Year end is a time of reflection, and what a year it has been! Contrary to expectations, the easing of the pandemic and Covid restrictions did not return everything to the same state as before. As I’ve reported earlier, we took advantage of forced down time to reflect on processes and activities and reinvent ourselves again for another new normal. The year held ups and downs, so I am grateful that our staff and volunteers are healthy and well, the Gardens are beautiful and thriving, and we can plan for new (ad)ventures in 2023.
We experienced positive and exciting changes this year. We welcomed several new staff members and are currently hiring new student workers, enabling us to expand engagement and visitor services activities and stay on top of maintenance, weeds, tree care, and other horticultural needs. We continued the new online operations launched in 2020-21 while bringing back in-person activities like Bird Walks, Rose Pruning Demonstration, hands-on workshops, and Art in the Gardens. Online Plant Sales continue to be successful, even as we move closer to bringing back in-person plant sales. I am pleased to report that the Oscar and Marcia Clark property adjacent to the Gardens is now a part of the UCRBG, and will be the site of a planned new plant nursery.
Summer brought unexpected excitement with the first corpse plant blooming in the Gardens, “Little Miss Stinky,” which launched our PR program into high gear, expanded engagement with campus and community, and brought tremendous support from campus units. When I became Director, it was easy to find staff, faculty, and students who had never visited or even heard about the Gardens. This awesome botanical event demonstrated that the Gardens are an integral part of UCR and a community gateway to campus, bringing greater focus on this fundamental part of our mission.
The year also brought new and continuing challenges, but happily we are finding solutions even if in a “two steps forward, one step back” way. Parking is a continuing challenge that has been made worse for UCRBG visitors by the modernization and improvements of the process that is tailored to staff and students. I continue to engage TAPS, who are great partners to the Gardens, as well as campus leadership to make parking a positive first step in the visitor experience.
Amid change, reinvention, and an unknown future, it is reassuring that nature provides constancy, and even as the seasons change, we see familiar cues—giant California buckeye fruit hanging on bare stems, salvias blooming, and leaves falling. We are grateful to continue providing a place for campus and community to engage with the nurturing effects of nature. Please visit and stay connected through our website, eNews, and social media, and send your thoughts and feedback to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 951-827-7095.