It was a privilege to hear Peter Wyse Jackson speak at the Santa Barbara Botanical Gardens on the topic of Great Botanical Gardens of the World (3/13/10). I’m including an outline of his lecture, which opened my thinking to the role of botanical gardens today. Before this lecture, I had no idea about the important role these gardens play in environmental policy, education, plant conservation, and scientific research.
As a child growing up in St. Louis, I saw botanical gardens as a place for recreation. My parents would occasionally take us to the famous St. Louis Botanical Gardens in Forest Park. Ironically, Jackson will become the director of the Missouri Botanical Garden, moving to St. Louis from Dublin where he has worked with BGCI (Botanical Gardens Conservation International) for many years. If memory serves me correctly, the beautiful glasshouse, one of the treasures of St. Louis, was built for the 1904 World’s Fair.
In California, I had only visited the Huntington and Descanso Gardens, and the small garden at UCLA. In fact, when I taught first year composition at UCLA, my students took field trips to the garden, a wonderful collection of plants from around the world. They also wrote essays about their observations. My knowledge and experiences with botanical gardens has been expanding greatly. have recently been to the UC Botanical Gardens in Berkeley, revisited the Huntington, seen the LA Arboretum in Arcadia for the first time, and toured the Santa Barbara and South Coast Botanical Gardens, the first botanical garden established on a landfill. I will return to the Santa Barbara BG since I accidentally erased those photos. Also, I’m eager to see Lotusland, the garden built by Madame Ganna Walska in Montecito, based on Jackson’s comments.
Jackson’s lecture was quite informative, offering his audience a tour of the world’s botanical gardens and provided us an overview of their history. He focused on the exponential growth of botanical gardens in the past 20 years around the world for purposes related to conservation and environmental projection.
Notes from his lecture are posted in Pages.