February 17, 2011

Professor Pens First Textbook on Public Gardens

Print More

Prof. Donald A. Rakow,  horticulture, director of the Cornell Plantations, co-authored the first textbook on public gardens, Public Garden Management,  which was published Tuesday.

Rakow, who began working at the plantations in 1993, said he faced a steep learning curve when he arrived at Cornell but was able to use his subsequent experiences to write this textbook.

“My time with the plantations has been extremely gratifying. However, most of it I had to learn on the job,” Rakow said. “With this textbook, [readers] can learn much more information before taking a position in gardening.”

Rakow, who teaches Horticulture 4850: Public Garden Management, said he realized a comprehensive reference on how to start, manage, and grow a public garden was needed.

“There are instructors and colleges who have been clamoring that they need a public garden textbook,” Rakow said.

In addition to an academic audience, Rakow said the textbook will be an important road map for people beginning public gardens and staff at existing gardens who may not know about the full breadth of public garden management.

“Public gardens are tremendously important institutions that educate all our various visitors on the beauty of plants, the need to preserve them and to inform those who garden themselves about what the best plants for them are,” Rakow said.

Rakow wrote the book along with Sharon A. Lee, a consultant and former deputy director of the American Public Gardens Association. They asked 36 leaders in related fields to provide chapters and appendixes to enhance to book, Rakow said.

The book has three parts: a textbook for undergraduates majoring in horticulture, a guidebook for people looking to establish a new public garden and an operations manual for staff at existing public gardens, according to a University press release.

Rakow has been a member of the Cornell faculty since 1987. He became Assistant Director of the plantations in 1993 and has held his current position as the director of Cornell Plantations for the past 15 years.

Original Author: Tajwar Mazhar