Meanwhile, in the Wedding Venue Garden

In the last week, two employees of what many are still calling, for sentimental reasons, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, confided in me about the low level of morale there since the purge of its research program in August. In September, the Garden’s Board of Trustees approved a new mission statement; the old one had proved inconvenient in the face of being violated by the Garden’s leadership. From a resounding statement of mission uniting horticultural display, research, education, and community-building to bland marketing puffery. Like most branding statements, unsurprisingly, this one is bullshit, since there is no “research focused on understanding and conserving regional plants and plant communities” going on there: they fired everybody doing that in August, after years of whittling the research staff down to the bone. The Garden’s PR crew seems to have done little to nothing about publicizing this new brand statement, a rather telling point.

So, the state of the BBG: employees fear for their jobs and are powerless against the administration; the Board of Trustees, a club for funders and their scions, sip their cocktails as they provide no oversight at all; the Garden’s Facebook page allows no dissent (I’m one of the critics who have been blocked). The President has manifested no understanding of science, research, history, or the importance of the Herbarium and the research library.

Clearly, nothing is sacred, or special, or worthy, there now. Since the old mission statement only exists in our memory, I want to quote in full the Garden’s webpage on its Rare Book Room for posterity, while it still exists:

“Charles Stuart Gager, the first Director of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, was a man of extraordinary vision, a distinguished botanist, and a bibliophile. For Gager, assembling a great botanical library to support the historical and scientific study of plants was an integral part of building a great botanical garden. Through special endowments and generous gifts, Gager and those who followed built a collection of significant botanical and horticultual works that has few rivals. The non-circulating rare book collection, comprising some 1500 volumes from the 15th century through the 20th century, is particularly strong in: Early European herbals, including those by Brunfels, Dodoens, Fuchs, and Mattioli; The great color-plate books, including those by Blackwell, Miller, Loudon, Hooker, and Redouté; Landmark works by Linnaeus, including correspondence, Hortus Cliffortianus, and Species Plantarum; New World floras by early travelers in the Americas, like Bartram, Catesby, and Michaux.”

“A man of extraordinary vision, a distinguished botanist, and a bibliophile.” The likes of founding director C.S. Gager would be laid-off there today, to make way for another VP of Marketing. It is so terribly sad to watch a great institution being gutted from within.

My previous posts about the BBG’s radical transformation into a flowery wedding venue:
Whose Botanic Garden?
The BBG Purge, as news of the summary summer firings of the research staff broke.

Flatbush Gardener, long a supporter of the BBG with his time and money, explains why he has ended his support. His post includes links to several must-reads.

A petition is circulating to restore science (even the word has been stripped now from its branding statement) to the BBG. If you haven’t already signed, please do so and help to publicize it.

5 Responses to “Meanwhile, in the Wedding Venue Garden”


  1. 1 Ms. Carol Gracie January 22, 2014 at 4:16 pm

    Matthew,

    Thank you for keeping this travesty in the eye of the public.

    Carol

    • 2 mthew January 22, 2014 at 5:59 pm

      Thank you, Carol. I heard one thing that shocked me from one of my sources — and it wasn’t the pithy four-letter epithet for BBG President Scot with one T Medbury — but detailing it, it seemed to me, would put this person at risk of identification, and with the place’s bunker-like petit authoritarianism in full manifestation, I regret I can’t go public with it.


  1. 1 Whose Botanic Garden? | Backyard and Beyond Trackback on January 22, 2014 at 2:59 pm
  2. 2 Brooklyn Botanic Garden Solves It’s Science Problem | Softball Practice Trackback on January 24, 2014 at 8:04 pm
  3. 3 BBG Treehouse Razed | Backyard and Beyond Trackback on July 24, 2018 at 4:31 pm

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