Last year, Natural Lands received the prestigious Hansell Marketing Award from the American Public Gardens Association (APGA) for its “Save Stoneleigh” campaign. With more than 600 member gardens, APGA is the leading professional organization in the field of public horticulture.
Faced with the Lower Merion School District’s threat to seize the property through eminent domain just three weeks before Stoneleigh’s grand opening in 2018, Natural Lands initiated a communications strategy to activate as many community members as possible to prevent the loss of Philadelphia’s newest public garden.
The campaign was designed to inspire a groundswell of support; tactics included #SaveStoneleigh t-shirts, yard signs, social media, and targeted press efforts.
We asked for help and the community responded. Forty thousand people signed our petition, and thousands more reached out to their elected officials. This monumental public pressure led to new legislation in Harrisburg that limits the use of eminent domain to seize private land if it is under conservation easement.
And Stoneleigh was saved. Since then, the garden has been planted with 50,000 native trees, shrubs, and perennials, and has welcomed more than 45,000 guests. It is a showcase for blending the aesthetic beauty of designed gardens with the natural richness of native habitats that are essential to the health of our planet.