In my January letter, I shared with you the overview of the Garden’s new 10-year strategic plan, which focuses on the four main pillars of the Garden’s mission. While all of the services the Garden offers are important, the one that affects members the most is the quality of the visitor experience.
From the moment you and your fellow 900,000 visitors arrive at the Chicago Botanic Garden—by car, bus, Garden Trolley, bike, or on foot—we strive to deliver pleasure and a sense of understanding and belonging. Whether your first contact is with an employee at the Gatehouse or a volunteer in the Visitor Center, you are offered our new map. Children find materials created for them. Wheelchairs and tram accessibility are available for those who need them. And the membership and information desk make it easy to feel part of our 49,000 member-family community.
At the heart of the Garden’s visitor experience is our living museum of three native habitats and 24 display gardens with 2.3 million plants, architecturally significant buildings, works of art, and unique, handwritten signs adding depth to what we see. Come for answers to gardening questions, information on conservation, nature-themed gifts, and meals made with locally grown produce, healthy snacks, refreshing drinks, and sweets—all served with exceptional views both indoors and out.
The Garden provides a perfect setting to celebrate birthdays, weddings, and holidays, take classes or photographs, watch cooking demonstrations or summer sunsets, and paint or listen to music. Enjoy exceptional views from benches or along paths and roads while walking. The Garden’s website makes it easy to grow with the Garden and stay connected with everything it offers.
More than 240 full-time staff, 40 part-time staff, 170 seasonal workers, 1,200 Garden volunteers, and 1,200 corporate/group volunteers are here to serve you. In 2009, the Garden’s amazing volunteers—including members of the President’s Circle—contributed more than 105,000 hours—the equivalent of 50 full-time employees.
The Garden is here for people visiting for the first time or the thousandth. On behalf of us “behind the scenes,” we thank you for your support. As we continue growing together, please know I would welcome your suggestions on ways to continue enhancing the amenities and services the Garden offers. It is your experiences with the Garden that inspire us—and which give me joy.
I look forward to seeing you at the Garden soon.