Staying home this spring has us itching to get back to our favorite green spaces. Little by little, as the beaches, local parks and the Naples Zoo welcomed the public, “open” became a part of our vernacular again. Those with a vested interest in the collection of brightly-colored blooms and subtropical trees at Naples Botanical Garden had to wait a little longer, but the Garden reopened to members on June 22, and will welcome the public on July 6.
The reopening follows months of maintenance and implementation of extra safety measures. This summer, you can visit between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., with timed tickets available in 15-minute intervals to reduce the number of people flowing in and out of the Garden throughout the day.
Although things still look a little different from last season, the Garden has been primped, prepped and primed for its usual bevy of nature devotees. “We wanted to make sure we were starting with a robust plan,” says Renee Waller, director of communications and marketing for Naples Botanical Garden.
One-way walking paths guide guests through the Garden seamlessly, minimizing run-ins with other visitors. Masks are required in the buildings and when around others, but can be removed once visitors are at a safe distance from other parties. Signs posted near the ticket counter serve as gentle reminders to keep a six-foot distance or, by Naples Botanical Garden’s standards, one palm frond apart.
Two new water bottle-filling stations have become permanent fixtures on the property, encouraging visitors to hydrate while they stroll. Both stations, posted at the ticketing window and the restroom outside Fogg Cafe, are touch-free and designed so guests only have to hold their bottle close to the sensor by the tap. Hand sanitizer stations have also been strategically placed throughout the Garden, near buildings and other frequented areas.
Though the Smith Children’s Garden, LaGrippe Orchid Garden, sections of the Lea Asian Garden, and all other places that are tighter in space and often heavily populated are temporarily closed, guests can still order food from Fogg Cafe. The on-site, garden-fresh restaurant has streamlined the process to be quick and contactless. Once ready, the food will be packaged in eco-friendly to-go boxes, labeled with the customer’s name and left at a designated spot on a table in front of the cafe. Tables outside are spaced more than six feet apart so guests can enjoy their meals with views of the surrounding Garden.
The reopening is punctuated by a new art exhibit in Kapnick Hall, The Impressionist’s Garden: Plein Air Paintings by Paul Arsenault. The local artist has been a longtime supporter of the Garden and recently spent months amid the tropical property capturing the vivid contrast of its many spaces. The Brazilian Garden’s mosaic and waterfall and the turquoise cottage in the Caribbean Garden are two prominent spots on the property that Arsenault depicts in this collection, which will be on display until November.
The Garden will continue to stay open through season, though Waller says that summer is one of the most beautiful times to visit. The summer rains and humidity are ideal for subtropical plant species, leaving them lush with new growth. Plus, she adds, “everyone is excited to be outside.”
Member tickets can be reserved now, and tickets for the public can be reserved July 2. Learn about the new ticketing experience in this video by Naples Botanical Garden.