One of the newest public gardens in the U.S. is Stoneleigh: A Natural Garden, located in Villanova, PA.  This semester, to assist Stoneleigh’s administration in their strategic planning, and to provide students with some real world experience, participants in the Cornell Public Garden Management class were asked to develop two components of the new garden’s planning.  One group worked on how Stoneleigh could achieve its goals for being a diverse and inclusive garden, and the other cohort identified enterprise income options. 

On Friday, May 4, at the culmination of a three day study tour of public gardens in the Brandywine Valley, the eleven students presented their plan to Ethan Kaufmann, director of Stoneleigh, members of his staff, and representatives from Natural Lands, the parent organization for Stoneleigh.  While the students’ recommendations were very well received by the group, students also acknowledged that they faced a number of challenges.  For example, while the Villanova train station is near the garden, allowing for center city residents to visit, there’s no sidewalk on the busy road between the station and the garden’s entrance, making this path quite dangerous.  Stoneleigh also plans to offer free admission to the gardens, so the group identifying income sources couldn’t suggest gate revenue as an option.

We thank the staff of the Association for suggesting that we work with Stoneleigh, and Ethan Kaufmann for sharing information so freely.

By Donald A. Rakow