In 2014, Botanica and the architectural design firm, Perkins & Will, created the conceptual design of the Waterfront Botanical Gardens. The team studied the site in detail, worked to understand how our site relates to adjacent neighborhoods, and listened to Botanica members and community stakeholders to understand what we hope the gardens will be – all to ensure the best possible Master Plan.

Site Plan

Site Plan

Phase 1A | Education Leads the Way

The Graeser Family Education Center is the first completed building on the site, and opened in October 2019.

This early phase also includes the educational gardens around the building, the Evergreen tapestry, an entry garden, and driveway.

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Phase 1B | Outdoor Education Gardens

Phase 1B is complete. It features plaza surrounding the Graeser Family Education Center and the Edible Garden Planters. Also a part of the plaza area is the Water Wall, Native Gardens, Pollinator Gardens and “Capriccio” sculpture.

Completed in 2020 were the Rounsavall Family Foundation Plaza Fountain and the Beargrass Creek Pathway with a waterfall stream.


Phase 1C | The Garden Expansion

Phase 1C includes the Ellen T. Leslie Botanical Classrooms, opened in 2021. This 6,000 square foot building is the center of youth education in Phase 1 and complements the larger space provided by the Graeser Family Education Center. The Tree Allée will be filled with two dozen American Dream™ Swamp White Oak trees, benches, and a paved walkway. The Beargrass Creek Overlook will showcase a beautiful view of the creek and the wetlands beyond.

Phase 1D | The Garden Expansion Continues

The planned focus of Phase 1D is the development of the Japanese Garden, Tree Allée and Beargrass Creek Overlook. A tree allée of 24 American Dream Swamp White Oak trees will lead to the Overlook which has a beautiful view of Beargrass Creek. The Japanese Garden was designed by Nakane & Associates of Kyoto, Japan. Fundraising is under way for this authentic Japanese Garden.

Phase 2A | Welcome

The Visitors Center, Entry Garden, and Water Filtration Garden are the primary features planned for Phase 2A.

Phase 2B | The Garden Grows

Phase 2B of the Waterfront Botanical Gardens includes several remaining major outdoor garden areas. In addition to the Children’s Garden and the Planted Trellis, this phase will also create the Palisades Garden, Secret Garden, Sensory Garden, and more.

Phase 3 | Conservatory

The final phase of our Master Plan will include the garden’s Conservatory – what will surely become the crown jewel of the Waterfront Botanical Gardens.