Category Archives: Garden Gazette Newsletter

Category Archives: Garden Gazette Newsletter

Category Archives: Garden Gazette Newsletter

Category Archives: Garden Gazette Newsletter

Category Archives: Garden Gazette Newsletter

Give Back Nights

Give Back Nights

Give Back Nights

Everyone in the Friendship Botanic Gardens family is gearing up for an exciting season of momentous events and incredible garden experiences, and now you can help propel us into an amazing 2017 just by dining at participating restaurants for our upcoming Give Back Nights. Just use these coupons on March 14th at Holly’s or April 18th at Brewster's and a percentage of your purchase will contribute toward the continued revitalization of the gardens.

Your support will make it possible for us to enhance the grounds with new gardens like the soon-to-be-unveiled Cancer Patient Commemoration Garden encircling our Lake Lucerne peninsula, as well as Phase 2 of the ArcelorMittal Children’s Garden – a brand new arena for interactive nature-based play experiences. Your night of great food will also help us purchase the equipment and supplies that our dedicated volunteers and staff depend on to bring FBG to life with botanic beauty.

We can’t express how grateful we are to have dedicated supporters like you to help us realize our vision for Friendship Botanic Gardens, and we hope you can continue to help us reintroduce the world to the Gardens by joining us for Give Back Nights -- March 14th at Holly’s and April 18th at Brewster's.


Fall 2016

Fall 2016

Happy fall from the entire Friendship Botanic Gardens Family! We’re incredibly grateful for your ongoing personal and financial support, and there’s no question that your contributions are the sole reason the Gardens are able to survive and prosper. Please help us spread the word and encourage your friends and family to become members so that we can continue to reintroduce the world to the magic of Friendship Botanic Gardens.

This past year has been a whirlwind of excitement and transformation for the Gardens. Now as our 2016 season draws to a close, we’d like to share a few of the highlights from this latest chapter in the FBG story.


A Botanic Beacon

The Northwest Indiana region’s best kept secret is not a secret any longer. Our new 10 foot wide LED sign is now up and broadcasting the presence of the Gardens to the hundreds of thousands of motorists that pass by our entrance every year. With this new “Botanic Beacon,” along with the newly installed “Botanic Magic” sculpture by John Searles, our slice of the Highway 12 gateway into Michigan City is steadily being transformed into an unforgettable first impression conveying that visitors have truly arrived at a lakefront destination community.

We’ve also just put the finishing touches on phase 1 of the ArcelorMittal Children’s Garden! Now kids can simulate drawing groundwater up from the earth with a hydraulic hand pump before watching it trickle down a 16 foot gold miner’s sluiceway. Next spring, the nearby garden beds will blossom with flowers and herbs selected to provide a feast for the senses of smell, touch and sight. This installment is only the beginning, and we can’t wait to unveil what we have in store for phases 2 and 3. This ongoing project wouldn’t have been possible without ArcelorMittal’s generosity and enduring commitment to the Northwest Indiana community. Thanks ArcelorMittal!

AM Childrens Garden

Earlier this month, we finished planting the perennials that will bloom into the Cancer Commemorative and Cancer Survivor’s Garden on our Island in Lake Lucerne (formerly the site of the world-famous Theater of Nations). In accordance with a plan created by new FBG board member Stu Franzen, the island’s shore is now adorned with a variety of plants that will encircle and offset our newly repainted white gazebo – thus creating a perfect new wedding venue with a stunning panoramic view of Lake Lucerne and the entire Celebration Side of the Gardens.

This past season has seen several other new and revamped gardens truly come into their own as signature features that enhance the FBG experience. The Romanian Garden has undergone an extensive makeover thanks to the dedication of stalwart FBG supporters George and Jeanette Neagu. Board Member Rima Binder has worked tirelessly to expand and transform the Lithuanian Garden into a singularly rich and fascinating celebration of Lithuanian culture. Board member Kevin Egan has taken the lead in creating a first-of-its-kind garden for FBG: a plot dedicated to Junior Diabetes patients. And finally, the Rotary Club of Michigan City has renewed their commitment to realizing the full potential of the Rotary Garden.

Something for Everyone

This past summer we unveiled our most jam-packed roster of events and programs in the entire history of Friendship Gardens. In addition to 3 momentous Music Under the Stars Concerts, we added a Botanic Bug Safari to our slate of free education programs. We then rounded out a spectacular year with live music and brewers from across the country at Okto-BEER-Fest. Things may be winding down as winter approaches, but there are still a few more garden celebrations before we say goodbye to 2016 for good. On October 29th we’ll be hosting our first ever Haunted Trails and Ghost Stories Event – a spectacular opportunity to see the grounds illuminated by the new Trail of Lights. Finally, on November 24th we’ll once again play host to the local tradition of the Thanksgiving Turkey Walk.

Golfing for the Gardens

The entire Friendship Botanic Gardens family would like to extend a special thanks to the Briar Leaf Men’s Club for sponsoring the first-ever Golf Outing to benefit FBG. This was an unprecedented fundraiser for the Gardens -- not to mention a magnificent afternoon of spirited competition, live music, and world-class food from Portofino’s Grille in Laporte. Thanks to the Men’s Club’s efforts, we raised over $6000 toward the ongoing revitalization of the grounds and growth of our community-enriching public programs and events.

A Sneak Peek at 2017

There are even more exciting developments on the horizon for 2017, and we hope you’ll continue to support us as we expand and build upon the rich legacy that began over 80 years ago.

  • Soon the Gardens will be home to 2 new ethnic heritage plots: an African Garden and an Irish Heritage Garden, both spearheaded by local community groups inspired to become a part of the growing buzz surrounding FBG.
  • The Northwest Indiana Regional Planning Commission is launching an ambitious new project to build a bike path extending from Chicago to New Buffalo, and one portion of the trail will go straight through Friendship Botanic Gardens. NIRPC has committed to funding a paved pathway through the Gardens that will greatly improve the accessibility of FBG.
  • We’ll soon be launching major capital improvement projects, including projects centered on revamping and repairing the electrical infrastructure throughout the Gardens.
  • In 2017 we’ll begin installing more comprehensive signage to better guide and educate visitors about the most notable, plants, landmarks, sculptures, and other features found throughout the sprawling FBG grounds.

We can’t express what an honor it is to have the unwavering support of so many community stakeholders as we blaze a new trail to FBG’s future. We’re always eager to hear your suggestions, comments, and ideas as we continue to grow into a transformative force for good in the Northwest Indiana region. Please don’t hesitate to contact us at 219 878-9885 or

See you at the Gardens!

John Leinweber
FBG Board President
Ronald Taylor
FBG Communications Director


Download a pdf file of this newsletter here.

Thanksgiving Turkey Walk

Thanksgiving Turkey Walk

turkeyOn November 24th from 11am to 4pm CDT, join us in the pristine natural beauty of Friendship Botanic Gardens as we host a FREE celebration of Thanksgiving and Native American Heritage Month. Kids will have the chance to embark on a turkey count scavenger hunt throughout the gardens and nature trails – find every hidden paper turkey and win a special Thanksgiving prize!

Then, join us in the Native American Heritage Garden and get a firsthand look at Indigenous Peoples’ cooking techniques as our garden educator demonstrates the cooking of traditional pumpkin stew over an open flame. Kids can also check out phase one of the ArcelorMittal Children’s Garden, a newly installed arena for interactive natural play experiences created thanks to the support of the ArcelorMittal corporation.

It all happens Thanksgiving Day from 11am to 4pm CDT, at Friendship Botanic Gardens, located at 2055 E. US Highway 12 in Michigan City, Indiana. Friendship Botanic Gardens is a historic 105 acre garden park tucked in the majestic old-growth forests surrounding Trail Creek. Pets on a leash are always welcome. For more information, contact us at 219 878-9885 or visit

4 Person Scramble to Benefit Gardens

4 Person Scramble to Benefit Gardens

September 30, 2016 4 Person Scramble, all proceeds to benefit gardens.

Entry fee includes:

  • Golf Cart
  • Range Balls
  • Prime Rib Dinner at PortoFino's
  • 2 "Music Under the Stars" Concert Tickets


Prizes that can be won:

  • Up to $1000 in prize money.
  • Concert Tickets
  • Dinners
  • Golf Rounds
  • and More

Entry Fee: $400 per foursome. Sign up by September 23rd to enter.

Hosted by the Briar Leaf Men's Club

Call Briar Leaf Golf Club for more info:


Or call us at the Gardens for more info:


-Click image to enlarge.


Happy Spring 2016

Happy Spring 2016

Happy Spring from Friendship Gardens!

We’ve been very busy this winter, and we’d like to take a moment to share all of the exciting developments in the amazing Friendship Gardens comeback story. Last November, our Board of Directors voted to officially give the Gardens a new name to reflect our growing presence as an educational and scientific institution. Welcome to Friendship Botanic Gardens! We believe this new moniker captures our far-reaching vision for what the Gardens can become, while still commemorating the rich legacy laid down by the Stauffer brothers more than eighty years ago.

Our Board of Directors has undergone a few changes of its own. In 2015 and the beginning of 2016, we were honored to welcome 10 new Board Members into the Friendship Botanic Gardens family: Cathy Kearney, Don Dixon, Kevin Egan, Craig Phillips, Richard Houck III, Phil Poznanski, Rima Binder, Frank Seilheimer, Rubia Jascinevicius, and Alexander deHilster are the newest additions to our garden dream team, and we’re incredibly fortunate to have their talent and know-how moving forward.

At the helm of this new group of dedicated leaders is a new Board President: Mr. John Leinweber – the architect of the entire Friendship Botanic Gardens revitalization project. The Gardens hold a very special place in the hearts of everyone on the FBG Board of Directors, and we’re committed to making sure everyone in our region comes to appreciate the awe-inspiring potential that the Gardens hold. It’s no exaggeration to say that people from all over the country are becoming aware of the monumental progress we’ve made.

This month, we were thrilled to welcome 47 students from the University of North Dakota, who stopped by Friendship Botanic Gardens to volunteer as part of an annual cross-country service learning trip. They were a tremendous help in getting the grounds ready for our big spring opening.

Beginning in the spring, scientists from Loyola University will use the pristine wilderness on our grounds as a site to conduct research on red-backed salamander populations.

New Trails, Gardens, and Beyond

This April, we’ll be breaking ground on several monumental new construction projects that will forever transform the FBG experience. Thanks to the generous support of NIPSCO, the Michigan City Redevelopment Fund, and the Board of Public Works, we’ll begin construction on the “Trail of Lights,” an illuminated pathway of streetlamps that will guide visitors through the garden entrances and exits after sunset. With the Trail of Lights in place, we’ll be able to safely host receptions and concerts that run into the evening hours, and we’ll be able to launch new fall and winter festivities like our upcoming Christmas Festival of Lights. Michigan City has long been in need of year-round tourist destinations to supplement our summer attractions like Washington Park, and Friendship Botanic Gardens is proud to lead the way in filling this crucial role for our community.

This is far from the only community need we’re filling. Soon we’ll be revamping our main entrance along Highway 12 – one of the crucial Eastern Gateways into Michigan City. This transformation will include a new sculpture by artist John Searles, and an electronic sign broadcasting the offerings of Friendship Gardens to the world. These new additions will serve as a stunning first impression for motorists entering Michigan City from the east, and they’ll reinforce the Michigan City brand by letting visitors know they’ve truly arrived at a preeminent lakefront destination community.

Did you know there’s an Artesian Well hidden in Friendship Gardens? Tucked in forested hills at the far southern edge of the grounds is a little-known natural spring where fresh groundwater can be seen bubbling up from the aquifer. According to legend, the site was blessed by famed explorer and missionary Jacques Marquette. We want more people to appreciate this remarkable geologic feature, so our grounds crew will soon begin blazing a forest trail that will take intrepid explorers from Lake Lucerne up to the spring in the surrounding hills.

As promised, we’re just a month away from unveiling the first phase of the ArcelorMittal Children’s Garden. The entire garden will be completed in 3 phases over the course of 3 years, but our first phase installation will be ready in time for our May opening. The centerpiece of the first phase will be several pieces of educational nature-themed playground equipment, including a well hand pump and “Gold Miner’s Sluiceway” children can use to pump actual groundwater up from the earth.

Be on the lookout for these other new garden plots soon to make their debut at Friendship Botanic Gardens:

  • A perennial garden on the island in Lake Lucerne at the former site of the Theater of Nations.
  • Johnny Stimley of Ryan’s Pub will be spearheading the creation of an Irish Heritage Garden.
  • Board Member Kevin Egan has begun work on a garden dedicated to Junior Diabetes patients.


Farther on the horizon:

  • A Labyrinth Garden
  • A Veteran’s Garden
  • A Garden dedicated to Cancer Survivors and health and wellness.

With everything we have in store for 2016, over 18,000 people will experience the Gardens this year – up from 11,000 in 2015 and 6,000 in 2014. Eventually, our goal is to grow Friendship Botanic Gardens into a cornerstone of our community that can draw over 50,000 people annually!

None of this phenomenal progress would be possible without the support of members like you, that’s why we’re eager to hear your feedback, ideas and suggestions moving forward. Don’t hesitate to contact us at 219 878-9885 or

Looking for more ways to help the gardens grow? Consider volunteering. No green thumb necessary! We're highly flexible in scheduling volunteers and finding opportunities that match the strengths and interests of everyone who wants to help.

Don’t forget to buy your tickets now for our first annual Spring Garden Gala at Long Beach Country Club. RSVP online at

See you at the Gardens!

April 23rd

Spring Garden Gala at Long Beach Country Club

April 30th & May 1st

Wake Up The Gardens! Noon-4pm: Volunteers are needed to get the Gardens ready for opening

May 8th

Season Opening & Mother’s Day 10-6pm: Mother’s Admitted FREE

June 25th

“Music Under the Stars” Concert --Mike Struwin 5:00-9pm

June 26th

Bug Safari 2-4pm

July 10th

Native American Heritage Day Noon-4pm: Demonstrations, exhibits, crafts, open fire cooking. Come celebrate Native Peoples of the region

July 17th

Dragonflies Alive Program 1-3pm

July 23rd

“Music Under the Stars” Concert – Karissa Wilson 5:00-9pm

August 14th

Lyric Opera in the Gardens 4-6pm: Join us for another wonderful performance from the upcoming Chicago Lyric Opera Season! Tickets on Sale online or at Door.

August 20th

“Music Under the Stars” Concert – The Crawpuppies 5:00-9pm

August 21st

Butterfly Bonanza 1-3pm: See these wonderful creatures in all stages and watch Monarch Butterflies released. Simple Children’s Crafts. FREE Admission

September 11th

Polish Fest 11-6pm: Join us for a very popular day of festivities! Food, Dancing, Music Tickets available day of Event.

October 16th

Oktoberfest!!! 11am-6pm: Join us for an afternoon of Food, Beer, and Music! Peformances by The Crawpuppies and Matt Gabriel

October 29th

Haunted Trail and Ghost Stories 6-10pm

November 24th

Thanksgiving Turkey Walk and Native American Heritage Celebration 9-3pm

Dec 10th and 11th

Christmas Festival of Lights Join us for Holiday Festivities – Visit Santa, See the Lights!

Open the PDF file of this edition of the Garden Gazette here: Spring 2016