UK Happenings

The Arboretum Reopens With Limited Hours

The Arboretum
The Arboretum in Lexington. Photo by Steve Patton.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 12, 2020) — The Arboretum in Lexington has reopened to the public with limited hours and is asking all visitors to follow safety procedures to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Operating hours are from noon to dusk Monday through Friday and from dawn to dusk Saturday and Sunday. Due to safety concerns, the Kentucky Children’s Garden, the Dorotha Smith Oatts Visitor Center, restrooms and water fountains are closed until further notice. The management encourages visitors to follow social distancing guidelines:

  • Stay at least six to 10 feet away from other people.
  • Wear face masks.
  • Share the paved path and step into the grass to stay at a safe distance from other visitors.
  • Avoid crowded gardens and consider visiting another garden on the grounds that isn’t as congested.
  • Visit alone or with immediate family members. Do not visit if you or someone you have been in contact with is exhibiting signs of illness, such as a cough, fever, achiness or nausea.

For those staying at home, The Arboretum has also created a virtual platform and new video, Walk Across Kentucky, that people can engage with from their couch.

Walk Across Kentucky at The Arboretum, State Botanical Garden of Kentucky, is an 80-acre collection of native plants that represents the seven different geographic regions of the state. The trail illustrates the state’s great diversity in flora from plants that thrive in the Mississippi Embayment wetlands to those that can be found in the upper reaches of the Appalachian Plateau, also known as the Eastern Coalfields. The Shawnee Hills, Pennyrile, Knobs, Cumberland Mountain and the Bluegrass regions are also represented.

Many of its popular educational programs have been put on hold out of necessity, but arboretum personnel wanted people still to have access, albeit remotely. Emily Ellingson, The Arboretum’s curator and native plants collection manager, said they realized it would be helpful to have a video that people could watch while socially distancing.

“I just want people to get a sense for how biologically diverse Kentucky is as a state. This video will give them a sampling of Kentucky’s rich environment from afar,” she said.

In addition to the video, Arboretum Explorer is a web-based version of The Arboretum’s plant records database that can be accessed on smartphones, tablets or desktop computers to "explore" the plant collection. App users can locate plants on an interactive map and also search the database for specific plants. They can also take a self-guided tour of native trees, shrubs or Kentucky oaks.

View the photo gallery at this link. To view the Walk Across Kentucky video, please click here. For the Commonwealth’s directives and protocols for limiting the spread of COVID-19, go to

The Arboretum, State Botanical Garden of Kentucky, began in 1991 as a joint effort between UK and the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government. Housed in the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, it is located at 500 Alumni Drive and offers more than 100 acres of native plant collections, horticultural display gardens, trails, water features, the Kentucky Children’s Garden and seasonal events. To learn more about The Arboretum, visit

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.