Author Archives: Gary Shanks

Professional Outreach Project 2014: Wyck Historic House, Garden and Farm

The Fellows are hard at work and well on the way to completing a successful Professional Outreach Project (POP) for 2014! Our 2014 POP project is at Wyck Historic House, Garden and Farm located in Germantown in Philadelphia PA. Wyck has a rich Quaker history and was recognized as a National Historic Landmark in 1971. For 250 years Wyck was a working farm and this still continues today, with seasonal produce being sold at a weekly farmers market and at the many festivals that Wyck holds during the summer.

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One of the highlights at Wyck is the historic rose garden, which dates back to the 1820s and contains more than 50 varieties of antique roses. Many of these cultivars were thought to be lost to horticulture until they were rediscovered growing happily at Wyck. Three sides of the property, eac with their own perimeter beds, border the rose garden.  It is the task of the Longwood Graduate Fellows to redesign these beds so that they represent the look and feel of the mid 1820s, and serve as a backdrop, accentuating the rose garden.

Our first task was to visit the American Philosophical Society (APS) in Philadelphia as it holds many of the historical records from Wyck. We discovered plant lists from the 1800s, including many articles detailing flowering bulbs, various fruit trees, and herbs. All of our research helped to inform the new plant palette and design for the perimeter beds, which will be installed at the end of September.

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We will also be providing two benches, which will fit the Quaker style of the garden and house. These will be installed directly in the beds, and will serve as a great resting spot on a hot summers day.

We have recently completed writing a grant to the Stanley Smith Horticultural Trust that included a request for funds for the repair of several of the historic wooden structures at Wyck. The wooden structures are currently being used to house tools and equipment. The grant would also be used for the purchase of new tools and equipment for Wyck. The grant was submitted in mid-August, with an expected decision being made by early December. Until then, we are all keeping our fingers crossed!

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Another component of the project is the development of display labels for the historic rose collection, as well as interpretive signage for the historic rose garden and the perimeter beds. We are working closely with Wyck staff and designers at Longwood Gardens to develop copy and layout for the signs.

Stay tuned to see how our final month progresses, and if you’re in the area, why not pay a visit to Wyck, and come smell the roses.

Co-Creation at UC Davis Arboretum

We arrived at University of California in Davis on a hot and windy day, typical of the summers east of the San Francisco Bay area. UC Davis Arboretum is located in the heart of Davis, which is just west of the city of Sacramento.

A hot, dry day doesn't stop sunflowers!

A hot, dry day doesn’t stop sunflowers!

We were picked up at our hotel by Andrew Fulks, one of the assistant directors, who took us to the garden offices to meet Executive Director Kathleen Socolofsky. Kathleen has steered the Arboretum on a journey from being a private garden to a public institution. She wanted to exceed expectations during this time so her changes took place gradually to insure effective implementation. Kathleen expressed her vision for the garden and the process of co-creation, which encompasses numerous unrelated university staff in the process of garden development. Briefly, this process involves surveys and interviews directed at different sections of the University to determine their views on what the gardens should be, and the niche they should fill on campus.

Co-creation at its most beautiful!

This tile wall showcases co-creation at its best

The Arboretum itself is located in a narrow band of property along the south edge of the campus, and consists of 19 collections and gardens. During a limited time for exploration, this writer managed to see a good part of the Mediterranean Garden, as well as the Carolee Shields White Flower Garden and Gazebo.

Poppies bloom in the Shields White Garden

Poppies bloom in the Shields White Flower Garden

The canal is a prominent feature of the garden.

The canal is a prominent feature of the garden

The Mediterranean Garden borders a large canal, which is a prominent feature of this part of the Arboretum, and contains plants from several Mediterranean regions.

Another interesting project mentioned during our visit is the GATEways project, which serves as a resource for sustainable horticulture. This project involves collaboration among a garden team headed by Kathleen, the assistant Vice Chancellor, and the Campus Planner; all of whom support the larger vision of UC Davis as a visitor-centered destination. Gardens adjacent to specific departments contain elements of that department within the garden, itself.

The outdoor nursery area.

The outdoor nursery area

The Director of GATEways Horticulture and Teaching Gardens, Emily Griswold, then took us to the newly-planted California Native Plant Gateway Garden, which features plants originating from the lower Putah Creek watershed. This site also features a “Shovel Gateway’’ sculpture which was created using 400 old shovels, which make for a remarkable entry way to the University campus. Interpretive signage will educate visitors about the regional flora and fauna of the Putah Creek Watershed and how to create sustainable landscapes with native plants.

The shovel sculpture.

The shovel sculpture

We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to UC Davis, especially the great sense of connectivity between the staff. The Arboretum has a very exciting future ahead and we look forward to visiting again soon.

Blog by Gary Shanks and photography by Sara Helm Wallace

Meet our final two speakers!

We are only a few days away from our 2014 Annual Symposium From Tie-Dye to Wi-Fi: Envisioning the Next Generation of Leadership in Public Horticulture. To build on the excitement, here are the descriptions for two of our esteemed speakers, Dr. Judy Mohraz and Dr. Casey Sclar.

Dr. Judy Mohraz

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Dr. Judy Mohraz

Dr. Judy Mohraz is a Trustee and the President/CEO of Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust, a private foundation in Arizona. Focused on health, education, children, arts and culture, older adults and religious organizations, the Trust invested over $22 million in Greater Phoenix the past year. Previously Dr. Mohraz served as president of Goucher College in Baltimore. She was a presidential appointee to the Board of Visitors of the United States Naval Academy, co-chairing a special committee to review the Academy. She received her Bachelor of Arts and Masters in History from Baylor University and her Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. At the Symposium, Dr. Mohraz will talk about the process of becoming a leader in 21st century cultural organizations.

 

Dr. Casey Sclar

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Dr. Casey Sclar

Appointed in 2012, Dr. Casey Sclar is the Executive Director of the American Public Gardens Association. He and his team support over 520 gardens and their 6000+ allied members located throughout America and in 14 other countries. Collectively these gardens reach over over 70 million people per year and help to realize APGA’s vision – “A world where public gardens are indispensable”. Just prior to APGA, he served 15 years at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA as the Plant Health Care Leader – directing the Soils and Compost, IPM, Land Stewardship, and other sustainability programs. Dr. Sclar holds a B.S. degree in horticulture from California Polytechnic State University, S.L.O., as well as M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in entomology from Colorado State University. In 2011, he received the APGA’s Professional Citation Award for outstanding achievements in public horticulture. Dr. Sclar will address some of the questions and issues with regards to identifying the future leaders in public horticulture.

Once again, if you are unable to attend the Longwood Graduate Symposium in person, you can view the free webcast. We will also be taking the conversation online via Twitter, so be sure to follow us @Longwoodgrad and use #LGPSymp to join the conversation. We hope to see you all at the Symposium!

 

International Experience New Zealand Day 12: Into the wild

Dodging the early morning rain showers, we made our way to Tasman Glacier, which was a 20-minute drive from our hotel. Our intrepid driver, Colin, took us to our destination amid snowy mountains and fast moving rivers. The glacier is fairly large and feeds the Tasman Lake, which is a milky color due to the dissolved mineral content in the water.  After admiring the scenery and native flora, it was time to make our 5-hour journey to the east coast city of Christchurch.

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The drive included snowy mountain views, bright blue lakes, golden meadows and dark green pine forests. Our half way-point was the Astro Café, located at the top of a large grassy hill adjacent to an observatory. The views were spectacular, and really showcased the diverse beauty of New Zealand.

 

IMG_2785We arrived at Christchurch Botanic Garden (CBG) at around 4 pm where we met John Clemens, the Curator of CBG. This Garden has been in existence for 100 years and, interestingly, 2014 will be its 150th anniversary. The age of CBG can clearly be seen by the impressive stature of the fine tree specimens currently thriving there. Unfortunately, several trees were destroyed by the recent earthquakes and by a severe storm last year, however, enough large specimens remain to continue the ambiance of the garden.

IMG_2515A project that sparked my interest was the implementation of a purely Gondwanan Garden that will showcase plants that are relics from a prehistoric era.  One example, the Wollemi pine, was only recently discovered in a canyon in Australia. John seemed to be very passionate about this project, but stipulated that other projects need to be completed first. The CBG has also had to revamp its nursery and office areas, leaving current staff without proper working space – a difficult situation for any organization. These building will be more ‘’earthquake safe’’ than previous structures on the property.IMG_2801

After our brief introduction to Christchurch, we looked forward to more exploration over the next few days.

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International Experience New Zealand Day 6: Traversing Taranki

Sunny skies greeted us as we woke up and made our way to the charming garden of Valda Poletti. Located close to the center of New Plymouth, Te Kainga Marire is comprised purely of plants native to New Zealand and the surrounding islands.

The unusual Collospermum hastatum.

The unusual Collospermum hastatum.

Valdas house surrounded by native flora.

Valdas house surrounded by native flora.

We were surprised to learn that on purchasing the property in 1972, the first thing that Valda did was to design and implement the garden, never mind the house! The property was completely bare apart from some invasive gorse bushes and Valda has turned it into a native wonderland that still flourishes today. Highlights include a luxurious fern walk, a water garden and a dark tunnel, which is said to house glowworms at certain times of the year. Valda prides herself on having some rare native plants and they certainly are unlike anything we have seen in the United States. Two stunning examples are the blue-flowered Colensoa physaloides and the epiphytic Collospermum hastatum.

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Birds are also encouraged in the garden and we were lucky enough to spot a Tui in the trees. This species is found only in New Zealand and until recently was absent from the valley adjacent to Valda’s garden.

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Following our visit to Valda’s sanctuary, we then entered the Garden of Eden in the form of Pukekura Park. Within walking distance from New Plymouth, the Pukekura Park is comprised of native forest areas, botanical collections and open areas dedicated to parks and recreational activities.

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We met with Christopher Connoley who has been the curator of the Park for the past seven years. Pukekura Park was established in 1876, and initially was comprised of Pinus radiata, which, coincidently, is a native of California. Only a few of the pines remain with some examples dating back 150 years. Even more impressive was a native tree estimated to be over 1000 years old. Chris guided us through a portion of the 52 hectares of parkland, while educating us on the collections, as well as park management and community involvement and support.

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Colorful Lobelia hybrids.

Colorful Lobelia hybrids.

An unexpected highlight was the display houses, which contained flowering species from all over the world. Judging by the condition of the potted plants, the daily maintenance is expertly handled by the staff, leaving a lasting impression and a fitting end to the visit.

photos by Kevin Williams and Gary Shanks

Electronic Recycling Day December 2013!

On December 4th the Longwood Graduate Program once again hosted its very successful Electronic Recycling Day (ERD). The Graduate Program holds this event twice annually, and it is the perfect opportunity to get rid of obsolete and unwanted electronic items. Most of the electronic items are recycled or donated, and items that still function were claimed by interested parties.

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 All the cell phones that were collected were sent to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) for their Donate a Phone Program. This organization has been in operation for over 34 years, raising awareness and providing assistance to affected families. The University of Delaware student organization buildOn held a similar event on north campus to help raise money to build a primary school in Nicaragua. The PC’s that we collected went towards this cause.

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Nearly 100 items were collected over three hours and most went directly to recycling through the University of Delaware. We would like to thank all the Graduate Program Fellows who assisted in this event, as well as those individuals who dropped off their electronics; we look forward to a greater ‘’harvest’’ next year.

Moving ahead with POP 2013!

We have all been working hard over the past couple of months and have made good progress at Tyler Arboretum. Here is a brief rundown of our activities:

The first big accomplishment was a certified assessment of all of the Painter trees in the collection. Robert Wells, Associate Director of Arboriculture at the Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania, and a Morris Arboretum Urban Forestry Consultant, performed this assessment. Mr. Wells provided us with expert advice on the maintenance of the Painter trees and their long-term preservation. Most of the trees are in a very good condition, with only a couple needing immediate attention, and a few with minor root damage and or dead wood in the crown.Image 4

To further our efforts to preserve the Painter trees we are starting partnerships with several local individuals and organizations regarding the propagation of the painter trees and the subsequent maintenance of the propagules. We have also updated Minshall Painter’s 1856 list of plants, with modern botanical names and their locations in the Arboretum and put it into an Excel format, for easier use by the Tyler Arboretum staff.

We are finishing up new postcards and rack cards using images from old slides of the Painter arboretum. These cards will raise awareness about Tyler Arboretum as well as funding opportunities for any interested donors.

Currently, we are in the process of redeveloping a Painter Plant Collection brochure highlighting a new route and different viewing areas for the Painter Plants. The map will be stylized according to the existing Tyler Arboretum brochure, and will contain information about the Painter brothers and their living legacy, as well as a look into the future of the collection.

We are also in the process of changing the signage and interpretation pertaining to the Painter Plant Collection. We have proposed the idea of viewing areas with large signboards depicting a group of plants, rather than individual trees, with the addition of interesting facts and anecdotes.

As we move through October, we will continue to work on these projects, wrapping up with a final meeting at the end of the month.

The Scott Arboretum at Swarthmore College

(Photographs by Sara Helm Wallace)

Our last excursion for the summer was to the Scott Arboretum on the grounds of Swarthmore College in Media, PA. Umbrellas in hand, we were warmly greeted by Claire Sawyers, the Arboretum’s Director. While admiring the spectacular tropical container plantings and garden beds, Claire gave us the run down on operations at the campus.

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This could be achieved in your home garden

Established in 1921, Arthur Scott wanted the Arboretum to set an example to local home gardeners and professionals in the horticulture industry. It was the first college campus arboretum with an outreach function in the community. The Director, John Wister, set out the plant collections in a phylogenetic placement, starting with primitive plants laid out along the railwayline, and higher plants gracing the courtyards around campus.  Today the Arboretum prides itself onbeing free and open to the public but maintains the core purpose of setting an example to outside entities.  This is achieved through the use of themed gardens all expertly designed and maintained to the highest degree.

As we left the leafy tropical foliage, Claire paused at a great, yet ailing copper beech (Fagus sylvatica Purpurea Group) tree. With a concerned expression on her face, Claire told us the story of this tree and its projected demise. She explained that Scott Arboretum keeps these giants alive for as long as possible, and that rash decisions in terms of removal are often discouraged. Careful pruning is usually administered, but if a tree has to be removed, then the wood is recycled or used as an art installation in another part of the garden.

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Grasses soften the hard lines of the building beyond in The Nason Garden

Moving on, we entered a space effectively dubbed by students as ‘’the wildlife garden’’ and you certainly do feel that wild animals could approach you at every turn. This, The Nason Garden, is attractively landscaped with grasses, conifers and meadow-like flowers, leading to a lot of contrast and continued seasonal interest. Flagstone is combined with asphalt for some cost savings and toshowcase an innovative and attractive pathway that meanders perfectly through the garden.

As we continued on, Claire highlighted the importance of blending the stark architecture of the buildings with the grace and beauty of the Arboretum and native forest. There are several examples where the forest is brought into the campus through native plantings and where large ground floor windows are used to connect outside areas with inside foyers and passages. In relation to this, excess rainwater is managed through rain gardens and roof installations that collect water in giant cisterns. This water is then used for irrigation or is released intermittently into nearby Crum Creek. This minimizes the effects of flooding and erosion, which was a problem in previous years.

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LGP Director Dr. Robert Lyons, Swarthmore Arboretum Director Claire Sawyers and some of the Longwood Fellows relax in the Pollinator Garden

After exploring a Pollinator Garden, we made our way to the front area of campus known as Parrish Beach. Here we were greeted by a whole group of naked ladies, more tastefully known as Lycoris squamigera. This bulbous species from South America flowers abruptly in late July, without warning and without leaves.

Lycoris squamigera on Parrish Beach

Naked ladies! Lycoris squamigera on Parrish Beach

After lunch we were given a tour of the new greenhouses and the green roofs.  The latter are highly functional and an important part of every environmentally conscious organization. We had some time to wander in the Arboretum, thinking how wonderful it would be if every college campus could take a piece of Swarthmore and make it their own.

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Above: One of the green roofs at Alice Hall. Right: A Sempervivum inflorescence brightens up the roof

 

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