Plants and people

Posted: May 28, 2013 at 18:18 pm Author: Katrina Podlewska

The Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum’s Head of Fundraising, Louise Bird, and the Forestry Commission’s communications team at Westonbirt, Katrina Podlewska and Gina Mills, are currently in the USA, visiting their counterparts at arboretums and botanic gardens to find out who their visitors are, how they fundraise, and to learn from some of the best.

The trip has been funded by the Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum.

The strapline for the New York Botanical Garden – ‘A place where plants and people come together’ - identifies a focus for people in the landscape and work of this spectacular 250 acre garden containing one million plants.

The early goal of NYBG was to ‘create an oasis of tranquillity and learning’ and this continues today. A visit shows that tranquillity, science and learning can fit easily within one visitor offer.

For example, the Ruth Rea Howell family garden encourages schools and families to 'grow their own' in plots – marked out by handmade signs created by children who use the space.

Ruth Rea Mitchell Garden NYBG

The connections with plants and people continue with the Wild Medicine exhibition. Running until September 2013, the exhibition shows how important plants are to traditional and modern medicine and remedies (Westonbirt's Tree Potions family event, 6-8 August, features a similar theme).

Wild Medicine exhibition interpretation NYBG

NYBG learning team interns greet visitors to the exhibition with facts and demonstrations. Sponsorship of family activities is something we have also undertaken at Westonbirt; with a previous Easter trail supported in product (chocolate rewards for the Easter Challenge trail) by the Co-operative.

Wild Medicine exhibition intern NYBG

Of course, as with Westonbirt, there are areas of tranquillity to escape to, including collections of conifers, cherries, lilacs and a rose garden.

This is a botanical garden for everyone and whilst there are many differences between Westonbirt and NYBG, the focus on the people who use and can benefit from the two attractions is a clear link and one that can be learned from.