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Making Your Garden Come Alive – Environmental Interpretation in Botanic Gardens

Konig,M. (2000) Making your Garden Come Alive! Environmental Interpretation in Botanical Gardens. Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 9. SABONET, Pretoria.
ISBN: 1-919795-50-2

Making Your Garden Come AliveThis excellent book, produced by the Southern African Botanical Diversity Network (SABONET), provides practical guidelines on how to develop an interpretation programme in a botanic garden. In a very clear format, with illustrations and diagrams throughout and with inspirational examples and ideas, this publication provides botanic garden educators with a very valuable tool to use in interpretation design.

It includes sections on planning guided walks, self-guided trails, interpretative signs and visitor orientation, as well as newer ideas such as discovery carts, educational theatre and roving interpreters. It also explores the importance of deciding upon and using themes and having an overall plan for your site interpretation.

This resource is available electronically on the BGCI CD Rom, 'Plants for the Planet', but is no longer avalaible hard-copy. Contact us to order a copy of the CD Rom or use the links below to download the chapters.


Preface and Chapter 1 - What is interpretation?

  • Why have interpretation?
  • Characteristics of good interpretation
  • Ways to make your garden come alive!

Chapter 2 - Planning an interpretation programme

  • Begin with an end in mind
  • Match the programme to your needs
  • A team effort
  • Ask for help
  • Evaluating the environment
  • Adding a professional touch

Chapter 3 - Thematic interpretation

  • Why use themes?
  • Practising themes
  • Theme gardens

Chapter 4 - Planning a guided walk

  • Planning the walk
  • Tips for interpretive guides
  • Making walks more interactive and fun
  • Evaluating walks
  • Engaging with visitors
  • A bag of tricks

Chapter 5 - Interpretive signage

  • Types of signage
  • Built-in evaluation
  • Maintenance
  • Making signs more interactive

Chapter 6 - Making interpretive signs

  • Before you start
  • Choosing a concept
  • Organisning the information
  • Writing
  • Testing the concept
  • Designing and making the sing
  • Using illustrations

Chapter 7 - Planning a self-guided trail

  • Trail design
  • Accessibility
  • Interpreting the trail
  • Trail maintenance

Chapter 8 - Visitor orientation

  • At the entrance
  • Garden maps
  • Garden layout
  • Directional signs
  • A signage manual

Chapter 9 - Expanding your options

  • Roving interpretation
  • Discovery stations
  • Specially for children
  • Educational theatre

Chapter 10 - Ideas and inspiration - Part I

Chapter 10 - Ideas and inspiration - Part II

Examples of interpretive materials

Harry Potter's Magic Plants

Flowers so deadly a single touch can be fatal, fruit that makes you believe you can fly and leaves that allow you to conquer the highest mountains. It might be hard to believe, but in real life the plants of Harry Potter are stranger than fiction itself.


Creating Great Visitor Experiences: A Guidebook for Museums, Parks, Zoos, Gardens and Libraries
Museums, libraries, parks and other cultural institutions today face the daunting task of attracting visitors who have almost limitless choices for education and entertainment. What gets them through your front door and coming back again and again? This book will tell you something about the answers
Setting Up and Running a School Garden
This publication, available in full online or in print from the FAO, is based on the idea that childhood habits die hard. The manual is to assist teachers, parents and communities, drawing on classroom experiences from across the world. The guide explains how to run and set up a garden in a school.