Want something like DC Gardens for YOUR city, state or region? We’re hearing that a lot, so we’re compiling models and tips from all over, to help answer that question. More will be added as they’re launched or discovered. It seems that funding is usually provided by the relevant tourism boards, or by the gardens being promoted. Plus, we know of one state horticultural society that’s considering a similar campaign.
Scroll down for detail about the workings of DC Gardens, which is seeking start-up funding through crowd-sourcing.
Greater Philadelphia Gardens
In 2014 Greater Philadelphia Gardens, a consortium of 31 gardens, launched its coordinated marketing campaign and website, AmericasGardenCapital.org. Gardens are grouped by geography and interest. The campaign is financed by the gardens themselves, with separate fees for small versus large gardens. In addition to the website, the campaign will include advertising.
Since 1995 Buffalo has put on a wildly popular event every July – Garden Walk Buffalo, America’s largest garden tour. It attracts tens of thousands of visitors, from around the U.S. and beyond, to nearly 400 urban residential gardens that are open to visitors two full days, for free. It has an estimated $4.5 million economic impact.
The event is held by Garden Walk Buffalo Niagara, a regional horticultural tourism organization whose purpose is to make Buffalo NY a premier garden tourism destination through being a catalyst for beautification, education, tourism, promotion, community-building, healthy living, sustainability, and civic pride.
Northern Suburbs of Chicago
In Chicago, four acclaimed cultural attractions—Chicago Botanic Garden, Kohl Children’s Museum of Greater Chicago, Ravinia Festival and Writers’ Theatre—have joined forces to promote the “attractions that make the northern suburbs of Chicago a unique place to live, work, and visit.”
The website is called Do North, and it includes things to do each week, by category. Mailing list and social media icons on the site will link to Facebook, Twitter, and an email sign-up.
Ithaca, New York
Ithaca NY compiles attractions into a Discovery Trail website. Partners in the effort are the Cayuga Nature Center, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Cornell Plantations, Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Museum of the Earth at PRI, Sciencenter, The History Center of Tompkins County, and Tompkins County Public Library. After 10 years, the partnership received seed funding to hire a part-time coordinator and launch initial collaborative marketing efforts. The Discovery Trail was incorporated in 2007 and became a 501c3 in 2008. (From their About page.)
Salt Lake City, Utah
Many attractions in the Salt Lake area are collectively promoted on their Foothill Cultural District website. Included are a Photo Tour, Major Cultural Attractions, and a Calendar of Special Events.
Mass Botanic Gardens promotes 11 gardens throughout Massachusetts. It appears to be funded by several Massachusetts-based tourism agencies.
Santa Barbara, CA
Santa Barbara’s public gardens are promoted collectively by the Santa Barbara Public Garden Partnership.
Sponsors and partners include:
DC Gardens.com for Washington DC, Suburban Maryland and Virginia:
- DC Gardens compiles photos and videos by month (to counter the assumption that garden-visiting is for spring only) and by garden.
- Who does the work? We’re using volunteer photography, paying only for regular digital outreach. In order to gather the photos in one season and to a consistent level of quality, we recommend the hiring of professional photographers – ideally, those with online writing experience, or partnered with local garden writers with online experience.
- Images and videos are offered for free through our website and Flickr. We ask only that the garden be credited and the photographer, too, if one is named.
- In order to be all-inclusive, DC Gardens is funded independently from the gardens themselves. Most of our gardens are government agencies, so funding and bureaucratic approval would make the campaign difficult to impossible.
- One advantage of independent funding is that unlike government agencies, we can include very helpful information for local gardeners that includes links to companies and other for-profit entities. Examples include local garden centers and gardening columnists in local newspapers. We’re not obliged to list big-box stores as sources of plants.
- Our Deep Local Resources expand the mission beyond increasing visitation – to helping locals connect with the gardening and greening community – and attract local supporters to the campaign.
- DC Gardens is seeking demonstration-year funding via crowdsourcing (Indiegogo) and will seek long-term sponsors during 2015.
- Follow media attention to DC Gardens on our Media page.
What city, state or region is next?
Thanks to Erin McKeon at Chanticleer Garden in Pennsylvania for her help in compiling this information.