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...
all-america-selections-new-website-home-page

December 3, 2016

New Mobile Responsive Website From All-America Selections Offers Improved Navigation

All-America Selections has launched a newly redesigned and revamped mobile-responsive website that includes a more attractive design, enhanced search tools, and easier and simpler navigation.

Read More
Sea Breeze Catharanthus combo

December 2, 2016

Four Mixed Container Trends To Watch

Mixed containers are still one of the best-selling SKUs at retail. Pay attention to these four trends that are making their mark on multi-liner mixes and combination containers.

Read More
kelly-norris

December 2, 2016

Kelly Norris: How The “Me Too” Philosophy Affects Plant Breeding

When you’re selling the exact same thing as everyone else, it’s unrealistic to expect customers to buy only from you.

Read More
Latest Stories
all-america-selections-new-website-home-page

December 3, 2016

New Mobile Responsive Website From All-America Selectio…

All-America Selections has launched a newly redesigned and revamped mobile-responsive website that includes a more attractive design, enhanced search tools, and easier and simpler navigation.

Read More
Sea Breeze Catharanthus combo

December 2, 2016

Four Mixed Container Trends To Watch

Mixed containers are still one of the best-selling SKUs at retail. Pay attention to these four trends that are making their mark on multi-liner mixes and combination containers.

Read More
kelly-norris

December 2, 2016

Kelly Norris: How The “Me Too” Philosophy Affects Plant…

When you’re selling the exact same thing as everyone else, it’s unrealistic to expect customers to buy only from you.

Read More

November 29, 2016

How Changes In Plant Patent Law Could Affect Your Varie…

There is an ongoing discussion happening among plant genetics companies about the current laws and ethics of plant breeding, and what the future holds for the improved lawful protection of genetics.

Read More
endless-summer

November 29, 2016

Endless Summer Hydrangeas Will Soon Feature New Identit…

Bailey Nurseries, which first introduced the reblooming hydrangea a decade ago, says the new identity will feature a more contemporary look to appeal to current and future gardeners.

Read More
prince-tut-cyperus-grass-feature

November 28, 2016

Growing Tips For ‘Prince Tut’ Cyperus Grass

'Prince Tut’ from Proven Winners’ Graceful Grasses collection is versatile, working well in all container sizes with its columnar habit and dense canopy and filling out well in the landscape.

Read More
Sea breeze combo

November 26, 2016

Four Mixed Container Trends To Watch

Mixed containers are still one of the best-selling SKUs at retail. Pay attention to these four trends that are making their mark on multi-liner mixes and combination containers.

Read More
Begonia at Oklahoma State University field trials

November 26, 2016

2016 Oklahoma State University Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 field trials results for Oklahoma State University in Oklahoma City.

Read More
Petunia 'Tidal Wave Cherry'

November 25, 2016

2016 North Dakota State University Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 field trials results from North Dakota State University in Fargo, ND.

Read More
Scaevola 'Scala Bicolor Blue'

November 24, 2016

2016 North Carolina State University Field Trials Resul…

Check out the 2016 field trial results at North Carolina State University/J.C. Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh, NC.

Read More
2016 Missouri Botanical Garden Flower Trials

November 23, 2016

2016 Missouri Botanical Garden Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 field trials results for the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, MO.

Read More
Mitchell’s Nursery & Greenhouse first caught the poinsettia bug in 1996, but the operation didn’t begin trialing the plant until 2004

November 21, 2016

Poinsettia Trials Across The Eastern U.S. To Take Place…

Poinsettia growers interested in keeping up with the latest variety and production trends have the chance to attend university open houses in New Hampshire, Louisiana, and Ohio.

Read More
Coleus 'Main Street River Walk'

November 21, 2016

2016 Michigan State University Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 field trials results for Michigan State University in East Lansing, MI.

Read More
Field trials at Lucas Greenhouses

November 20, 2016

2016 Lucas Greenhouses Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 Field Trials results for Lucas Greenhouses in Monroeville, NJ.

Read More
Catharanthus 'Soiree Kawaii Coral'

November 19, 2016

Kansas State University 2016 Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 field trial results for Kansas State University in Lawrence, KS.

Read More
2016 Massachusetts Horticultural Society field trials

November 18, 2016

2016 Massachusetts Horticultural Society Field Trials R…

Check out the 2016 field trials results for the Massachusetts Horticultural Society in Wellesley, MA.

Read More
verbena-endurascape

November 18, 2016

All-America Selections Announces Its 2017 Slate Of Vari…

Brokers, growers, mail order, and seed packet companies can purchase these varieties immediately. Retailers and consumers will find AAS Winners for sale for the 2017 gardening season as supply becomes available throughout the chain of distribution.

Read More
Vinca 'Valiant Lilac'

November 17, 2016

2016 Metrolina Greenhouses Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 field trials results for Metrolina Greenhouses in Huntersville, NC.

Read More
[gravityform id="35" title="false" description="false"]