The Sounds of the Season: It’s Christmas at Longwood!

Happy Holidays from the Longwood Graduate Program!

Each year, A Longwood Christmas invites guests to experience a garden transformation like no other. Featuring intricate design, holiday cheer, and horticultural excellence, this year’s theme, The Sounds of the Season, resonates throughout the indoor and outdoor gardens during this musically-inspired display.

This year's theme: The Sounds of the Season

This year’s theme: The Sounds of the Season

As Longwood’s most popular season, thousands flock to the conservatory to take shelter from the cold and marvel at the elaborate sights. If you’ve ever found yourself stopped in your tracks when greeted with an indoor display and wondered, “How on earth did they do that?”, you’re not alone! Thanks to the LGP’s Mentorship Program, which pairs each Fellow with a Longwood staff member, I consulted Jim Sutton, Display Designer and my mentor, on this very question. The short answer: it takes a village, specifically a Longwood village.

As a mentor, Jim understands the importance of highlighting lessons in project management through experiential learning opportunities at Longwood. When it comes to preparing for and installing A Longwood Christmas, the lesson is clear: communication and teamwork. This is exemplified in one of this year’s grandest features, a two-story Christmas tree displayed on the Fern Floor in the Exhibition Hall. Supporting over 1,000 potted poinsettias, orchids, ivies, and ferns, if you look closely you will find it’s not a tree at all! In fact, it is a modular structure designed, constructed, and maintained by numerous teams of Longwood staff.

While Jim and Display Design intern, Greg Schival, produced the concept and drawings for the tree, Longwood’s carpenters and metal shop brought the structure to life, building each section like a puzzle piece able to lock in and come apart. Meticulously crafted with safety in mind, the tree’s base is comprised of wood and rests on the floor. Its top, however, is a separate metal piece suspended from the ceiling and secured through a base within its counterpart. Outfitted with lights and irrigation, Koa Kanamee, Senior Gardener, made sure plants were added in a top-down fashion to preserve a finished look throughout the installation process.

Longwood’s strong culture of teamwork has been bolstered in recent years with another Mentorship Program, one specifically designed to support the Horticulture staff in the Christmas season. Voices and talents from throughout the gardens form a network of committees, collaborating among themselves and with one another, to create the wonder that is A Longwood Christmas without losing site of the nuances that make for an enchanting guest experience.

Make your plan to visit A Longwood Christmas: Sounds of the Season today!

Make your plan to visit A Longwood Christmas: Sounds of the Season today!

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

NAX Day 4: Moore Farms Botanical Garden

Moore Farms Botanical Garden

The Fire Tower Center and Garden greet visitors with warmth and hospitality.

Like a horticultural beacon among a sea of sorghum fields, Moore Farms Botanical Garden draws over 8,000 visitors each year through its whimsical designs, educational programming, and southern hospitality. This “very public private garden” has been a powerhouse of change both within the garden gates and beyond, growing new community initiatives every day. A fairly young garden, the passion and vibrancy of the Moore Farms staff shined through every project, conversation, and tour, providing the Fellows with an unforgettable experience.

Planting Design

Dense, colorful plantings delight visitors and guide them throughout the garden.

Once a landscape of tobacco fields as far as the eye could see, garden founder Darla Moore envisioned Moore Farms Botanical Garden as a place of respite and welcome to all who visited. Indeed, in the spirit of true southern hospitality, staff treated the Fellows to a home-cooked meal Wednesday evening before we even explored the gardens Thursday morning, which were a treat in their own right!

Beginning at the Fire Tower Center, which functions as the hub for garden visitors and education, the Fellows toured through long leaf pine corridors, fire-restoration projects in the Pine Bay garden, a formal garden with seasonal displays, a mature green roof (and wall!), trial gardens, and state-of-the-art green house facilities.

Green Roof

Completed in the winter of 2012, the green roof and living wall is irrigated using recycled water distributed through an overhead system.

At the culmination of their visit, the Fellows climbed the site’s 110’ tall fire tower to get a bird’s eye view of the gardens and see how they function together to provide a multitude of offerings to visitors.

View from Fire Tower

View of Fire Tower Center Garden from atop the garden’s 100′ tall tower.

 

Beyond the garden gates, Moore Farms’ reach extends throughout nearby Lake City, Ms. Moore’s hometown. Her influence and generosity can be seen throughout the community in any number of public landscapes including the Village Green, over 50 containers, and many other pro bono consultation projects completed for local businesses. As a private garden, Moore Farms is able to give back to the community because it directs all monetary returns from events and programs back into other local groups and organizations.

Public Landscapes in Lake City

Horticulture Supervisor Erik Healy discusses the impact of Moore Farms’ public landscapes projects within Lake City.

The Fellows would like to thank the amazing staff at Moore Farms Botanical Garden, especially Education and Events Manager Rebecca Turk, for not only sharing such a special and unique place, but also going above and beyond to provide an incredible guest experience!

Off to Adelaide!

Clear skies on the flight from Melbourne to Adelaide this morning.

Clear skies on the flight from Melbourne to Adelaide this morning.

As the Fellows embark on the final phase of their International Experience in Australia, they bid adieu to the great city of Melbourne and hailed west, greeting their final destination, Adelaide, with open arms.

Though time in Melbourne was brief, it was filled to the brim with educational experiences, new perspectives, and insightful lessons. The Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, comprised of the gardens Melbourne and Cranbourne, are complementary in nature and committed to providing avenues of community engagements at every turn. While Cranbourne gardens focuses on the in-depth interpretation of native plantings and national histories, the gardens in downtown Melbourne showcase a spectrum of collections from around the globe and have both domestic as well as international visitorship. The fascinating conversations that came from both sites proved to be both inspiring and enlightening.

Pedestrian friendly shopping centers offer a sense of vitality in the Central Business District.

A pedestrian-friendly promenade offers a sense of vitality in the Central Business District.

The city of Adelaide is home to approximately 1.3 million people as well as the Botanic Gardens of South Australia, including Adelaide Botanic Garden, Mount Lofty Botanic Garden, and Wittunga Botanic Garden. The Fellows are excited to explore this new city and the vast horticultural knowledge it has to offer.

Blue Mountains Botanic Garden Mount Tomah

IMG_4030

The Fellows with the backdrop of the stunning Blue Mountains

Nestled among the Blue Mountains UNESCO World Heritage site, the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden Mount Tomah masterfully weaves plant textures of the Southern Hemisphere together, capturing the imaginations and hearts of thousands visiting each year. Originally the home of the Brunet family, who produced cut flowers sold in Sydney, the gardens were donated in 1972. Though first opened to the public in 1987, the presence of the basalt capped mountains encouraged plant life to flourish, growing rapidly and offering the appearance of a far more mature and established garden.

IMG_3978

Arranged by geographic origin, dense plantings complement and contrast one another through various texture, scale, and color

The Fellows were fortunate to meet with the garden’s Curator Manager, Greg Bourke, to learn about the garden proper as well as its premiere interpretative display, the Botanists Way Discovery Centre. Completed in recent years, the Discovery Centre provides active and passive educational experiences to an international audience of all ages and walks of life. Synchronized with the garden’s mission statement to connect people with plants through imaginative horticulture, beautiful landscapes, and transformative learning experiences, the shared stories focus on a historic mission to find rare plants in the local uncharted territory. The garden projects a future vision for the continued advancement of this interpretive tool, which may include interactive displays to encourage local community visitors to return again and again.

thumb_DSCN5828_1024

The bog garden’s kaleidoscope of color draws the attention of visitors and is home to a few carnivorous plants

International Experience 2016: Australia

Holiday season is usually filled with hot chocolate, winter coats, and hibernation. But this year the First Year Fellows are packing sunscreen and summer gear in anticipation of their International Experience to Australia in January 2016!

Since July, the Fellows have been researching and developing an itinerary to explore the social impact of Australian gardens in Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide. Longwood Gardens is finalizing a new strategic plan which prioritizes efforts to measure the effect of our education and community engagement programs on the wider world. In support of this, the Fellows will be traveling to Australia to learn how gardens down under are evaluating the short- and long-term impacts of their own programs. The Fellows will be visiting a variety of destinations in Australia, including world class zoos, gardens, and national parks.

The Red Sands Garden of Cranbourne Gardens, a branch of the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria. Photo courtesy of R.Reeve.

The Red Sands Garden is one of the many beautiful features of Cranbourne Gardens Photo courtesy of R.Reeve.

Fellows will be researching specific programs at each organization that focus on community engagement and education. Through tours and meetings with local staff, the Fellows hope to learn more about Australian garden’s efforts to measure the impact of work they do and to build relationships with gardens on the other side of the world.The Fellows will be departing from the United States on January 10th to begin their exciting two-week research expedition through Australia. There will be daily updates of the journey on this blog, so check back here soon!

A Walk in the Shade at Jenkins Arboretum

Sweeps of ferns blanket the ground beneath the mature tree canopy.

Sweeps of ferns blanket the ground beneath the mature tree canopy

Despite its proximity to Valley Forge National Historic Park, the massive King of Prussia Mall, and countless residential developments, Jenkins Arboretum has been a source of respite and cultural value to the surrounding community since 1976.

As soon as the Fellows entered the Arboretum gates, we were swept away from the hustle and bustle of the outside world through an immersive tour with Director of Horticulture and Curator of Plant Collections, Steve Wright.

Steve Wright guided the fellows throughout the Arboretum and gardens.

Steve Wright guided the Fellows throughout the Arboretum and gardens

As we explored the winding paths of the azalea-lined hillside, we were fascinated to learn that the property, left by H. Lawrence Jenkins as a living memorial to his wife, Elisabeth Phillippe Jenkins, began as natural woodland with no formal design. Today, a stunning display of rare and unusual rhododendrons, including Rhododendron macrosepalum ‘Koromo Shikibu’ and Rhododendron periclymenoides, greets visitors daily. The garden is free of charge from sunrise to sunset.

Executive Director Dr. Harold Sweetman guided us through the newest addition to the arboretum, the John J. Willaman Education Center. The Center is a remarkable testament to Jenkins’s commitment to environmental sustainability as well as fiscal responsibility. An advocate of passive education, Dr. Sweetman highlighted the subtle signage of the building, an intentional tool that extends throughout the gardens in support of a less traditional educational experience. Dr. Sweetman explained, “…people come here everyday for all kinds of reasons: to walk with their children, to fall in love, to be in nature. Every time they visit the gardens they have learned something new.”

Not limited to humans, the arboretum is a source of respite for a wealth of insects and pollinators.

Not limited to humans, the Arboretum is a source of respite for a wealth of insects and pollinators.

The Fellows would like to thank Dr. Harold Sweetman, Steve Wright, and the entire Jenkins Arboretum staff for their time and hospitality.