Snapshots of the 2017 Longwood Graduate Symposium

With over 100 attendees, the 2017 Longwood Graduate Symposium was an exciting day of economic discussions pertaining to public gardens. We had a great time exploring topics such as the Greater Philadelphia Gardens Economic Impact Report, Cleveland Botanic Garden’s Vacant to Vibrant program, gardens’ impact on community revitalization and gentrification, and the story of Singapore, a “city within a garden”.

Below are some of our favorite photos of the day, taken by Gene McCutchen, a Longwood Volunteer Photographer.

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Only One Week Left! Symposium and Webinar Registration, Day-Of Program, and Announcing Travel Awardees!

Only one week left until the symposium on March 3rd, 2017! This year’s symposium, Growing Together: Cultivating Change in the Economic Landscape, brings together a variety of speakers to discuss the economic impacts of public gardens.

Registration for the symposium is $119, with a student pricing of $59! If you can’t make it in person, consider joining us via interactive live webinar, where a Fellow will be available to moderate, take questions, and engage the audience in discussion.

Click here for a copy of the Day-Of Program!

We are also pleased to announce the 2017 Longwood Graduate Program Symposium Travel Awardees, who will join the us to learn about economic impacts of public gardens, and to make connections in the public horticulture field.

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Growing Together: Symposium Registration Open!

Registration is now open for the Longwood Graduate Symposium – Growing Together: Gardens Cultivating Change in the Economic Landscape! Registration is $119, and $59 for full-time students with ID. If you can’t make it in person, consider signing up for the webinar ($35), where a Fellow will be moderating and taking questions for the speakers.

The Fellows are excited to present this year’s line-up of speakers. They represent some great minds in economics and public horticulture alike, and are all looking forward to the discussion that the Symposium will bring.

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Reminder: Submit your LGP Symposium Travel Award Applications!



Speakers at the 2016 LGP Conference included Paul Smith (BGCI), Nayra Pacheco (Just Communities), Joseph McGill (Magnolia Plantations and the Slave Dwelling Project), and Guina Hammond (PHS)

The Fellows would like to remind students and emerging professionals of the Travel Award opportunity for the 2017 Longwood Graduate Symposium and encourage anyone interested to apply. The deadline is Sunday, January 8th, 2017. Additional information and applications can be found here.

This week, we are excited to feature Alexa Wright – current Education Intern at Longwood Gardens! Alexa has a BA in Biology from Oberlin College, and her MS in Horticulture from NC State. Below, she shares her experience as a Travel Awardee in last year’s Longwood Graduate Symposium!

“Attending the 2016 Longwood Graduate Program Symposium immersed me in the culture and organization of the public garden world. I was able to partake in conversations about issues that cultural institutions (especially public gardens) face and help brainstorm ways to overcome them.  I was also able to engage with those who share my passion for horticulture and environmental education. I enjoyed all of the wonderful aspects of attending a symposium from the thought-provoking dialogue and networking to the sense of inspiration from the unique experiences and knowledge obtained. As an Emerging Professionals Travel Awardee I was also able to be behind-the-scenes and have excellent one-on-one conversations with the guest speakers and surround myself with others like me, current students, recent graduates and those who were beginning their careers in the public horticulture field.

The 2016 Graduate Symposium was a stepping stone for my career. After attending the symposium I applied and was selected for a yearlong internship in the education department at Longwood Gardens. Being a travel awardee at the graduate symposium gave me unique perspective, fresh ideas and an edge in the job market. Additionally, meeting, conversing with and receiving advice from attendees helped and motivated me as an emerging professional in the field. The people (especially the graduate students) were awesome, the conversations (and meals) were amazing and overall it was an incredible experience!”


Longwood Graduate Fellows and Travel Awardees take a photo with Paul and Martha Parvis, long-time supporters of the program and Symposium! Alexa Wright is second from the right in this photograph.


Thanks for sharing your experience with us, Alexa! The Fellows look forward to meeting 2017’s Travel Awardees!

Further updates (including open registration and speaker announcements) will be posted through this blog ( as well as our Facebook page.

For questions about the Travel Award, please contact Erin Kinley at Questions about the Symposium event can be sent to Elizabeth Barton at





The Sounds of the Season: It’s Christmas at Longwood!

Happy Holidays from the Longwood Graduate Program!

Each year, A Longwood Christmas invites guests to experience a garden transformation like no other. Featuring intricate design, holiday cheer, and horticultural excellence, this year’s theme, The Sounds of the Season, resonates throughout the indoor and outdoor gardens during this musically-inspired display.

This year's theme: The Sounds of the Season

This year’s theme: The Sounds of the Season

As Longwood’s most popular season, thousands flock to the conservatory to take shelter from the cold and marvel at the elaborate sights. If you’ve ever found yourself stopped in your tracks when greeted with an indoor display and wondered, “How on earth did they do that?”, you’re not alone! Thanks to the LGP’s Mentorship Program, which pairs each Fellow with a Longwood staff member, I consulted Jim Sutton, Display Designer and my mentor, on this very question. The short answer: it takes a village, specifically a Longwood village.

As a mentor, Jim understands the importance of highlighting lessons in project management through experiential learning opportunities at Longwood. When it comes to preparing for and installing A Longwood Christmas, the lesson is clear: communication and teamwork. This is exemplified in one of this year’s grandest features, a two-story Christmas tree displayed on the Fern Floor in the Exhibition Hall. Supporting over 1,000 potted poinsettias, orchids, ivies, and ferns, if you look closely you will find it’s not a tree at all! In fact, it is a modular structure designed, constructed, and maintained by numerous teams of Longwood staff.

While Jim and Display Design intern, Greg Schival, produced the concept and drawings for the tree, Longwood’s carpenters and metal shop brought the structure to life, building each section like a puzzle piece able to lock in and come apart. Meticulously crafted with safety in mind, the tree’s base is comprised of wood and rests on the floor. Its top, however, is a separate metal piece suspended from the ceiling and secured through a base within its counterpart. Outfitted with lights and irrigation, Koa Kanamee, Senior Gardener, made sure plants were added in a top-down fashion to preserve a finished look throughout the installation process.

Longwood’s strong culture of teamwork has been bolstered in recent years with another Mentorship Program, one specifically designed to support the Horticulture staff in the Christmas season. Voices and talents from throughout the gardens form a network of committees, collaborating among themselves and with one another, to create the wonder that is A Longwood Christmas without losing site of the nuances that make for an enchanting guest experience.

Make your plan to visit A Longwood Christmas: Sounds of the Season today!

Make your plan to visit A Longwood Christmas: Sounds of the Season today!






POP 2016 Wrap Up: TheDCH Garden Site Vision Plan

The Fellows are excited to present the finished product of the 2016 Professional Outreach Project – a Garden Vision Plan for the Delaware Center for Horticulture (TheDCH).

It has been a busy and educational summer working with TheDCH. June and July were spent conducting a document review of the organization and making site observations. August was heavily focused on internal stakeholder interviews, and external benchmarking interviews of organizations with similar missions, site sizes, and access. September saw an intimate gathering of staff, board members, community stakeholders, and TheDCH members for a Community Workshop. Key considerations included the renovation of Conaty Park next door to include a children’s playground, as well as ways to generate revenue for the new garden site.


TheDCH Executive Director Vikram Krishnamurthy, and Longwood Fellows Elizabeth Barton and Erin Kinley during the first site visit.


The renovation of Conaty Park from basketball court to playground. The orange fencing marks the future rain garden between TheDCH site and Conaty.


POP Lead Fellow Tracy Qiu describing the Garden Site during the Community Workshop

The Fellows then compiled, synthesized, and analyzed document notes, interview data, and community workshop observations into the final report – a 60+ page document detailing the past, present, and potential future activities of the garden site. Recommendations and resources were included to help guide the identity of the garden as TheDCH grows over time.


Cover page for the 2016 POP Report

Lastly, the Fellows were honored to present their findings to TheDCH staff, board, and membership at TheDCH Annual Meeting on October 26, sharing their observations and recommendations with the larger community. The Fellows would like to thank TheDCH staff, board, and membership, as well as the 2016 POP Advisory Committee. The 2016 Professional Outreach Project was a valuable hands-on experience in the public garden field, and the Fellows look forward to seeing the future development of the garden site!

Announcing: The 2017 Longwood Graduate Symposium & Travel Award!



Greetings from the Longwood Graduate Program!

Save the date and spread the word! The Longwood Graduate Symposium will be held on Friday, March 3, 2017.

The Longwood Graduate Program Symposium is a daylong event featuring speakers, panel discussions, and conversations on a topic geared towards public garden professionals. This year’s Symposium, Growing Together: Gardens Cultivating Change in the Economic Landscape, will explore research on the economic impact of gardens, advocacy for nonprofit organizations, effects of urban revitalization, and public gardens as economic drivers. For the third year in a row, a Travel Award will be given to eligible emerging professionals, including students, to engage a new generation in this important subject.   

Click here for additional information about the Travel Award, including the application. The deadline for applications is Sunday, January 8, 2017.

Further updates (including open registration and speaker announcements) will be posted through this blog ( as well as our Facebook page.

For questions about the Travel Award, please contact Erin Kinley at Questions about the Symposium event can be sent to Elizabeth Barton at

NAX Day 5: Magnolia Plantation

For their final day of NAX, the Fellows visited Magnolia Plantation just outside of Charleston, South Carolina. Magnolia Plantation has been owned by the Drayton family for over 300 years and was a rice plantation until shortly before the Civil War when Reverend John Drayton began converting the property’s focus to gardens. Originally planted as traditional formal gardens, the Reverend decided to transform the space into the new romantic style. Over 150 years later, the gardens are a beautiful blend of the two styles and feature magnificent live oaks and a collection of over 27,000 camellias.

Magnolia Plantation is home to magnificent live oaks and cypress trees, as well as expansive collections of camellias and azaleas that bloom in the spring and early summer.

Magnolia Plantation is home to magnificent live oaks and cypress trees, as well as expansive collections of camellias and azaleas that bloom in the spring and early summer.

Today, Magnolia strives to be a place where visitors can get away from the world while also staying relevant to the surrounding community. For example, the garden is considered to be one of America’s most dog-friendly destinations, and the organization even offers free annual memberships to families who adopt dogs from local shelters. In addition, all profits generated from the garden go towards the Magnolia Plantation Foundation, which gives scholarships and grants to local students and organizations.

Assistant Horticulturist Kate White shares the garden's history and details about its current upkeep.

Assistant Horticulturist Kate White shares the garden’s history and details about its current maintenance.

Magnolia’s commitment to relevance was evident throughout the Fellow’s day in the garden. Starting with a tour of the gardens, Assistant Horticulturist Kate White and Special Events/Festival Coordinator Karen Lucht shared both the history of the gardens and their current operations strategies. Afterwards, the Fellows were treated to a special “Lunch and Listen” with Isaac Leach, a life-long garden employee whose family has worked at Magnolia for several generations. Isaac grew up on the property, where his family lived in a former slave cabin until the early 1990’s. The Fellows were fascinated to hear about his experiences growing up and working at the garden, which he lovingly described as the place he was meant to be.

An icon of the garden, this black and white bridge is one of Magnolia's most popular wedding spots.

An icon of the garden, this black and white bridge is one of Magnolia’s most popular wedding spots.

The Fellows finished the day with Magnolia Plantation’s unique Slavery to Freedom tour led by Joseph McGill, founder of The Slave Dwelling Project. The tour leads visitors through several of the plantation’s former slave cabins, restored to different time periods between the pre-Civil War era and the Civil Rights Movement. The tour brings the story of Magnolia Plantation full-circle and helps represent the reality of the garden’s history as a rice plantation.

Joseph McGill describes daily life for the slaves that once inhabited this cabin.

Joseph McGill describes daily life for the slaves that once inhabited this cabin.

The Fellows would like to thank all of the Magnolia staff who went above and beyond to make this such a special experience!

NAX Day 4: Moore Farms Botanical Garden

Moore Farms Botanical Garden

The Fire Tower Center and Garden greet visitors with warmth and hospitality.

Like a horticultural beacon among a sea of sorghum fields, Moore Farms Botanical Garden draws over 8,000 visitors each year through its whimsical designs, educational programming, and southern hospitality. This “very public private garden” has been a powerhouse of change both within the garden gates and beyond, growing new community initiatives every day. A fairly young garden, the passion and vibrancy of the Moore Farms staff shined through every project, conversation, and tour, providing the Fellows with an unforgettable experience.

Planting Design

Dense, colorful plantings delight visitors and guide them throughout the garden.

Once a landscape of tobacco fields as far as the eye could see, garden founder Darla Moore envisioned Moore Farms Botanical Garden as a place of respite and welcome to all who visited. Indeed, in the spirit of true southern hospitality, staff treated the Fellows to a home-cooked meal Wednesday evening before we even explored the gardens Thursday morning, which were a treat in their own right!

Beginning at the Fire Tower Center, which functions as the hub for garden visitors and education, the Fellows toured through long leaf pine corridors, fire-restoration projects in the Pine Bay garden, a formal garden with seasonal displays, a mature green roof (and wall!), trial gardens, and state-of-the-art green house facilities.

Green Roof

Completed in the winter of 2012, the green roof and living wall is irrigated using recycled water distributed through an overhead system.

At the culmination of their visit, the Fellows climbed the site’s 110’ tall fire tower to get a bird’s eye view of the gardens and see how they function together to provide a multitude of offerings to visitors.

View from Fire Tower

View of Fire Tower Center Garden from atop the garden’s 100′ tall tower.


Beyond the garden gates, Moore Farms’ reach extends throughout nearby Lake City, Ms. Moore’s hometown. Her influence and generosity can be seen throughout the community in any number of public landscapes including the Village Green, over 50 containers, and many other pro bono consultation projects completed for local businesses. As a private garden, Moore Farms is able to give back to the community because it directs all monetary returns from events and programs back into other local groups and organizations.

Public Landscapes in Lake City

Horticulture Supervisor Erik Healy discusses the impact of Moore Farms’ public landscapes projects within Lake City.

The Fellows would like to thank the amazing staff at Moore Farms Botanical Garden, especially Education and Events Manager Rebecca Turk, for not only sharing such a special and unique place, but also going above and beyond to provide an incredible guest experience!