Spring is in the air and a wonderful place to soak in the beauty of the season is the Clovis Botanical garden.
Located at 945 N. Clovis Avenue, between Alluvial and Nees, this three-acre water-wise garden is composed of plants and landscapes that are native to our region and thrive in our Mediterranean climate.
The garden was the vision of the late Gorden Russell. In the 1990s he approached then Clovis mayor, Pat Wynne, about turning a city owned lot into a garden. A non-profit organization was formed and the Clovis Botanical Garden opened in 2002.
The all-volunteer ran garden has expanded over the years and offers educational activities for children, seminars and other events for the public. Despite the growth, many members of the community still aren’t aware that the Clovis Botanical Garden exists.
“Most people drive by here and don’t stop,” says Perry Coy, a board member with the Clovis Botanical Garden. “You’ve got to stop and smell the flowers, literally.”
The garden is open Wednesdays through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., rain or shine. There’s no fee to enter, but donations are accepted and memberships are available.
Coy spends several days a week in the garden. The retired State of California biologist helps maintain the grounds. He takes on large projects, like moving 700 pound rocks, using skills his grandfather, a horticulturist, taught him decades ago.
“It’s kind of cool to do something my grandpa taught me 60 years ago,” he said.
Coy’s wife, a retired teacher, is also a volunteer. They give tours to school groups and others that visit.
The Clovis Botanical Garden is a place to escape. People use the space to meditate, take photographs and explore nature. Visitors can bring food in and have a picnic. There’s also a 1,200 square foot pavilion that the organization rents out for parties.
Becky Zagha recently visited the Clovis Botanical Garden with her 7-year-old daughter, Talya. They were next door at Dry Creek Park, when they decided to stop in.
“It’s a nice little place to get away from the hustle,” Zagha said. “When I was a child, we lived in Arizona, so I loved seeing the cactus.”
Zagha’s daughter learned about the different plants at the garden by taking part in a scavenger hunt. Visitors can pick up a free activity sheet on site in the information office.
“It’s nice, quiet and shady,” said the Foothill Elementary student. “My favorite thing was the water fountain.”
Several times a year the garden hosts “Science Saturday” events for children grades K-4th. There’s one happening on March 7th from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. The theme is Pollinators. It’s $5 per child.
“We try to bring the children in so they can learn and establish an understanding of nature,” said Carole Bence, a longtime volunteer. “Kids need to get off the phones and iPads and explore.”
Friday, March 20th and Saturday, March 21st the Clovis Botanical Garden will be hosting their yearly “Spring Into Your Garden” event.
Water-wise and California native plants will be for sale both days. They’ll range from $5 to $20 dollars. Several hundred will be sold.
“It’s one of our biggest fundraisers,” said Pat Wynne, board member for the garden. “We don’t get any money from the city. We have to raise everything. This is an important event for us.”
From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 21st, in addition to the plant sale, there will be garden tours, exhibitors and guest speakers. There’s a $5 entry fee for adults. Children and Clovis Botanical Garden Members are free.
Local horticulturist, John Pape will speak at 10 a.m. about “Caring for Climate Appropriate Trees.” At Noon Elinor Teague will speak about “Fertilization in Our Hot Dry Climate.”
“People are excited,” Bense said. “They get great advice for their garden.”
In the coming years the Clovis Botanical Garden hopes to build a state-of-the-art Visitors’ Center, designed by architect Arthur Dyson.
The center would create a space for the community to gather for lectures and educational series. Friday, April 10th an event called “Starry Night” is taking place at the garden to help raise funds for the project.
Anyone interested in learning more about this event or anything else related to the Clovis Botanical Garden can visit their website at ClovisBotanicalGarden.org