Thesis Summary: Racial Diversity in Public Garden Internship Programs

Public horticulture is at the intersection of the horticultural sciences and the world of cultural nonprofits. Cultural nonprofits generally have difficulty attracting and retaining racially diverse staff. Public gardens are part of this group of organizations that are overwhelmingly white. As a part of the field of horticulture, public gardens are also facing a deficit of educated, skilled and experienced people entering the field. The lack of skilled horticulturalists and the lack of racial diversity in public garden staff are two issues of major concern for public gardens.

Philadelphia Area Regional Intern Outreach Day

Job pipeline programs such as internships have the potential to be important resources both in creating staff diversity as well as fostering new public horticulture employees. Young people entering the field of horticulture know how important internships are for future employment. If you count the number of internships done by the 5 current Longwood Graduate Fellows, they have done a total of 10, or an average of 2 internships per person! But could internships be part of the problem?

High-income students have more internship opportunities due to their preferences, social networks, and status, and are more likely to have paid internships. Internships are also tied to colleges and wealthier high schools. For the 70 percent of Americans who do not graduate from college, internships are rarely on the radar. A typical white family in the USA has 16 times the wealth of a typical black family. Due to this disparity in wealth that falls along racial lines, if the internship system favors richer students, it also favors whiter students. Since participation in one or more internships is one of the main factors employers consider when hiring, this inequity has serious consequences for who is considered employable.

Fellow Alice Edgerton first gathered basic information about the internships available in the Philadelphia region. The second part of her research consisted of qualitative narrative interviews with internship administrators and people of color who had done a public garden internship. Her final thesis will help illuminate the issues surrounding diversity and public garden internships and offer suggestions for internship administrators to build stronger and more racially diverse programs.

Dessert and Dialogue Results!

At the Longwood Graduate Program symposium this year, a session called Dessert and Dialogue fostered discussion around tough topics relevant to public horticulture institutions. Symposium attendees participated in small group discussions led by skilled facilitators from our local public gardens, Cornell University, and BGCI. Topics discussed at the tables were submitted by local public gardens as some of the most pressing issues facing their gardens today.

Over 120 of public horticulture’s finest participated in this session, and some key themes came up again and again. Below are two of the questions tackled at the tables and some of the top takeaways that came from the session.

Question 1: How should gardens and other cultural institutions reach out to the next generation?

Question 2: To what degree should gardens seek to engage and educate visitors on environmental impact?

The session provided a chance for attendees to share their experiences and ideas, and hear from other gardens about what challenges and opportunities they currently face. Thanks to all our facilitators and participants – let’s continue the conversation!

Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne

Red Sand Garden

The Australian Garden greets visitors with red sands and circular plantings, a nod to the drier regions of the country.

Almost 2 KM* off the main road, past the “Stop for bandicoots” sign and on the site of a former sand mine is the award winning, world class Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne. RBG Cranbourne is located about 45 minutes outside of the city of Melbourne. This spectacular garden has 15 hectares of cultivated garden and 350 hectares of bushland.

*(Fellows are now following the metric system)

RBG Cranbourne is a fairly new garden, open to the public in 1970. The stunning Australian Garden represents the native flora and fauna of all 86 of the continent’s bio-zones. Fellows were shown around the Australian Garden by Jo Fyfe, Visitor Programs Coordinator.

Jo Fyfe, Visitor Programs Coordinator

Jo Fyfe, Visitor Programs Coordinator, enhances guest experience through story-telling which she hopes will spark a love of horticulture for all who visit.

The garden design reflects the dry nature of much of the continent and tells the story of how water moves through the environment. Many gardens center on a lake, an open, peaceful area against which the different colors and textures of the garden stand out. A focal point of RBG Cranbourne is the Red Sand Garden, a representation of the dry and largely uninhabited center of Australia. The sand garden is surrounded by over two dozen differently themed gardens, such as the Weird and Wonderful Garden, the Seaside Garden, and the Greening Cities Garden.

Plantings and ephemeral wetlands sculptures in the Red Sand Garden

Plantings and ephemeral wetlands sculptures in the Red Sand Garden

The Home Garden shows visitors how they can use native Australian plants in any kind of garden

The Home Garden shows visitors how to use native Australian plants in any kind of landscape

A section of this beautiful stream is open to the public as a wading pool

A section of the beautiful River Walk is open to the public as a wading pool

DSCN6152There are layers upon layers of interpretive meanings built into the garden design. Signage, guided tours, and the website illuminate parts of the story, but guests can visit countless times and learn something new with each visit.

Fellows then enjoyed a tour of the bushland and picnic areas surrounding it by Ollie and Dave from Cranbourne’s Natural Lands Management team.

A walk in the bush

A walk in the bush

Ollie and Dave show us sand pads used for invasive animal control and tracking

Ollie and Dave show us sand pads used for invasive animal control and tracking

The Fellows met with Jo Fyfe and Sharon Willoughby, Manager of Public Programs, in the afternoon to discuss the goals and challenges Cranbourne is facing as it grows and matures as an organization. A warm thank you to Jo, Ollie, Sharon and Dave for sharing their time and expertise on an equally warm day!

Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney

Another busy day down under! Today the First Year Fellows visited the spectacular Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney, followed by a tour of the Sydney Opera House.

At one of Royal Botanic Garden Sydney's 15 entrances!

At one of Royal Botanic Garden Sydney’s 15 entrances

RBG Sydney is the largest public garden in the southern hemisphere, with over 4 million visitors annually, and with good reason. These gorgeous grounds are located in the middle of the city center, right on Sydney Harbor.

The Fellows spent the morning meeting with representatives from RBG Sydney, as well as staff from Australian Botanic Garden Mt Annan. It was a great opportunity to hear more about the overall vision of the organizations and get more information about their strategic planning efforts, governance structures and programming. After a delicious lunch at RBG’s café, we strolled around the grounds for a more in depth look at the garden with Paul Nicholson, RBG Site Coordinator of Community Education. Paul has a vast knowledge of plants and the Garden that he generously shared with us.

Paul talks palms

Paul talks palms

Fellows especially enjoyed the tour of Cadi Jam Ora: First Encounters, a display that interprets the Aboriginal cultural heritage of RBG Sydney. The garden is celebrating it’s 200 anniversary, but Aboriginal people have a 40,000 year history with the site, including roughly 28,000 years of managing the land through techniques including burning.

Garden Interpreter Etta with Aboriginal cultural artifacts

Garden Interpreter Etta with Aboriginal cultural artifacts

The Fellows would like to thank Kim Ellis, Executive Director of Botanic Gardens and Centennial Parklands, Jimmy Turner, Director of Horticultural Management at RGB Sydney, Paul Nicholson of RBG Sydney, John Siemon, Curator Manager of Australian Botanic Garden Mt. Annan, and Rebecca Anderson, Visitor Experience Manager at ABG for their time and a great discussion.

Vita Nova: A Farm to Table Arrangement

“Vita Nova” in Latin means “new life,” and that is exactly what Longwood Graduate Fellows bring to the Vita Nova restaurant each Monday morning. As a way to connect with the greater University of Delaware community, Fellows bring fresh flowers and cuttings from the University of Delaware Botanic Garden to this fine dining restaurant located on north campus.

Tracy Qiu with flowers for you

Tracy Qiu with flowers for you

Vita Nova is run by students in the University’s Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Management program and provides hands-on experience they will use in their careers. The flowers are arranged by the students and used to decorate the tables for the week.

Winter arrangements Winter arrangements utilize greens, dried flowers, and seasonal berries

Winter arrangements Winter arrangements utilize greens, dried flowers, and seasonal berries

The University of Delaware Botanic Gardens is a research center, laboratory, and living classroom for the students and visitors that enjoy its beautiful 15 acres. The gardens have more than 3,000 species and cultivars of perennials, shrubs, and trees. Picking flowers or other greens in the garden is strictly not allowed, but the Fellows have special permission to harvest plant material for Vita Nova.

The University of Delaware Botanic Gardens is a research center, laboratory, and living classroom for the students and visitors that enjoy its beautiful 15 acres. The gardens have more than 3,000 species and cultivars of perennials, shrubs, and trees. Picking flowers or other greens in the garden is strictly not allowed, but the Fellows have special permission to harvest plant material for Vita Nova.

Felco pruners in action

Felco pruners in action

For some Fellows, long trained not to pick the flowers in a botanical garden, it can feel a little naughty to be let loose with a pair of pruners in the garden!

Fellows enjoy the chance to get outside and see what is in bloom, as well as to support Vita Nova and their delicious and educational mission. You can connect with Vita Nova on Facebook, and check out their dramatic and excellently produced new video on their blog.

Adkins Arboretum, a Welcoming Landscape

 

Native Joe Pye Weed attracts pollinators

Native Joe Pye Weed attracts pollinators

The first year Fellows piled into the mini-van and headed south to Adkins Arboretum for the last of our summer field trips. This 400-acre arboretum on Maryland’s Eastern Shore is a model for land stewardship and interpretation.

The gracious Ginna Tiernan, Acting Executive Director, Joanne Healey, Nursery Manager, and Will Cook, Board President, ushered us into the light-filled visitor center. From the Arboretum’s open gate policy for dogs to the locally roasted coffee available to visitors, the Arboretum has many small touches that make the guest feel considered and taken care of. The excellent graphics and signage are key to the visitor experience.

Bug spray on offer before heading out to the garden

Bug spray offered before heading out to the garden

Goat signage

Goat signage

Knowledgeable and engaging docent volunteer Margan Glover led a tour of some of the main paths. The Fellows learned about Adkins’ history, native species, and research efforts. Along the way, blue bricks marked the installations of the art exhibit, “Unnatural Nature.” The pieces are created with materials found on site by environmental artists Howard and Mary McCoy. These subtle works create a new and interesting way for visitors to engage with the space.

The presence of multi stemmed trees like this one indicate that a landscape was once clear cut

The presence of multi-stemmed trees like this one indicate that a landscape was once clear cut

Adkins has an excellent array of educational programming, including volunteer-led docent tours, environmental education for schools, and adult education classes. The Arboretum, which is located just off of the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway, also offers a well crafted and unique audiotour that explores the connections between nature and the Underground Railroad.

The map and audio guide to “A Journey Begins”

The map and audio guide to “A Journey Begins”

The Fellows toured the Arboretum’s nursery facilities, the children’s garden and, of course, paid a visit to the Adkins goats. The goats first came as employees, hired from the company Eco-Goats to clear brush and invasives from the property. One of the visiting goats was pregnant with triplets and was unable to care for the third kid. A gardener adopted the baby and over the years other goats have been added.

A Fellow meets a Goat. A Goat meets a Fellow.

A Fellow (Stephanie Kuniholm) meets a Goat. A Goat meets a Fellow.

Many thanks to the staff and volunteers at Adkins for a wonderful tour of a unique and inspiring place!

A Sunny Day in Haverford

Haverford College Arboretum Director Bill Astifan

Haverford College Arboretum Director Bill Astifan

Hello! This is the first official blog post from the Class of 2017. You can check out our bios and see our shining visages here. We look forward to connecting with lots of new people and institutions in the world of public horticulture over the next two years.

As a part of our summer orientation, we will be visiting a variety of public gardens and sharing our experiences with you. Our first trip was to Haverford College Arboretum. It was a glorious sunny day to walk around the 182 year-old university arboretum–the country’s oldest. Our tour guide was Director Bill Astifan.

Bill’s encyclopedic knowledge of the grounds and trees was impressive, to say the least. As we walked through the beautiful 200-acre arboretum, Bill shared the history of the landscape and buildings, and seemed to know the history of each and every one of the 3,000 labeled trees on campus. This gorgeous campus is maintained with three full-time horticulturists who have one full-time student worker in the summer and 8 to 10 students part-time during the school year.

At the heart of the Arboretum’s mission is educating and connecting with Haverford’s student body. In addition to the student workers, the Arboretum works with the Environmental Sciences Department and other departments on campus and offers student memberships.

Student farm and arboretum volunteer Megan Wingate

Student farm and Arboretum volunteer Megan Wingate

The level of the arboretum’s involvement with the needs of the student body struck home when Bill pointed out some planters that had been newly installed to help guide a visually impaired student around campus.

wayfinding orange planters

Wayfinding orange planters

We met Martha Van Artsdalen, the Arboretum’s Plant Curator, who discussed some of the many rare and important tree specimens in the Arboretum. They have an impressive collection of conifers in their 18-acre Pinetum. We visited several of the 15 state champion trees, the largest of their kind in the state.

The Fellows standing under the largest Scarlet Oak (Quercus coccinea) in the state of Pennsylvania

The Fellows standing under the largest Scarlet Oak (Quercus coccinea) in the state of Pennsylvania

Another star of the collection was a descendant of the Penn Treaty elm (Ulmus americana). William Penn and the Lenni Lenape Chief Tamanend met in 1682 and pledged a treaty of friendship on the banks of the Delaware River under the shade of a giant elm tree. The Arboretum is dedicated to preserving this living piece of American history and has donated seedlings to local Quaker meetinghouses and other organizations that have requested them.

The Haverford College Arboretum was a beautiful place to spend a morning and an excellent start to the Class of 2017’s summer field trips. Many thanks to Bill and his staff for their hospitality!