Globetrotting and garden hopping

Richard Benfield at the Hunt Library on Thursday, May 16.

Natalia Zukerman

Globetrotting and garden hopping

On Thursday, May 16, The David M. Hunt Library hosted “Around the World in 80 Gardens” with Professor Richard Benfield, a virtual tour of gardens around the world highlighting Benfield’s interests in biogeography, particularly the area of garden tourism.

Benfield is the former Chair and Professor of Geography at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain where he taught courses in human geography, plants, predators and parks, Russia, the European Union and many of the courses in the department’s tourism track. His current research interests include tourism as a conservation tool through the great botanic gardens of the world.

With great humor and enthusiasm, Benfield took attendees through the three acres of gardens in the Singapore airport which light up delightfully for the night time traveler. The tour continued through the arid gardens of Australia, the tropical gardens of the Seychelles, a quick trip through the Canary Islands, through the beautiful English gardens of his home country, and many of the unique and different gardens in the United States and Canada.

With connections to most of the gardens’ curators and stewards worldwide, Benfield has been able to capture unique images of public spaces without the usual throng of crowds.

“I’m a garden junkie,” laughed Benfield. “I can’t get enough of botanic gardens!”

Having traveled to 125 countries, Benfield’s book “Garden Tourism,” and its latest edition: “New Directions (post Covid) in Garden Tourism,” is an essential tool for those involved in the development and operation of gardens as a visitor attraction. Written in Benfield’s engaging style, it’s also captivating for any garden lover.

Benfield distributed packets of seeds as gifts for the attendees who, inspired by his talk, filed out of the library into a rainy spring evening, ready to plant seeds in their own growing gardens.

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