Remaining Vital & Relevant: The evolution of mature gardens & landscapes

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Gardens continually change, providing each generation of garden managers and designers opportunities to renovate and adapt as visitor needs, conservation practices, and interpretive approaches shift. Panelists will showcase recent projects that reveal how public landscapes stay relevant and true to their identities while embracing current priorities like accessibility, stewardship, and personal connections. The Smithsonian National Zoo has constantly evolved in response to changing design preferences, legislative direction, and a growing conservation mission. Its learning landscapes—originally built in a Beaux Arts tradition and opened in 1891—now offer a blend of access to habitat immersion, conservation programs, and vibrant public spaces. Smithsonian Gardens recently launched a recurring campus-wide exhibition series that encourages visitors to take a fresh look at the Gardens through the unique lens of each exhibition and to consider the Gardens as one singular museum. This exhibition series is the embodiment of Smithsonian Garden’s mission to “engage, inform, and inspire”. Brooklyn Botanic Garden is completing a decade-long transformation of its century-old landscapes and living collections, enhancing environmental sustainability while increasing site accessibility and opportunities for educational programming.
Washington, DC
Distance Learning
Course Equivalency
Campus Planning & Design
Site Planning
Health, Safety and Welfare
Learning Outcomes
This session has the following learning objectives: 1) To show ways gardens can continually change their landscapes to adapt to visitor needs, conservation practices, and educational trends, 2) To provide examples drawn from Brooklyn Botanic Garden, The Smithsonian Gardens, and The Smithsonian National Zoological Park on how they evolved their landscapes to respond to contemporary community needs, incorporate ecological design as a role model for adaptation and resilience, and integrate universally accessible landscapes, 3) To demonstrate ways to apply and interpret scientific research related to ecosystem services to address resource protection and visitor engagement simultaneously.
1) Scot Medbury is president of Brooklyn Botanic Garden, one of the nation’s preeminent public gardens. He is the Garden’s sixth leader since its founding in 1910. Mr. Medbury provides vision and strategic leadership as the Garden completes capital project
Website Registration
Course Codes
American Public Gardens Association

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