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Re: Rather sad
  • Subject: Re: Rather sad
  • From: "Daryl" <dp2413@comcast.net>
  • Date: Thu, 29 Jul 2010 20:10:26 -0400

It may be sad to us, but the gardens are not sustainable as they are, and they risk being closed if they don't get visitors. I think that offering a different approach may bring new visitors who will learn to appreciate the rest of the gardening experience.

As a speaker, I've witnessed the decline in audience at flower shows over the years. It's really, really bad (and not due to my appearance , apparently, since nationally known speakers aren't getting the audiences we once had. (I'm only regional, except for the HGTV show I did that garnered bigger audiences for a while )

Our MG local library series used to get SRO crowds - 100+ for the library room. In recent years, we've been lucky to get an average of 20. My talks usually garner more than that, but it's mostly "fans" and there are few new faces.


----- Original Message ----- From: "BONNIE_HOLMES" <bonnie_holmes@comcast.net>
To: "Garden Chat" <gardenchat@hort.net>
Sent: Thursday, July 29, 2010 7:52 PM
Subject: [CHAT] Rather sad

uly 26, 2010,NYT
Botanical Gardens Look for New Lures

For the last quarter century, the Cleveland Botanical Garden went all out for its biennial Flower Show, the largest outdoor garden show in North America.
With themed gardens harking back to the Roman empire, or an 18th-century
English estate, the event would draw 25,000 to 30,000 visitors.

But in 2009, the Flower Show was postponed and then abandoned when the
botanical garden could not find sponsors. This year, the garden has different
plans. From Sept. 24 to 26, it is inaugurating the b RIPE ! Food & Garden
Festival,b which celebrates the trend of locally grown food b and is
supported in part by the Cleveland Clinic and Heinenbs , a supermarket

bThe Flower Show may come back someday, but itbs not where people are
these days,b says Natalie Ronayne, the gardenbs executive director.
bFood is an easier sell.b

So it is across the country. Botanical gardens are experiencing an identity crisis, with chrysanthemum contests, horticultural lectures and garden-club
ladies, once their main constituency, going the way of manual lawn mowers.
Among the long-term factors diminishing their traditional appeal are fewer
women at home and less interest in flower-gardening among younger fickle,
multitasking generations.

Forced to rethink and rebrand, gardens are appealing to visitorsb 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 like
the Pollinator (green tea liqueur, soda water and Sprite). A few are even
inviting in dogs (and their walkers) free or, as in Cleveland, with a canine
admission charge ($2).

bWebre not just looking for gardeners anymore,b says Mary Pat Matheson,
the executive director of the Atlanta Botanical Garden . bWebre looking
for people who go to art museums and zoos.b

In May, the Atlanta garden opened an attraction that would fit right in at a
jungle park: a bcanopy walkb that twists and turns for 600 feet at a
height of up to 45 feet, allowing visitors to trek through the treetops. Not far away, food enthusiasts can stop in at a new edible garden, with an outdoor kitchen frequently staffed by guest chefs creating dishes with fresh, healthy
ingredients. Edible gardens are the fastest-growing trend at botanical
gardens, consistently increasing attendance, experts say, along with cooking

Attendance in Atlanta since May is double what it was for the same period last

Public gardens across the country receive about 70 million visits a year,
according to the American Public Gardens Association . But experts say that because of social trends and changing demographics, attendance is at risk if
gardens do not change.

They can, however, take advantage of several trends that could increase garden attendance, including concern for the environment, interest in locally grown food, efforts to reduce childhood obesity, demand for family activities and
mania for interactive entertainment. Even economic pressures could help
botanical gardens, as more people try to grow their own food. In 2009, 35
percent of American households had some kind of food garden, up from 31
percent in 2008, says Bruce Butterfield, research director of the National
Gardening Association . Only 31 percent participated in flower gardening in
2009, about the same proportion as in the last few years.

bTherebs a generation that will be less interested in gardens,b says
Daniel J. Stark, executive director of the public gardens association, bbut
that generation is incredibly interested in whatbs happening with the
planet. Recently, my own two daughters, and a friend, were reading me the riot
act about cutting down some trees.b

Mr. Starkbs daughters are 4 and 8.

Some tactics designed to entice nongardening Americans are not new, of course b sculpture and concerts have been around for years b but their popularity is growing. The New York Botanical Garden , for example, is drawing big crowds
with its current tribute to the poet Emily Dickinson , who was also a

The new exhibition at the United States Botanic Garden in Washington features
bthe spectacular spud family,b with potato-related artifacts, music and
bits of pop culture, especially the endurance of Mr. Potato Head.

And childrenbs gardens are growing more whimsical and interactive, says
Sharilyn Ingram, a former president of the Royal Botanical Gardens in Canada who is now a culture professor at Brock University in Ontario. bYou get to
have a little more fun now,b she said.

When the Coastal Maine Botanical Garden, in Boothbay, opened its $1.7 million,
two-acre childrenbs garden this month, it came with a chicken coop, where
children can harvest eggs, and a windmill weather station.

In Wyoming, at the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens , the new childrenbs village has
adopted sustainability as its theme. It includes a solar-powered discovery
laboratory where children can make art from reused materials, a feature that
helped it win the highest level of Leadership in Energy and Environmental
Design (LEED) certification.

Teenagers in Cleveland are learning how to grow corn and zucchini on urban

Because of environmental concerns, Descanso Gardens , near Los Angeles, is
doing the once-unthinkable: it plans to uproot its historic b but nonnative
b collection of camellias, some as tall as 30 feet, which were planted
decades ago under the shade of natural woodlands. bItbs a fantasy
forest,b says Brian Sullivan, the director of horticulture and garden

But the fantasy cannot be sustained. Camellias require so much water that it is killing the trees b not to mention being wasteful. Descanso will relocate
the camellias, even though some will be lost, and allow the woodlands to
return to their native state. bWe expect opposition and kudos both,b Mr.
Sullivan said.

But Descanso still must reach out beyond its aging membership group, he added,
so it is remaining open in the evening; offering cocktails (including the
Pollinator) at a new Camellia Lounge; breaking ground on a $2.1 million art gallery whose exterior walls will be hung with vertical plant trays that will blend into a turf roof; and maintaining an edible garden dense with fruits,
vegetables and herbs that are donated to a local food bank.

Food festivals are becoming a large part of the year-round programming that
gardens view as important to winning repeat visitors. In January, the
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Coral Gables, Fla., drew some 12,000
people to its fourth International Chocolate Festival with Coffee and Tea. It was followed in April with a local food festival, and this month with a mango
festival. In November comes its annual Ramble, a garden party featuring
antiques and music.

Yes, Fairchild also has an orchid festival.

But showcasing flowers is clearly shrinking in importance. bMost gardens,b
Ms. Ingram, the Canadian professor, said, bwould feel that displaying
flowers is necessary, but not sufficient.b

ETN Zone 7

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  • References:
    • Rather sad
      • From: BONNIE_HOLMES <bonnie_holmes@comcast.net>

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