Public Gardens Rebranding Themselves


In today's NY Times, we learn that public gardens are canceling their flower shows, part of their big shift in emphasis.

Forced to rethink and rebrand, gardens are appealing to visitors’
interests in nature, sustainability, cooking, health, family and the
arts. Some are emphasizing their social role, erecting model green
buildings, promoting wellness and staying open at night so people can
mingle over cocktails.

Sounds good to me (I think).

Photo from the edibles display at the Chicago Botanic Garden.


  1. Efforts to expand the appeal and influence of botanical gardens are generally laudable, but in one notable instance, virtually in my own backyard, such rebranding has had disastrous consequences: the marginalization of serious botanical research.

    The Marie Selby Botanical Gardens of Sarasota, Florida, a globally renowned center for the study and cultivation of bromeliads, orchids and other epiphytes, has been losing its research scientists and educators. Edged out by a board that feels entertainment sells better than science, key staff have been leaving for other botanical institutions and freelance careers.

    For more background, see this excellent report:

    holly (at) hollychase (dot) com

  2. Oh that sounds divine ! After all, public gardens should not be seen as simply a museum for plants. They should be open to enjoy in the cool of the evening when some plants are at their best (and when I most enjoy being amongst them).

    But on reading Holly’s comment … I would not want to lose the research in favor of entertainment. Surely there’s a compromise that can be worked out ? Or even a way to have the “entertainment” help in funding the research ?

  3. Excellent idea. Gen x and y want to hear why they should go a botanical garden not just that the garden exists. Berkshire Botanical doing the same thing in western MA. A whole series on the garden shed, harvest festivals, classes etc.

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