As animated tree figures emerge in the children's garden under construction at Botanica, plans for another new garden — a Chinese garden — are percolating.
A donor has pledged $1 million toward a Chinese garden — half of what it will cost to build, Botanica director Marty Miller said. Wichita's sister city in China, Kaifeng, also wants to contribute something to the garden, and a Kansas City architect who grew up outside Kaifeng has come up with a conceptual design for it.
"The theme is to develop a garden that would be like a garden you would find during the Ming dynasty in Kaifeng," Miller said. "So you're going to see a lot of chrysanthemums, because that's where they were developed. It tells you about the earthly and the heavenly world."
Tang Jin of GLMV Architecture's office in Kansas City, Mo., has done the conceptual design for the Chinese garden.
The walled garden would be a third of an acre to the north and west of the children's garden. This is on land west of Botanica that has been newly developed with roads and utilities.
Other sister cities' gardens — French and Mexican — also are part of Botanica's master plan, along with a home-demonstration edible garden and a conservatory, Miller said. Any one of them could emerge as Botanica's next garden if someone decides to finance it, he said.
"It did surprise us" when the donor, who does not yet want to be named, pledged the money for the Chinese garden, Miller said. Botanica has been trying to raise $1.5 million for an education center for the children's garden and had not been actively raising money for any other garden at the time of the gift. But now the two projects are in the hopper at the same time.
"We're a million dollars away" from the Chinese garden, Miller said. "We're planning for it because we already have the infrastructure because of the children's garden."
Concrete work on the $3 million Downing Children's Garden was slowed by the frigid weather this winter, but Miller thinks it will be made up quickly since the temperatures have soared. The garden is set to open this summer.
"A lot of the major stuff is already in," Miller said.
Jacque Lane, a member of the Wichita sister cities' China committee, recently visited China and talked to officials in Kaifeng about Botanica's Chinese garden, showing them a video about it.
"They're very excited," Lane said. "To them it's a real honor that Wichita is building this garden, and I hope it continues to show respect for our friendship with Kaifeng and let them know how important they are to us. People in Wichita will visit it and become familiar with the kind of gardens in China."
Kaifeng is known as the City of Chrysanthemums and has a chrysanthemum festival every October.
"There are flowers all over," Lane said.