Olbrich Botanical Gardens offer free tours of new greenhouses, learning center

Olbrich Botanical Gardens started giving free, public tours of its new greenhouses and Frautschi Family Learning Center on Friday.

After years of planning, the $12 million project allows the gardens to grow an additional 10,000 plants per year and includes updated technology to improve plant growth.

The tour lasts about 45 minutes and takes people through the greenhouses, where they will see its new environmental controls and spaces that will serve the Botanical Gardens’ outdoors gardens and conservancy. People are also shown the Frautschi Family Learning Center, which is the Botanical Gardens’ first-ever space dedicated just to education and learning.

“For elementary school kids, it’s really important that they learn about the natural world because we’re going through so much change,” said Roberta Sladky, the director for the Olbrich Botanical Gardens. “It’ll be really important in the future to have scientists who know about plants.”

The greenhouses and learning center are still under construction, but Sladky estimates they’ll be done by the end of January 2020.

Sladky is excited about the renovations because she said it’s the first time since 1991 that the Botanical Gardens had a major building change. She said these new greenhouses are state-of-the-art. They include functions such as controls that monitor water temperature.

The Botanical Gardens have not yet met its $12 million budget. It received $6 million from the city of Madison, but is relying on the other $6 million from fundraising. The gardens need a little less than $1 million to meet the cost of renovations.

Tours of the new additions go till Dec. 20. Those interested in participating on a walking tour can visit the Botanical Garden’s website to RSVP.

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