Story is a powerful, provocative interpretive medium in botanical gardens. Plants already have a hard time attracting the interest of a plant-blind public, and lists of facts do little to bring them alive. Botanical gardens and their collections are full of meaning, narrative and history interleaved with personal perspectives. Stories help us uncover this and connect visitors to nature and the richness of our plant collections. From evocative descriptions of important species, to plant names and how they came to be, to plant histories based on indigenous peoples' ways of knowing, the plants become active characters in the stories, and the engaged visitors become characters, too. As those characters persevere through challenges, take journeys, grow, and change, their life histories and natural processes become the plot, and the setting of the story could be the very place in which they are planted.
Presenter: T. Calla, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, Sarasota, FL