Life in the time of COVID-19. Seemed like a perfect time to head for the hills. Last year at our annual fundraiser, the staff and I auctioned ourselves off for a hike along the Old Sauk River trail. With all the upheaval from the pandemic, it didn’t feel like it would happen. I’m happy to report that it did and that it was much needed. While many of the ephemerals were well past their prime, there were plenty of other sites to see.

Notably, Taxus brevifolia was one of the most amazing specimens we saw. They were old, mossy, and tall, reaching for the light. We found an abundance of deer fern here, beautiful patches that were knee-high. Rufus hummingbirds delighted all with their aerial shenanigans while we ate our lunches. Monotropes were just beginning to emerge along the paths. Both red and black huckleberry bushes were loaded with fruit, sustaining many of us as we walked and foraged.

In other developments, the summer camp programs are in session as of this week. This means the garden is closed to outside guests Monday thru Friday but open on Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm. We’ll follow this schedule through the 14th of August, at which point we will revert to our normal hours of operation, Friday thru Sunday, from 10 am to 5 pm.

Another bright spot in June was the welcome opportunity to be part of a marriage proposal here at the Kruckeberg Botanic Garden. Our friends at Pacific Northwest Catering were on hand as well to make sure the evening was perfect. If only she had said yes.

I’m kidding, of course, she said yes.

June had our gates open for the first time since March. We want to thank all those that came through the garden, bought plants and left donations. We are so appreciative. It was wonderful to have you here. It’s been said many times, but we really can’t do this without you. In that vein, I’ve come up with a Director’s Wish List to offer folks opportunities to help us during this difficult time. So often I see a need here that is simple to address but requires us to have a budget for it. There’s always something that is prioritized higher. Conversely, so many of these needs are what make our time and effort here either easier or more efficient. Other items on the list are truly wishes. Having a vision for making enhancements to the garden is a big part of the enjoyment in our job here. Simply put, we do not set much aside for plants and bulbs. Maybe this is something you want to be part of. Either way, thank you for looking at the list, perhaps there’s someone you know that can help.

Finally, please know that the garden and foundation are going to be fine despite this time of challenge and disbelief. We do have financial security even if it is tied up in other things than operational budgeting. Part of that is the funding assigned to the Children’s Garden and ADA Boardwalk project. I know that we will make sound decisions on how to prioritize our efforts to ensure the foundation’s place here at the Kruckeberg Botanic Garden.

With deep gratitude,

Joseph Abken, Executive Director