Posts Tagged ‘botanical gardens’

Parking Gardens

Sunday, June 26th, 2011

Parking lots make great settings for film noirs—I’ll give them that. But they’re bad for the environment. Their extensive paved and impervious surfaces bake in the sun, exacerbating the urban heat island effect. Virtually all the rain that falls on them is funneled into storm sewers, polluting local waterways. And they’re some of the ugliest places on the planet.

Public gardens are leading the way to greener parking lots—parking gardens—with plantings that absorb rain and prevent runoff and solar arrays that produce energy while providing shade. (more…)

Landscape For Life

Saturday, June 25th, 2011

You’ve heard me sing the praises of the Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES), the country’s first rating system for landscapes that make ecological sense. SITES, which provides technical metrics for landscape professionals striving to go green, sets sustainability standards for landscapes the way LEED does for buildings. Landscape For Life, a collaborative project of the U.S. Botanic Garden and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, is the new homeowner version of SITES. Landscape For Life makes it possible for anyone to create a sustainable garden. (In the interest of full disclosure: I worked with the USBG and the Wildflower Center to develop the content for the Landscape For Life website and print materials.) Stay tuned, because further enhancements, such as interactive features and a souped-up design, are in the works.

Here’s my “Growing Greener” column on Landscape For Life that appeared in Public Garden magazine, the flagship publication of the American Public Gardens Association, Vol. 25 No. 3. In my “Growing Greener” columns I answer sustainability-related questions from public garden staff. (more…)

Green Restaurants

Saturday, November 13th, 2010

Here’s another one of my “Growing Greener” columns in Public Garden, the flagship publication of the American Public Gardens Association. This one appeared in Vol. 25 No. 2 (2010). In “Growing Greener” I answer sustainability-related questions from public garden staff.

Q: I’ve heard that it’s possible to have our restaurant certified “green.” Is this true, and if so, what does it entail?

A: Missouri Botanical Garden’s restaurant Sassafras and Phipps Conservatory’s Café Phipps have joined the ranks of top-rated American restaurants that have been certified by the Green Restaurant Association (GRA), and for good reason. It’s a little known fact that restaurants consume vast amounts of water and energy and generate an astonishing amount of solid waste and pollution each year.

Some statistics to chew on: (more…)

Living Building Challenge

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

The following was published as part of my regular “Growing Greener” column in Public Garden magazine, Vol. 25 No. 1 (2010).  Public Garden is the flagship publication of the American Public Gardens Association. In “Growing Greener” I answer sustainability-related questions from public garden staff.

Q: What is the Living Building Challenge, and how is it different from the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED rating system?

A: By the sound of it, you’d think the goal of the Living Building Challenge—to encourage the creation of “living buildings” that “function as elegantly and efficiently as a flower”—was tailor made for public gardens. Although it grew out of the Cascadia Region Green Building Council, a chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council, it is designed to push the industry—and LEED itself—to a whole new level. In the words of one observer, the Living Building Challenge makes LEED’s incremental system of credits that get tallied up to determine whether a project earns Certified, Silver, Gold, or top Platinum rating “look like something drawn up by Exxon.” (more…)

Happy Birthday to Kew

Monday, January 19th, 2009

Several of the world’s greatest public gardens are celebrating birthdays this year. The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in London turns 250. Missouri Botanical Garden, the oldest botanic garden in continuous operation in the U.S., is celebrating its 150th birthday; to help celebrate the occasion, the American Public Gardens Association is holding its annual meeting in St. Louis this summer. Meanwhile, the Singapore Botanic Gardens is also celebrating its (ready for the Word of the Day?) sesquicentennial.

You can find my somewhat quirky take on the history of botanic gardens here

Evolutionary Biology Over Animatronic Religious Mythology?

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008

A web campaign has scuttled a joint promotional deal launched last week by the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden and the Creation Museum, which promotes a strict interpretation of the biblical version of how life began.

Canopy Walk and Rhizotron

Saturday, July 12th, 2008

Canopy walks at botanical gardens and arboretums are the hottest thing since children’s discovery gardens started appearing everywhere in the 90s. Kew’s new Rhizotron and Xstrata Treetop Walkway, named after the mining company that helped fund it and designed by the firm that did the London Eye, climbs 59 feet high into a canopy of chestnuts, oaks, and limes, and also takes a dip below ground to explore the subterranean world of tree roots. Another trend alert, at least in England: The design of the canopy walk is based on the Fibonacci Series.

The Next Big Botanical Thing?

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

Animal plant gardens have appeared at several zoos and botanical gardens. What seven year old can resist a planting of elephant ear, staghorn fern, lizard tail and the like? Glasshouse Works offers dozens of “zoomorphic plants,” including tapeworm grape and chicken gizzard plant. Eeewww! 

What Every Arboretum Needs

Saturday, May 17th, 2008

Some of the most spectacular treehouses you’ve ever seen, constructed around the world by a company called Baumraum.