Banner Garden crews endure heat wave.

LINCOLN, Neb. (COL) – A sunken garden bowl blocks wind and traps moisture, making it the perfect place for tropical plants. However, this means that the gardeners are working at a temperature that is 10 to 20 degrees warmer than the edge of the garden.

During heat waves, they work diligently to keep the plants moist by leaving a hole, spraying.

“Every morning our irrigation system goes through,” said Zach Haley, a city gardener with the Lincoln Public Garden. “During the annual session, it’s about 10 minutes per class, and on hot days like today, we do extra hand washing.”

Where the sprinkler stops, crews are there to hand-water the dry spots they missed. A riser system is used when the plant cannot reach very high water drops.

This water originates from an abandoned city well.

When Lincoln transitioned to city water, the water structure was used for second parks at no cost.

“It was abandoned, no one wanted it, no one could use it, so we said, ‘OK, we need it,'” said Alice Reed, head gardener at Senken Gardens. Because our fish were suffering every year when we filled our ponds. You have to get the chlorine out and there is a thick film of chlorine that sticks to them.

Reed didn’t have an exact amount of how much water was used in Senken Gardens, but she knew it would take 34,000 gallons to fill the two ponds.

Imagine that the sunken gardens have a surplus of water, a slight labor shortage.

“We need at least four more people,” Reed said. “Every year, it grows and grows. The parks department continues to grow and we have to find people to hire because we have all these new gardens coming in.”

The gardening team consists of approximately 16 workers, six of whom work full days from 7am to 4pm, and apart from watering, most of their work involves weeding.

These efforts are aimed at immersing the visitors in the design of Senken Garden which is themed every year. This summer’s theme is called “A Wonderland” with designs similar to the Mad Hatter’s tea tables, mushrooms, smoking caterpillars, hearts and roses. These furniture are surrounded by tropical plants as far as South America.

Migrant Gardens hold a special place in the hearts of many visitors.

“It has a lot of memories,” said visitor Teri Kuzelka, who married her husband in Senken Gardens. “The flowers here are so beautiful. I hate to think what you have to pay for flowers like that at an indoor wedding.”

The garden was planted at the beginning of the year by 150 volunteers and takes about three hours. Haley is a volunteer coordinator for a group called “Garden Gab.” This group grows deadhead flowers, pulls weeds, works in ponds and learns about gardening on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Visit and contact Zac Halley to find Sunken Gardens volunteer or internship opportunities. Those interested can also contact Zac Halley at (402)326-9045 or email

Copyright 2022 KOLN. all rights reserved.

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