Fernwood to reopen to all Tuesday

NILES — A popular southwest Michigan attraction will reopen to the general public Tuesday, following an extended closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fernwood Botanical Gardens, 13988 Range Line Road, Niles, reopened exclusively for members beginning on June 5. Now the garden will be open for all to enjoy beginning at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, June 16.  A new online timed ticketing system was created to maintain maximum safety and social distancing. Everyone, including members, must schedule their visits to Fernwood using online ticketing before coming to Fernwood. No walk ups will be allowed during this time.

The majority of Fernwood’s staff worked off site from March 17 to June 2, in response to the coronavirus and subsequent stay-at-home orders that closed many businesses, including public gardens, across the country. The plan for reopening provides for a quality experience in nature with safe accessibility for all and the safety for its staff and volunteers.

Staff has implemented several safety measures including advanced registration requirements with timed ticketing and adjusting operating hours to allow for staff to thoroughly clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces. Currently, the visitors center is closed, and check in is taking place outdoors. Fernwood’s reopening plan reflects the guidelines suggested for all public gardens that were published in May by the American Public Gardens Association. Fernwood visitation information and guidelines can be found at fernwoodbotanical.org.

All dates and guidelines will continue to be evaluated and adjusted if needed while monitoring ongoing local health and safety concerns.

“Fernwood staff and I have missed everyone, and it’s been wonderful to see our members returning to the gardens,” said Carol Line, executive director. “Some new precautionary rules are in place for now, but the same Fernwood that you have loved over the years is here for you. We look forward to seeing you in the coming days. Our staff was required to be home and safe for a number of weeks, so if you notice a couple of weeds, that would explain it. Thank you for your understanding and patience as you return. Your safety and pleasure are our key concerns.”

Fernwood’s reopening is presented in partnership with Honor Credit Union.

“As a Buchanan resident, I’m thrilled to stand beside the team at Fernwood as they once again welcome our communities to enjoy acres of nature at our hometown botanical garden,” said Karol Behrle, Honor’s community assistant vice president. “Whether you travel minutes or hours to get here, you’ll experience the perfect opportunity to reconnect with nature and others. Not only am I proud, I’m lucky to call Fernwood a business partner and friend.”

Fernwood’s hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.