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Blooming business: Gardens grow economic benefits

The annual Grand Valley Garden Tour sponsored by the Western Colorado Botanical Gardens showcases backyard landscapes, including this water feature. The tour and the gardens also bring economic benefits in promoting sales of flowers and gardening supplies as well as attracting visitors to the area.

Late spring and early summer offer a bounty of colorful art in the Grand Valley. From the natural art of blooming plants to human-made sculptures and collector’s items, gardens across the valley provide a refreshing break from the daily routine.

Early June marked the 20th anniversary of the Grand Valley Garden Tour, an opportunity to visit five private gardens while contributing to the Western Colorado Botanical Gardens through an entry fee for the tour. Gardens staff members and volunteers organize the weekend tour.

While the tour offers a relaxing way to enjoy nature while also obtaining ideas for improving backyard landscapes, the tour provides yet another example of how arts and culture bring economic benefits to Mesa County.

“Though we have not developed a method of tracking whether the garden tour draws out-of-town attendees to the valley, our local visitor & convention bureau values and supports the gardens as an area attraction that they include when promoting tourism to our region,” said Laura Stafford, executive director of the gardens.

“On the local level, it has been reported that the garden tour has a heavy influence in driving business to local nurseries, landscape suppliers and retail establishments selling plants, trees, shrubs, flowers and gardening equipment,” Stafford added.

The botanical gardens itself has collaborated with the Downtown Partnership to acquire sculptures installed on the grounds of the gardens.

“We are also considered when there are pieces that are in need of a temporary site, as during the recent Downtown Uplift Project,” Stafford said. “There are several pieces that have been retired and the artists have chosen to place them with us permanently or as a way to display items that are for sale.”

The gardens has also partnered with the Western Colorado Center For the Arts to display paintings and other exhibits in the gardens library building. The gardens also offers a greenhouse growing native and non-native plants, a butterfly house, gift shop and newly opened heritage garden.

Mike Moran has worked as a news and sports reporter, and news manager for the past 30 years, in markets that include Rochester, New York; Colorado Springs; Panama City, Florida and Monroe, Louisiana. He also teaches Speechmaking at Mesa State College and assists his wife, Toni Heiden, in managing her real estate company in downtown Grand Junction. Mike is active in Kiwanis Club of Grand Junction, the Mesa State MBA Alumni Committee, Habitat for Humanity, the United Way and the Botanical Gardens of Western Colorado.
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