Economy forces gardens to charge admission

CLAREMONT It is just three weeks until spring and at the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, the vibrant colors are already starting to pop.

There's plenty of green to see, but it's the lack of that other kind of green that's now the concern.

"We're seeing a downturn in the economy, and the garden relies heavily on their endowment and as many other institutions and universities, the endowment has taken a downturn as well," said Patrick Larkin, Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden.

It's yet another example of how rough this recession has become. For the first time in their 57 year history, folks at the Botanic Garden have made the decision to charge admission.

"For quite some time we've been able to offer free admission to folks, but the reality is we just can't afford to do that anymore," said Larkin.

Starting March 29, adults will pay $8 to get into the garden. People who run the place hope that will help balance their budget and keep this garden thriving for quite some time.

Ann Wichman who's been visiting the garden for 35 years understands the need to now charge admission.

"It's necessary, other gardens have always charged. I think it would be nice if we had some free hours, like Tuesday afternoons or something like that for people who can't afford it," said Wichman.

Administrators say charging admission will put them on solid ground-and allow them to keep the 86-acre garden open. Ann Joslin says to her, it's a spiritual place.

"Even though people don't want to say California has seasons, I say they do, you just have to have an eye to look for them," said Joslin.

And now a few extra dollars as well.



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