Located in the Heart of Elkhart, Indiana at the north end of the Gateway Mile
What’s happening at Wellfield?
2023’s theme at Wellfield is the Year of New Horizons. When you visit, you’ll notice some big changes are starting to happen; we’re in the beginning phase of our Events and Visitors Center Expansion Project. We’re excited for this transformative project to begin! For more information, visit: https://www.wellfieldproject.com/
To read our media release regarding the public phase of the capital campaign and learn how you can help, CLICK HERE. And here’s a link to a story our local CBS affiliate did recently: WSBT 9/7/23 Feature
We will try to make this project as comfortable for our guests as possible, but anyone who’s done a remodeling project knows it’s not always easy, and things at the entrance to the Gardens may look a little different for a while. Once you’re inside and past the construction, it’s the same place you know and love. We promise, the end result will be worth it!
Parking On our busiest days, our parking lot may be ADA access and drop off only. Parking is plentiful at the NE corner of Main & Simonton, so it’s probably best to plan on parking there. From there, it’s a short (about 100 yard) walk to our Visitors Cottage. Please watch for cars/pedestrians when walking/driving through our parking lot.
Entry / Exit Entry to the Gardens will remain unchanged for now, and the same friendly faces you’re used to will greet you when you enter the Visitors Cottage.
Accessibility Due to construction equipment/plans, some of our paths may be blocked and/or unaccessible during your visit – our staff and volunteers in the Visitors Cottage will help guide you to what’s happening on the day you visit.
Visit this page regularly for updates and follow our progress here or on our social media pages!
Wellfield Project Frequently Asked Questions
Why did you cut down all those trees? Wellfield’s original Master Plan, developed by Landscape Architect Dennis Buettner and adopted in 2005 by the new Wellfield Botanic Gardens’ Board of Directors, called for the eventual expansion of our visitors’ amenities to meet a growing need. That need is here. The Master Plan called for a Visitors Center, Open Air Pavilion, relocation and repurposing of the existing Visitors Cottage and expansion of available parking. The Events and Visitors Center Expansion Project, now underway, requires additional space be cleared for this construction.
In total, the construction plan calls for removal of approximately 100 trees and shrubs over several acres of the site, ranging in size from a few inches in diameter to over 12″ in trunk diameter. Hundreds of new and transplanted trees and shrubs, and thousands of plantings overall, are included in the landscape plan of the new features. Trees and plantings around the Visitors Center, the Open Air Pavilion, the generous tree islands within and around our expanded parking will provide shade, habitat, biomass, and other benefits for generations to come. In short, there will be many more trees and shrubs planted than have been removed.
As botanic garden professionals, no one is more pained by seeing trees cut down than we are. However, the necessary addition of these features and the benefit they will provide to our guests, the community, and Wellfield’s sustainability is what we’re focused on. Proper trees and shrubs in the proper places will ensure that we continue our important mission to celebrate the inseparable relationship between water and life, inspire creativity and lifelong learning, foster stewardship of our natural world, and grow community.
What is happening to the wood from the trees you’re cutting down? The tree trunks of good enough quality are being taken to the sawmill for the purpose of reuse. The hardwood logs will be used for furniture and other decorative finishes, while the cottonwood logs, because they are a softer, less desirable wood, will be used for pallet lumber. The smaller &/or hollow hardwood will be used for firewood, as it’s not fit for reasonable repurpose. The smaller limbs were mostly chipped up and used for ground cover. Organic material does not go to waste.
How long will the project take? As with any construction project, our timeline is an estimate and is subject to change. However, we are targeting Spring 2025. Our new parking lot (which may be the part of the project we’re ALL looking forward to the most!) will be completed in phases throughout 2024 and 2025.
What is happening to the Visitors Cottage? Our Visitors Cottage, which opened in April 2013 was always intended to be a temporary entrance to the Gardens. It has acted as our “little engine that could” for much longer than any of us expected – those doors have welcomed hundreds of thousands of guests and endured many bumps from strollers through the years!
The “VC”, as we call it, will be moved SW of its current location (near the water tanks) at some point in early 2024. In the meantime, you’ll see new fencing and some underground work taking place to get its new home prepped. It will remain our guest entrance/exit to/from the Gardens throughout construction, until our new Visitors Center is ready for its debut!
Moving the Cottage will take a few weeks – please bear with us while we do the work necessary to get it up and running and ready for another season. More details on the move coming soon. Don’t worry, it won’t go anywhere until after Winter Wonderland Holiday Lights 2023 (which begins November 24)!
Future uses for the VC are under consideration, but include education classes/programs, rental space for weddings and events, and meeting space for small groups interested in renting the building.
We appreciate your understanding during this exciting time in our history, and we’re looking forward to the future with a new and improved guest experience, indoor rental facilities, improved amenities for our members, volunteers and guests, and a well crafted experience for all.