Naples Botanical Garden creating new art exhibit, fall walk for visitors this season
Summer is a time of renewal, and Naples Botanical Garden is growing and changing to prepare for the region's busy winter season.
On a balmy Wednesday, the garden was quiet, not one visitor in sight. If you stayed still and listened closely, you could almost hear the buzzing of bees and the flapping of butterfly wings.
And the sound of garden shears and leaf blowers.
That's because the garden is closed Sept. 17 through Sept. 30 for annual maintenance, which means new attractions for the themed gardens.
"This is the time of the year when we don't have as many visitors so it's a good time to do this," said Liz Chehayl, Brian Holley curator of collections, as she walked the grounds, where dozens of staff members and volunteers planted new flowers.
For two weeks, they will plant and label new trees and flowers, replant large palms and install art pieces for a new exhibit.
Naples Botanical Garden reopens Oct. 1. Here's what new things you can expect to see this season.
New glass art exhibit
Starting Oct. 1, the garden will feature a new exhibit, Reflections on Glass: Fräbel in the Garden from German artist Hans Godo Fräbel, who lives in Atlanta.
About 13 pieces of his collection — glass sculptures in the shape of playful figures and botanical pieces and installations — will be placed over bodies of water across the garden and displayed until March 31.
The art exhibit is included with regular admission.
The East Naples attraction is closed Sept. 17-30. The garden reopens Oct. 1 with several new features, upgrades. Ashley Collins, email@example.com; 239-213-6029
Get up close and personal with butterflies
A screened butterfly house already brings visitors close to the colorful creatures. But the popular attraction inside The Vicky C. and David Byron Smith Children's Garden is getting a much needed face lift, said Nick Ewy, associate director of horticulture.
A wider pathway unobstructed by vegetation.
"We really want to open the space up so visitors can see the butterflies," Ewy said.
Plenty of vegetation, particularly nectar plants, will still fill the garden, but strategically placed off the pathway.
And small hills will dot the updated landscape.
The purpose of the garden, said Liz Chehayl, is to keep their butterflies healthy.
"We don't focus on breeding butterflies in here. We focus on letting the butterflies thrive so they're feeding on the plants, not laying eggs," she said.
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Inaugural fall event
The tropical garden will transform into an autumnal paradise for the inaugural Fall Walk in the Garden.
Take a stroll in the garden lit up with orange lights, dance to music, find the perfect pumpkin in a patch and enjoy seasonal treats.
Tickets will be available beginning Oct. 2. The three day event runs 6- 9 p.m., Oct. 26-28.
For ticket info: tickets.naplesgarden.org/webstore/shop/ViewItems.aspx?CG=WS&C=WSGA
Large palms, redesigned pathways, other new features
To upgrade the walking experience, staff is redesigning several pathways during the two-week closure, Chehayl said.
Workers will modify the entry way to The Kathleen and Scott Kapnick Brazilian garden. The original pathway to the garden was split into a couple of different routes, confusing visitors, she said, so they're building a wide path that'll lead straight to it.
Also, a wooden dock near the attraction's main entrance is under renovation, including a large water feature at the Scott Florida Garden, which offers guests plenty of water views.
Botanical staff estimates 40 palm trees will be transplanted before Oct. 1. The move isn't just for aesthetic purposes; it's also to ensure trees continue growing healthy and strong.
While all these projects will be complete before reopening day, Ewy said their work is never truly done.
"We're constantly evolving and changing," he said about his staff and the garden. "Us outdoor people, we're all plant nerds. We love plants and it's our hobby to collect and grow plants and we do it for a living, so it's awesome."