A Garden Gone Virtual

Almost every characteristic you see when you look at plants in and around your home is a direct result of how that plant adapted over time to better suit its environment. Plants with vines are able to creep and grow on more surfaces than just the ground. Flowers are bright, colorful, and scented to attract pollinators, and plants like the Venus Fly Trap have evolved to consume insects to get their daily fill of nutrients. Following mother nature’s lead, the Allen Centennial Garden has adapted and gone virtual with its Fall Class Series focused on ecologically conscious gardening. 

As many of you know, the Garden is always looking for ways to provide accessible classes and programs for our community. This fall, we made a four part series with classes on harvesting seeds, sowing a garden, creating your own leaf mulch, and preparing your garden for winter. All classes are led by Josh Steger, Director of Horticulture. The class starts with a video guide filmed in the Garden and is followed by an interactive virtual Q&A panel. The Garden had never created content specifically for an online audience like this before and has caused Garden staff to use, hone, and develop a diverse set of skills. This is certainly a time when the  “other duties as needed” section on our job description has come into play. 

Filming at the Garden is unpredictable. The Fall weather can change on a moment’s notice, construction around campus causes noise you wouldn’t hear indoors, and wind will blow around anything and everything not weighed down. Despite all of this, and a lack of professional (whatever that means) video equipment, the Garden set out to create useful and engaging content. With an idea, an iPhone, and a bit of iced coffee, we ended up with classes that are not only educational, but also act as a way of bringing our gardening community back together, almost face-to-face.

Along with these classes, we also launched our first wave of Allen Centennial Garden Fellows. We reached out to the community to find fresh faces with a passion for gardening. Once the cohort was selected we invited them to participate in the classes and use the new techniques they learn in their own home gardens.

Public gardens may be seen as static spaces, only living in the natural world, but advances in technology provide opportunities and niches to fill. The Allen Centennial Garden is committed to adapting to best serve its community, and if you’re interested, there are still two classes left in the series. You can click here to register, or click here to learn more about visiting the Garden and taking in all of the fall colors. 

Kolin Goldschmidt | Programs and Communications Apprentice