Keeper of the Plans

Botanica unveils plans for all-new ‘bee house,’ updates plans for Carousel Gardens

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2019 is shaping up to be quite a busy year at Botanica.

The gardens at 701 N. Amidon will open two new large-scale projects and an internationally acclaimed garden-wide Lego sculpture show in the summer.

Its Carousel Gardens, which have been in the works since Botanica was gifted the carousel from Joyland in 2014, are expected to open around September.

But before that, Botanica expects to open a newly announced project — the Alexander Bee House, in its Downing Children’s Garden.

The Bee House

Botanica received “a very substantial donation” from Tim and Lou Alexander earlier this year to create a “save the bees”-themed structure, said Botanica executive director Marty Miller.

Botanica has had five bee hives on the grounds for several years, and it sells the honey those bees produce in its gift shop.

The Alexander Bee House will be a new permanent home for those hives, Miller said.

The approximately 400-square-foot structure will feature educational information about bees, all enclosed in a hive-like structure, designed by local artist Connie Ernatt.

Ground has already been broken on the Bee House, which should be done by spring of 2019 “unless something happens with the crazy weather,” Miller said.

Botanica is still trying to raise an extra $20,000 to “enhance” the Bee House, Miller said.

Carousel Gardens

Botanica announced recently it had raised sufficient funds to complete the restoration of the Joyland merry-go-round, and progress is being made on the grounds.

The concrete slab and foundation is already in place for the Carousel Gardens, which will be constructed adjacent to the Downing Children’s Garden.

Steel beams are expected to be in place by Jan. 21 “and it’s going to start going up” from there, Miller said.

The garden will include water features and innovative sculptures by Connie Ernatt — in addition to a large pavilion building with a stage.

Miller anticipates a grand opening for the Carousel Gardens in mid-September, he said.

Botanica is still trying to raise an additional $1.5 million “to help finish out” the Carousel Gardens project by the end of March 2019.

Sean Kenney’s ‘Nature Connects’

Botanica will experiment with art in its gardens for the first time in the summer of 2019, when Lego artist Sean Kenney brings his traveling exhibition, “Nature Connects,” to Botanica.

"Nature Connects 2," 27 Lego sculptures in 14 different scenes at Powell Gardens, Kansas City's botanical garden. (May 1, 2015)

The exhibition features eighteen larger-than-life nature-themed Lego sculptures that will be scattered throughout the gardens.

Botanica originally announced the booking of the exhibition at Riverfest 2017.

It will be at the gardens from May 7 to Sept. 19, 2019.

Botanica’s director of special events Kathy Sweeney had previously told the Eagle that Botanica is also working to expand its popular Tuesdays on the Terrace series in summer 2019.

The gardens will be open late Tuesdays through Thursdays, with live music planned on both Tuesday and Thursday evenings. The gardens, as well as the Lego sculptures, will be illuminated with some of the string lights traditionally reserved for its popular Illuminations event, Sweeney said.

On Wednesday evenings next summer, Botanica is planning a series of family nights, she said.

During those evening hours, admission to the gardens will be $10 or $5 for members.

For more information on all Botanica happenings, visit its website at www.botanica.org or call 316-264-0448.

Matt Riedl covers arts and entertainment news for the Wichita Eagle and has done so since 2015. He maintains the Keeper of the Plans blog on Facebook, dedicated to keeping Wichitans abreast of all things fun.

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