UC Botanical Garden set to reopen

Next week, the UC Botanical Garden will begin reopening to visitors after being closed for more than three months – first to members on Tuesday, then to the general public on July 22.

The 34-acre garden is home to more than 10,000 types of plants, including a large collection of plants native to California as well as species with origins ranging from Italy to South America, according to its website. The garden also serves as a site for research and plant conservation projects.

According to a press release from the garden, it has developed and implemented new procedures to ensure the safety of guests and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic. These measures include implementing a ticket-only entrance, limiting the number of visitors each time to less than 200 per day, and requiring face masks for visitors over 5 years of age.

“There was nothing we could do until the governor issued guidelines for outdoor gardens and museums,” said Lewis Feldman, executive director of the garden and professor of plant biology at UC Berkeley.

Instead, Feldman said the garden has found ways to connect with its members and the public through online programs, including an ethnobotany symposium that drew more than 100 attendees.

“Because we have a living collection, it’s not like a museum and we can’t just stop taking care of the plants,” said Feldman, explaining that the staff continued to work in the garden throughout. along its closure. “The only downside is that during the best time for the garden, which is spring, when everything was in bloom, no one could see it except the staff.

Feldman added that due to the garden being closed to visitors, he has seen many more birds and lizards, and staff members have occasionally spotted turkeys and other small animals.

About 85% of the garden’s budget is self-generated, with only a small percentage coming from UC Berkeley, according to Feldman. However, the garden was able to avoid layoffs despite its reduced income when it closed.

“We want to encourage students to come and do what’s called a contemplative tour, which suggests places in the garden for people to relax and unwind,” Feldman said, adding that a shuttle takes students directly. in the garden, which he called a good place to “think a little about nature and think about the wild environment”.

Feldman added that opening the botanical garden is one of the first steps in the general reopening of the campus, and a successful reopening will help convince parents that it is safe to send their children to campus.

Contact Jessica Li at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @ Jessicali57.

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