BGCI Education Congress in St. Louis

Biodiversity for a Better World: Wild Ideas Worth Sharing

Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) is the global organization of botanic gardens. BGCI is devoted to plant conservation and educating the world about plants and biodiversity. BGCI’s Education Congress is held every three years, bringing together garden educators, horticulturists, and plant scientists to share their insights. This year the congress was held at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, and with over 300 delegates attending from nearly 40 countries, it was a wonderful opportunity to catch up on the latest thinking in education, interpretation, and communication at botanic gardens.

Fran and Mackenzie were just happy to be here!

Fran and Mackenzie were happy to be representing the Longwood Graduate Program!

A focus of the congress was reflecting on how botanic gardens in the 21st century can ensure that they become firmly embedded in the fabric of the community in which they are located, and are not seen as a place that only cetain sections of the community can access and enjoy. Dr. Bernadette Lynch’s presentation on the five-year initiative Communities in Nature, a program that aims to encourage botanical gardens to grow their social role was particularly fitting. Kew Gardens’ Grow Wild campaign, and Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden’s BioTECH High School were two outstanding examples of forward-looking gardens. A high school for botanists – can you imagine? Fairchild not only imagined this, but worked with the local school board to make it happen.

The Japanese Garden at Missouri Botanical Garden

The Japanese Garden at Missouri Botanical Garden

Shoots & Roots Bitters, a New York-based company founded bybbotantists, hosted a Science of Taste workshop, which taught participants the science of why food tastes the way it does, and why humans taste food as being sweet, sour, bitter, salty or umami. A favorite activity tricked our taste buds into thinking we were eating something particularly sweet after we ate miracle fruit, although we were really eating lemons.

Missouri Botanic Garden was the perfect setting for this Congress, and delegates enjoyed an idyllic welcome reception at the gardens proper as well as a Bluegrass and BBQ dinner at the beautiful Shaw Nature Reserve – 2,441 acres of natural area, with at least eight different vegetation communities, including woodland and forest, tall grass prairie, and a spectacularly beautiful wildflower garden. The reserve is a must-see when visiting St. Louis; it’s a great way to gain an understanding of the different plant communities in the Ozark Border country.

Shaw Nature Reserve's wildflower walk

Whitmire Wildflower Garden at Shaw Nature Reserve

Missouri Botanical Garden was dressed in its very best spring color and the weather could not have been better. The irises were timed to perfection, the dogwoods were in full bloom, and the azaleas at their peak, too. A delightful place for a congress about education in botanic gardens–kudos to our hosts from Missouri Botanical Garden and BGCI!

Getting to know Missouri's trees a little better: A wonderful interpretation tool - tree climbing for absolute novices at Shaw Nature Reserve

Getting to know Missouri’s trees a little better: delegates try their hand at tree climbing at Shaw Nature Reserve

Longwood Gardens student representation at the St. Louis Cardinals baseball gam-- they were playing the Phillies! L to R: Fellows: Mackenzie Fochs, Fran Jackson; International Interns: Ashley Edwards, Leon Charalambous, Pippa Lucas; Intern Caity Chandler (photo credit: Caity Chandler)

Longwood Gardens student representation at the St. Louis Cardinals baseball gam– they were playing the Phillies! L to R: Fellows: Mackenzie Fochs, Fran Jackson; International Interns: Ashley Edwards, Leon Charalambous, Pippa Lucas; Intern Caity Chandler (photo credit: Caity Chandler)

Submit a Proposal for the 2015 Professional Outreach Project!

Fellows working at Wyck Historic House, Garden, and Farm during the 2014 Professional Outreach Project

Fellows working at Wyck Historic House, Garden, and Farm during the 2014 Professional Outreach Project

Only one week left to submit a proposal for the 2015 Professional Outreach Project! This annual project allows the Fellows to partner with a local institution to complete a project in a specific area of horticulture. Need a refresher on past Outreach Projects? Visit our blog to see projects from years past. This year the Outreach Project will focus on engaging a broader community through a collaborative, cross-institutional project. This project may include, but is not limited to, one or more of the following related areas: marketing an event or program co-sponsored by multiple institutions, developing interpretation for a collaborative exhibit or display, communication strategies for institutional partnerships, or some aspect of fundraising for cross-institutional projects.

Take a look at our request for proposals for more information or to submit a proposal.

Be sure to check back soon for more Outreach Project updates!

 

Native Plant Conservation and Design in the Lone Star State

by Keith Nevison

Deep in the heart of Texas I ventured for the American Public Gardens Association’s inaugural native plant symposium, which was held at the stunning Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center (LBJWC) in Austin, Texas. The Center was founded by former First Lady “Lady Bird” Johnson and her long-time friend Helen Hayes, the “First Lady of the American Theatre.” The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is a must-see public garden featuring amazing stone buildings and walkways, spectacular native Texan floral displays, and innovative design features such an observation tower with a green roof and artwork featured throughout the garden.

The Luci and Ian Family Garden. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center’s newest garden addition opened last year.

The Luci and Ian Family Garden. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center’s newest garden addition opened last year.

On the first day of the conference, registrants were treated to a magnificent tour of the Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve which features waterfalls, blooming Texas redbud and other drought-resistant trees, abundant songbirds, and fabulous fossil hunting across the underlying strata.

APGA Native Plant Symposium attendees receiving a comprehensive overview of the Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve from local plant legend David Mahler of Environmental Survey Consulting

Local plant legend David Mahler of Environmental Survey Consulting provided a comprehensive overview of the Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve

The Texas Hill Country!

The Texas Hill Country

Participants also explored a private residential landscape exclusively featuring central Texas native species from the Edwards Plateau and Texas Hill Country. These areas are biodiversity hotspots with numerous endemic plant and animal species. The garden was exquisite with impressive design features such as a grotto, a creek wetland, and restored native wildflower meadows.

The theme of the 2015 symposium was Cultivating the Future of Native Plants: Conservation and Design. This was an apt theme as the conference roster was comprised of equal parts horticulturists and ecological restoration practitioners. Very interesting conversations were had on subjects such as native plants in design, the role of botanic gardens in plant conservation, creating the native plant market, and landscape design as ecological art. LBJWC has been a leader for years in these areas with their Native Plant Information Network and Sustainable SITES® Initiative partnership with the American Society of Landscape Architects and the United States Botanic Garden. In addition, they maintain partnerships with the Center for Plant Conservation and the Bureau of Land Management’s Seeds of Success Program which aims to collect wildland seeds for research, development, germplasm conservation, and ecosystem restoration. Clearly an active place with lots going on!

Homeowner’s Inspiration Gardens near the entrance to LDJWC.

Homeowner’s Inspiration Gardens near the entrance to LBJWC

Spring was in effect down in Austin and many species were blooming, including the iconic state flower, the Texas bluebonnet (Lupinus texensis).

Texas bluebonnet (Lupinus texensis)- state flower and endemic to the Lone Star state.

Texas bluebonnet: state flower and endemic to the Lone Star state

The garden features many oak meadows with both live oaks and deciduous oaks as well as a rich understory of shrubs, forbs, and grasses.

Inviting meadows abound at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Inviting meadows abound at the LBJWC

Well-known landscape designer Darrel Morrison concluded the Symposium by speaking about his designs and inspiration, from the layout for LBJWC to his most recent design for Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Native Flora Garden. Perhaps the most enlightening thing I learned from him is that one should always camp out on the land prior to working on a project in order to get a feel for the land and to observe its features over the course of the day. Through this experience, one can determine the ideal placement for soft and hard garden elements.

The stonework and hardscape features of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center are striking and plentiful. The gardens features many xeric species such as Opuntia, Nolina, Muhlenbergia, Cercis, Agave, etc. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is a must-see if you ever find yourself in Central Texas!

Stonework and hardscape features are striking and plentiful at LBJWC

Membership and Development in Sunny California

Professional development is a key aspect of the Longwood Graduate Program, and four Fellows, Mackenzie Fochs, Stephanie Kuniholm, Sarah Leach Smith, and Kevin Philip Williams, attended the American Public Gardens Association’s inaugural Membership and Development Symposium at the end of February.

The Fellows at Sherman Library & Gardens

The Fellows at Sherman Library & Gardens

Sherman Library & Gardens in Corona Del Mar, California hosted the beginning of the Symposium in their Central Patio room, a beautiful space with cathedral ceilings, exposed wood beams, and a cozy fireplace for the evening. The Symposium opened with a presentation on results from a benchmarking survey for philanthropy at public gardens, and the event continued to provide relevant information about how gardens of different sizes tackle recruiting members, soliciting donations, and cultivating relationships with garden supporters.

The gardens at Sherman made the Fellows completely forget the weather they had left behind in Delaware: the succulent garden called to mind the ocean with its use of pattern and strategically placed shells, and the variety of thriving palms, begonias, bromeliads, orchids, and ferns made it feel like paradise.

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San Diego Botanic Garden hosted participants on Thursday afternoon and evening, providing time to explore their 37 acres. A favorite of the Fellows’ was the Subtropical Fruit Garden, where a gardener shared his wealth of knowledge about the citrus fruits and the bounty the trees had produced.

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Stephanie shows off the bounty of lemons and kumquats at San Diego Botanic Garden

The final morning of the Symposium, the Fellows had an early start for a tour of Disneyland before the gates opened to visitors. Adam Schwerner, Director of Horticulture & Resort Enhancement, and his team guided groups through the park and discussed the differences and challenges of horticulture at a place like Disneyland versus a typical botanical garden.

Early morning at Disneyland

Early morning at Disneyland

To conclude the Symposium, participants came together for a final session about putting personal touches on donor relations, brainstorming what was learned over the past few days, and topics for future events.

On the last full day of their trip, the Fellows rented a car and headed to two highly anticipated gardens: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens and Descanso Gardens. The Desert Garden at The Huntington was absolutely stunning and it was hard for the Fellows to pull themselves away for lunch. The promise of In ‘N Out Burger proved to be motivation enough and after refueling, they headed to Descanso Gardens. Lucky for the Fellows, the Camellia Festival was happening!  To wander the garden paths and see large camellia bushes blooming beneath the canopy of oak trees in Februrary was a delight.

Kevin, perfectly at home in The Huntington's gardens

Kevin, perfectly at home in The Huntington’s gardens

The spectacular Desert Garden at The Huntington

The spectacular Desert Garden at The Huntington

Camellias as far as the eye can see at Descanso Gardens

Camellias as far as the eye can see at Descanso Gardens

Special thanks to Sherman Library and Gardens and San Diego Botanic Gardens for hosting and the American Public Gardens Association for helping coordinate the Symposium as well as Cristeen Martinez and Somer Sherwood-White at Descanso Gardens.

 

To Preserve or Change: Redefining Heritage to Guide the Future– This Week!

lgp symp web banner high resMarch is here, which means the LGP Symposium is right around the corner! While we make our final preparations and cross our fingers for good weather, we wanted to share a few updates from the Symposium team:

Symposium Webcast

We hope you will be able to join us in person for the Symposium, but if you can’t make the trip to Kennett Square, be sure to attend the Symposium webcast. We will be live-streaming the Symposium online at no cost. The webcast chat feature will allow you to type in questions for a Grad Fellow to ask during Q and A sessions. Visit our online registration page more information or to register. We hope to (virtually) see you there!

Emerging Professionals Travel Award

This year, for the first time ever, we offered a Travel Award to emerging professionals in the field of horticulture. We were blown away by the enthusiastic response we received from applicants as well as sponsors. A huge ‘thank-you’ to our sponsors:

 Adkins Arboretum
The Chanticleer Foundation
Lark Label
Mt. Cuba Center
Former and Current Longwood Graduate Fellows 

Also, a huge ‘congratulations’ to our Travel Award winners:

Adi Bar-Yoseph, Jerusalem Botanical Gardens
Amanda Plante, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Andrew Sell, University of Michigan Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum
Ben Stormes, Cornell University and Cornell Plantations
Chantal Ludder, Museum of the Shenandoah Valley
Doug Schuster, Kingwood Center
Emily Detrick, Cornell University
Jordan Wood, Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University
Kate Nowell, University of Washington
Maddie Paule, Jenkins Arboretum & Gardens
Tracy Qiu, Niagara Parks School of Horticulture  

If you’re planning to attend the Symposium, make sure you introduce yourself to these talented young professionals. Hope to see you on Friday for the Symposium!

The Longwood Graduate Program Class of 2017

Please join us in welcoming the future Fellows of The Longwood Graduate Program Class of 2017:

Alice EdgertonAlice Edgerton
Alice Edgerton considers her love for the outdoors and desire to help others connect to nature a family trait because she grew up in the family business: a summer camp on the edge of the New Jersey Pine Barrens. Alice graduated from Earlham College with a B.A. in Anthropology and Sociology and completed a Certificate in Ecological Horticulture from the University of California, Santa Cruz’s Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems in 2011. She worked as a Project Coordinator at the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society for three years, as a Foreman for Philadelphia-based Graceful Gardens, and as a consultant for Bartram’s Garden. By bringing horticulture to new audiences, she believes we can grow
broad stewardship and advocacy for the environment.

Elizabeth BartonElizabeth Barton
Elizabeth Barton has a B.S. from the University of Delaware in Landscape Horticulture and Design with a minor in Wildlife Conservation and an M.S. in Plant Science from the University of Maryland. Her thesis, “A comparison of organic matter types for use on green roofs,” explores methods for improving green roof performance. While working at the Adkins Arboretum on the Eastern Shore in Maryland, she designed new plant sale signs. At the University of Maryland Arboretum, she designed and installed two native-focused garden areas with assistance from high school volunteers.

Grace ByrneGrace Byrne
Raised in America’s Garden Capital, Grace Byrne was fortunate to experience many of the great gardens of Philadelphia throughout her youth. Her degree in Landscape Architecture from the Pennsylvania State University is complemented with minors in Sustainability Leadership and Environmental Inquiries. She has also studied in Germany and the Galápagos Islands. Grace has completed internships at Mt. Cuba Center, Longwood Gardens, Disney World, and the Scott Arboretum of Swarthmore College. She hopes her ambitious spirit and dedication to public horticulture will ultimately prepare her for a position in programming at public gardens.

Erin KinleyErin Kinley
Erin Kinley grew up on a farm in Nebraska, where she spent many years immersed in her family’s row-crop operation. In high school, she actively participated in plant ID and floriculture contests before discovering her passion for plants and deciding to pursue a degree in Horticulture at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. At UNL, Erin experienced many facets of horticulture, including plant biology, entrepreneurship, pollinator education, and vegetable production. She believes educating people about the importance of plants—from food to aesthetics—will be critical to solving the challenges facing our rapidly changing world.

Tracy QiuTracy Qiu
As a graduate of the Niagara Parks Commission School of Horticulture, Tracy Qiu has academic and practical knowledge of the daily operations of a one hundred acre botanical garden. Her interest in ethnobotany led to an internship at the National Tropical Botanical Garden in Hawai’i, where she observed Hawai’ian cultural plant use. These experiences coalesced in her action project: an exploration of public gardens engaging diverse audiences through programming and outreach. She believes cultural diversity is equally as important as biological diversity and that promoting cultural diversity in gardens can answer many of the environmental and social challenges we face today.

Counting Down to the 2015 LGP Symposium

by Bryan Thompsonowak

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In 25 days, Longwood Gardens will be hosting the Longwood Graduate Program Symposium, To Preserve or Change: Redefining Heritage to Guide the Future. Inspired by the New Heights: Fountain Revitalization Project and the legacy of Pierre S. duPont, the Fellows have organized an exciting day of speakers, a redesigned format, and a new exhibit featuring objects of historical significance from local institutions. Additionally, we will support emerging professionals from around the world by providing competitive travel grants funded by former LGP Fellows.

This year, a wide variety of speakers will represent some of America’s most prestigious and oldest institutions with a wealth of talent and experience. To maximize our time with them, we have introduced a few new presentation opportunities. There will be in-depth presentations, engaging short talks, an interactive panel discussion, and generous break times to allow attendees to mingle with speakers and colleagues.

Please join us March 6th in the Longwood Gardens Ballroom. For more information or to register, please visit the 2015 Longwood Graduate Program Symposium site.

Japan Outtakes 

Now that we are home safely and before we get deep into our studies for the semester, the First Year Fellows wanted to share some of the fun moments not covered in our previous posts. Enjoy!

Special shout out to our two chaperones from Longwood Gardens: Trish Evans, Communications Manager, and Koa Kanamee, Senior Gardener in the Outdoor Display division. Thank you for traveling with us!

The last night we were in each city, several of us explored the area around our hotel. This night involved a photo booth session and several attempts to win a "claw" arcade game. Note the concentration. (Kyoto)

The last night in Kyoto involved a photo booth session and several attempts to win a “claw” arcade game. Note the concentration and nerves of steel.

What trip to Japan would be complete without trying karaoke in each city you visit?

What trip to Japan would be complete without trying karaoke in each city you visit?

We were gifted origami Pikachu from a nice woman on the street in Kyoto. She had a hand bag filled with them and made sure we each got one. Our translator, Ayumi Green (in white), was invaluable throughout the trip!

We were gifted origami Pikachu from a nice woman on a street in Kyoto. She made sure we each got one. Our translator, Ayumi Green (in white), was invaluable throughout the trip!

The variety of KitKat flavors in Japan!

A KitKat lover’s paradise! Japan boasts a variety of KitKat flavors, including strawberry, green tea, hazelnut, and a few we couldn’t quite figure out!

We encountered a variety of memorable signs during our journey:

Another name for "singing communication" is karaoke.

Another name for “singing communication” is karaoke.

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In the Dotonbori, there were many large sea creatures advertising restaurants.

In the Dotonbori, there were many large sea creatures advertising restaurants.

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And lastly, it is always important you observe proper etiquette in an airport:

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Farewell, Japan!

On our last morning in Japan we enjoyed a few hours of free time perusing bustling shops and tasting new food in Osaka. A few of us ventured out to the ever popular Dōtonbori shopping district which was busy, crowded, and full of life, even on a run-of-the-mill Friday morning. Dōtonbori is known as a historic theater area turned eccentric shopping district, and certainly lived up to its bustling reputation. In addition to satisfying all of our Hello Kitty purchasing needs, we were able to sample some takoyaki: battered and fried octopus, a famous street food in Japan.

Delicious takoyaki!

Delicious takoyaki!

Busy Dōtonbori district on Friday morning.

Busy Dōtonbori district on Friday morning.

After returning to the hotel, packing our bags, and buying one last matcha-latte, we were ready to say goodbye to the sleek, fast-paced, and endlessly beautiful country of Japan. Many hours, three flights, and one lost bag later we were home in snowy Pennsylvania. We’re happy to be home, and are even happier to have spent the past two weeks getting to know such an incredible country with an incredible history of horticulture!

Lovely view from the road as the Fellows travel to the airport.

Lovely view from the road as the Fellows travel to the airport.

Days of the Daimyō (Feudal lord gardens and Okayama Castle)

For our last full day in Japan, the Fellows ventured to Okayama Kōraku-en, one of the three great gardens of Japan. Originally developed under the direction of Lord Ikeda Tsunamasa, the feudal estate garden took 13 years to construct and was completed in 1700.

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Dormant on a beautiful winter’s day

Today, the garden is very popular with the strolling public and we were lucky to meet a young couple dressed in kimono who were taking wedding photos along with their family.

Seeing this beautiful couple was a trip highlight!

Seeing this beautiful couple was a trip highlight!

The wedding couple with admiring foreigners

The wedding couple with admiring foreigners

There were many unique features at Okayama Kōraku-en that we did not come across at other gardens during our trip. For one, all of the pine trees in the garden [240 in all] are wrapped in straw jackets (komo-maki) over winter which attracts insect pests to build nests in the straw fibres. In the spring, all of the jackets are collected and burned as part of an annual garden festival.

Effective and decorative pest control technique!

Effective and decorative pest control technique!

With 240 pine trees, this is a labour-intensive process.

With 240 pine trees, this is a labour-intensive process.

Field burning is carried out each February to clear away old grass and stimulate new growth. We were informed by garden staff members Mr. Tomihiko Kurisaka, Ms. Katsume Okuyama and Mr. Iga that many visitors come specifically to witness this event.

Too bad we couldn't see it in action.

Too bad we couldn’t see it in action.

The three main trees in collection at Okayama Kōraku-en are Japanese maples (momiji), ornamental cherries (sakura) and pine (matsu). From its inception, the garden was planted with two distinct zones of Japanese maples, one featuring green leaved wild types and the other with red-leaved horticultural varieties. As such, it is recognized as one of the oldest planned garden landscapes in Japan.

Mr.  and Ms. explain the different maple cultivars to us.

Mr. Tomihiko Kurisaka and Ms. Katsume Okuyama explain the different maple cultivars to us.

Fall is a gorgeous time to visit Okayama Kōraku-en!

Fall is a gorgeous time to visit Okayama Kōraku-en!

The garden is also very popular with the public as a place to view somei-yoshino cherry blossoms, the quintessential cherry tree of Japan. Along with other planted sakura cultivars, the cherry trees at Okayama produce a continuos bloom cycle lasting for 4 months, thereby attracting the bulk of their visitation during the spring and summer seasons. In the fall, the local chrysanthemum (kiku) growers group puts on a festival showcasing certain types of flower displays including the beautiful cascade (kengai) forms.

Stunning, well pruned trees abound in this garden.

Stunning, well pruned trees abound in this garden.

In the afternoon, we continued on to Okayama Castle, the grandiose home of the Ikeda clan which was originally constructed in 1597.

A grand castle indeed! It has the nickname of Crow Castle due to its black exterior.

A grand castle indeed! It has the nickname of Crow Castle (U-jo) from its black exterior.

Learning about the history of the castle was wonderful, but the highlight was having the chance to don traditional feudal regalia and have our photos taken.

Longwood Graduate Fellows Mackenzie Fochs and Fran Jackson wear guard garb.

Longwood Graduate Fellows Mackenzie Fochs and Fran Jackson wear guard garb.

Longwood Fellows Stephanie Kuniholm and Keith Nevison wear warlord costume

Longwood Fellows Stephanie Kuniholm and Keith Nevison wear warlord costume

During WWII the castle was destroyed by bombing raids, but a replica made of reinforced concrete was constructed in 1966, which includes traditional roof tiles and gilded statues of shachihoko or fish-shaped gargoyles that are said to cause the rain to fall, thus stopping fire.

Amazing carvings!

Amazing carvings!

All in all, our last full day in Japan was wonderful and we wish to thank the staff of Okayama Koraku-en for providing us with an informative and very interesting tour. Kampai (cheers)!

The Fellows with Okoyama Kōraku-en Garden staff after an invigorating tour!

The Fellows with Okayama Kōraku-en Garden staff after an invigorating tour!

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A trip to Japan should include a visit to Okayama Castle and Garden!