As spring draws near, many people are itching to go outdoors. If you are one of them, look no further than Lauritzen Gardens. The gardens are made up of a living museum with four-season plant displays that are both beautiful and educational. If you have visited the gardens recently, you will have noticed the unique artwork throughout Lauritzen. Referred to as Metamorphosis, the artwork is made entirely from trash in an effort to draw attention to the issue of plastic waste. It is the garden’s first-ever art exhibit with an environmental message, but as Jim Locklear, the Director of Conservation at Lauritzen, said, “it is a natural outgrowth of our commitment to environmental stewardship”.

This isn’t the only way that Lauritzen is helping to grow the green movement; they also contribute to nation-wide conservation efforts.

“We are a participating institution in the Center for Plant Conservation (CPC), a collective of the nation’s leading botanical institutions working to prevent the extinction of plants,” Locklear said. The CPC got its start in San Diego. Its mission is to “conserve and restore the imperiled native plants of the United States to secure them from extinction” (from the CPC’s website).  Locklear also mentioned Nebraska’s native plants.

“We grow plants from around the world but have a strong commitment to helping our visitors appreciate the beauty of plants that are native in the woodlands and prairies of Nebraska and the Midwest. Because of this, we grow many native trees, shrubs, grasses, and wildflowers,” Locklear said.

The gardens themselves are on a hundred-acre plot of land by the Missouri River, but what many people don’t know about is Lauritzen’s woodland area.

“[One thing that is under-appreciated is that] in addition to all of our planted garden areas, we have a ten-acre stand of natural oak woodland with a walking trail, and beautiful overlooks of the Missouri River valley,” Locklear said.

From beautiful native flowers, to artwork, to environmental efforts, Lauritzen Gardens has a little something for everyone.

If you want to learn more about Lauritzen Garden’s conservation efforts across NE and the Great Plains, visit https://www.lauritzengardens.org/Conservation/.

To learn more about the CPC, visit http://saveplants.org/

Story by Elliot Evans, Pictures by Emma Rieser

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