Since becoming executive director at Wellfield Botanic Gardens, I have fielded many questions from my family, friends, as well as the general public about the purpose of a botanic garden and how it differs from other beautiful, natural settings. As recently as six months ago, I would not have had a sufficient answer for many of these questions. I’ll attempt to sufficiently address a few of these questions here.
What is a botanic garden?
In the International Agenda for Botanic Gardens in Conservation, the definition of a botanic garden is as follows: "Botanic gardens are institutions holding documented collections of living plants for the purposes of scientific research, conservation, display and education." Furthermore, a botanic garden often provides visitor services that include tours, educational activities, displays, art exhibitions and a variety of forms of entertainment.
Wellfield Botanic Gardens is currently in the process of defining the plant collections we’d like to display and highlight in our garden spaces. This is a critical component in developing our identity as an organization and differentiating ourselves from being just another beautiful place with pretty flowers. We aim to be strategic and intentional in the collections and displays we create for the enjoyment of our guests.
What is the difference between a botanic garden and a botanical garden?
There is literally no difference. It is two ways of saying the same thing. It is very similar to the words metaphoric and metaphorical or historic and historical. While many public gardens are listed as a “botanical” garden, it is due to a preference in using the term “botanic” that we’ve become incorporated as Wellfield Botanic Gardens.
What is the difference between a botanic garden and a park?
Classical botanical gardens have a broader and more comprehensive mission than other kinds of plant-focused institutions, such as display gardens, environmental education centers, universities or public gardens, which participate in only some of these activities.
A park may have lovely and diverse ornamental plantings cared for by staff or even a community garden devoted to food production. However, as touched on above, a botanic garden has botanically diverse, rather than simply aesthetic collections of plants that are actively curated by a professional staff. Wellfield Botanic Gardens’ efforts are driven by a mission that includes an emphasis on education and influencing an appreciation for the inseparable relationship between animals, plants and water.
We look forward to seeing you at our community’s only botanic garden, Wellfield Botanic Gardens. If you haven’t visited yet this spring, you’re truly missing out on some spectacular spring colors displayed throughout our 36 acres. Hope to see you in the gardens soon!