Kudos for Botanical Gardener Chris Carmichael

Chris Carmichael, associate director of collections and horticulture at the UC Botanical Garden, has received the American Public Gardens Association’s Professional Citation in acknowledgement of his achievements in public horticulture.

In issuing the award, the association noted Carmichael’s work with the American Public Gardens Association and the North American Plant Collections Consortium, a joint program of the APGA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture that works in North American Gardens to preserve plant germplasm and to acknowledge excellence in curatorial practices.  Germplasm is held in living botanical collections and also in seed banks. The UCBG holds four NAPCC collections: cycads, magnolias, oaks and ferns.

Chris Carmichael at the UC Botanical Garden in Strawberry Canyon. (Photo by Holly Forbes.)

Chris Carmichael at the UC Botanical Garden in Strawberry Canyon. (Photo by Holly Forbes.)

Carmichael started at the UC Botanical Garden in 1998 as a volunteer, after moving to California from Michigan State University Museum, where he had been a curator and faculty member in East Lansing.

Though like UC Botanical Garden Director Paul Licht, Carmichael first trained as a zoologist, he said his first love was always plants.

“I put myself through my undergrad degree working at a very idiosyncratic herb farm in rural Connecticut, Caprilands Herb Farm in Coventry, where I had also worked during high school,” he wrote in an e-mail. “As a generalized natural historian with a passion for both plants and animals, I was drawn to the scientific study of animals even as horticulture was a baseline and core interest.”

Coming to the UC Botanical Garden, he said, gave him an opportunity to blend his museum skills and horticultural interest.

In his nomination for the award, Carmichael was lauded by Ray Mims, of the U.S. Botanic Garden and an APGA director-at-large, for implementing the UC Botanical Garden’s development of organic and sustainable practices, stewarding the work of UC Berkeley’s living collections, and acting as a lead spokesperson about public gardens and public horticulture, while also promoting the importance of public engagement.

The UC Botanical Garden, established in 1890, contains 12,000 different kinds of plants on 34 acres nestled in Strawberry Canyon above the central campus. Many of its plants are endangered or rare, and represent regions from around the world.