Sept. 20: UDBG Friends meeting, lecture

September 14, 2011 under CANR News

On Tuesday, September 20th at 7pm the UD Botanic Gardens will host its Friends’ meeting and a lecture by Gary Smith.  Smith’s lecture is entitled “Unleashing Creativity in the Native Garden.”

Designers solve problems; artists raise questions. Step beyond “solutions” in garden design and find delight in a world where there are more questions than answers. After exploring a visual vocabulary of shapes, patterns, and processes, we’ll look at artists’ techniques for observing and recording it all. You’ll learn how to unleash the artist within yourself, making meaningful gardens that express the relationship between local sense of place and your own creative spirit. Artist, Landscape Architect, and UD Alum Gary Smith celebrates connections between people and plants, combining art and horticulture to explore ecological design and artistic abstraction. Current projects include the Santa Fe Botanical Garden, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and Winterthur. Gary was an Associate Professor of Landscape Design at the University of Delaware from 1989-98.

Location: Townsend Hall Commons
UDBG Friends: FREE; Nonmembers: $10
Registration requested. To register: Email botanicgardens@udel.edu or call 302-831-2531.

Need a gift for that special someone?  Gary’s new book, From Art to Landscape will be available for purchase at $27.95, a 30% discount. Gary will sign copies following the lecture.

We’re sorry, but no credit cards will be accepted for the evening’s event.

Fall’s a Great Time to Plant!  Take advantage of the weather.  We will be open for business in the plant sale area from 5-6:30pm.

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UD professors showcase rainwater harvesting at Philadelphia Flower Show

March 7, 2011 under CANR News, Events

Jules Bruck (left) and Jonathan Cox, as UD's Philadelphia Flower Show exhibit takes shape.

Jules Bruck, assistant professor of plant and soil sciences, and Jonathan Cox, instructor in art, along with students and faculty from the University of Delaware, have put together a display to be showcased at the Philadelphia International Flower Show, March 6-13, at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

The theme of the show is “Springtime in Paris,” and Bruck explained that their project is a model two-story structure resembling a Paris street scene, with the purpose of the exhibit to be both aesthetically pleasing and educational, informing spectators of the values of residential rain harvesting.

Said Bruck of the structure, “The two facades represent a flower shop on one side and a winery on the other. The front represents a vibrant cafe — and shows rain coming out of gutters into decorative rain storage systems that can be used to water the street trees and containers. The backyard shows the ‘Paris underground’ and the ‘basements’ of the two shoppes.”

To watch a student-made video showing the construction of the exhibit, click here.

Once she and Cox heard the theme, Bruck said that they got invested in the idea of decorating the display like a catacomb.

“The rooms have a catacomb theme so they are dark and we have skulls as shelving and various decorations. The flower color theme is red — as in red wine. So, we are forcing a lot of red flowering and foliage plants.”

Bruck said that the goal in designing a model house was “You own a house, you’re at the Philadelphia Flower Show and you go ‘Oh, I never thought about harvesting rain to use to wash my car or to use to water my plants.’ So the idea of building a house is that visitors can translate the information really easily to their own scale.”

When homes are not set up for rainwater harvesting, Bruck said, “the typical path for that rainwater is out to the storm sewers and ultimately into a watershed.

“So anything you’ve applied to your lawn in terms of chemical fertilizers, any detergents you’ve used to wash your car, any oil that’s on your driveway, all gets swept away with that rainwater into the storm system, which typically end up in streams and rivers.”

Bruck said that they are advocating for people to try and collect rainwater through a variety of means, such as rain barrels that sit under down spouts, or an underground cistern, or designing a rain garden, which Bruck said makes sure “all the rainwater on your property is graded toward a garden full of plants that can handle wet conditions.”

The rain garden also allows rainwater to naturally percolate back into the ground, which filters and cleans the water naturally.

With so many people from departments across campus pitching in, Bruck couldn’t stress enough that the exhibit wouldn’t have been possible without a partner like Cox and all the support from everyone involved.

Students involved in the project include Chris Rocco and April Starkey, both seniors in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, who worked to grow plants in the Fischer Greenhouse. Starkey’s husband, Steve, works as a cabinet maker, and Bruck said that he was a huge help as the group built the structure.

Taylor Fehmal, a freshman in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and Rebecca Zerby, a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences, both members of the Design Interest Group (DIG) helped design the innovative rain storage system on the display as part of a design club challenge.

Bruck also said that her construction students worked on the build this fall as part of their coursework.

Anthony Middlebrooks, an associate professor in the School of Urban Affairs, helped out with the project by having his leadership students work on a design challenge that focused on the educational aspects of the show.

The group also has received generous financial support and donations to help with the building of the model. Alumni Jordan (’96) and Erinne Hammell, Doug (’81) and Mai Blonski, and Jane Pepper (’76) all contributed funds to the project, as did Lele and Brad Galer.

Zach Starke is creating custom metal work for the project, while Galer Estate Vineyard and Winery supplied wine barrels and other accessories.

Erik Castle also helped out by contributing irrigation supplies.

Article by Adam Thomas

This article can also be viewed online on UDaily by clicking here

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College converts cow pasture into thriving wetland

May 19, 2010 under CANR News

Several times a week, Chad Nelson begins his workday with a trek through a wetland near his Townsend Hall office on the University of Delaware’s Newark campus. With spring in full swing, he enjoys the sight of the butterflies, migratory songbirds, mallard ducks and their ducklings, frogs and tadpoles that make the wetland their warm-weather home.

Later this summer Nelson, an assistant professor of landscape design in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, will be on the look out for dragonflies. And even in winter, he says the wetland teems with life, with such species as glossy ibis and over-wintering songbirds.

Two years ago, about the only animal life this two-acre site supported were dairy cows and migrating Canada geese.

Jenny McDermott, facilities manager for the college, spearheaded the effort to convert a poorly draining cow pasture into a wetland.

Her go-to man on the project was Tom Barthelmeh, who is a wetlands restoration expert with the state’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC).

“This project had a lot of challenges and Tom’s help was integral,” says McDermott. “Our goal in creating this wetland was not only to provide wildlife habitat but to improve water quality in the White Clay watershed.”

Once it is fully operational, the wetland will reduce runoff to Cool Run, which is a tributary of White Clay Creek. And that’s just one of the ways it will help the watershed.

The University’s farm and main campus are where Cool Run starts, the headwaters of the stream, and thus are a critical area for influencing environmental quality.

“Wetlands, especially in this area, do a lot of good things for a watershed,” explains McDermott. “By taking the pressure off the rate and volume of water that flows into a stream, wetlands reduce problems caused by stormwater runoff downstream.”

From a wildlife habitat perspective, the wetland gets high marks from Doug Tallamy, chairperson of UD’s Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology.

“The new wetlands will raise the carrying capacity of the UD Farm for decades,” says Tallamy. “The wet areas churn out insects that develop on detritus. These support swifts, martins, swallows and bats. Wading birds eat the aquatic insects and frogs in the wet areas. The wetland also provides habitats for breeding birds. It’s very productive. And none of this was happening when it was a cow pasture.”

Barthelmeh says he enjoyed the project, especially because it gave him the opportunity to mentor students. UD undergraduate and graduate students were involved in every aspect of the project, from site design and installation to the two rounds of planting that occurred, most recently last October.

Nelson spearheaded plant design with plenty of assistance from his students. Almost 2,000 trees, shrubs and perennial seed plugs have been planted at the site, ranging from blue flag iris, which provides purple-blue spring blooms; buttonbush, which blooms in summer; bald cypress, with its brilliant rusty orange fall foliage; and winterberry holly, known for its red berries in winter.

A whopping 90 percent of the first year’s planting survived despite dry planting conditions and some damage by waterfowl.

“I was concerned last year because a lot of Canada geese were browsing the wetland but most of the damage wasn’t significant since it was confined to the stalks and not the roots,” says Nelson.

The wetland is one component of a comprehensive plan to make the UD Farm a model of sustainable, environmentally friendly agriculture.

McDermott is now busy overseeing other conservation projects. Additional channel and wetland restoration will take place along the entire length of the Cool Run tributary running through the farm. A stormwater retrofit will address building and parking lot runoff that flows into Cool Run.

“These restoration efforts wouldn’t be possible without a lot of partners within the university, from DNREC and from the New Castle Conservation District,” says McDermott. “Grant funding from several DNREC departments and from the University’s alumni-supported Sustainability Fund have been matched by funding from our college to not only implement environmental protection but to provide a teaching opportunity for students and a demonstration of watershed protection.”

The UD wetland has been utilized as an outdoor classroom by landscape design, landscape construction, ornithology, wildlife management and wildlife ecology students. And it serves a public education function, as well, especially now that it has become a part of the UD Botanic Gardens.

“We offered wetland tours on Earth Day and Ag Day and the public is welcome to take self-guided tours any day from dawn to dusk,” says McDermott. “Wetlands are sometimes seen as a ‘no man’s land.’ We want people to appreciate the positive impact they can have on water quality and the diversity of wildlife they support. Wetlands are incredibly important.”

To learn more, visitors can take a self-guided tour of the UD Botanic Gardens wetland from dawn to dusk daily. The wetland is located on UD’s Farm off Route 896 in Newark, near the Girl Scouts building.

Click here to see the article with photos online on UDaily.

Article by Margo McDonough
Photos by Danielle Quigley

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