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Translating Sustainability:

Translating Sustainability Ellen M Weatherholt

Central Question and Research Goals:

Central Question and Research Goals In what ways are the case study gardens interpreting the sustainability portion of their mission to the public, and what are potential topics they can expand upon in the future? The goals of this Action Project are to experience , record , contrast , and ultimately encourage the different methods of communicating sustainability in public gardens.


Definitions Public Garden “A public garden is a mission-based institution that maintains collections of plants for the purposes of education, research, conservation, and/or public display.” –from Public Garden Management , Rakow & Lee, 2011 Typical Visitor In this context, any person who tours a public garden , on any given day. Sustainability As defined in the UN Bruntland Commission report, 1987 As defined in the Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES), 2009 From Rachael Kennedy’s MPS thesis : Giving Meaning to Sustainability in Public Gardens , 2008

Case Study Selection Process:

Case Study Selection Process Each public garden included in this study demonstrates a commitment to sustainability and education in the mission statement. In addition, each public garden represents: A unique geographic region of the country. A unique size of garden. A unique form of governance. An organization for which the author has not previously developed personal ties.

Data Gathering Process:

Data Gathering Process Site visit data was gathered in two parts. The author visited four public gardens as a typical visitor. After completing each site visit, staff interview(s) were given.

Data Analysis:

Data Analysis All known examples of sustainable practices were outlined in each case study For each practice listed, any sustainability-related information presented to the visitor was also noted Thematic trends were compiled for each garden Any thematic correlations between study sites were contrasted Based on this information, overall conclusions were drawn focusing on common themes between sites or topics with minimal coverage

Fort Worth Botanic Garden:

Location: Fort Worth, TX Size : 109-acres of outdoor space; 10,000 square-feet conservatory Date founded: 1934 Annual visitors: Approximately 700,000 visitors as of 2012. Fort Worth Botanic Garden Mission : “Enriching people’s lives through environmental stewardship and education.”

Garvan Woodland Gardens:

Garvan Woodland Gardens Location : Hot Springs, AR Size: 210-acres total, 44-landscaped acres Date founded : Developed as a private estate from 1956-1993. Garvan Woodland Gardens opened to the public in 1993. Annual visitors : 138,478 in 2012 Mission : “Garvan Woodland Gardens: Preserves and enhances a unique part of the Ouachita Mountain environment; Provides people with a place of learning, research, cultural enrichment, and serenity; Develops and sustains gardens, landscapes, and structures of exceptional aesthetics, design, and construction; and Partners with and serves the communities of which the Gardens is a part .”

Cheyenne Botanic Garden:

Location: Cheyenne, WY Size: 9.1-acres on the main campus Date founded: 1977-original conservatory opens, 1986-Botanic Gardens and current facilities constructed Annual visitors : 93,991 visitors in 2012. Cheyenne Botanic Garden Mission : “ The Cheyenne Botanic Gardens inspires, beautifies and enriches the High Plains through gardening, volunteerism, education, and stewardship. This is accomplished through these focus areas: Plants - Exhibit diverse plant collections and landscapes Service and therapy– Provide meaningful opportunities for seniors, handicapped and youth-​​at-​​risk volunteers who are essential in growing the Gardens. Education and Outreach– Provide educational and therapeutic opportunities and create demonstrations in landscaping, gardening, renewable energy and sustainable earth-​​friendly solutions .”

Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens:

Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens Location: Pittsburgh, PA Size : 2.5-acre outdoor garden space , ~1-acre under glass Date founded : 1893 Annual Visitors: 382,000 in 2007 Mission : “ To inspire and educate all with the beauty and importance of plants; to advance sustainability and promote human and environmental well-being through action and research; and to celebrate its historic glasshouse .”

PowerPoint Presentation:

Site Comparisons

PowerPoint Presentation:

Both Phipps and Cheyenne practice and display the indicated sustainable actions. Each garden also has recently constructed LEED buildings on-site.

PowerPoint Presentation:

Garvan Gardens has green buildings, but did not pursue LEED certification. Fort Worth did not have any LEED certified buildings during the time of the site visit.

PowerPoint Presentation:

These actions were largely determined by the garden’s region or features present in the garden.

PowerPoint Presentation:

Greater Opportunities with potential All four gardens practice: E nergy C onservation S ustainable L andscape M aintenance P rinciples With only one exception, these topics are not presented during a visit to the garden.

Opportunities Found:

Opportunities Found Compost Outpost Plant-a-Pot Activity booth Discovery Pond

Opportunities Found:

Opportunities Found

Opportunities Found:

Opportunities Found

Opportunities Found:

Opportunities Found

Opportunities with Potential:

Opportunities with Potential Re-purposing of materials for light display Responsible Development Garden/City Composting Partnership Conservation and Research programs Volunteer and Community feeding programs

Lessons Learned:

Lessons Learned Interpretation focused on the visitor’s general ideas about sustainable living. By focusing on the visitors’ perception of, or attitudes towards sustainability, the gardens are giving the visitor the chance to form their own impressions. Messages shared by each garden are primarily determined by the organization’s mission statement. Region-based concerns, and garden history also shape the course of sustainability at each case study site The most limiting factor for all gardens appears to be the organizations budget.


Recommendations As leaders in the field, public gardens should continue to include sustainability information in their exhibits and gardens. Gardens are well-suited to be communicating topics such as sustainability. It can also be presented with other ideas and efforts in place at the garden.


Recommendations Self-Analysis Complete a self-analysis of all the activities going on in the garden: Horticulture Activities Staff Initiatives Building or Landscape features Administrative Practices Thoroughly search for any sustainable actions already in place! Start small Trained volunteer docents Sustainability oriented tours Classes Brochures Small/temporary signs featuring aspects of buildings or the garden


Acknowledgements Thank you to all participating gardens and garden staff members: Cheyenne Botanic Garden, Cheyenne, WY Fort Worth Botanic Gardens, Fort Worth, TX Garvan Woodland Gardens, Hot Springs, AR Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, Pittsburgh, PA


Acknowledgements My committee: Dr. Don Rakow Dr. Sonja Skelly Dr. Nina Bassuk Cornell Plantations Public Garden Leadership Program The talented Staff of Cornell Plantations CU Department of Horticulture PGL Fellows past and present Cornell Thesis Boot Camp Cornell CAPS All my Bellwether co-workers My Family Laura G. Weatherholt Carol Grove Laure Conklin-Kamp A great big thank you to APGA for allowing me to present this research!

Thank You!:

Thank You!

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