As public gardens continue to place increased emphasis on sustainable landscape and operational strategies, learning to look to the sciences of ecology and natural areas management becomes of greater practical value. For over a decade, the Lurie Garden has based both landscape and operational management practices on an adaptive co-management approach—a methodology originally developed for management of large social-ecological natural systems. The Lurie Garden has successfully developed its natural assets into a resilient, sustainable ecosystem within an ultra-urban environment, supported by a flexible community-based operational system. This presentation will discuss the use of adaptive co-management in the strategic and daily organization of a public garden, as well as how this management system is effective in coping with the demands of multiple and overlapping service levels, such as education programs, landscape upkeep, biodiversity management, and protecting the integrity of a garden’s original design intention. Lessons learned at Lurie Garden will be discussed in scale for small and large public gardens.

Presenter: S. Stewart, Lurie Garden, Chicago, Illinois.