The flowers may not be blooming, but at the Memphis Botanic Garden devotees of this East Memphis amenity are going to art shows, learning how to paint, strengthening their core muscles with vigorous dance and exercise classes and planning their spring plantings.

And getting ready to welcome a new executive director who says he has a few ideas of his own for how to go forward at MBG, an all-seasons venue.

Mike Allen, 60, takes over Jan. 2 at what was founded in 1953 with the planting of 2,500 iris rhizomes from a local garden in what at the time was a section of the adjacent Audubon Park.

Since “the gardens of Audubon Park” officially became known as the Memphis Botanic Garden in 1966, the place has grown stage-by-stage into much more than a garden, adding programs and facilities that play important roles in the city’s education and entertainment scenes.

The garden, owned by the city of Memphis and operated by a private foundation, is an ideal spot…