The Conservation Garden

The concept of the Conservation Garden was developed at the North Carolina Botanical Garden in the early 1990s to represent the many conservation-related activities that were always at the heart of the Garden's mission and programs. We began using the phrase "conservation garden" and, in 1996, Director Peter White published an article in The Public Garden that broadly articulated the meaning of conservation in a botanical garden context. ("In Search of the Conservation Garden," The Public Garden 11[2]: 11-13, 40.) Since the late 1990s, our entry sign has carried the phrase "A Conservation Garden" as a by-line, carved on wood from red cedar trees that grew on our nature trails and were felled by Hurricane Fran in 1996. In 2004, we were presented with the Program Excellence Award of the American Association of Botanical Gardens and Arboreta (now the American Public Garden Association) for our work as a conservation garden. Read our Conservation and Sustainability handout.

WHAT DO WE MEAN BY THE CONSERVATION GARDEN? We describe the Conservation Garden in two ways. The "bottom-up" definition describes the individual programs that we have developed historically and which contribute to our sense of what the Conservation Garden is. These eight program themes are:

  • Conservation through Propagation of native plants ensures that wild populations are not damaged by direct use and collecting from natural populations
  • Seed Banking and Reintroduction, an ex-situ conservation program that protects germplasm reserves as a last resort against extinction in the wild and for use in reintroduction of wild populations
  • The Protection and Restoration of natural areas, which recognizes the importance of habitat conservation to the survival of biological diversity and which establishes the importance of nature's own gardens, as well as human gardens
  • The elimination of Invasive Species and replacement with non-invasive alternatives
  • Gardening in Nature's Context, which seeks to promote plants that support native biodiversity, including pollinators and seed dispersers
  • Sustainable Gardening, which seeks to promote environmentally friendly gardening practices and which involves such practices as sustainable water use, protected stream quality, xeriscaping (using drought-tolerant plants), ecoscaping (planting plants in the right places according to their ecological requirements), zeroscaping (working with the established plants in a landscaping plan), integrated pest management, renewable energy sources, non-toxic and sustainably produced materials, recycling and reuse
  • Supplying critical Information on conservation of the flora of the southeastern United States and on the Garden's conservation programs
  • People-Nature Relations, which describes how important plant diversity and natural areas are to the physical and psychological health of all of us

The second description of the Conservation Garden was inspired by the Hannover Principles of William McDonough and is "top-down" in the sense that it summarizes broad principles rather than individual programs. McDonough suggests that all human endeavors should be discussed under five headings. In the Conservation Garden, these five headings or themes are applied to all that the North Carolina Botanical Garden does:

  • Air, for air quality indoors and out
  • Earth, for recycling, non-toxic materials, and sustainably produced products
  • Fire, for energy use and renewable energy sources
  • Water, for the lifeblood of gardens and human life and economies
  • Spirit, for the spirit of all living things—the visitors, staff, volunteers, plants, birds, butterflies...

Updated on January 27, 2012 at 03:20:10 pm.


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