What are the differences between a Botanic Garden and a city park?
Botanic gardens are living museums.
Botanic Gardens are botanically diverse, rather than simply aesthetic collections of plants that are actively curated by a professional staff. Efforts and programs are driven by a Mission which includes an emphasis on education and fostering an appreciation for the inseparable relationship between animals, plants and water. While a city park is also a valuable component in the community and may have diverse ornamental plantings cared for by staff, they are not always actively focused on enriching educational content, programming and events, or managing and improving guest experiences.
Botanic garden etiquette is also different from that of a park. Again, think of a botanic garden as ‘living museum’. Activities such as running, climbing trees, sports or sports equipment, wading in the water, swimming, boating, fishing, picnicking and similar activities are not permitted at Wellfield. There are some beautiful parks within walking distance if you’d like to use them for those activities – – just ask our staff, they can point the way.
Is there a dress code to enter the Gardens?
Sort of. We’re not a country club, but we’re not a city park, either. Think of us as a ‘living museum’ and the behaviors you might associate with that environment. Shoes and shirts are required at all times (and yes, that means pants, too!). This is as much about safety as it is about aesthetics – there can be rough (even sharp) surfaces or objects out there, good footwear is essential and a requirement for entry. If you have questions, ask.
Are there separate guidelines for the Children’s Garden that I should be paying attention to?
YES! Learn more about our Children’s Garden Guidelines here.
Do tax dollars support the operations of Wellfield Botanic Gardens?
Wellfield Botanic Gardens was founded in 2005 as a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization which derives all of its operating capital, development costs and endowment from private donations, user fees, annual memberships, private grants and earned income. Wellfield Botanic Gardens receives NO government or tax-based funding of any kind.
Why do we ask for identification and/or Membership Cards when you enter?
The simple answer beyond this being the standard and best practice in our industry: We value ALL of our guests. We wish to ensure that we’re providing both the best service and experience possible whether you’re a Member, frequent visitor, or if you’re here at Wellfield for the very first time.
Want a little more ‘why’…? As Wellfield is privately funded, in small part, by admission fees and annual membership support, we wish to ensure that you’re getting the best value for your visit.
- For our valued Members, that means we want to ensure that YOU, and no one else, is receiving your membership benefits. Different membership levels come with varying benefits. We know you value your membership benefits – – and we want to make sure they’re secure. When our staff or volunteers ask to see your membership card and/or identification, they’re upholding the integrity of your membership benefits. It also gives our staff and volunteers the chance to put names to faces, provide reminders of upcoming expiration dates, or relay special promotions as a benefit of membership.
- For our guests who are not currently members, thanks to our partnerships with private funders, Wellfield is able to offer free admission to residents of Elkhart County on Tuesdays during our Spring-Summer seasons (a great benefit of living in Elkhart County) and on other special event days throughout the year that feature free admission for all. To maintain that funding, we are obligated to collect guest information (currently that includes only your zip code) to validate the demand for funding. The data collected ALSO allows us to make requests or recommendations on additional funding, services, or events if the need becomes apparent based on geographic frequency. Please know your privacy is important to us – no personal information is ever collected/shared with others.
We are members at another garden – can we use that membership to visit Wellfield?
If that garden is a member of the American Horticultural Society, yes! More information can be found HERE. Free admission applies to the members named on the membership card, up to 2 complimentary adult admissions.
Is picnicking allowed?
No. To expand a bit on the ‘differences between a Botanic Garden and a City Park‘ FAQ above, for the health and safety of our wildlife as well as the cleanliness of our grounds, we do not allow picnicking at Wellfield. This includes coolers, picnic blankets, picnic baskets, portable tables/chairs, shade tents, barbecue grills, etc, – – you know, the stuff used to have a picnic. That said, we do have special events in which food may be purchased from permitted vendors or brought in, such as our Groovin’ in the Gardens Summer Concert Series, in which we have additional staff, volunteers, and additional receptacles for waste/recycling, and facility rental events that utilize catering, but during general admission hours, picnicking is not permitted. Visitors Cottage Staff are happy to provide directions to nearby city parks (there are several great areas within walking distance) which provide picnic tables, etc. We understand this may cause some inconvenience but appreciate our guests’ understanding of our situation and policies.
Can I jog or kick a soccer ball around in the Gardens?
No. As a living museum, we serve a diverse audience, many of whom come to Wellfield to enjoy the peace and serenity of the beautiful surroundings. There are wonderful parks in adjacent neighborhoods great for jogging; we can help you find one if you’d like to run or jog for exercise or take the kids to play ball. However, in addition to walking, we do offer ‘calmer’ forms of exercise and relaxation, like yoga – – check out our Yoga in the Gardens program here.
We want to celebrate a special occasion for our family – can we bring balloons or other party supplies in with us?
While we love when families choose Wellfield to mark milestones, we ask that you respect the natural surroundings and refrain from decorating with items such as balloons or streamers. Leftover materials (or in the case of helium balloons, “escapees”) can create litter and even health risks for wildlife that may ingest them. Have a photographer coming with you to document the event? Check out our photo policy before coming in. If you want to be sure, email us your plans at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll help you decide what is allowed into the Gardens.
We would love to have family pictures/senior pictures/engagement pictures, etc taken at the Gardens. Can we do that?
Wellfield offers a gorgeous backdrop for pictures! If you would like to come in for pictures, please review our photography policy page for our guidelines. A good rule of thumb is, if you are paying someone to take your photos, you need a permit. If you are a photographer who is using Wellfield photos in your business, on your website or for commercial use, you need a permit. If you are visiting Wellfield to commemorate that special occasion (wedding, engagement, prom, quincenara, baby, etc) with posed photos, you will need a permit.
Wellfield has a number of photographers who purchase annual passes; if you are in need of a photographer, email us at email@example.com and we can refer them to you. We encourage you to like, share photos and tag us on social media, as well!
Can I pick/harvest plant materials from the Gardens?
Generally, No. Our policy states that we do not allow for public harvest or collection of any plant materials, living or dead, from the grounds of Wellfield Botanic Gardens. There are rare, permitted exceptions including, but not limited to: routine horticultural maintenance by our horticulture staff and trained volunteers; food plant collection done by staff which is donated to local food banks; permitted scientific or agricultural collection of plant materials for testing or study; Wellfield-sponsored educational workshops, classes/labs; or collecting as a part of a permitted student-project or research study. Those who are collecting materials SHOULD BE readily identifiable (by badge, uniform, reflective vest, etc) as staff, volunteers, or others as noted. If you see someone collecting materials who is not clearly identifiable, let us know! You’ll be helping us keep Wellfield looking beautiful for our members and guests throughout the year.
Can I ride my bike through the Gardens?
No. We are a pedestrian-only botanic garden. We do encourage riding bicycles TO the Gardens for a visit; there is a bike rack located conveniently in the parking lot just outside our Visitors Cottage.
Can I bring my dog to Wellfield?
The ability to purchase an annual dog permit (valid for general admission) is a benefit of membership at Wellfield. As a current member, you may purchase a dog permit good for one year along with your membership. For more details see our membership page. PLEASE NOTE dogs are not allowed at special/ticketed events including, but not limited to, Groovin’ in the Gardens Summer Concert Series, Taste of the Gardens, Mother’s Day Brunch, Scarecrow Picnic, Monsters in the Garden, Wellfield Winter Wonderland Holiday Lights.
Can I get married or use the Gardens for a special event?
Of course! We’re a great place for that – – see our Event Rentals Page for details.
What is the relationship between the city of Elkhart and Wellfield Botanic Gardens?
The land that Wellfield Botanic Gardens sits upon is owned by the City of Elkhart and the site is still an active well site for the city’s water (in fact, nearly 70% of Elkhart’s drinking water comes from the well field!). Wellfield Botanic Gardens leases the property for the purposes of operating a not-for-profit botanic garden. Wellfield’s administrative offices are currently housed in the old Public Works Facility, located adjacent the Gardens at 921 North Main Street. Wellfield Botanic Gardens does not receive any monetary support from the City of Elkhart and is funded entirely through private donations, user fees, annual memberships, private grants and earned income. Wellfield Botanic Gardens receives NO government or tax-based funding of any kind. Wellfield works closely with the City of Elkhart on projects that may have potential impacts on the well field and water operations to ensure that projects comply with all local, state, and federal environmental guidelines and policies.
What is the relationship between the neighborhood and Wellfield Botanic Gardens?
“Having a property close to Wellfield Botanic Gardens is an asset and a selling point. The Gardens have impacted my property with a higher property appraisal. Wellfield Botanic Gardens is a benefit to the entire community.” – Levi King, property owner
Who funded the development of Wellfield Botanic Gardens?
Starting in the spring of 2003, the Elkhart Rotary Club worked with a steering committee to study the concept of the gardens, interview landscape architects and raise $235,000 from club members to create the Master Plan for Wellfield Botanic Gardens.
How is it funded now?
Wellfield is funded through private donations, user fees, annual memberships, private grants and earned income. Wellfield is a private, 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization and receives NO tax support.
Can we spread a deceased loved one’s ashes at Wellfield Botanic Gardens?
We do not allow spreading of ashes on our property. However we are in the planning stages of a ‘Memorial Garden’, with interment of ashes being a possibility.
A current option for creating a lasting memorial for a loved one is our Commemorative Paver program; click here for more information
What kinds of fish are found in the ponds and Christiana Creek here at Wellfield Botanic Gardens?
According to the City of Elkhart Aquatic Biologist [http://www.elkhartindiana.org/aquaticbiology] there are a number of species, including:
Common Carp (non-native)
Redear Sunfish (non-native)
Yellow Bullhead Catfish
Brown Bullhead Catfish