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Lauritzen Gardens achieves accreditation from international network

Lauritzen was accredited as a conservation practitioner from Botanic Gardens Conservation International. It's a global network of 800 botanic gardens located in 118 countries.
Posted at 7:35 PM, Oct 17, 2023

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — The Omaha metro has its own hidden gem right in its backyard. And it's being recognized on an international scale. Lauritzen Gardens is one of the 31 botanic gardens in the world to be highlighted for their conservation work.

People like Patti Bendgen visiting from Waukee, Iowa, two hours away from Omaha, took advantage of the nice weather at Lauritzen on Tuesday.

"I'm not sure what this is. Some kind of a vine. I don't know if it blooms or if it has berries," said Bendgen while checking out plants.

From blooming bright plants to chirping birds, Lauritzen got an accreditation from the Botanic Gardens Conservation International.

"A lot of conservation work happens behind the scenes. Some of it even happens away from the gardens itself," said Jim Locklear, director of conservation.

That work behind the scenes includes trees surrounding a small pond, so quiet, that you can hear a coin drop. It's away from the main attractions.

"We have a series of ponds here that help cleanse stormwater as it comes off our parking lot. That's a huge issue in urban areas... Where water shoots off parking lots and picks up contaminants," he said.

Whether it's efforts with water conservation or maintaining bio-diversity, Locklear said they wouldn't be where they are today without mentioning Lauritzen's roots — which started as a landfill.

"The idea was, we'll just grass it over and make it a pasture and a meadow. But, then some visionary garden club folks in town said we can put a botanical garden back there," he said.

Lauritzen had to hit several targets in conservation work to get the accreditation as a conversation practitioner. From a landfill to majestic horticulture, it will soon have a physical marker recognizing its decades of efforts.

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