Photographer: Josh Darfler
On NAX day 2, all LGP second year fellows, chaperone Ed Broadbent and program Director Dr. Lyons went to Garden in the Woods, the operation site of New England Wildflower Society (NEWS), which is located in Framingham, MA. With a warm welcome from Mark Richardson, the Director of Horticulture and LGP alumnus, and horticulturists Kristin DeSouza and Nate McCullin, we started a walking tour of the garden. The NEWS was founded in the early 1900s and is the oldest national conservation organization. The NEWS is a living museum and it showcases more than 1,000 flora varieties of indigenous species to New England.
We met with Debbi Edelstein, Executive Director, and Elizabeth Farnsworth, Interim Director of Education. With the interesting and inspiring conversation going on, we learned that what they are doing is really to promote their mission “ to conserve and promote the region’s native plants to ensure healthy, biologically diverse landscapes.” For education, they offer a variety courses in botany and field biology and also a certificate program in Native Plant Studies. Recently, they launched a brand new website tool called “Go Botany” on their website that aims to help people identify plants by using the full identification key to families, genera, and species. With this tool, over 3,000 New England plants can be identified from a non-botanical perspective, which really encourages informal, self-directed education in botany for science students and amateur botanists.
Debbi Edelstein then had a very open conversation with us, ranging from her personal experience on career development, her job as an executive director, how to address a master plan, financial development, and hiring, to name a few topics. Other communications department staff joined us later for with an in-depth discussion on how to remain true to a garden’s mission and how to effectively raise monies.
At 2:30 pm, we met Bill Brumback, the Director of Conservation. He is also an alumnus of LGP from the class 1980, which brought a lot of memories of when he was a fellow. At Garden in the Woods, he has been dedicating his knowledge and effort to plant conservation for more than 30 years. For instance, they run a program called “Plant Conservation Volunteer Program, ” which has been training more than 700 volunteers, many of whom work on plant conservation in up to 6 New England States. The seed banking project is another impressive effort they are working on, with many successful cases of returning endangered and rare plants to their native area.
Later on, we explored the plant palette and natural beauty in the woods while enjoying lovely sunshine and summer breeze. The conversations with all the staff from different departments here will inspire us to think more about the public gardens and the future.