Collections and Management Policy of The Botanic Gardens at Kona Kai Resort

The guiding document for determining the acquisition, disposal, documentation and maintenance of all plants in our collection.

Our Garden has a carefully thought-out Collections Policy and we apply it before any plant goes into our grounds. Being so small, we have to carefully select each plant for its "teaching" value. We also have to consider things like mature size, climate and climate change, salt water intrusion, invasive animal species that might devour new plantings, as well as offensive plant odors that might disturb those visiting the Gardens for restorative reasons.

(Historical Note: From 2011 through 2015 the living collections for what is now, were found on the grounds of the Key Largo Kona Kai Resort, a property that belonged to Joe and Ronnie Harris, who founded The Gardens and started planting back in the 1990’s. When new owners took over resort operations at the end of 2015, they decided to sever the relationship between The Resort and The Gardens, which is why The Botanic Gardens at Kona Kai Resort is now the virtual botanic garden, Why Plants Matter.)


Like other botanic gardens, The Botanic Gardens at Kona Kai Resort operates under limited resources in finance, space and time. As a consequence, it is important to focus on plants and practices that provide the greatest benefit to our mission of enrichment, enlightenment, education and enjoyment.

Purpose of the Living Collections

The living collections of The Botanic Gardens at Kona Kai Resort are essential to achieving our mission as a botanic institution dedicated to encouraging people to better understand how plants contribute to our daily lives. Our living collections are also actively developed and managed to support our educational goals as well as scientific study and as a significant amenity of the Resort grounds.

Function of the Living Collections Policy

Our Living Collections Policy shall guide the development, acquisition, management, documentation and enhancement of the Gardens’ living collections. Our Living Collections Policy is a working document designed to integrate the activities of our gardens and should be reviewed regularly and modified as needed.

What is included under the term ‘living collection’

The term living collection is used for all plants that reside within the domains of The Botanic Gardens at Kona Kai Resort.

Selection criteria and scope of our Collections

A number of collections criteria have been developed to support and promote the Gardens’ mission and related activities. Our living collections are divided into three primary collection categories: ethnobotanical, sustainable and aesthetic. Plants selected will meet one or more of these criteria:

I. Ethnobotanical Relevance: Plants are to have an ethnobotanical and/or educational value; when acquiring new plantings, such plants should be given the highest priority. Ethnobotanical plants are intrinsic to our core mission and are to receive the greatest focus with respect to their acquisition and management.

II. Conservation: Plants in our collections might have a historic or native value that further enhances our visitors understanding our core mission of furthering peoples understanding of the significant role plants have in our everyday lives.

III. Aesthetic and bio-diverse plantings: Due to the unique nature of our gardens, on the grounds of a popular waterfront resort, it is recognized some plants will simply have a serene landscape value important to the overall appearance and sensibility of the resort.

By adhering to the above criteria, our collections shall remain of great interest for both educational and display purposes, yet specific enough to remain faithful to our mission. In addition to the above selection criteria, all accessioned plants shall meet the following guidelines:

· All plants selected should have a reasonable chance of eventually succeeding in our collections and should be suitable for USDA Hardiness Zones 11 and/or 10b.

· Plants must be non-invasive and unlikely to become an invasive threat to the native habitat.

· Plants should be incorporated into the collections in an aesthetically pleasing manner consistent with our overall landscape design.

· Plants should be maintained following exemplary horticultural practices.

Acquisition and Records Management

Plants and plant parts will be acquired in accordance with the selection criteria stated above and may be acquired by The Botanic Gardens at Kona Kai Resort from the following sources:

· Purchases: The horticulture staff, with approval of the Executive and/or Associate Director, may make purchases in accordance with our selection criteria.

· Exchanges: The exchange of living plants and plant parts with other gardens and institutions is encouraged, subject to approval of the Executive or Associate Director.

· Donations: Donations are welcome if they meet at least one of our criteria, are needed and are given without restrictions placed by the donor. All donated plants or plant parts are subject to approval by the Executive Director who has the right to refuse, remove, donate and/or dispose of any donations.

· Field collection: Collectors must comply with all relevant local, national, and international laws and regulations with respect to the collection and movement of plants and plant parts. Only plants that are acquired in a way that does not deplete wild populations will be accepted.

· Native Re-seeding: It is recognized some plants have and will arrive in our collections by natural means. If such plants or plant parts are considered desirable, such plants will be accessioned rather than removed.

Accessioning and Recordkeeping

Plants and plant parts acquired through purchases, donations, exchanges or other means that substantially contribute to the mission of The Botanic Gardens at Kona Kai Resort should be accessioned upon arrival. Alternatives to accessioning include declining to accept the plant or donating it to another party.

Common sense and resource limitations dictate that every plant or plant part need not be accessioned. Exceptions may include plants obtained for temporary decoration, areas laid exclusively to lawn and areas bordering the property, as well as plants occurring naturally in the area, but such plants may also be accessioned.

Because accessioning involves a significant commitment to ongoing recordkeeping and because resources are limited and our mission focused, the decision to accession material should not be taken lightly. Accessioning plants and maintaining plant records is the responsibility of the Associate Director.

I. Identification, Taxonomy and Nomenclature:

· The living collections shall be curated to ensure plants are correctly identified, contemporary taxonomic or classification schemes are being considered and accurate nomenclature is being applied.

II. Labels:

· Each plant in the collection shall be labeled with an anodized embossed red aluminum tag. This accession label shall have the plants accession number, botanical name and source. Letter designations (qualifiers) shall be appended to the accession number to identify individuals of a particular accession.

· Many plants will also have public display labels of larger format providing common and scientific names along with ethnobotanical information as warranted.

III. Records:

· Meticulous recordkeeping ensures the highest standards of collections management. Records for each accession in the collection are to be maintained in the BG-Base application residing on one of the Gardens’ computers and records shall be backed-up to an off-site server.

· The database will store information on the source; specific provenance data if available; date of acquisition; accepted botanical name and its synonyms; size of the plant upon receipt as well as at intervals throughout its existence in the collection; number of plants where applicable and possible; specific zone location on the grounds; ethnobotanical and anecdotal information; relevant Internet source links; smartphone data and photographic images.

· Additional data should include performance observations; unique ornamental characteristics; growth and survival rates; hardiness potential; specific propagation techniques required; a botanical description; taxonomic verifications; notes on storm damage and susceptibility to insects or diseases.

· Observations on plant collections shall be ongoing and conducted by the Associate Director and/or the Director of Horticulture.

IV. Deaccessioning:

Since the deaccessioning of a plant may involve some controversy, it requires approval by the Executive Director and the Associate Director. Generally, a plant is deaccessioned only if it is

· dead

· no longer relevant to the purposes of the gardens

· missing

· removed

· undesirably toxic or otherwise dangerous

· a potential invasive species in the state of Florida

Deaccessioning is appropriate only when all plants of a given accession (number plus qualifier) are removed. Should some plants of the same accession remain in the garden, the removal of a single plant is to be recorded in the plant record, with an appropriate annotation as to reason.

Evaluation and Maintenance of our Living Collections

I. The overall health, maintenance and general condition of the collections will be reviewed on a regular basis by the Director of Grounds; on a bi-weekly basis by the Associate Director; on a semi-annual basis by the Executive Director.

II. For additional expertise, outside experts may be consulted, when required,.

III. All staff will use sound horticultural practices and maintain accurate, complete, and current records of their activities, to the degree practical.

IV. Annual planning, prioritizing and constant evaluation of the collections will be part of the Executive and Associate Directors’ responsibilities.

Organization and Care of The Botanic Gardens at Kona Kai Resort

I. Zones:

The Botanic Gardens at Kona Kai Resort is organized around numerical management zones that provide a structure for planning, planting and care. Individual zones encompass contiguous areas and should share similar challenges, garden themes and/or management requirements. Each zone is treated as a unit with common specifications for daily, monthly and annual care. Zones assist the Director of Grounds in determining staff assignments, specific care needs and future projects for our collections.*

II. Ground Care - All Seasons:

The Director of Grounds is responsible for achieving the exemplary standards of horticultural care and management that our gardens exhibit; providing optimal growing conditions for our collections; enhancing the ecological health of our garden environment and presenting a landscape of outstanding quality for guests, visitors, community members and other key garden constituencies. The Director of Grounds shall

· oversee and actively the installation of all accessions into specific garden Zones and overall management of all plants in each Zone

· monitor newly planted accessions, investigate problems and take appropriate action

· apply herbicide and insecticide to pathways, building edges, plant beds and shrubs and trees as indicated to control weeds and invasive pests

· fertilize quarterly; more often when indicated

· apply soil amendments, if and as needed

· monitor soils for moisture; preempt drought stress with irrigation, if necessary

· test irrigation systems at least quarterly and monitor at all times

· prune trees and shrubs to ensure future health, manageability and aesthetics

· remove all extraneous sprouts from trees, broken or infringing limbs and secure assistance of an arborist for trimming trees as necessary

· plants highlighted on self-guided tours or by interpretive signage are to be assessed at least once a month for health, well-being and visibility of label

· report needs for additional or replacement accession labels to the Associate Director on an as-needed basis

III. Garden staff – under direction from the Director of Grounds

· Remove weeds from all garden beds and mulched areas around trees.

· Keep paved pathways clean from leaves and other debris.

· Maintain clean edges along pathways and edges of garden beds.

· Remove leaf and other litter from garden zones.

· Edge and mulch garden beds to provide uniform coverage at a depth of 1+”.

· Trim plants and shrubs to maintain clear pathways and healthy looking garden zones

* Specific information on our Gardens’ Living Collections Zones and other organization and planning information will be found in our “KKBG 5 Year Plan” document.

Definition of terms used in our Collections Policy

Ethnobotanical is the relationship between plants, people, the land and the wisdom vital to the future of humanity. It relates to ethnobotany the systematic study of the interactions between a culture and the plants in its environment, particularly the knowledge about and use of such plants. Ethnobotanists aim to document, describe and explain complex relationships between cultures and (uses of) plants, focusing primarily on how plants are used, managed and perceived across human societies.

Aesthetics deal with the nature of beauty, art and taste, and with the creation and appreciation of beauty, something necessary for the healthy human survival and civilization.

An accession is the basic unit of a collection and identified by a unique accession number. By definition it represents a single taxon, from a single source, acquired at one time and through one means of propagation. An accession may comprise a single plant, or multiple plants, each identified by a letter qualifier following the accession number, or in the case of mass plantings, MASS.

Accessioning is the process of adding specimens to the Gardens living collections and occurs at the time of entry regardless of the plants stage (e.g., plant, cutting, scion, seed). All accession records are permanent and are not expunged should deaccessioning occur.

Deaccessioning is the process of amending the records of plants removed from the garden and not the actual removal process.