The following appeared in the Durango Herald, August 10, 2019 reporting that the Durango Botanical Society had dedicated and named its new gardens the Cindy Smart Miniature Tree Garden. The new gardens are just north of the library. Ms. Smart retired as executive director of DBS in 2019. The article was written by Bret Hauff of the Herald.
Cindy Smart credits her passion for plants to her grandfather.
The man loved gardening, she said. So much so that he roamed the southern coast of Lake Michigan cultivating property in and around Beverly Shores, Indiana, that he did not own. He called his creations “public gardens,” Smart said.
She remembers helping him one day – she was 6 and her arms were covered in blood from working with rose bushes – when a man approached and said, “‘Hey, you can’t do this. This is my property.’
“My grandfather said to him, ‘Well, you’re not using it,’” Smart said on the patio of Durango Public Library. The Durango Botanical Society on Saturday dedicated the Cindy Smart Miniature Tree Garden flanking the library to the north.
“It’s created a welcoming outside environment,” Sandy Irwin, director of Durango Public Library, said of the Botanical Society’s work in the last eight years. “Libraries and gardens go so well together.”
Durango Public Library, which the Durango Botanical Society wrapped with gardens, didn’t exist where it does now in 2007, when the idea sparked in Smart’s mind, she said.
And she wasn’t afraid to ask for help. Smart sold dozens of talented and eager people on her public garden idea and, in 2011, they got to work. If you asked her, she may deflect the credit to those who supported her throughout creating the Botanical Society.
“An idea took possession of her,” board president John Anderson said of Smart’s early work to start Durango Botanical Society. “This dedication is in honor of her work, vision and commitment.”
She recognized others’ talents and was candid about her need for help, “and you know what, that works,” Smart said. When people joined, she gave them “free rein to use their talents without micromanaging,” she said.
But she kept things organized – keeping people invested by giving them a goal without telling them how to achieve it. It empowered people, she said.
“They are very invested,” Smart said. “We picked these plants.”
Her grandfather was more of a creative and a risk-taker – planting what he wanted, where he wanted, she said.
Smart said she’s more organized and orderly, and that shows in how she adopted and adapted her grandfather’s “public gardening” concept though legal and institutional means rather than defiant and rebellious ones.
“I’m getting older – I’m in my 70s now – and I just need to take care of some things. This was a full-time job,” she said of forming and running the Durango Botanical Society. “Part of it was being a teacher, but then I became part student. That’s when I know it’s time to let them do their thing.”
Cindy Smart addresses the DBS Membership and Community Appreciation Party on August 10.