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Essential Gardening: Public Gardens in the Spring of COVID-19

Digitization Status
Born digital
Date created
The spring of 2020 has been defined by upturned plans. As the number of COVID-19 cases skyrocketed, lives across the United States were reconfigured. Eight-year-olds learned how to take school classes remotely. Grocery stores began limiting the number of shoppers who could be inside at once. Restaurants reinvented their menus for takeout. Businesses large and small closed their doors, sending millions of workers to unemployment. Even hospitals—while stretched beyond the max on one front—began furloughing employees, given that routine and elective appointments were canceled. Streets in cities like Boston became veritably empty, with no morning rush, no evening rush. Public gardens, like other cultural institutions, were confronted with the same stay-at-home mandates that shuttered their communities. According to the American Public Gardens Association, more than 25 percent of gardens closed on a single day (Monday, March 16), and by the end of March, only 4 percent remained fully open to the public. The plants, of course, did not wait to begin growing until gardens reopened. The sunshine-colored blossoms of forsythia and daffodils put on their radiant shows no matter what. The unrelenting arrival of spring was, in many ways, incongruous with the national mood. It also meant that horticulturists at public gardens continued working despite closures and event cancellations at their institutions. Schedules changed. Procedures changed. But there were plants to be tended. Below, thirteen horticulturists from gardens around the country describe the on-the-ground realities of caring for their collections during the first months of the pandemic—the months in which an old normal faded and a new normal was created.
Volume, Issue, Page Number
78, 1, 16-31
Subject - keywords and LC headings
COVID-19 Pandemic, 2020-
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