UD Botanic Gardens selected as partner for Woodburn Garden Project

December 17, 2013 under CANR News

University of Delaware Botanic Gardens’ (UDBG) own gordlinia, a rare tree characterized by large “fried egg” white flowers and deep maroon fall foliage, has been donated to the Woodburn Garden ProjectSome say a rose by any other name is just a rose; a gordlinia by any other name, however, is far from just another gordlinia. During this season of giving, University of Delaware Botanic Gardens’ (UDBG) own gordlinia, a rare tree characterized by large “fried egg” white flowers and deep maroon fall foliage, has been donated to the Woodburn Garden Project as plans unfold to establish the historic grounds at Woodburn, the governor’s residence in Dover, as a public garden.

UDBG has been selected as one of several official partners for the project, which is being coordinated in two phases by Delaware’s Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs.

Landscape architect Rodney Robinson, a UD alumnus who hails from the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, heard about the plant this September through a colleague at work and visited UDBG to purchase the unique species, which is a hybrid between two native trees (Franklinia and Gordonia).

When he later became involved with plans for phase one of the Woodburn Garden Project at the home of Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, Robinson knew the gordlinia was the “last piece of the puzzle.” A call to Melinda Zoehrer, assistant director of UDBG, followed quickly to see if the botanic gardens would be interested in donating the tree to what will one day be a popular garden focal point in the Dover area.

Ken Darsney, state horticulturist for Delaware’s Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, visited campus recently to secure the tree, which has wowed many by its beauty and rarity. “The gordlinia will be used during phase one of the planting,” he said. “We are going to interpret the garden from different angles to tell stories. It has been a lot of work, but we are happy. Phase two will be a formal garden located in the back of the residence.”

“The Woodburn Garden Project is an important way for our students and faculty to help tell the state’s botanical story,” said Mark Rieger, dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. “We are particularly honored to have been asked to contribute to this important effort and look forward to our continued partnership.”

A formal ribbon-cutting for the garden is slated for spring 2014 at Woodburn. Woodburn has served as the official residence of the governor of Delaware since it was purchased by the state in 1965. The Georgian mansion is considered to be one of the finest examples of late-18th century architecture in Delaware.

The house was built by Charles Hillyard III around 1798. Hillyard bought the land at a sheriff’s sale for 546 pounds, 4 shillings and six-pence in 1784. At the time of purchase, the estate measured approximately 29 acres and was located outside the town limits of Dover.

Article by Nancy Gainer

This article can also be viewed on UDaily.


UD’s Blake named 2013 National Young Woman of Distinction

July 1, 2013 under CANR News

Jamila Blake named Girl Scouts National Young Woman of DistinctionIn the midst of taking finals, University of Delaware freshman Jamila Blake got an unexpected phone call that provided a boost in what can sometimes be a stressful week. The call was from the Girl Scouts informing her that she was chosen as a 2013 National Young Woman of Distinction, an honor bestowed on only 10 Girl Scouts throughout the country.

“It is an amazing feeling to have been named a 2013 National Young Woman of Distinction,” Blake said of the award. “I am honored to be among such distinguished young women and to have had the opportunity to connect with them.”

The award is given to those who have earned the Gold Award, the highest achievement in Girl Scouting.

Blake’s Gold Award project involved youth affected by the civil war in northern Uganda and the surrounding region. She wanted to increase awareness about the war and raise supplies for children affected by it, as well as to provide information to local legislators and encourage them to take action.

To increase awareness, Blake, who is preparing for her sophomore year in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR), started the Global Outreach Club at Wharton High School in Florida and also worked with the Invisible Children organization, held documentary screenings at Wharton, and brought a student from Uganda to speak.

She said she also held a Roots for Peace carnival, participated with Caroling for a Cause to raise awareness and spoke with Florida Congressman Gus Bilirakis and legislative counsel Elizabeth Hittos.

The decision to get involved with the crisis in northern Uganda was largely fueled by Blake’s exposure to the Invisible Children organization. When she was in seventh grade, her sister, Aisha, showed her the group’s first documentary.

“I love what such a young organization has been able to accomplish and I was also horrified that the atrocities of Joseph Kony have been able to continue for so long,” said Blake. “I am in awe of how creative Invisible Children is and how well they have been able to tap into today’s youth and get them to take action. The idea that someone so young could take their passion and mobilize such a following is incredible to me.”

Blake said she was happy about the amount of exposure her cause received as a result of the award. “The recognition is great, but having a national platform to shed light on the issues we hold so dear is probably one of the best parts of this experience.”

Blake, who has been involved with Girl Scouts for more than 13 years, is majoring in wildlife conservation and minoring in sociology. She also a member of the Wildlife Society and the National Residence Hall Honorary (NRHH), was the event coordinator for the Green Team in the Rodney Complex and served as a New Student Orientation leader.

As far as careers go, that is still a ways off, but Blake said she has enjoyed how much CANR has exposed her to in a short period of time. “I do want to be able to work in the field studying animal behavior or something along those lines,” she said. “I am really interested in big cats and penguins — very different ends of the spectrum, I know. This may change, though, as I continue to complete my courses within my wildlife conservation major.”

Article by Adam Thomas