Visitors to Lendonwood Gardens next year will enter the botanical garden through a new, more welcoming front entrance, according to an announcement by board president Jim Corbridge.  Construction prep work is beginning on a new Welcome Center building at the front gate, with completion expected in about six months.

The new building will be constructed primarily from the proceeds of an insurance settlement after the fire loss of the garden’s rental house on the property last year. 

“After the fire, the board concluded that our mission really does not include being landlords of a rental home, so instead of rebuilding a residence, we started looking at our priority needs,” Corbridge said.  Among the key needs identified at the time was to create a place where trained volunteers could greet visitors, provide information, answer questions, accept admission fees, sell plants and staff a gift shop, he said.

 “Our current resources likely will not cover all the costs of the new Welcome Center, other improvements, and an operational budget shortfall caused by the COVED-19 pandemic,” he said.  “We will need to seek increased contributions from supporters in the community, as well as investigating grant possibilities.”

The building project is being coordinated by a board committee led by vice-president Jim Reynolds, who will work closely with the contractor to complete the facility.  Reynolds said the Welcome Center will measure 42 feet by 22.5 feet, not counting the deck, and will include space for ticket sales, gift shop, restrooms, storage, and a small meeting room.  He said the style of the facility will be consistent with the garden’s Pavilion at the Koi Pond. 

As part of the construction project, the old gatehouse will be demolished, along with part of the front fence, in order to accommodate the new building.  Many plants and small trees already have been relocated, although a few larger trees had to be cleared.

Corbridge said that plans for the new Welcome Center depend heavily on recruiting interested volunteers to staff the facility. 

“We are always in need of volunteers to care for the garden itself, but now we hope community members will step forward to help us greet visitors and attend to their needs.”  He pointed out that the new building will be air-conditioned.

The privately-owned garden is open to the public year-round, from dawn to dusk.  Botanical highlights include large collections of azaleas, rhododendrons, daylilies, hostas, peonies, Japanese maples, dogwoods, and many other plants and trees.

Lendonwood also has become a popular site for weddings and other special events.  For more information about Lendonwood, see the garden’s web site at www.lendonwood.com, or call 918-786-2938.

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