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Rakow co-authors first textbook on public gardens

Donald A. Rakow, the E.N. Wilds Director of Cornell Plantations, and Sharon A. Lee, consultant and former deputy director of the American Public Gardens Association, have co-authored "Public Garden Management," the first textbook that covers the establishment and operation of public gardens.

"We undertook this project to address the pressing need for a fundamental text on all aspects and functions of the many types of public gardens, including botanical gardens, arboreta, display gardens, historic landscapes, zoos and conservatories," Rakow said.

Long recognized as museums with living collections of plants, public gardens today are on the front lines of conservation efforts with educational and research programs focused on promoting a better understanding of the value of plants in maintaining a sustainable environment, he added.

"Public Garden Management" (co-published by Wiley and Sons and the American Public Gardens Association and sponsored by Longwood Gardens Inc.) is a comprehensive reference book that covers every aspect of public gardens, including their design, facilities, administration, educational programming, outreach and research operations, from inception to maturity. It also delves into the history and significance of these unique institutions, with their living collections, complex landscapes and mix of public programming and research initiatives.

The book is intended to serve as a textbook for undergraduates majoring in horticulture, a guidebook for those who want to establish a new public garden and a manual for staff at public gardens. The authors and their collaborators kept the book practically focused by providing a mix of overarching concepts, examples of how those concepts are demonstrated in the experiences of actual public gardens and sources that can expand upon those concepts.

"We collaborated with 36 subject matter experts to gather into a single text the collective wisdom in our field. We are excited that the public garden profession finally has its own textbook," Rakow said.

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Joe Schwartz