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31 Aug 2018

Highlighting seasonal interest in the garden

Highlighting seasonal interest in the garden

Julia Watson, Auckland Botanic Gardens

At botanic gardens around the world, a frequent question you’ll overhear vistors asking is “What’s looking good today?” or “What can you recommend we see?” It’s always an enjoyable moment to be able to share all the wonderful options that are available.

However, visitors can sometimes find the gardens a bit overwhelming due to the sheer variety of plants to see and options to choose from. There is a wide range of ways to help visitors plan their visit, such as plant of the week, suggestions of walks to take, apps, visitor maps and messaging on site.

In this article I highlight the use of seasonal maps, created specifically to direct visitors to some of the best areas of the garden to visit, and the most delightful plants to enjoy.

This season, we created a map highlighting what looks good in late winter and spring. The map isn’t so much a trail as rather a compilation of seasonal plant highlights per collection. Visitors can then pick and choose which collections they’d like to visit (or choose to see them all!) and then find the highlights within those collections.

Front page: a colourful map of the garden highlighting some of the best plants to see that season

The process we follow is to collate a simple map, choose some of the most ‘wow’ plants for the season and professionally print A4 copies which are available in our visitor centre. In the garden, we place a brightly coloured (small) sign at each plant, indicating that it is the seasonal highlight that is shown on the map.

Back page: photos of the highlighted plants which allows visitors to know what they are looking for, or to get a better idea of which plants they’d like to see.

Our visitors love picking up these maps, and they are also a nice reminder of their visit once they leave. It is a simple way to enhance their visit, and a resource that can be produced once but used for many months depending on how you plan it. When you’re next planning a resource for your visitors, how about trying a seasonal highlight map – it’s a resource that can be updated and reused over multiple years.

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