Botanical garden in Saratoga?


This is NOT Saratoga Springs (it's actually the New York Botanical Gardens), but maybe it could be.

Saratoga Springs kind of has it going on. Sure, there's the racing thing, but there's also shopping, SPAC, restaurants, a little night life and a state park with tennis, skating, a theater, golf, hiking trails and two swimming pools. What's it missing? Brett Van Zandt says a botanical garden. Van Zandt is heading up a movement to build The Springs Botanical Garden in Saratoga's Spa State Park. Here's the dirt on the big garden plan:

When you think, "What does Saratoga really need?" why is a botanical garden the answer?

Something like this, to be successful, can't just be for Saratoga Springs. This Garden will be really reflective of the region. We have board members from Albany County, Saratoga County, Schenectady County and Washington County. The idea is a botanical garden that can be enjoyed by people in the region and marketed to the 1.5 million visitors that come to Saratoga Springs each year.

I like the idea of going to a place that 's beautiful and inspiring. We have such a varied group of citizens. Not everyone is interested in visiting Spa Park as it is right now. This will be an add on. It's another thing for people to enjoy.

What was the reaction from the State Park people? How involved are they?

We're working with them. I started talking with them a year ago in the summer and they expressed great interest as an organization and personally. In the fall we solidified a partnership. We can now accept donations for the project.

Spa State Park is also going through a master planning project. They'll be adding tennis courts and other things. They're going to incorporate this into their master plan. So we're working with them to make it happen, but we're also moving ahead and raising money on our own.

How are you going to make this project as important to other people as it is to your organization?

We truly don't intend to go out and sell the project at all. We're just going to put it out there to the community. There have been some articles and I've given a few talks and it's amazing how much interest has been generated. We've gotten well over 100 emails from all over the country. A lot of people I've talked with can't believe this hasn't come up sooner.

If in general people say this is a waste of money, time and resources, we will respect that, but from what I've seen already, I think it will happen in some form or other. Maybe it will be on a smaller scale than what we've planned, but I think people want this.

Why would we visit this? What would we see?

It's very challenging to communicate the project because a lot of people have never experienced a botanical garden, but if you have you know. Just imagine a structure 20 thousand square feet. A glass conservatory you could visit in the winter that runs on renewable energy. A cafe. A traditional Victorian greenhouse with rose gardens trails to arboretums for unique trees. Sections of gardens. I'd love to see a Japanese garden. An enclosed 40 acre parcel with beautiful flowers. Just a beautiful, inspirational place to go.

photo by Flickr user lemoncat1, used under a Creative Commons attribution/ share-alike license


I visited Yaddo gardens the other day and also came to the conclusion that a botanical garden would be a lovely addition to Saratoga. I think the public areas of Yaddo would be a great location because of the rose gardens, the arbors and statues, and the shade gardens that are already in place. Imagine the ponds at Yaddo surrounded by beautiful gardens.

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