Botanic Gardens and Parks

Friends of the Public Garden

Boston, MA — We conducted a three-season User Analysis of the Boston Common (adjacent to the Boston Public Garden) to provide systematic data that will inform a master plan. The analysis focused on issues such as how the Common is being used, who are the audiences and where do they come from, what improvements do people think are needed, and how the perceptions of tourists differ from local residents.

Desert Botanical Garden

Phoenix AZ – Our productive relationship with the Desert Botanical Garden began with an IMLS-funded project to develop an Interpretive Master Plan (IMP) — assisting the interpretive planner Judy Rand of Rand & Associates. Our Visitor Analysis investigated the characteristics of the visitor audience, defined audience segments in relationship to interest in interpretation, and explored visitors’ reactions to potential topics. Read our DBG case study on the Audience Analysis page >>>

Additional studies related to interpretive planning ensued, including: (a) an Orientation Experiment using the newly redesigned entry path, using varying amounts and types of interpretive information, tested formats for introducing the Big Idea to visitors, and explored the strategy of using volunteer staffing to enhance interpretation and the arrival experience; and (b) an Interpretive-Architectural Experiment to investigate visitors’ perceptions of an open wall to the proposed Horticulture Center, using a mock-up wall and display to resolve staff concerns about a potential dilemma.

A community outreach project:  DBG’s Education Department is reaching out to the community and promoting the idea of sustainable landscapes in a challenging dry climate. Their strategy is to create a virtual internship for high school students to gather information from community sources and propose a beneficial green space on a parcel of vacant land. We conducted a Front-end Study to help the Garden assess students’ readiness for and interest in an online internship.

Polly Hill Arboretum

Martha’s Vineyard, MA — This organization began its exploration of visitor studies with a one day workshop, learning about the variety of purposes and methods that help organizations to better connect with their visitors, and practicing skills in problem-solving strategies. Their enthusiastic participation included staff, Board members, and volunteers. We followed up with an evaluation plan, Strategies for Engaging Visitors, in which two immediate priorities will be investigated.

Arnold Arboretum

Jamaica Plain, MA — This arboretum wanted to determine who uses their large, free, urban site, and how their patterns of use and interests could inform a master plan for interpretation and educational programs. Our Audience Analysis helped them find the answers.

Coastal Maine Botanical Garden

Boothbay, ME — Our Analysis of Visitor Orientation was able to help this client assess the effectiveness of a new sign system and identify unmet needs.

Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Brooklyn, NY –Two projects for this client included a Survey of Members to help make decisions about member programs and benefits, and a four-season Audience Analysis that described visitor characteristics, investigated their perceptions and interests, and defined audience segments.

Esplanade Association

Boston, MA — PPDR conducted a Park User Study of this prominent 3-mile stretch of linear parkland along the Charles River. We used exit interviews and behavioral mapping to determine who uses the park, what people do there, and their opinions about possible improvements, among other issues.