Gardens of Golden Gate Park
To improve visitor experience and position the Gardens of Golden Gate Park (“GGGP”) as one of the top cultural and environmental institutions in the country, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors has approved an agreement that will combine admissions, education, and engagement programs at San Francisco Botanical Garden, Conservatory of Flowers, and Japanese Tea Garden under the San Francisco Botanical Garden Society.
THE ORGANIZATION AND HISTORY
San Francisco Recreation and Park Department received approval from the San Francisco Recreation and Park Commission to expand the nonprofit’s current lease and management agreement to also include the Conservatory of Flowers and the Japanese Tea Garden in late 2021 and received formal approval from the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in early 2022.
While all three sites are overseen by the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department and are located a short walk from one another, their admissions, fundraising, and visitor experience functions have historically been operated by different organizations. Under the new agreement, the three gardens will have a campus feel while keeping their individual legacy names. Together, they will be recognized and marketed as the Gardens of Golden Gate Park, a regional organization with national and international recognition and partnerships. Combining the organizations will eliminate nonprofit redundancies, while allowing visitors, volunteers, and school children to experience a combined educational and cultural experience and attracting greater philanthropic support for capital improvements at each location.
Gardens of Golden Gate Park seeks to establish itself as a top 10 botanical garden in the country over the next five to ten years through new collections and exhibits, expanded public programs, and a larger role in worldwide conservation efforts, including:
More diverse gardens with new plant collections such as an Afromontane collection
Expanded global plant conservation efforts protecting biodiversity in the face of climate change and the extinction crisis
Upgraded accessibility and improved garden designs, pathways, and maintenance
More public programs like Flower Piano at the Botanical Garden and Night Bloom at the Conservatory of Flowers with existing and new community partners
Improved interpretation and educational resources including new digital tools
Major capital projects such as a new Children’s Garden in the west end of the Botanical Garden – building off momentum of recent projects like pagoda restoration at the Japanese Tea Garden and Celebration Garden and new plant nursery at Botanical Garden
A smoother, more cohesive experience for visitors and volunteers at each location
San Francisco Botanical Garden Society (the legal operating entity and fundraising organization) has managed the SFBG’s educational programs, volunteer efforts, visitor programs, youth programs, special events, and unique horticultural library since 1955. San Francisco Botanical Garden Society has also operated admissions to the Japanese Tea Garden since July of 2020, a function that was managed by SF Rec and Park prior to the pandemic. Under the agreement, SF Rec and Park will continue to oversee maintenance and horticulture at all the gardens. The city department and nonprofit will coordinate management of plant collections. Meanwhile, visitors will enjoy a simpler ticketing system and an enhanced experience.
Since 2010, SFBG has increased annual visits to the Botanical Gardens by 135 percent. More recently, the San Francisco Botanical Garden Society developed the plan and raised the funding to rebuild the San Francisco Botanical Garden nursery as a 34,000 square foot complex that will allow SFBG to acquire rare species and support global conservation efforts. The project broke ground in October 2021.