Rotary Gardens director leaving for Madison post
Lyon on Wednesday announced June 20 will be his last day at Rotary Gardens, where he has worked nearly four years.
He will start work in July as the manager of the Allen Centennial Gardens on the UW-Madison campus.
That’s where his love of public gardens first bloomed, Lyon said.
In 1997, at the age of 40, Lyon went to UW-Madison to earn a master’s degree in horticulture. He planned to work toward a doctorate and teach horticulture at the college level.
Instead, he landed an internship at the Allen Centennial Gardens, where he worked in several behind-the-scenes projects.
“This started my passion for a public garden career and resulted in my decision to stop with the master’s and pursue this different route of horticulture,” Lyon said. “So, in many ways, this will be coming home for me.”
Lyon, 51, lives in Oregon and earned a bachelor’s degree in animal science and agriculture economics in 1979 at Cornell University.
Before coming to Janesville, Lyon worked at the Chicago Botanic Garden and was the director of education at Olbrich Botanical Gardens in Madison.
While he considers himself an ornamental horticulturist, Lyon’s accomplishment at Rotary Gardens has been helping put the international-themed garden on the map.
“When I came down here, what they were looking for was somebody that could bring recognition to the gardens here,” Lyon said. “I knew (Rotary Gardens) and I loved them.”
Lyon’s favorite spot at Rotary Gardens has been the Japanese garden. Being an administrator for a nonprofit can be pretty stressful, Lyon said, and the Japanese garden was the perfect escape.
“When I’m feeling stress and pressure, I walk down and sit there for a few minutes, and my stress goes away,” Lyon said. “There’s a reason … it’s one of the nicest Japanese gardens in the Midwest.”