Lauritzen Gardens

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Lauritzen Gardens, Omaha’s botanical center, has added a year-round oasis to its already wonderfully landscaped gardens.

The 17,500-square-foot Marjorie K. Daugherty Conservatory opened last October and features panoramic views throughout its soaring glass walls. There’s a tropical garden, a temperate garden, and a garden that looks like you wish your backyard would look. There’s also a waterfall and a pond with water lilies and a gazillion enormous plants. It’s a real showplace, and it’s so great that it’s a four-season space.

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The rest of the garden is, of course, slightly more seasonal. I visited once in the summertime when nearly everything was in bloom, including a spectacular flowering meadow. I loved the formal Victorian garden then, and when I visited again last week I still loved it, even though it’s really early spring. The gardens are so beautifully designed that I would imagine they make a lovely place to walk, even in the winter.

I enjoyed the model railroad garden (it’s great for kids) and the woodland trail and waterfall. There are a dozen more garden spaces to explore – I would guess they’ll be bursting with color in another six weeks.

Meanwhile, besides the conservatory, you can enjoy the visitor and education center, which is featuring the “Nature Connects 2: Art with LEGO Bricks” exhibition through April 26. There’s a giant praying mantis, bald eagle, squirrel, butterfly, humming bird, and more — and kids can hunt for all kinds of colorful sculptures throughout the facility.

There’s also a terrific gift shop. Think Mother’s Day!

Lauritzen Gardens is open daily 9 a.m.-5 p.m. except major holidays, with some extended evenings May through September. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for kids 6-12.

To get there, take the 13th St. exit off I-80. Turn right and follow the signs.

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