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The Season of Spice
Tuesday, March 28, 2017
by Benjamin Futa | Executive Director
Anyone who tends a garden is an artist – choreographers of the “slowest of the performing arts” – gardening. So much joy, excitement, and hope is found in the emerald green foliage of emerging spring bulbs. Even before the flowers emerge, they’re a harbinger: the warm-up act of a carefully curated horticultural performance that will span the next 12 months until the cycle begins again. In this spirit, we are renewed and energized for another season in the Allen Centennial Garden.
This year, the Garden team has been carefully crafting its next performance – the Season of Spice. The Season of Spice is a celebration of the robust and colorful culture of gardening, and I’m excited to share a preview of our 2017 season with you.
Our summer calendar is the most ambitious yet, with the return of popular events and programs from 2016, with a few new faces in the mix. 2016’s Final Fridays are returning, this time as “Best. Fridays. Ever.” Featuring a robust mix of live music, hands-on activities, and delicious food provided by some of Madison’s premier food cart vendors, this series celebrates the culture in horticulture. The summer workshop series returns too, this year inspired by the culinary stories of Spice. Summer Sunday Concerts are also making a comeback, with an exciting new partnership with the Wisconsin Union Theatre.
New programs to look forward to include S’mores, Stories, and Science, an overnight event for all ages, and Garden to Vase, a series celebrating local and seasonal cut flowers. Our wellness programs also will be expanding, with weekend yoga for families and morning yoga gardeners and Friends members. We’re also branching out into the world of Horticulture Therapy, as we adopt a therapy garden at the UW Veterans’ Hospital. A combined team of Garden staff, students, and volunteers will work with veterans once a week throughout the growing season, harnessing the healing power of horticulture for the betterment of all.
But our programs are just the beginning of our plans for the Garden’s performance in the coming years.
A team of Garden stakeholders, together with Ken Saiki Design, have been crafting an update of the Garden’s landscape master plan, and is nearing completion. This long-range plan sets the stage for a range of major updates, upgrades, and changes in the coming years. Visitor accessibility, maintaining the Garden’s relevance, and improving the visitor experience have been the driving forces in the plan. Stay tuned for the full unveiling of the master plan later this year.
Last, but certainly not least, we’re investing in the critical foundation that will allow us to become the Garden we envision through the master plan. Our exceptional volunteers and students are the backbone of the Garden, and we’re committing to develop both in new ways.
A new Volunteer Committee through the Friends of Allen Centennial Garden will help us create and tailor personalized, meaningful, fun, and fulfilling volunteer experiences that go beyond gardening. Following a wonderful season kickoff on March 19, our volunteers are primed to play an active role in making 2017 a banner year.
For our students, we’re continuing to develop and expand our Student Director program. This robust framework of student leadership is designed to produce highly capable future leaders in our graduates; future responsible stewards of our land. Student Directors also help bridge the gap between the Garden and their peers, inviting fellow young adults to discover how welcoming and important a garden can be.
It’s a tall order, this Season of Spice, and our team is ready to meet it head on to deliver the most exciting season yet. Together, we’ll continue to expand the potential of the Garden as a natural gathering space, an anchor of compelling and inclusive culture, and an exceptionally beautiful space.
We look forward to welcoming you back into the Garden.