An Ideal Botanical Garden Programme
about botanical garden, the following sketch was published in 1933 in the journal Parks and Recreation and under the title: “The Botanical Garden of Future Tea”. She was written, first of all, for the sole benefit of the author, in order to the net in his mind what should or could be the goals a modern botanical garden. He had been called to compose and realize the Botanical Garden of Montreal. It, therefore, seemed to him that before approaching such a large undertaking, it was appropriate to provide everything an ideal botanical garden could put on its agenda because we can hardly choose wisely unless we have all the elements of a question. However, it was later that the program developed then was accepted almost entirely and undergoes only insignificant changes. The Montreal Botanical Garden will be able, when it will be completed, serve as a demonstration of the practical application of the principles stated here.
In the light of the experience gained during the development of the Garden Botanique de Montréal, it has become possible to treat with precision larger several important parts of this sketch. Moreover, since the original article has long since been exhausted, it seems appropriate to make a revision and a reprint, not to serve as a guidebook, but in order to provide landmarks to those who will come after we who should be able to do better. Naturally, a botanical garden is first and foremost an institution education. Since botanical gardens exist – and this is no yesterday – they always have somehow served education. But there is no doubt that to justify its existence in our society contemporary, the modern botanical garden must expand considerably the field of its educational activities. In the past, the primary purpose of a botanical garden was to serve scientists and students rather than the general public. The admission of it – besides paying for it in botanical gardens at most – was at best tolerated and considered more nuisance.
This was even pushed so far as the very name of “botanical garden Is quite frowned upon by the public. It can even sometimes be more time to engage the public interest by first creating a “Garden center Which will later be transformed into a botanical garden. It goes without saying that a botanical garden must be the center of research botanical for the region where it is located and to have a scientific staff competent; it is clear, too, that he must cooperate closely with local universities and other educational institutions, and offer scientific training courses. Now, I believe that a botanical garden the modern day must especially adopt the tactics of using the more possible of its means, for the education of the general public. It’s not that I suggest turning all clerks and mechanics into botanists, nor feeding the children of Latin names of plants.
But with the growing concentration of the population in the big cities and the remoteness of nature that entails, it seems to me that the garden Botanic of the future has a serious task to accomplish by helping the city dweller uprooted to find where to maintain the healthy link with nature which, after all, he is part of it. The modern man, living in this artificial desert of stone that is called a city, has come more and more to consider the plants, trees, shrubs, and flowers he sees in the public parks and along avenues like pure ornaments. He likes to see them but gives them little-distracted attention and he is far from having any feeling of affinity towards them.
The breeze and destroy the trees of the road at the whim of the moment without thinking what he does. He does not have a garden of his own, and often he does not even want it, because he considers it only as one more chore to which he does not discover any sense, or as an expensive ornament that he can not pay. There are many among the social leaders who attribute to its real cause is the share of instability, discontent, and sadness that is due to this increasingly serious divorce of man from nature. They generally admit that public parks, playgrounds, and Recreation is an essential part of any urban planning program. And yet, is there a public park that influences the city-dwellers attitude? vis-à-vis nature? No, because these parks do not contribute to his education. Suffice it to quote Central Park in New York, which is undergoing at this point every year the ravages of thoughtless destruction that he does not can be maintained only at the cost of large expenses.
Certainly, our fathers had to dispute a precarious existence to nature and yet they knew their place well; while we did transpose in our modern and mechanized life nothing more than the misunderstood notion of the domination of nature by man. This notion was gradually even more distorted when she gave birth to the puerile doctrine that man, homo sapiens, was not part of nature but, was only his supreme master. This false man’s orientation in nature is causing more ills that I can not define here. A change, a reorientation can occur only through systematic education; and this education must be so simple and its means so attractive and enjoyable that the public can learn without realizing that he is being taught. That’s where the botanical garden of the future will find a vast and fertile field of work. In fact, this aspect of social life is of such importance that I a time when no city of any importance will want to be without a botanical garden.
After all, every human or animal life on the globe depends directly or indirectly on plant life. Penetrate further into Why and how of plant life leads us to discover the sources of our own sustenance. This allows us to probe the mysterious unity of nature, where nothing is lost, and where we find ourselves our place. This allows us to learn that plants and animals are neither adversaries to mater nor instruments created for our sole use, but that they are part, as we are, of, that they are, in short, our brothers and sisters under the sun. This knowledge will teach us the tolerance and love of other beings, whatever they are. And tolerance and love, children of wisdom, engender happiness and contentment. Now, let’s see how a botanical garden can help the modern man to become a better citizen of the realm of nature, and as a result of the society of which he is a part.
If we admit that the politics of a botanical garden is above all to stimulate or arouse the curiosity of the public to the life of the plants, it seems that the task is not just to teach people, but rather, to create a desire to learn through a happy presentation. We have to realize that we are not only dealing with beginners who, while not knowing anything, are eager to learn, but to a majority of indifferent. To attract these people and retain them, we have to consider in particular two points that are ordinarily at the base of the interest that can create plant life. Those are firstly the native flora of the surroundings and secondly, the garden floral.