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Outdoor-garden interpretation gets a new look

Alpine Garden - Austral mountains
Credit: Jardin botanique de Montréal (Lise Servant)
Alpine Garden
Outdoor-garden interpretation gets a new look

Since the spring of 2014, one of the Montréal Botanical Garden teams has been busy with a big project: redoing the outdoor-garden interpretation panels. It was time… Several generations of panel adorned the Garden in their dignified fashion, but they needed to be standardized and updated. And so an ambitious project stretching over three years and supported by the Friends of the Montréal Botanical Garden was born. That project will make it possible to outfit our theme gardens – more than twenty – with panels that feature renewed design and content. The first gardens on the list: Chinese Garden, Japanese Garden, Alpine Garden, Reception Gardens and Rose Garden.

Backstage at the gardens...

But how do you go about interpreting a garden? First of all, the horticultural information staff bring their expertise to bear in reviewing the state of each garden, taking note of needs and doing the necessary research. Teaming up with the Horticulture Division, we next reach decisions on the orientations: what secrets does each collection harbor? What are our visitors’ interests? How to convey the information as effectively as possible, satisfying both laypeople and experts? Then come the stages of content confirmation, writing, illustration, graphic design, printing and, finally, installation, which will be done this spring. One year later – and that’s all there is to it!

Five gardens revisited

The Chinese Garden panels will give visitors a better understanding of the key elements of a Mandarin’s garden and showcase such details as the ornamentation of the roofs and the symbols adorning the Entrance Courtyard. The ones in the Japanese Garden, simple and refined, provide information about the unique esthetics of the place and the culture that gave rise to it. At the Alpine Garden the question of adaptations is explored: what strategies do mountain plants put into effect in order to survive in a hostile environment? The Reception Gardens are getting interpretation panels for the first time. And at the Rose Garden, interpretation is devoted to the major rose groups of the world. Between now and 2017 we hope to have provided every garden – at least in terms of this feature – with a brand-new look.

Knowledge to pass on

This interpretation approach is no small matter. Beyond the colossal teamwork they entail, the panels constitute the foundation of how knowledge is communicated at the Garden. The procedure is in addition to the interpretation work at the Arboretum, finished in 2013, the passion of the animators in the field, and all the events that bring even more life to the Botanical Garden and heighten the experience even further. Mediation is at the heart of our mission, which is to help people discover the world of plants in the very heart of Montreal, to reveal the beauty of that world, and to protect it more successfully.

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