As the Curator and Horticulturist of North America Gardens at UBC Botanical Garden, you can find Ben Stormes working hard on all things collections, curation, and horticulture. In addition to being a key contributor to maintaining collections at our Garden, Ben is committed to establishing meaningful networks across public garden communities, facilitating the exchange of collections planning approaches, and ensuring that public garden experiences are valuable to all visitors.
From June 4 – 8, Ben attended the annual APGA Conference along with Tara Moreau, Associate Director of Sustainability and Community Programs at UBC Botanical Garden. Held in Southern California, this year’s ‘Cultivate your Creative Nature’-themed conference attracted its largest audience yet, with over 900 attendees in participation. From the Conference, Ben compiled a list of key points to carry over into his everyday work here at UBC Botanical Garden:
- Take precautionary measures to ensure that your collections are prepared for the worst. From forest fires, to natural disasters, unexpected crowding, and climate change, living collections are exposed to risks, and thus require protection strategies.
- Don’t do it alone! Look to different departments within your organization, different gardens, or even external organizations (i.e. local arts collectives) to leverage partnerships for your garden.
- Be organized. A garden’s operational approach should incorporate strategies for effective resource use, prioritization lists, and space for flexibility to meet clearly defined expectations.
- Avoid single use. Ex situ conservation and horticultural display can be simultaneously developed in order to foster education, conservation, and support for local biodiversity.
- Mentorship, mentorship, mentorship! Support the next generation of public garden professionals both formally and informally to help grow the diversity of the public garden community.
On Oct. 16 and 17, Ben co-organized the ‘Collect. Cultivate. Curate. Excellence in Plant Collections Management.’ Symposium in collaboration with Cynthia Sayre from VanDusen Botanical Garden and a program committee consisting of public garden professionals from across North America. The symposium, attracted guests from across North America, featured curatorial tours of both UBC Botanical Garden and VanDusen Botanical Garden, as well as opportunities for curators and plant records specialists to enhance their plant collections management approaches. Attendees learned about UBC Botanical Garden’s approach to horticulture and collections development, as well as of our unique contributions to plant collections and conservation communities. The event enabled attendees to gain applied and theoretical lessons for their gardens, grow their gardening communities and networks, and enjoy the beauty of the natural scenery of the Pacific Northwest.
Ben and his team are focused on growing the values of planning, sharing, and learning within public garden communities. Through his experiences, Ben brings valuable perspective and information to our garden. Ben reminds us to bring the value of ‘community’ to the forefront of our Garden practices. Planning to integrate multiple sources of collections planning approaches can help public garden professionals make our gardens relevant to diverse visitors and ultimately, enhance the overall public garden experience while contributing to education, conservation, science, community outreach, and public display.