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Cornell Plantations director co-authored first textbook on public gardens

Published: 
3 years 22 weeks ago

Donald A. Rakow, the E.N. Wilds director of Cornell Plantations, and Sharon A. Lee, consultant and former deputy director of the American Public Gardens Association, have co-authored Public Garden Management, the first textbook to be published that covers the establishment and operation of public gardens.

According to Rakow, “We undertook this project to address the pressing need for a fundamental text on all aspects and functions of the many types of public gardens, including botanical gardens, arboreta, display gardens, historic landscapes, zoos, and conservatories.”

Long recognized as museums with living collections of plants, public gardens today are on the front lines of conservation efforts with educational and research programs focused on promoting a better understanding of the value of plants in maintaining a sustainable environment.

Public Garden Management is a comprehensive reference book that covers every aspect of public gardens including their design, facilities, administration, educational programming, outreach, and research operations from inception to maturity. It also delves into the history and significance of these unique institutions, with their living collections, beautiful landscapes, and mix of public programming and research initiatives.

The book is actually three books in one:  a textbook for undergraduates majoring in horticulture, a guidebook for those visionaries who want to establish a new public garden, and an operations manual for staff at existing public gardens.  The authors and their collaborators kept the book practically focused through a careful mix of overarching concepts, examples of how those concepts are demonstrated in the experiences of actual public gardens, and sources that can expand upon those concepts.

Published by John Wiley & Sons, co-published by the American Public Gardens Association, and sponsored by Longwood Gardens, Inc., the textbook is a significant step for the public garden world. As Rakow notes,  “We collaborated with 36 subject matter experts to gather into a single text the collective wisdom in our field. We are excited that the public garden profession finally has its own textbook.”