OGDEN — Twenty-five years ago, the first seeds of the Ogden Botanical Gardens were planted. Today, that little oasis on the Ogden River has sprouted into a popular destination that attracts six-figure crowds each year.
“When we started, all we had was the rose garden, a building and some pavilions,” said Jerry Goodspeed, director of the Ogden Botanical Gardens. “Over 25 years it has really grown, in terms of the gardens themselves.”
These days, the gardens cover 12 acres, with more than 120 types of trees represented and in excess of 120,000 visitors each year. Goodspeed says that last figure is a far cry from 1994, when they had “maybe 20 people” attend the Ogden Botanical Gardens modest grand opening.
“It’s a much bigger garden now, with a lot more people coming,” he said. “We feel we have influenced the community for the positive. It’s a place you can go to relax and enjoy the beauty of a garden — right in the middle of the city.”
On Thursday, Aug. 1, a 25th anniversary celebration will be held at the Ogden Botanical Gardens, 1750 Monroe Blvd. From 4-8 p.m., visitors can wander the gardens and enjoy live music, food trucks, garden tours, youth activities, a scavenger hunt, art walk, silent auction and much more.
Tours will be led throughout the event, offering visitors a glimpse at gardens large and small — including an oriental garden, an edible demonstration area, an accessibility entrance and garden, and a new water-usage demonstration garden.
Information about which roses grow best in Weber County will also be presented.
At 6 p.m., a non-timed “Run Through the Roses 5K” race will be held; registration is $35. A Kids’ Fun Run precedes it at 5:30 p.m. No registration is required for the kids’ run.
And the best part? Organizers will offer free Aggie Ice Cream to the first 250 people who visit the gardens’ education building.
Although the weather has been a little hard on the Ogden Botanical Gardens this year, Goodspeed said it’ll be ready for Thursday’s festivities.
“It’s the middle of summer, so there are some dry spots,” he admitted. “But we have a crew coming in … to clean it up a bit.”
Goodspeed said the purpose of the botanical gardens is to train and educate people on the wise use of water, plants and related resources. It also offers a location where the public can engage in hands-on learning, see a variety of plants, and get ideas for their own gardens.
Goodspeed offers a couple of reasons why the Utah State University Extension Service-affiliated gardens is hosting this open house.
“One is to say ‘Thanks,’” he said. “It’s been a good 25 years for us.”
Beyond that, Goodspeed said they hope to let people know that the botanical gardens are there, and that the venue has a lot to offer the community.
“The more people who come and enjoy it, the better off we are,” he said. “That’s why we have it here — for people to come and learn and enjoy.”
As for what the next 25 years might hold for the Ogden Botanical Gardens? Goodspeed has a few ideas.
“I’m a dreamer,” he said. “I have dreams.”
Among those dreams, Goodspeed would like to see the creation of a one-acre children’s garden to give young people more hands-on experience with soil and plants — “a good area where they can go and play and experience it.”
He’d also like to see the arboretum greatly expanded, with many more types of trees added.
And finally, Goodspeed touts the idea of a larger visitors center with more classroom space and educational opportunities for the public.
Admission to Thursday’s Ogden Botanical Gardens event is free.
For more information, visit ogdenbotanicalgardens.org, or call 801-399-8080.