Construction Update – Pardon Our Dust!

If you’ve visited in the last six months, you’ve noticed: We’re GROWING! …and not just plants, but buildings and patios and new themed garden spaces. Through the support of private donors, we’ve been chipping away at elements of original Master Plan conceived by Dennis Buettner in 2004.

In June we opened a new RESTROOM BUILDING thanks to significant donations, including from Nancy Brock, Doug and Lisa Gaeddert, John and Judy Goebel, Marly and Laura Rydson, Mid-City Supply Company, Niblock Construction, and FM Construction Company. The landscaping and approaches surrounding the building are on hold while we complete additional projects surrounding the Restroom Building, however the restrooms themselves are gorgeous and in use!

Immediately adjacent the restroom is our CHILDREN’S GARDEN, currently under construction, a gift from the Rex and Alice A. Martin Foundation. Currently, you’ll see two large excavations near the entrance to the Children’s Garden, where construction crews are setting the footers for the formal entry plaza, a circular gathering space with creatively placed seat walls that overlook (what will be) flowing waters beneath, as water flows over the newly constructed weir which sets the water level for the South Pond. Additionally, an amphitheater stage, seating, and shade sail structure are in the works utilizing the existing Well House that will be a central element in the Children’s Garden. The wooden corner posts for two structures in the Garden are made from Osage Orange (Maclura pomifera), one of the finest and most durable post materials that grow in the area (these were repurposed logs reclaimed locally) – – not to mention a BEAUTIFUL fresh wood color. The yellow-orange color will be preserved in several exposed cuts (see photos below). Still lots to do in the Children’s Garden, but he progress is fantastic!

Construction on the Island Garden, our Japanese garden-themed space, is once again underway. We had been awaiting the arrival of 10, 7-foot granite slabs that were quarried and shipped from New York specifically for the ‘Grand Staircase’, a critical element of the Island Garden. The Island Garden is made possible by a generous gift from Don and Jurate Krabill. Much of the work in a Japanese garden focuses around boulders and stone work, each chosen and placed carefully. Our Island Garden was designed by Sadafumi “Sada” Uchiyama, the Curator of the Portland (OR) Japanese Garden and noted Japanese Garden designer. Gabe Gratzol of Rustic Rocks, who has done much of the recent stonework at Wellfield is implementing the design, working in chorus with Wellfield’s Building and Grounds Chair, Eric Amt, and Dennis Smeltzer, Project Manager, to ensure that timing of projects goes smoothly and efficiently. Along with the ‘grand staircase’, an ADA accessible pathway is being constructed to ensure accessibility for those with mobility challenges. Stone retaining walls, key boulders, and grading continue through this summer, as well as continued work on the mountain stream and waterfall, which eminates from the top of the Island near Yu Sui Te (‘Pavilion befriended by waters’).

You’ve probably heard our most recent gift of garden art, a 14-foot windchime, a gift from Lois Leib in memory of her late husband, Richard. The large, yet graceful windchime is suspended from a massive oak tree branch, swaying above the popular seat wall just across the Goebel Bridge. This area was recently renovated with a gift from the Elkhart Rotary Club, commemorating the 100-Year Anniversary of their club, established in 1917. The renovations included a newly designed pathway running along the seatwall, a large bronze plaque commemorating their Centennial Event as well as a time capsule within a vault scheduled to be opened in 2117, containing items from this past century of service to the community.

I hope you’re anticipating these projects as much as we are – – and that you’ll pardon our dust in the meantime. Please join us this Saturday, August 26 for the 9th Annual Taste of the Gardens, produced by the Elkhart Rotary Club, benefitting Wellfield Botanic Gardens.

Thank you for supporting Wellfield and I look forward to seeing you in the Garden! Enjoy the slideshow below with photos of the projects I’ve mentioned above.

-Eric Garton
Robert and Peggy Weed Executive Director

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