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9-10 October 2008

Landscape Documentation: Fostering Informed Stewardship & Enriching Interpretation

Keynote Address, American Public Gardens Association (APGA)
Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Park, Oyster Bay, NY

In this keynote for the symposium on landscape documentation, Patricia O’Donnell presented and discussed various approaches to and levels of landscape documentation, citing examples from United States and international cases. Documentation of the valued cultural landscape of a public garden is an important element of holistic stewardship.  In this address, the process and outcomes of a documentation project were explored using twelve examples to illuminate a variety of ways to achieve documentation guided by stewardship objectives. An inventory and documentation begins a process of broader recognition and protection of the unique qualities, character, and values of a landscape.  Why document the origins and evolution of a public garden landscape?  A few basic motivations may be to:

  1. Acquire knowledge in order to advance the understanding of cultural landscape values and evolution
  2. Promote the interest and involvement of the people in preserving, sustaining, and stewarding the unique landscape heritage
  3. Foster and support informed management of continuity and change
  4. Incorporate conservation considerations into garden maintenance and renewal
  5. Enhance the quality of the visitor experience through interpretation of landscape continuity and change

In this presentation, the benefits of documentation were expressed in an accessible, readily understood illustrated lecture followed by a lively question and answer session.

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