A Method for Evaluating the Use of Living Plant Collections in Public Horticultural Institutions

Lindemann, Patricia
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University of Delaware
Most public horticulture professionals realize the importance of living plant collections, but few have more than a general idea of how much these collections are used. As funds become tighter, public horticulture professionals will constantly seek ways to maximize the return from all aspects of their organization--including their collections. This research involved surveying staff at three public gardens and arboreta, and determining how much each institution used its collections in its programs during fiscal year 1992-1993. The three institutions were the Arnold Arboretum, Longwood Gardens and the Morris Arboretum. The research method consisted of staff interviews and data collection at each of the institutions to document how pertinent activities and programs used the living collections. These uses were then summarized and compared with the institution's mission statement. Results will be valuable to public horticulture professionals who are interested in maximizing the use of their institution's collections. The method of evaluation and the case studies presented in this paper will provide these professionals with tools and information to duplicate the research in their own institution. It will provide these professionals with the means necessary to make good decisions regarding the collections at their institutions.
Plant collections , Evaluation , Visitor services , Education - public gardens