Selby Gardens honored with prestigious national award from American Public Gardens Association

Recognition focused on four-year partnership focused on air plants and other epiphytes in Belize

The Epiphyte Garden is one of the features at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. Image from the Gardens’ website

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens has received the prestigious Program Excellence Award from the American Public Gardens Association (APGA) for Selby Gardens’ four-year partnership titled Air Plants and Other Epiphytes of Belize: A Collaborative Project Between Two Botanical Gardens and a University, the Gardens has announced.

Jeannie Perales, vice president of Selby Gardens for exhibitions, leaning & engagement, accepted the award at the APGA Annual Conference in Washington D.C., on June 18, a news release says.

“The Program Excellence Award is presented to an APGA member who has shown an innovative spirit in the development of an original program” and has been a pioneer in disciplines important to horticultural institutions, including education, conservation, development, botany, gardening, horticulture, research, extension or administration, the release explains.

Selby Gardens was honored for “its successful partnership with Ian Anderson’s Caves Branch Botanical Garden, which provided significant funding and logistical support, and the University of Belize-Environmental Research Institute, the release adds. “The main goal of the project was to promote in Belize the study, conservation and display of epiphytes, an area in which Selby Gardens specializes,” the release points out.

“At the start of the project, we wanted to improve the public’s perception and knowledge of epiphytes, learn about the diversity of epiphytic plants in Belize, and provide staff development opportunities,” Bruce Holst, Selby Gardens’ vice president for botany, noted in the release.

“The Environmental Research Institute of the University of Belize was later brought in to provide an opportunity for student and academic participation,” Holst added in the release.

Through work with the botanical organizations in Belize, the release continues, “about 860 accessions, or plant materials, were collected for Selby Gardens and Caves Branch living collections,” the release says.

More than 2,000 mounted specimens were added to herbarium collections at both Selby Gardens and Belize National Herbarium,” the release continues. “The preservation of the plants by mounting and accession will be an asset for long-term plant research and conservation for both Botanical Gardens,” the release notes.

“The partnership with Ian Anderson’s Caves Branch Botanical Garden and the University of Belize-Environmental Research Institute was the most integrated multi-year collections-based project undertaken at the Gardens,” said Holst in the release.