State Of Botanical Gardens A Red Flag

The drive on Euclid Avenue east of Downtown Cleveland takes you past some of the city’s finest parts. As Public Square fades in the distance, spiraling concrete planters containing sweet potato vine, green fountain grass and trailing impatiens appear.

As East Fourth Street flashes by on your right, coleus, New Guinea impatiens, torenias and spider plants greet you in one of Cleveland’s few up-and-coming entertainment and residential districts. But continue on Euclid, past East 30th or so, and Cleveland’s harsh inner-city reality hits you. Dilapidated homes and abandoned buildings now litter one of America’s once great cities. Between Cleveland State University (on the edge of downtown) and the Cleveland Clinic (100 blocks east of downtown), the scene is one most people avoid. They avoid it because the beautiful cityscape of coleus and concrete planters gives way to commotion and crime.

Fortunately, soon after you pass the Cleveland Clinic, another one of Cleveland’s jewels appears: University Circle, home to a natural history museum, a nationally renowned art museum and the Cleveland Botanical Garden, which features an 18,000-square-foot greenhouse and covers 10 acres outdoors.

Still, one apparently growing botanical garden problem–everywhere, not just in Cleveland–is that botanical gardens are not catering to the “gardening public.” These days, botanical gardens are looking for people who go to art museums and zoos. They’re hosting concerts and food festivals to reel in new visitors. Gardening is going by the wayside.

Judith H. Dobrzynski of The New York Times points this trend out in her July 26 article, “Botanical Gardens Look For New Lures.” The Cleveland Botanical Garden, for example, hosted a biennial Flower Show over the last quarter century–and the event regularly drew as many as 30,000 visitors. Last year, though, the botanical garden couldn’t find sponsors for the show, and it was ultimately abandoned. So what gives?

“Botanical gardens are experiencing an identity crisis,” Dobrzynski writes. “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.”

The greenhouse floriculture industry may shrug at this development and think of botanical gardens as separate from greenhouse operations. But the truth is botanical gardens serve on the front line to consumers. Botanical gardens provide inspiration, and inspiration, in many cases, leads to purchasing.

We’ve known long enough our industry is fighting an uphill battle with consumers. Now, one of our greatest resources to connect with consumers is conflicted.

On the bright side, concerts and food festivals are at least attracting visitors to botanical gardens. But the botanical garden’s primary draw should be plants, just as the natural history museum’s draw is artifacts and the art museum’s draw is artwork.

Saving Ourselves

Back in the car, driving east from Cleveland, you get a taste of the good our industry does. Unfortunately, the bulk of the journey along Euclid reminds you our industry can do more.

Botanical gardens can do more to promote gardening, as well, but it’s also our responsibility to do a better job connecting with working women and young people who could care less about our craft. If we don’t do a better job, our next home will be the natural history museum–because gardening will be extinct.

Leave a Reply

More From Varieties...
Gaillardia x grandiflora 'Arizona Apricot'

February 25, 2015

National Garden Bureau Designates 2015 As Year Of The Gaillardia

Gaillardia, also known as the blanket flower, is a member of the sunflower family (Asteraceae) and a long-blooming pollinator plant. It is fitting that the National Garden Bureau has specified 2015 as The Year of the Gaillardia.

Read More
IPPS Sharing Plant Production Knowledge Globally Logo

February 25, 2015

International Plant Propagators Western Region Sets Annual Meeting Date

The annual meet for the International Plant Propagators' Society (IPPS) Western Region has been set for this September. It will take place September 23 to 26 in Modesto, Calif., and will include learning sessions, tours to local nurseries, a research poster display and poster presentations, various networking opportunities and an awards banquet to close the event.

Read More
Evolvulus Blue My Mind

February 24, 2015

Blue Ribbon Bloomers For Greenhouse Production

Grow what consumers want! Surveys show that blue is one of the top preferred colors of today’s consumers. Here are twelve top recommended blue-flowering Proven Winners annuals and perennials to suit your spring production cycle.

Read More
Latest Stories
Gaillardia x grandiflora 'Arizona Apricot'

February 25, 2015

National Garden Bureau Designates 2015 As Year Of The G…

Gaillardia, also known as the blanket flower, is a member of the sunflower family (Asteraceae) and a long-blooming pollinator plant. It is fitting that the National Garden Bureau has specified 2015 as The Year of the Gaillardia.

Read More

February 18, 2015

California Spring Trials Sneak Peek: New Annuals For 20…

If you're like us and you can't wait until the 2015 California Spring Trials to see some of the new genetics that will be hitting the market in 2016, never fear. We contacted the breeders who will be displaying their new varieties in California in April, and they gave us a sneak peek. Check out our slideshow to see some of the new annuals making their debut to the trade this spring.

Read More
Athena Brazil Salvia 'Brazilian Purple'

February 18, 2015

ForemostCo And Athena Brazil Unite To Supply Unrooted P…

ForemostCo, Inc. and Athena Brazil have forged a working relationship to support each other in the unrooted perennial cuttings market for North America. The partnership, geared toward accommodating increasing demand for unrooted perennial cuttings in North America, adds diversity to a recently consolidated market.

Read More

February 17, 2015

Poinsettias Had Their Best Year In Many In 2014

Poinsettia growers report a strong year in 2014, thanks to a few conditions. Growers were encouraged by high plant quality, enthusiastic shoppers and a stronger, less saturated market for poinsettias throughout the selling season. Seasonal cold at just the right time put consumers in a festive mood to buy early and often, and with no big snowstorms to hold up shipments and a reduction of supply available in the market, the season was strong from start to finish.

Read More
Geranium x cantabrigiense 'Biokovo'

February 17, 2015

Geranium Hybrid ‘Biokovo’ Dubbed 2015 Peren…

Geranium xcantabrigiense ‘Biokovo,' a naturally occurring hybrid of G. dalmaticum and G. macrorrhizum, is the Perennial Plant Association's top pick for 2015 Perennial of the Year. Learn why this tough, landscape geranium took home the prize.

Read More
Costa Farms' Season Premier 2015

February 4, 2015

Costa Farms’ 2015 Season Premier Reveals Newest V…

The annual Season Premier at Costa Farms in Miami, Fla., is the industry's very first peek at new varieties for debut the following year, even before the California Spring Trials, heralded widely as the jumping off point for new varieties. This year's event revealed breeders' best and brightest new varieties for 2016, shown in field trials, landscape trials and containers at Costa Farms tropical trial gardens. Plant breeders presented their new varieties to buyers and members of Lowe’s grower panel. Growers, brokers and other allied industry members, including Home Depot growers and buyers, were also able to peruse the grounds to see how the new varieties fared in the winter trials. Later this season, the hot and humid conditions at Costa’s summer trials will help identify the true performers.

Read More

January 28, 2015

All-America Selections Introduces Additional 2015 Winne…

All-America Selections has announced more 2015 AAS Winners, bringing the grand total of introductions for the 2015 gardening year to 25. The seven winners join the 12 announced last November and six announced last July. This year, AAS has had the most winners in one year since 1939.

Read More

January 28, 2015

Holiday Plant Trends And New Varieties

Growers had mixed feelings about the 2014 poinsettia season according to Greenhouse Grower's 2014 Poinsettia Survey. Read about their plans for 2015 and stay up to date on 14 of the newest cyclamen and poinsettia varieties on the market.

Read More

January 21, 2015

Pantone Marsala Plants To Grow In 2015 [Slideshow]

Marsala, an earthy wine-red color, is the Pantone Color of the Year for 2015, and it presents a great marketing opportunity to showcase Marsala-colored plants for outdoor and indoor decorating. Enjoy this round-up of plants with Marsala hues.

Read More

January 14, 2015

Liven Up Indoor And Outdoor Living With 24 New Tropical…

Uniquely colored foliage and vivid blooms are just two of the great features new tropicals and foliage plants add to energize indoor and outdoor spaces.

Read More

January 13, 2015

Take Purdue University’s Survey On Vegetatively P…

Do you have problems callusing or rooting vegetatively propagated perennials? The Purdue University Floriculture Lab would like to help you with these problems, but first the research team there needs your help.

Read More
Poinsettia 'Charon Red'

January 6, 2015

Dan Schantz Farm 2014 Poinsettia Trial Recap And 2015 D…

The 2014 Dan Schantz Poinsettia trials featured more than 170 poinsettia varieties. Here's a summary of the event, as well as a 2015 date for your calendar.

Read More

December 31, 2014

Engage Busy Consumers With Modern-Day Tropical And Foli…

Contemporary tropical and foliage plants fit right in with the hustle and bustle of the twenty-first century. Their versatility lends itself to countless uses both inside the house and out on the patio.

Read More

December 30, 2014

2015 California Spring Trials Are Just Around The Corn…

Are the California Spring Trials on your schedule for 2015? Before the busy growing season sidelines your plans, use this handy resource to get a jumpstart on registering for your trip.

Read More

December 29, 2014

Top 5 Slideshows Of 2014

These popular slideshows from 2014 highlight everything from new perennials, to new veggies, to California Spring Trials.

Read More

December 29, 2014

Suntory Makes Spirits Bright With Princettia Displays

Suntory Flowers started to introduce its varieties to sister company Beam Suntory by collaborating on a holiday interiorscape featuring Princettia at Beam Suntory's offices in Deerfield, Ill., near Chicago.

Read More

December 17, 2014

Small-Size Plant Varieties For Small-Scale Gardens [Sli…

Miniature and dwarf-sized varieties are perfect for containers, small-scale outdoor gardens and miniature gardening. See what breeders and growers have to offer in new varieties and past favorites.

Read More

December 17, 2014

Plant Ratings From 2014 Trials Now Available In Plant T…

Now that North American trial grounds have completed their 2014 trialing season, the National Plant Trials Database has more than 15,000 plant ratings for the horticulture industry’s use in planning for 2015.

Read More