Author Archives: Laurie Metzger

Day 1 of NAX at The Arnold Arboretum

 

(Photography by: Chunying Ling)

Our introduction to the Arnold with Michael Dosmann

Our introduction to the Arnold with Michael Dosmann

We had perfect weather for our first day of NAX at the Arnold Arboretum.  We were greeted upon arrival by Former Fellow and Supervisor of Horticulture, Andrew Gapinski.  A few minutes later we met Michael Dosmann, Curator of Living Collections. Before long, Kyle Port, of Plant Records and Joyce Chery, the Curatorial Fellow joined us. Holding six NAPCC collections (Acer, Carya, Fagus, Stewartia, Tsuga and Syringa) and boasting 15,000 individual accessions, it was clear from the moment we arrived that the Arnold Arboretum is an abundant, dynamic resource..

Tree of Heaven on the path designed for seeing the trees of the world

Tree of Heaven on the path designed for seeing the floras of the world

As the enchanting fragrance of the Katsura tree filled our senses, we listened to the story of America’s first arboretum, established in 1872, at the generous bequest of James Arnold.  A deal was struck between the City of Boston and Harvard University to preserve the Arboretum’s land in perpetuity. Many familiar names are a part of the Arnold’s sensational history, including Liberty Hyde Bailey, J.P. Morgan, Beatrix Farrand and Frederick Law Olmstead. The very path we were walking along was originally designed to allow visitors to “appreciate the floras of the world without even getting out of their carriages…”

Largest Franklinia in the world

Largest Franklinia in the world

 

Although the original mission of the Arnold’s 281 acres was, “…to plant every tree, shrub, vine and herbaceous plant that could grow in Boston…,” the staff has had to make strategic decisions about the collections. To do so, they created a plant Inventory Operations Manual in addition to a Landscape Management plan. (Both are available in their entirety on their website (http://arboretum.harvard.edu/plants/collections-management/.) They have completely digitalized their archive including maps, photographs and correspondence.

 

American Beech predating the Arboretum

American Beech predating the Arboretum

Nestled in the hills are forsythia and roses mixed with incredible tree giants that pre-date the Arboretum. The first Acer griseum ever planted in American soil lives at the Arnold. More recently, the Vine and Shrub garden was redesigned with diagonal beds and galvanized steel arbors. This garden is impressively maintained and manicured by two very bright horticulturists.

 

We spent our lunch with some of the knowledgeable and passionate ladies of the education staff, Daphne Minner, Nancy Sableski and Julie Warsowe. In varying capacities, these ladies design and implement educational programs that serve everyone from the casual visitor to the students in the Boston public schools.

 

The Arnold's secret Bonsai collection

The Arnold’s secret Bonsai collection

Our visit with the Librarian, Lisa Pearson, revealed even more treasures, including a rare book of hand painted botanical drawings.

 

In the afternoon, we met Oren McBee, Manager of the Dana Greenhouses and Nursery. Here plants are methodically propagated and grown from seed. Once mature, they are planted out in the Arboretum.  Oren also gave us a sneak peak at the Arnold’s historic bonsai collection.

 

Our last stop was the new research building at Weld Hill. Bathed in natural light and recycled wood, the building is stunning. Our tour was expedited by Faye Rosin, Director of Research Facilitation.  This peek into the possibilities of plant science research was a fine way to punctuate our whirlwind day at the Arnold Arboretum.  Stay tuned for Day 2 of NAX.

The Arnold's emblem The Dawn Redwood

The Arnold’s emblem The Dawn Redwood

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Second Year = Board Positions

One exciting aspect of being a Longwood Graduate Fellow is that in the second year of the program we are appointed to sit as an observer on the Board of a local institution of horticulture.  I was appointed to the Tyler Arboretum and attended my first Board meeting last week.

Big Tree (Sequoiadendron giganteum) Small girl

One of Tyler’s Treasures   (Sequoiadendron giganteum)

 

A non-profit organization’s Board of Directors (or Board of Trustees in Tyler’s case) has numerous responsibilities. Its purpose can vary depending on the institution, but in most cases the purpose is to provide guidance and oversight.  The responsibilities can include maintaining momentum, approving finances, overseeing fundraising, working in committees and promoting the institution.

I have often wondered what the Board really does and how influential they are. I’ve wondered how the Board members can be effective. Sitting in on my first Board meeting at Tyler seemed like a good way to start my investigation.

The meeting took place near the end of the workday and lasted about an hour and a half.  There were snacks and refreshments since it was a scorcher of a summer day.  A variety of topics were covered, a few things were voted upon, some great news was shared, some questions asked, research assigned, events noted, updates given and then there was a motion to close the meeting.  Pretty standard fare as I understand it, but what I enjoyed the most was seeing the way the Board members interacted with me and with eachother.  As I watched them work through the various issues at hand I noticed a few common threads that seemed to define the individuals.  I noted the following items that seemed like the six ‘must-do’s’ being effective:

  1. You have to be realistic but you have to be fearless
  2. You have to be willing to ask questions when things don’t make sense and ready to celebrate the small victories when they do.
  3. You have to have genuine interest in the institution, yet be able to keep your perspective.
  4. You have to figure out how far a dollar will go without sacrificing your mission or the quality of your work.
  5. You have to be excited by the opportunity to look for and design alternative solutions and when you find them you have to be willing to accept them.
  6. You have to choose the right people and then trust them to do their job.

I look forward to my year observing Tyler’s Board of Trustees and plan to periodically check-in on the LGP blog with the new insights gained about the purpose of Boards and the methods that make them most effective.

 

 

 

 

 

2013 Spring Electronic Recycling Day

Photography by LGP fellows

Friday May 10th, marked the Longwood Graduate Program’s final Electronic Recycling Day (E.R.D.) for the 2012-2013 School year and the final event hosted by the Environmental Impact team for the Class of 2013.

On such a momentous day, it’s only appropriate that every single Fellow, our attentive program secretary, Patty, and our dedicated director, Dr. Bob Lyons, were all present to participate. Even better, we collected more electronics than ever before.
Photo May 10, 11 30 48 AM

We collected more than three truckloads of electronics from the South Campus buildings. These included, televisions, computers, laptops, VCRs, scanners, various appliances, batteries, light bulbs and cellphones just to name a few.

DSC_0004According to eWaste, Inc.  Electronic recycling has many important benefits:

By dismantling and providing reuse possibilities, intact natural resources are conserved and air and water pollution caused by hazardous disposal is avoided. Additionally, recycling reduces the amount of greenhouse gas emissions caused by the manufacturing of new products. It simply makes good sense and is efficient to recycle and to do our part to keep the environment green.

DSC_0015We are so happy to provide this opportunity to lighten the load of our landfills.

In closing, don’t forget to hold onto your old electronics for the next E.R.D (December 2013) and cheers for a productive and fancy free summer season from the Fellows at the Longwood Graduate Program’s Environmental Impact Team.

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Symposium 2013: One Month Away!

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The Fern Floor at the Longwood Gardens Conservatory

Photography: Laurie Metzger

The Longwood Graduate Program’s Annual Symposium, Shifting Landscapes: Cultivating Connections with a Broader Community, is a little less than a month away!  If you are on the fence about attending, let me paint you a picture…

When you arrive at Longwood Gardens Visitor’s Center, you are greeted by the Graduate Students and Longwood’s friendly staff.  Beyond the glass doors, the garden steals your gaze, beckoning you into the crisp early spring morning. This is a special time in the garden.  The fresh air invigorates you.  Just as you begin admiring the spring bulbs, you catch a glimpse of the magnificent conservatory on the hill.

The scent of orchids intermingled with the aroma of fresh brewed coffee lead you to Longwood’s historic ballroom where your day of cultivating connections begins.  You’re surrounded by stunning beauty and thought provoking conversation.

This year’s Symposium boasts fresh perspectives and a delicious menu.  A Bistro style lunch will feature a variety of offerings from soups and salads to risotto cakes and vegetable dumplings.  Fine meats and savory vegetarian options will leave no guest unsatisfied.  Lunch will be held on the elegant Patio of Oranges with lots of opportunity for conversation.

This year’s Symposium will make use of advanced technology forums such as Twitter in addition to recognizable tools like chalk boards to help us creatively answer questions posed by our speakers. The multi-leveled discussion will spark imaginations and generate opportunities for growth in our public gardens.  Interacting with on-line viewers in addition to those in attendance, will allow for collaboration between States and Nations!

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The Flower Walk at Longwood Gardens

The day will finish with optional behind-the-scenes tours of various aspects of Longwood Gardens in addition to an optional, limited seating session with speaker, Louise Chawla.  Finish your day at the Symposium by prolonging your exploration and experience Longwood Gardens: Beyond the Garden Gates.

Please join us on March 15th 2013 for The Longwood Graduate Program’s Annual Symposium.  Shifting Landscapes: Cultivating Connections with a Broader Community. To register, click here. See you there!

 

A day in Sao Paulo

Photography by: Longwood Graduate Fellows

IMG_4494Day two with our guide was a little slow. We started out exploring the natural areas behind the Museum Paulista. They are full of native Brazilian trees and tropical plants along with lots of exercise equipment. What’s different about Brazil compared with the US is that we constantly saw people of all ages utilizing this equipment, doing pull ups and using the leg and running machines. The woods in Sao Paulo, along with the parks and open areas all over Brazil were lively and well used.

We then toured the Museum Paulista, which chronicles Brazil’s Independence. Everything was in Portuguese and our guide was somewhat helpful in explaining the items and translating the interpretation. However we realized on this day specifically the importance of a good guide. A good guide can make or break your opinion of a city and the amount you are able to learn. This made us realize the value in mastering some useful phrases in the language of the country we are visiting before arriving. In our case the guide’s English was not great so sometimes we had a little trouble.

IMG_4500The garden in front is modeled after Versailles and is quite formal with a beautiful choreographed fountain. It is aptly named Independence Park and there is a monument to celebrate independence and also the original emperor. It was interesting to see how they were managing the loss of some of the larger trees by replacing them in the formal allées. In addition we were surprised at the amount of boxwood used in the design.

IMG_0658In the afternoon we visited the central market where we sampled lots of tropical fruit and ate lunch. Some of the best stories from the trip happen whenever we attempt to order food. Sometimes the restaurant has a menu in English which is very helpful to us in ordering. However, most of the time the waiter cannot read the English menu so we still have trouble ordering the correct item. All in all that part has been an entertaining learning experience.

That evening we flew to Curitiba. The hotel was old fashioned but the people working there were fantastic! Helpful and friendly, they carried our bags for us, were really appreciative of our smiles and attempts at Portuguese and helped us to order a vegetarian pizza. The pizza arrived with peas, corn, hearts of palm and oregano,…oh and no sauce. It was interesting compared with our vegetarian pizzas in the states but it was delicious. It was quite late and were off to bed.

 

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Inhotim

Photography by: Longwood Graduate Fellows

Our day began with an early pick up at the hotel by our very personable tour guide Luciana. On the drive to Inhotim she told us about Belo Horizonte’s history and helped us with some Portuguese words and pronunciation. Inhotim is located about an hour outside Belo Horizonte in the state of Minas Gerais. Well known for the mining of precious metals,specifically gold and iron ore, Minas Gerais is also known for the mining of gems like topaz, amethysts, aquamarines, emeralds and diamonds. Along the way we observed mango trees galore, a million Mimosa-looking species, flowering in every color of the rainbow, plus plumeria, mandevilla and an abundant amount of graffiti, not just in Belo Horizonte but all over BraziI’s cities. Belo Horizonte and its outlying areas are quite hilly which made for an interesting ride in a stick shift van with 8 people on a small road with 42 speed bumps.

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I think it’s fair to say that Inhotim took our breath away the minute we arrived. The visitor’s center was like an open air flower festival with fresh stunning arrangements around every corner. A large iridescent cobalt blue butterfly floated by on the breeze as we took a group photo and basked in the seventy-something degree air while we awaited our meeting with Leticia Aguiar, Botanical garden and Environmental Manager. Leticia spent a lot of time with us. She described a relatively new botanic garden (officially only two and a half years old) led by a visionary man who intends to create and promote a contemporary style of living. A garden in a community connected with art, the environment, and people. She told us about their comprehensive ongoing sustainability efforts, many adult and Children’s education programs, and an exciting tree rescue mission just to start. Her presentation about Inhotim’s philosophy reminded us a lot of Longwood’s mission, vision and values.

DSC_0366DSC_0412IMG_4208The garden itself was vast and sweeping- perfectly manicured-down to the valleys and up the mountains with art galleries and pavilions connecting each garden together. We only had time for a few of the galleries. The contemporary art was created specifically for Inhotim. Beautiful or thought provoking each pavilion inspires one back out to the gardens. We enjoyed a delicious lunch at one of Inhotim’s restaurants in the typical Brazillian buffet style. After a special tour around the production facilities, we had to get on the road to the airport. Sadly, we didn’t see everything Inhotim had to offer that day and so it was difficult to tear ourselves away. It was an inspirational visit however and we are excited about the great work being done and the opportunities forged for future connections as a result of our visit.

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A few hours later we boarded the flight to Rio de Janeiro. Emerging from the clouds we found ourselves flying down to a beautiful jewel of a city. Nestled between lagoons and mountains, surrounded by boats and ferries, the city lights were just turning on. It was dusk and Rio looked like a piece of diamond jewelry- twinkling and shimmering in the sunset. Islands dotted the harbor, rainforest sprung up between the buildings and the iconic statue of Christ the Redeemer stood above the water welcoming us.

Brazil Blog Day 1 & 2

Photography: Longwood Graduate Fellows

IMG_3862Early Tuesday January 8, the first year Longwood Graduates and chaperones, David and Lori, kicked off our long awaited trip to Brazil.  After meeting at the airport in Miami, we flew, without a hitch, to Manaus, Amazones, Brazil.

After breezing through customs, we collected our luggage (luckily nothing was lost.) A wonderful Brazilian man named Alex was waiting for us. As he gave us a quick tour of Manaus, he told us about our agenda for the following day and delivered us to our hotel, the Go Inn.  We reminded each other to use bottled water for teeth brushing, had a short meeting and were off to sleep.

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It’s fair to say that until I arrived in Manaus, I never knew humidity. It wasn’t particularly hot, only 80 degrees, but the air stuck to us like dew on the morning lawn.  Immediately we were awestruck by the impressive humidity and the friendly people.

IMG_3967 IMG_3918 The next morning, we tried various juices of the region…Acerola, described by one Fellow as “mystery citrus deliciousness,” Maracuja (Passion Fruit) “tart and tropical” and Cupaucu with a “Limey Pear” flavor.  We admired Manaus’s varying architecture and walked around the famous, Teatro Amazones, where we were able to hear the Symphony rehearsing for the evening’s concert.  Before noon we visited many notable parks and public spaces that featured the influence of famed Brazilian landscape architect, Roberto Burle Marx.

That night we spent our first of three evenings on the Amazon Clipper, with our guides Hugo and Sardes. (Who have already helped us with a lot of tree and bird i.d.)  As we set sail, the air was so humid it began condensing into raindrops but a few minutes later a rainbow appeared. We enjoyed our first dinner on the boat and then went for a night cruise around the Rio Negro in small canoes to scout kamens, night hawks and frogs.  Along the way the stars came out. I mean hundreds and millions of twinkling, sparkling gems, so close together, one could hardly identify the constellations.  There was so much to see that we couldn’t look away. For the first time ever, we saw Orion’s bow and all at once we witnessed a falling star. The true meaning of “infinite” started to glimmer for each of us. As a result, I’ve started to believe that diamonds are just the earth’s attempt at mimicking the heavens.

Enjoy the photos—stay tuned for our adventures on day 3 and 4!

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A Trip to Cornell

Photography: Longwood Graduate Fellows

At the peak of fall color in mid-October, all ten Longwood Graduate Fellows and our Director, Dr. Lyons, journeyed to Ithaca, New York for a field trip to Cornell Plantations. Before sunrise on the first day, we set out from Townsend Hall.

Cornell Plantations at Cornell University offers a Master’s Degree of Professional Studies in Public Garden Leadership not unlike Longwood Gardens and the University of Delaware’s Master’s of Science in Public Horticulture. Cornell’s program has four Fellows (two a year,) University of Delaware’s program has ten (five per year.) Both programs focus on leadership in public horticulture. The trip provided a wonderful opportunity for all of us to connect.

Director Don Rakow and the Cornell students planned an interesting, personalized two-day excursion. Upon arrival we enjoyed lunch and introductions. We met with various members of the Plantations staff to discuss interpretation and new signage and then participated in a small project with the Youth and Education staff. Later, we embarked on our tour of the Botanic Garden and the Arboretum. Many beautiful views, vantage points and photo ops ensued.

Day two started in a downpour. Undeterred, we walked Cornell’s picturesque campus to find our lecture hall. Professor Mike Hostetler, whose main research and teaching interests are in strategy, decision-making, leadership, and high performance, generously led us in a leadership workshop. The discussion centered on an article by John Kotter called, What Leaders Really Do. We discussed the differences between management and leadership, the importance of both and how to cultivate them. The topics were stimulating and insightful and I think I can speak for all when I say that we didn’t want the session to end.

The rain cleared, giving way to blue skies and glistening colorful foliage. Venturing into one of the many Plant Science buildings, we enjoyed a delightful lunch arranged by the Cornell Fellows. After that we visited the Hortorium and learned a bit of Cornell history. We toured the natural lands for an in depth view of deer destruction, the current methods of mitigating the problem and a grim prediction for the future of our forests if we don’t do something soon! We enjoyed an interesting late afternoon hike of Park Park with Botanist, Robert Wesley. Park Park boasts Sugar Maples, Black Maples and Eastern Hemlock that are hundreds of years old. Our final stop was the Ithaca Children’s Garden, where we met with Director and former Cornell Graduate Fellow, Erin Marteal. Ithaca Children’s garden is doing wonderfully innovative work engaging children of all ages.

We finished our trip with a delicious dinner at the Boathouse Restaurant. Armed with photographs, new friendships and new knowledge for career connections we departed, leaving behind an invite to the Cornell Fellows for a visit us at UD and Longwood gardens next year!

First year Fellows visit Chanticleer

(written by Laurie Metzger, photographs by Chunying Ling)

It was a sunny, sometimes cloudy– typically capricious Autumn day in Eastern PA when we made a visit to Chanticleer. A seeming anomaly in a region dominated by DuPont estates turned public gardens, Chanticleer is the estate of the Rosengarten family, of pharmaceutical fame. Named after an estate in Thackeray’s novel The Newcomes, Chanticleer was originally the family’s summer home.  They spent a pretty penny readying the house to become their full time residence. The name consequently came from a line in from the novel, “mortgaged to the very castle windows but still the show of the county.” In addition the family played on the fact that Chanticleer is the name of the Rooster from the Nun’s Priest Tale in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.  Over time, the rooster became a kind of mascot for the estate.

Chanticleer’s website explains that “everything is carefully orchestrated…” in the garden. This truly describes the enchanting impression that Chanticleer left with us.  I would add to it, “thoughtfully, with love and appreciation.” The ambiance at Chanticleer is like being in the presence of a person who celebrates each tiny detail of life’s rhythm, the vast variety of beauty in plants, and the special qualities that make people individuals.  The stories of the landscape, of the family, and of each structure, inspires awe wrapped in a feeling of affection. Creativity abounds.  Beautiful patterns are revealed in furniture, banisters and container gardens. No pattern is repeated yet everything fits.  In this way, Chanticleer is like walking in a tangible dream.

The garden design seamlessly mixes old and new.  This allows guests to imagine they had walked into another time, but still feel right at home. Chanticleer aims to be ‘a pleasure garden.’ Forgoing plant labels for plant lists hidden in beautiful boxes, each one is creatively constructed by one of Chanticleer’s staff.  One gets the feeling that the Horticultural staff members are like elves, displaying their secret talent for detail as metal artisans, master wood workers and florists all over the 37 acre garden.

The first frost was predicted for the evening of our visit, so the staff was hard at the more practical work of covering, moving and preserving the plants in the outdoor tropical displays.  We were gifted with a special tour by Chanticleer’s director, Bill Thomas.  He wove the story of Chanticleer, revealing a philosophy of generous freedom and trust in his staff.  In addition, working at Chanticleer sounds delectably creative and full of opportunities to grow.  Each member of the staff is encouraged to “take their time,” knowing they are a part of “the important garden experience.”   Chanticleer believes in doing a job well to start because it will last longer in the end.

The garden shed mimics a carriage house and has always stood that way.  The vegetable garden is filled with charming cultivars, especially the hardy Kiwi—a juicy snack for an observant, hungry passer by.  A restroom facility was recently built in the Asian Woods (the point furthest from the entrance.) Designed to look like a Japanese Tea house it’s humorously and unofficially called the “Pee House.”  Featuring stonework and artwork by staff and friends, this project gives opportunity to artist, horticulturist and facilities manager alike.

Chanticleer is lovely from start to finish, magnificent, splendid, special and not unlike Chaucer’s description of the Rooster…

 …There was not his equal in all the land. His voice was merrier than the merry organ that plays in church, and his crowing from his resting place was more trustworthy than a clock. His comb was redder than fine coral and turreted like a castle wall, his bill was black and shone like a jet, and his legs and toes were like azure. His nails were whiter than the lily and his feathers were like burnished gold.

-The Nun’s Priest Tale, Canterbury Tales

 

Hagley Museum and Library

August 10, 2012 – Hagley Museum and Library, DE
(written by Laurie Metzger, photographs by Lindsey K. Kerr)

It was a rainy morning as we prepared to visit the Hagley Museum and Library. Being a 253 acre museum, with extensive grounds, gardens and mills, we were a bit nervous that the rain would put a damper on our visit. Nevertheless, we made our way through the Delaware countryside to Wilmington.

Upon arrival, Geoff Halfpenny, Executive Director, and Mike Wilson, Interpreter, greeted us cheerfully. Fortunately, the rain lessened and we began our journey back in time to the birthplace of the du Pont fortune and legacy.

Hagley was originally the home of E.I. du Pont. Having mastered the French techniques for manufacturing black powder before he immigrated to America, E.I. chose to settle on the banks of the Brandywine Creek, where he could take advantage of the power afforded by the Creek’s fast running currents.

The first stop on our tour was the restored 1870’s machine shop. Here we observed a demonstration by Stephen DeVeber. This was a wonderfully rare opportunity to see 100 year-old machines still accurately cutting steel. While Steve demonstrated this art, he spoke to us about the Dupont company and what powder mill life was like. We learned that a machinist was the highest paid worker at the mill and made between 10 and 20 cents per hour, working six days per week. Mill workers received two paid holidays (Independence Day and Christmas Day).

Back outside we were rejoined by Steve and introduced to Richard Larkin, the staff horticulturist. Both men toured us through the magnificent gardens as they discussed the recent renovation and restoration that have occurred over the past decade. Since reopening in 2008 the garden only welcomes about 12,000 guests a year since tours are given only three times a day and have a maximum of 48 people each. This allows guests to have a much more intimate experience while touring around the gardens, at times feeling the gardens are their own.

Avoiding puddles, we made our way to the mills along the Creek’s edge. The milling apparatus is made of cast iron, weighs 20 tons and is powered by the harnessed force of the Brandywine. Tom Stack showed us the explosive nature of the powder, warning us about the danger of a mill job. Sadly, if a worker was standing on the mill deck when an explosion occurred, the Dupont company was forced to tell the family that their relative had “gone across the creek” (and never to return).

As great proponents of education, du Pont built a school on the Hagley property for the workers and their families. The phrase “Sunday School” refers the fact that the people worked six days a week and went to school on Sunday. The schoolhouse has been restored to its original purpose. Angela Williamson, Volunteer Coordinator and a former Longwood Fellow, toured us through the vegetable garden and the school while discussing Hagley’s volunteer needs and challenges.

In the afternoon, the rain finally tapered off and the sun came out. We were introduced to the Horticulture staff and taken inside the mansion, the estate garden, and the greenhouses. We learned about Hagley’s tree collection and inventory, whereby the most exciting was the Osage Orange tree, co-champion on the National Register of Big Trees.

Hagley is a wonderfully intriguing place. We could not have been more impressed with the staff or its history. We are looking forward to going back to learn more about this important American family’s legacy.