Jenny focused on innovative approaches for integrating education into public garden design. She conducted case studies of several institutions that have successful accomplished this goal.
In the past and even today, many public gardens struggle with interpreting their collections. All too often, educational interpretation is an afterthought; tacked on once the plants are already in place. Additionally, many facilities view interpretation as labels for the plants.
Many public gardens incorporate education into their mission as a fundamental importance. In order to effectively provide education to the garden visitor, public gardens must update their means and methods of providing engaging interpretation.
This paper aims to provide recommendations for best practices in interpretation, particularly in outdoor environments. Interpretation plans should be considered at the very beginning of a project, ideally when the garden design is determined. In many gardens, this is impossible, but interpretation should be cohesively integrated into the garden’s design.
Additionally, innovative interpretation practices are considered, through the examination of several case studies. Exhibits utilizing methods other than signs were chosen, to exemplify the creativity and range of possibilities when considering educational messages.
Finally, best practices are recommended. It is realized that this approach may not suit all public gardens. It is suggested that these goals be considered only in areas where education is the primary focus. Through these practices, it is hoped that public gardens can create meaningful and engaging interpretive displays.
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Jenny Evans is the Native Plant Nursery Manager at the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation in Florida.
Originally from the piedmont of Virginia, Jenny spent her whole childhood in the foothills and farmlands of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Spending most of her time outdoors, she developed an early appreciation for nature. As an undergraduate, Jenny earned a B.S. in Biology and a double major in Theatre from Mary Washington College in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Despite her seemingly incompatible fields, she has finally managed to find a happy medium in the art and science of public gardens.
Once out of school, Jenny pursued a career in environmental education, working in subtropical marine ecology and leading students of all ages on educational snorkeling adventures. She had the opportunity to live in both the Bahamas and the Florida Keys for several years and while there developed a strong appreciation for subtropical flora and plant ecology. Although she truly enjoyed the environmental education field, Jenny wanted to fulfill her creative side as well. While searching for a more artistic enterprise, she discovered and attended an intensive summer program in Landscape Architecture at Harvard University. This spawned her love of working in outdoor design.
Jenny was then offered a six month internship at the Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden in Federal Way, Washington. During her tenure, she was introduced to the inner workings of botanical garden collections and curation. On a day to day basis, she worked in garden maintenance and renovation and also in nursery management and propagation. This cemented her love for public gardens and particularly botanical gardens. Finally, a perfect balance between art and science was found!
While at Cornell, Jenny plans to study public garden design and its relation to education. She wants to explore better ways to design gardens to fully integrate education into the everyday visitor's experience. She is also interested in restoration ecology, the management of natural areas, and native plants.
During her free time, Jenny enjoys being artistic!