The question counts among the more common ones Kasey Maier encounters when talking to people about Waterfront Botanical Gardens.

I don’t really care much about plants, the inquiry goes. Why would I come?

Maier, president of the Gardens and a leader of the development of the new Louisville landmark since 2013, has a ready answer.

“I say, ‘Would you come to hear the orchestra? Would you come to see the ballet perform? Or to hear some kind of musical performance or see some visual art?’”

It usually does the trick and gives Maier, a Louisville native, another opportunity to share her love of arts culture, our city, botany and her plan to orchestrate them into the kind of experience she describes as “3-D.”

“As a leader of this project, plants are extremely important to me,” she said in a recent phone interview, wedged into a calendar packed with pre-opening tasks. “They are No. 1. However, it’s a more in-depth experience, a more meaningful experience, if you’re surrounded by art at the same time.”

She credits her love of the arts to the exposure provided by long-ago field trips when she and her fellow students “were forced on a bus” and taken downtown for performances.

“I still have the love for the orchestra today because I did that as I child. Same with the ballet. I still support the ballet.”

Maier has already taken advantage of the opportunity to cross-pollinate. Each of the five annual Prelude events so far has featured the Louisville Ballet. Teddy Abrams has performed at two. So has Louisville musical prodigy Ben Sollee.

It’s all led up to a grand opening that will feature ten days of events designed to appeal to people of all ages, beginning with a morning ribbon-cutting ceremony on October 4. She’s eager for people to see what they’ve finished for Phase 1 for the 23-acre facility.

“The Botanical Gardens is first of all a cultural asset for Louisville, so people who support the arts understand the importance of culture in the city,” she said. “I see us as fitting into that matrix of cultural assets for Louisville.”

Visit the Waterfront Botanical Gardens’ website for a complete list of events and details. Also check out information on how you can play a part by volunteering, becoming a member, or participating in other ways to secure funding for the next phase of development.

Opening Week Events

Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony

Friday, October 4, 9 a.m. (Free). Help celebrate the grand opening and dedication of the long-awaited Graeser Family Education Center, the first building of Waterfront Botanical Gardens.

This special event is FREE and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC, but please plan ahead! Parking is extremely limited. Carpooling is recommended. So are TARC routes 15 or 31, biking, walking, or using the trolley shuttle from the field adjacent to Hadley Pottery and the Yellow parking lot on Waterfront Park next to the U of L Rowing club boathouse. The Butchertown Greenway (between River Rd and Story Ave) entrance next to Beargrass Creek will also be open.

Beer and Music in the Gardens

Friday, October, 7 p.m. ($25). Visit Graeser Family Education Center plaza for an evening of live music, featuring performances by Tyler Lance Walker Gill and James Lindsey. Food and local beers from Against the Grain Brewery, Mile Wide Beer Co., Apocalypse Brew Works will be available for purchase. Pets are not permitted at this event. Limited spots available.

Night of a Thousand Flowers Black-Tie Gala

Saturday, October 5, 6 p.m. ($300). Get ready for an unforgettable evening celebrating the opening of Waterfront Botanical Gardens’ first building, The Graeser Family Education Center. Gala Guests will enjoy a seated dinner by Farm to Fork Catering, cocktails, live music by the Delfeayo Marsalis Quintet, and complimentary admission to the Garden After Party. Garden After Party guests will enjoy cocktails, desserts, and live music by Carly Johnson. Limited seats available. You will not receive physical tickets for this event.

Night of a Thousand Flowers After Party with Carly Johnson

Saturday, October 5, 9 p.m. ($100). Garden After Party Guests will enjoy cocktails, desserts, and live music by Carly Johnson. Limited spots are available.

Yoga in the Gardens with Leigh Anne Albrechta

Sunday, October 6, 10 a.m. ($15). Start your day with some yoga in the gardens! Join Leigh Anne Albrechta and fellow participants for an all-level flow in the new Graeser Family Education Center, with views of the surrounding gardens. Bring your own mat!

Speaker Series Luncheons

  • Monday, October 7-Friday, October 11, 12-1 p.m. ($25 per luncheon)
  • Monday, October 7: Jon Carloftis: “Gardens of Kentucky: Before and After”
  • Tuesday, October 8: Steve Bloom: “The Allure of Japanese Gardens: Japan’s Greatest Gift to the World”
  • Wednesday, October 9: Tom Owen, The Pointe’s Past: Ohio Street Neighborhood to Today’s Botanical Gardens
  • Thursday, October 10: Tavia Cathcart Brown, Winged Landscapes—Birds, Butterflies and Insects
  • Friday, October 11: Joan Calder, Airplanes in the Garden—A Lesson from the Gardener

Fifth Annual reGeneration Fair

Saturday, October 12, 2–5 p.m. (Free; $10 suggested donation). Join us on the plaza of the Graeser Family Education Center for our annual, free, family-friendly environmental fair and Plein Air Paint Out with Louisville Visual Art. The fair features food, drinks, music, activities for kids, and more.

First Annual Bug Ball

Saturday, October 12, 5–7 p.m. (FREE for kids 12 and under, $10 per adult, $10 per family). Join us in the Graeser Family Education Center for our first-ever Bug Ball for kids! There will be bug-themed snacks and entertainment, along with music and dancing. So make a BEE-LINE to this fun celebration and help us close out our grand opening week of festivities! Bug costumes STRONGLY encouraged.