The Public Garden + You

By: Dan Camenga

I often think about the characteristics that make public gardens unique places. In extraordinary ways, public gardens deliberately celebrate humanities relationship to the natural world. The “people-plant” connection can truly be seen through the optics of a public garden. This reality is at the foundation of Garden Literacy’s message.

As the founder and volunteer Director of Garden Literacy, I realize that I am biased in the high value I have for plants and the gardens that showcase them. To some, my appreciation and interest in public gardens may be “odd” in a society occupied by sensational headlines and soundbites. Truth be told, although I am eager for increasing and widespread participation in Garden Literacy’s conversation, I know we face an uphill climb as we work to convince others about the broad benefits of these valuable spaces.

While each public garden has its own unique identity, the collective group of American public gardens helps to frame our history, our present, and our future. Great public gardens serve as teachers through exemplary displays and meaningful lessons. Even those gardens that may appear “static” or “predictable” contain benefits for those with an open mind and heart.

Our experiences are greatly influenced by our own interests, biases, and current well-being. This certainly holds true during our visits to public gardens. The highest form of visitor appreciation is the expression of stories that characterize the interaction between the person and the place. I encourage you to share your story through Garden Literacy so *you* can help define the characteristics that make public gardens unique places!

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