Hundreds of people started pouring into the Humboldt Botanical Garden at 1 p.m. on Saturday for its ninth annual Garden Gala. HGB Executive Director Katie Hall said they pre-sold over 500 tickets this year. HBG is a 501(c)(3)non-profit and hosts the gala to help cover operating costs. “We raised $35,000 to $40,000 at the last one,” said Hall.
While $35,000 to $40,000 may seem like a lot to some, Hall said the gala is a vital part of sustaining the Humboldt Botanical Garden.
“We’re a small group of people who work very hard to sustain this garden,” she said.
On a 44 1/2 acre site, the garden offers opportunities for recreation, education, and relaxation. The Humboldt Botanical Garden has hiking trails, and is dog friendly, said Hall. Part of the garden is used to grow thousands of pounds of organic produce, which is donated to the Betty Kwan Chinn Homeless Foundation, Hall added.
The Humboldt Botanical Garden employs a staff of only five people, according to Hall. Garden Manager Terry Kramer is one of those five. Nine years ago, Kramer says she was the only gardener. “We don’t have an endowment,” Kramer said. “We have a lot of volunteers … we’re very grassroots.” Though the Humboldt Botanical Garden has grown since it was created in 1991, Kramer said they are still in a budding stage and are looking forward to blossoming into the future.
“A lot of people in Humboldt County don’t realize we’re here,” Kramer said, “it’s really an asset. You don’t normally find a botanical garden in your back yard.”
Aside from being a beautiful place in full bloom, Kramer said the garden has a lot of scientific value. The Butterfly House offers a perfect example. Situated in a large greenhouse, it offers a place for the public to observe the full life cycle of a butterfly. “We’re the only people on the North Coast that have a living lab like this,” Kramer said. “You can experiment here, like finding what plants work best in what seasons.”
The volunteer opportunities provided by the garden are almost as diverse as the flora found there. Kramer said she regularly oversees people from the welfare-to-work program. There, they learn gardening and landscaping skills giving them job opportunities previously unavailable. Prisoners from the Sheriff’s Work Alternative Program also help out at the garden twice a month. “They love it,” Kramer said, “this is a happy place to be. It’s beauty, it’s creating beauty, and shows people they can make something beautiful.”
Redway resident Diane Lehman is one of the hundreds who were in attendance at the Gala. It was Lehman’s first time at the Humboldt Botanical Garden. “We’d been promising we’d see the gardens for a long time,” said Lehman, who was accompanied by Fortuna Resident Colleen Epperly. “It’s beautiful,” said Lehman, “I’m inspired to go home and do some whacking around my garden now!” Epperly added, “It’s a simple pleasure to hang out here.” Seeing the diversity of the flora, said Epperly, was a surprising reminder of how much grows in our area.
Walking through the native plants garden, Eureka resident Jessica Hall echoed a similar sentiment. “This is a great place to get ideas on what to do with your home or business,” Hall said. Hall is a landscape architect and said the gardens help her in her profession. “You get to see how native plants from Southern California do up here,” she said, “and it’s a good way test myself on the plant recognition.”
Executive Director Hall said she hopes the garden will continue grow and popularize. According to Humboldt Botanical Garden’s website, admission to the garden is free every Thursday until the end of the year. “Anyone who hasn’t been here always comes back,” she said.