Tuesday, March 19, 2013

(Realistic?) Expectations When Visiting a Public Botanical Garden

Allen Centennial Gardens, August 2012

I suppose for a lot of arm chair gardeners our area botanical gardens are their gardens. For actual gardeners, these botanical gardens are a resource and a respite from the labors and tribulations in our own small plots. A recent response from the Director of Allen Centennial Gardens on a blog posting I did after a visit to the Allen has pointed out possibly the only hot spot in Wisconsin this spring-- the area under the collar of its director, Mr. Ed Lyon. All of which has gotten me thinking about what our expectations should be when visiting any botanical garden.

So I pose the question, "In this age of arm chair gardening and virtual tourism, what should be our expectations when we actually put feet to gravel and smear on the sunscreen?"

I have read there is a whole new level of garden visitation going on-- a garden tourism craze. It has gone a long way to revitalizing tourism for broad areas, if you doubt the trend you need only read a few blogposts of one of the driving forces behind the nationally acclaimed Buffalo/Niagara garden walks.

Certainly the internet has changed our expectations. Pinterest, I feel, is making its mark. Pinterest worried me even before I read Nancy Ondra's post about hunting her photos "pinned" without thought to photo copyright infringement.

These two photos of mine have had thousands of re-pins since I first posted them in a blogpost critiquing the 2011 Outagamie Master Gardeners' Garden Walk. (These are not the only popular photos of mine floating around out there.) I wonder if the homeowners have come across these pictures from their yards and what were their thoughts?

Certainly, Instagram, FaceBook, and cameras within the reach of our cell phones should put firmly in mind the idea that everything is posted to internet these days, too. The internet is certainly an image-driven medium, but there is certainly plenty of room out there for words to go along with our pictures.

It shouldn't be beyond anyone's expectations that pictures will be accompanied with words, sometimes questioning, "What is really going on here!"

Above are more pictures from my August 2012 Allen Centennial Garden visit.

Different botanical gardens have differing missions. Some have extensive educational facilities connected with their displays. Others have herbariums; some hold living collections of rare and unusual plants. Arboretums, although low-key, grow group plantings of many cultivars and species of a genus of herbaceous, woody perennials. Some do testing of perennials, roses, and annuals. Needless to say, an expectation of being able to visit an interesting collection of growing plants should be pretty much a given.

The plants are the entre for garden. They should be well-labeled, well-grown, and well-displayed. Many an interesting plant has entered my garden as a single specimen after seeing it massed in a botanical garden.

If any experimental growing methods are being used, placards to educate can be present. I really liked those used in 2011 by the Chicago Botanical Gardens in their edible gardens.

I really like how most botanical gardens are broken into smaller rooms. Many of my favorite ideas have been inspired by deconstructions of how these "rooms" are composed. These ideas are transplantable to my own yard, too.

So, plants, nice views(interesting landscaping), ideas, education, maybe even a sense of serenity should be expected take-aways from any visit to a botanical garden.

What are your expectations from your botanical garden visits?

1 comment:

  1. Inspiration. Rejuvenation. Tranquillity. Excitement. Education. Not sure all of these can actually go together, but I kind of expect them to, and sometimes they do.