What’s Growing at the Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens – Cultural heritage

What’s Growing at the Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens – Cultural heritage

By Melanie Priesnitz
Conservation Horticulturist

When you think of what defines Canada, one of the primary things that comes to mind is this country’s natural environment and its wild and rugged wide-open spaces. You need look no further than our dollars, coins, and postage stamps to see how proud Canadians are of the flora and fauna that we share this great country with. Every Canadian flag that flies is a reminder of how much as a country we identify with the trees that grow here.

So many of the truly iconic Canadian experiences involve connecting with the great outdoors. From climbing the Rocky Mountains, sitting at the cottage listening to loon calls, eating maple syrup, skating on a frozen pond, watching the glow of northern lights, to lying on a deserted beach listening to waves crashing in. All of these things are important parts of the cultural heritage of Canada.

Canadians pride ourselves on our rich and beautiful natural heritage; it defines us, yet studies show that we are rapidly losing touch with the natural world. With current technological and behavioural trends as they are, plant and nature blindness is occurring. As Canadians lose touch with nature, the danger is very real that historical connections to plants and animals will be lost, forever changing our cultural identity and our environment.

One of the main missions of the Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens is to remind people of the amazing beauty and diversity that exists in our own backyard. Our collections showcase plants native to the Acadian Forest Region. Many cultivated home and public gardens shine with the bright colours of non-native (introduced) plants. Our garden shines with the natural beauty that exists in our forests and natural ecosystems. Our hope is that by planting everyday species in a formal setting, visitors will gain a greater appreciation for plants in the wild. There’s a much greater chance that humans will work towards the conservation of species if they have a personal connection with them.

A great way to connect with nature while also using current technology is through an online app that you can download on your cellphone called iNaturalist. Visit the iNaturalist website and browse through the over 400,000 observations that citizen scientists across Canada have made and see for yourself just how rich and diverse the flora and fauna in our country truly is (inaturalist.org).

Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens
Acadia University