa Fe Warbonnet diesel engines, freight trains and Mikado steam locomotives and various work train cars.
In June 2015, another major addition to the garden took shape with the Chinese Garden of Friendship. This scholar-style-inspired garden, designed to celebrate Wichita’s relationship with its Chinese sister city, Kaifeng, uses traditional Chinese architecture, art and culture to inspire the community. This traditional Chinese garden is split into a “Earthly World” segment and a “Heavenly World” segment. The “Earthly World” includes a Kaifeng cast-iron, pagoda-shaped structure and art expressing the style of the Sung dynasty. In the “Heavenly World,” guests will find a waterside pavilion with a sitting bench and place to view bamboo plants.
What would a garden be without butterflies? Botanica’s Butterfly Garden is designed to bring wild butterflies to Wichita naturally, and encourage them to stay. With flowers providing food year-round, visitors can stop by to try and spot different breeds of butterflies as they make their way through their migratory patterns. The garden is usually most active during summer and fall.
The Butterfly Garden is different from the Butterfly/Pansy House, which is only open from June-September. The Butterfly Pansy House is a controlled environment for butterflies, providing a public exhibit for people to learn about the butterfly life cycle. Between the months of October-May, 40 different varieties of pansies bring vibrant color to the greenhouse while the butterflies are away.
The Shakespeare Garden opened in 1988 as one of the first gardens dedicated when Botanica opened. Stop by to see the art of the Shakespearean garden that is up during all four seasons: Shakespeare’s Bust, Arton Sundial and Ornamental Panels. Many of the plants in this garden have been featured or mentioned in the works of William Shakespeare.
Take a walk through the Woodland Walk portion of Botanica Wichita where this ¼-mile trail winds through an existing nature area. Keep your eye out for birds and small wildlife that call the woodlands home. Similarly, the Woodland Bird Garden, dedicated in June 2008, gives a nice, natural habitat with more than 300 newly-planted trees perfect for local birdlife.
Learn all about the more than 30 themed gardens at Botanica Wichita by clicking here.
Botanica Wichita is part of a Joyland Carousel restoration project. Joyland was a theme park in Wichita that operated for nearly 60 years until its doors closed permanently in 2004. One of the most iconic pieces of that park – an Allan Herschell carousel – was saved and donated to Botanica in May 2014. Botanica is currently working to raise funds to restore the carousel into a special pavilion on its property. There are only three carousels like this one left in the world, meaning Botanica will be home to one of the rarest collections in history.
Learn more about how you can get involved with this project here.