Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Garden tourism

Because I came across a press mention ("Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden wins award" from the Richmond Times-Dispatch) that the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, Virginia has received an award from the Garden Tourism Conference, being designated a "Top 10 North American Garden Worth Travelling To," I learned that there is such a thing as garden tourism.  Not that I am surprised, I just didn't know about it.

Today is supposed to be about 60 degrees in Washington, DC, and 70 degrees in the "other" Washington, Seattle, so it's a nice day to think about public gardens as elements of parks and open space planning, and on increasing our awareness of and knowledge of plants, nature, and the natural (but man-shaped) landscape.

Garden tourism focuses on public gardens such as the National Arboretum in DC, the Rose Garden in Portland, Oregon or San Diego, and of course, the the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, not on community gardening, and specifically the growing of vegetables.

The Garden Tourism Conference is held every two years in Canada, and happened a couple weeks ago in Toronto.  They don't have presentations up online, but here is some interesting stuff to delve into more deeply...

1.  The American Public Gardens Association started National Public Gardens Day five years ago.  This year it's on Friday May 10th.

In DC, only Tudor House and the Smithsonian Gardens are participating in this event.

It's too bad the USDA's National Arboretum and NPS's Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens aren't participants, along with Dumbarton Oaks (see "‘Cloud Terrace’ and other works put Dumbarton’s gardens in a new light" from the Washington Post) and other great spaces in the DC metropolitan area.

2.  Ontario has laid out its Garden Tourism Strategy and prepared an approach for determining market readiness for garden tourism projects.  The document lays out the methodology (which is a pretty standard tourism product development approach, applied to public gardens and events).

3.  Also see this presentation on the Garden Tourism Market in British Columbia.  ... I know that I think of Philadelphia region as a place foremost for garden tourism because of Longwood Gardens and Winterthur.

4.  There is an organization, GardenWalk Buffalo, that sponsors a weekend of events, this year on July 27th and 28th, where people can tour gardens across the city.  Monies raised by the organization support beautification projects across the city.

See the blog entry "Friday: Garden Walk Buffalo - The Cottage District" from the Garden Bloggers Buffalo blog (also the source of the images in this entry) for more discussion about the value of ornamental gardening to community building and neighborhood improvement. From the entry:

We made the couple that bought our Sixteenth Street house promise to be on the Garden Walk. They were not previously gardeners (and still claim not to be). But they not only have been on the Walk, they encouraged neighbors to get involved, and helped start a block club. Each year they, along with the block club (and a particularly generous avid gardener on the block) help to "redo" one front yard garden for an elderly neighbor. They've added street side planters, hanging baskets and the banners.

Housing values have gone up. People are working on the houses–interiors and exteriors. People are spending more time on their porches (they used to just drag the living room furniture out to them to watch a Bills game). Everyone knows everyone else and looks out for each other. I was visiting there over the weekend and every one greets each other with a smile and wave. This did not happen ten years ago. There are 11 house on Sixteenth Street on Garden Walk this year!

This is what I'm most proud about as president of Garden Walk Buffalo–helping foster neighborhood pride, increasing home values and increasing a sense of community in neighborhoods that might not otherwise have had something to band together for. And then showing it off to a regional (and now national) audience.

5.  GardenWalk is held in conjunction with a separate National Garden Festival, which lasts for six weeks, starting June 21st.

6.  Communities in Bloom is a Canadian organization which aims to engage citizens in environmental and beautification activities, with a focus on improving green spaces in communities.  It takes the same kind of approach as GardenWalk Buffalo, but across Canada.

7.  And APGA sponsors a national conference each year for its members, called the Garden Evolution Conference.  This year it's in late May, in Arizona.

book cover, Garden Tourism by Richard BenfieldAlso see "Great Gardening: Ideas take root at garden tourism forum" and "Garden tourism benefits the economy and much more" from the Buffalo News.

The book Garden Tourism by Professor Richard Benfield of Central Connecticut State University, which will cover this field, is soon-to-be-published.

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