Ecologist and educator, Dr. Bruce Rinker, answers this question in response to those who think botanical gardens are simply parks where play is not allowed (Rinker, 2002). In his article, The Weight of a Petal: The Value of Botanical Gardens, Rinker makes a case for the value of botanical gardens by tracing the close association between gardens and humans.
Since the first medicinal gardens were developed in Europe in the 1500s, gardens have served as trophies of colonial expansion, centers for taxonomic research, horticultural collections, resource centers dedicated to the study of specific groups of plants, and safe havens for threatened species (Rinker, 2002).
To help teachers demonstrate the value of botanical gardens in their classrooms, Rinker (2002) provides three pages of resources teachers can access easily on the Web, in books, and in journals. He also provides a link to a lesson created specifically for his article. The lesson, The Value of a Garden, was created by Dr. Marianne E. Krasny, Paul Newton, and Linda Tompkins, all from Cornell University. The activities they designed require students to think about gardens and the benefits they offer. The activities in this lesson plan can require up to three class periods and two weeks to complete, keeping students engaged and thinking about botanical gardens in several ways.
A valuable resource for classroom teachers and informal science educators, Rinker’s article, accompanying lesson plan, and the PowerPoint presentation by Krasny et al., are available online for free at:
Rinker, Bruce H. 2002. The Weight of a Petal: The Value of Botanical Gardens. ActionBioscience.org. Web. 21 April 2011.
It’s a Small World