Author Archives: Chunying Ling

Day 2 of NAX at Garden in the Woods

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.

Mark Richardson touring us in the garden

Mark Richardson touring us in the garden

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.

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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.

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Explore the nature in the woods

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.

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Later bloom Azelea Rhododendron prunifolium

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.

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Silphium perfoliatum

Curitiba

We started our day in luxury bus fitted for 60 people and headed to Curitiba Botanical Garden with our guide Fabio. He told us a lot of interesting stories about the history of Curitiba. The name of this city is from a native “pine” tree (Araucaria angustifolia) which has a long history and is well represented in this region. Curitiba means ‘here many pine trees’ in the native Tupi language.

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The Curitiba BG has free admission and many visitors come to the garden especially on weekends. The garden includes outdoor natural areas and a greenhouse. They are well maintained by the largest local cosmetic company in cooperation with the local government. They have their logos on the interpretation boards and labels that make a win-win situation for both government and the company.

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In the garden, we saw the beautiful tree that tells the story about how this country got its name. Brazil means “red wood like a hot ember”.  Red was the noble color in the past and they could use the tree to dye fabric a red color. Also some other beautiful blooming trees like monica (Tibouchina) and golden rain tree (Vochysia) are very impressive in this season.
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Behind the garden is the plant museum where we learned some biology and botanical history. The famous Brazilian botanist, Gerdt Hatschbach, made great contributions to the plant world. 180 plants are named after him, and when you see a plant scientific name that includes’ gertii’ or ‘hatschbachii’, it means it was discovered or named by him.
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The sensory garden demonstrates a great way of allowing people to interact with plants. Josh experienced the garden wearing a blindfold. He experienced the plants only by touching or smelling  them. “It is great and wonderful experience,” he said. After that, we went to the native plant garden which displays Brazilian native plants in well designed landscapes and views. It is a powerful encouragement for people to use native plants in their gardens.IMG_0985

After a delicious lunch in the biggest Italian restaurant in Brazil, we started a whirlwind suburban park tour. At one park, we walked around the big loop to the top of hill where we got great view of the city. Looking down rom the Free University of the Environment to the bottom of the woods, we could see that the lake was made as the shape of the state of Parana. The Bosque do Alemão (German woods)leads visitors on a trail that tells the German tale, Hansel and Gretel, for kids.
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The tour ended at the museum of Oscar Niemeyer, which features postmodern design and state-of-the-art engineering. We loved Curitiba, a city that combines historic and modern culture and architecture, a city that values sustainability with great landscapes and a fantastic environment.

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Rio Botanical Garden

Photography by: Longwood Graduate Fellows

Welcomed by the ‘tropical water’, we landed in state capitol Rio de Jeneiro, the third stop of our entire journey. After breakfast at the hotel, the first year fellows headed to the Rio de Janeiro Botanical Garden with  our two chaperones and our new local guide Gerardo. Gerardo (pronounced Herardo) is a transplanted Argentinian who has put deep roots into Rio and is a devoted Brazilian soccer fan. To our surprise, he also loved plants as much we do and he shared his plant knowledge with us during the tour.

DSCN1872In the garden, we met Thais Almeida, a curator who has been working  at the garden for almost 10 years. She  toured us around the garden. Rio BG was founded by King John in 1808 when he was Prince Regent. From Thais we learned that the garden has a collection of both Brazilian native plants and exotic flora from all over the world which include historical collections as well. We saw trees such as mango tree, jack fruits and some others from Asia. The famous palm tree allee along the main road shows the exotic view of the tropical region, some of them have been in the garden for more than a century,  which is quite impressive. This garden is federally funded, but it has some problem with financial development which has negative effect on the collection.

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DSCN1909Greenhouses are important in this area as well, including an orchid house and a bromeliad house. They have native living orchid collection and also species collection in their herbarium where we had a brief tour. They did very good interpretation of orchid with information like the name of orchids, the habitat of orchids and so on. Also, the bromeliad collection is very significant, starting with two pineapple plants in front of the IMAG0263Bremilliario.

After the Botanical Garden, we went to the national forest area which is adjacent with the garden. Covered with tall tress, the shade composed a natural umbrella where people can enjoy the cool air in summer. We ended our tour by stopping at the Chinese Vista, which is a great location to get a view of the city.

Thanks to Gerardo who gave us a great plant tour and shared many wonderful stories of Rio. IMAG0267

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The Amazon (Continued)

Photography: Longwood Graduate Students

With the bell ringing, we got up at 5:30 am and started an morning exploration of Rio Negro rainforest.

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The  mysterious journey of the plants and animal kingdom started along the bank of creek.  Although it  is the rainy season of this year, the water leve of the Negro River still not as high as the previous years which we can tell from the water mark on the tree trunks. Many epiphytic plants, such as philodendron, bromellias and many other ones telling the different life styles of Amazon. The most exciting part is to get the chance seeing cattleya orchid in bloom on the top of 60 feet tree trunk. At the same time, bird watching we saw parrots, toucans,vultures displayed the biodiversity in Amazon rainforest.  Many of these species named with Amazon and that means they only exist in this region. Also, quite a bit tropical features were caught with the more exploration.

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Jungle tour was led by both local guide and translator for 2 hours. We got into the deep heart of rainforest which only has 10% sunlight. All the plants survive in their own special ways in this complex ecosystem. Several native trees such as Makuku, rose wood, Brazilian tree, water vine, ferns, philodendron, heliconias which make us feel like back in the conservatory at Longwood Gardens,  while all the plants here grow in their original ways surrounding by the animal and insects neighbors.

The great experience of rainforest gave us the best lesson of biodiversity which makes everybody think about conservation and preservation a lot more afterward.

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Electronic Recycling Day

Author/Photography: Chunying Ling

With the high speed development of technology, electronics have been generated rapidly, and often just as quickly disposed rather than recycled. In an effort to reduce the College of Agriculture and Natural Resource’s (CANR) environmental impact, Longwood Graduate Program (LGP) Fellows hosted Electronics Recycling Day (ERD) once again on the South Campus of the University of Delaware. The purpose of ERD is to redirect electronic items to recycling facilities rather than the landfill.  

Students, staff and faculty brought their retired, obsolete and broken electronics to Townsend Hall.  “These computers have been sitting in my apartment for years, now they finally got home,” a faculty member of CANR said when he was handing over generations of computers and monitors.

It has only been five months since the LGP hosted the last ERD, but we still collected a significant amount of recyclable electronics. For those items that are still in good working conditions, an adoption section was set aside for any passers-by. Some students took printers, monitors and a laptop, all in working condition.  For the first time, the donated cell phones were sent to a national center for reconditioning and future use by residents of domestic violence shelters.



In total, 4 televisions, 7 DVD/ VHS /beta players, 10 keyboards and mouse, 14 printers, 10 monitors, 2 laptops 7 CPU’s, 2 old tape deck/ 8-track players, 2 microwaves/ toaster ovens, about 10 pounds of batteries, several light bulbs and countless miscellaneous items were collected during the three hour collection period. The LGP Fellows and their Director, Dr. Robert Lyons, transferred all the materials to University General Services for sorting disassembly, and recycling.

Thank you all for utilizing Electronic Recycling Day.  It was a great success!

Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library

July 20, 2012 – Winterthur, DE
(written by Chunying Ling, photographs by Josh Darfler)

Breathing with the fresh air after early morning rain, the Longwood Graduate Program first-year Fellows, with their Director, headed to another garden of the duPont family—Winterthur. Winterthur is Swiss, pronounced ‘Wina-tour’ and is located in Wilmington, Delaware and was founded by Henry Francis du Pont.

We felt so warmly welcomed at the visitor center by our special tour guides Chris Strand and Linda Eirhart. Chris, the Director of gardens and estate, has worked here for six years and Linda, the curator of plants, has worked there for 25 years. Standing at the patio of the visitor center, which is also the garden pavilion, Chris pointed at the meadow and field far away and told us that no buildings were built in that area, so visitors still can enjoy the wide and open views. From their brief introduction, we learned that Winterthur is the premier museum of American decorative arts, reflecting both early America and the du Pont family’s life there.

The garden tour started with an old greenhouse that was under construction.  Classes and workshops will be held in the spacious classroom, especially for people who love flowers and flower arranging. On the opposite side was the vegetable garden, which produces many greens and other vegetables, like tomatoes and beans. They are family gardens for both parents and children to learn how to grow vegetables. Winterthur believes that children need to experience working and harvesting and sometimes failure is good teacher through the progress of growing up.

Passing by the vegetable garden, Linda stopped by the peony garden and told us these flowers were used for cut flower production in spring. A wide selection of different colors and varieties of flower shapes in more than 600 cultivars were displayed both in the upper and lower peony garden.  Tree peonies, native to China, were a candidate for China’s National Flower, competing with Chinese plum. What is the American national flower, we asked ourselves? We started a discussion of state flowers, trees and birds. Peach blossom is the state flower of Delaware and the state tree is American holly. “Rose is the U.S. national flower,” Laurie finally got the answer from her smart phone.

Enjoying the bright greens, we walked through the Azalea Woods. The flowers were gone with spring but I still have some views with great showy colorful flowers in my mind. Azalea Woods, which looks so natural, was one of my and many other visitors’ favorite parts of Winterthur.  It is hard to believe it’s a “man-made” woods and definitely a highlight of spring must-sees. ‘’You guys should come back next spring,” Linda invited, to which we replied “We will!” Can’t wait for next spring to see them and the March Bank covered with millions of bulbs, such as winter aconites, glory-of-snows, snow-drops, changing color every week.

Turning right to Enchanted Woods, we entered another world, the Children’s  Garden, which was designed with many adorable elements, such as the mushroom mist and the bird nest that the fairy folk created as a magical landscape for children of all ages! Canopied by majestic oak trees, the Enchanted Woods has been taken over by the woodland fairies who live here.  It is transformed into a place of enchantment, mystery, and discovery. From the Tulip Tree House to the Faerie Cottage, children will find a new world to explore. Here we experienced and recalled childhood stories again as “big” children.

Moving onto to the Dove tree (Davidia involucrata), which is located near the Dorrance Gallery and the Reflecting Pool garden, is another highlight of Winterthur. It is more than 108 years old, with five main branches starting at the same stem. “Probably, it was the first one blooming in North America after being introduced here from China,” Chris told us. The white bracts surrounding the flowers create a fantastic experience to stand underneath this tree and look up into its dove or handkerchief-like flowers.

Our field trip ended with the museum tour after lunch.  During the 45 minute tour, we only saw 18 out of the total 300 rooms.  Many silver and china pieces are displayed in the living room and the kitchen.  Such fantastic wallpaper illustrated the way Henry Francis du Pont and his family used to live. More stories about their family and Winterthur will be told through the great museum seasonal tours in the future.

Winterthur, we will come back!