JANESVILLE—Michael Jesiolowski, along with the dedicated team of staff and volunteers, are on a mission to promote sustainability and bring vibrant blooms to life at the Rotary Botanical Gardens in Janesville.

Jesiolowski, who serves as the garden’s director of horticulture, said the small team of staff and volunteers are finally catching up and getting back to normal following an abnormal planting and landscaping maintenance schedule due to the pandemic.

The gardens, at 1455 Palmer Drive, closed temporarily in the Spring of 2020 before reopening on May 26, 2020.

“We had to play catch up,” Jesiolowski said. “We were down some of our volunteers and we really had to focus on maintenance more so than planting, but we are finally getting to a point where it’s returning to normal.”

Jesiolowski said the garden staff will move away from planting annuals to planting a wide range of perennials, an effort that helps conserve on costs and is easier on the environment. Still, the group is in the midst of planting 1,000 different plants this year.

“You think about all the fertilizer and plastic involve in the packaging for plants to actually get to us, and that’s just not sustainable for the environment year after year,” Jesiolowski said.

Popular favorites like the Japanese garden, rose garden and lagoon will remain as Jesiolowski and his small team work to transform certain areas of the gardens. The Koi pond will get a makeover and the fish will be returned in mid-June. Those looking to enjoy the rose garden should expect a full bloom in a few weeks.

The aim of adding more perennials to the gardens is also aimed at bringing more visitors in year-round, Jesiolowski said.

“We’ve seen an influx of visitors ever since we reopened in May of 2020,” he added. “We’re seeing more people come here and many first-time visitors. There are so many seasons to enjoy outside of the spring and summer blooms. Everything is always changing. There’s always something new to enjoy.”

In preparing for the summer, Jesiolowski and the team are constantly weeding and watering alongside the rigorous planting schedule.

Starting June 1, the gardens hours will be from 9 a.m.—8 p.m. for the summer through Sept. 1.

For those who haven’t visited the gardens, Jesiolowski said there was “something for everyone” to enjoy.

“If you are someone who isn’t interested in plants, this place can provide a lot of serenity,” he added. “You can see and hear and connect with the nature all around you. For people who are avid gardeners, this space is going to be a destination for them and could be a place of inspiration for their home gardens.”

Those interested in volunteering can go online and apply to become a volunteer at www.rotarybotanicalgardens.org/