Author Archives: Longwood Graduate Program

A Coastal Experience

Author: Robert Lyons, Director of the LGP
Photography: Lindsey Kerr and Laurie Metzger

The last leg of our North American Experience journey took us 3.5 hours north of Boston to the charming town of Boothbay Harbor, Maine.  To get there, our primary route out of Boston’s twisted and contorted system of complex intersections and rotaries was a familiar I-95.  Upon our arrival, we checked into the Tugboat Inn, a slightly enigmatic hotel that echoed into the evening with the voices of seasoned, anonymous lounge singers.

After a welcomed night sleep, we boarded the van on a glorious morning saturated by bright sun, clear blue skies, and crisp temperatures that beckoned a sweatshirt or long sleeves.  Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens (CMBG) was our destination and none of us had ever visited, making this destination greatly anticipated.  Upon our arrival, we met up with Executive Director Bill Cullina, who escorted us through their “net zero” LEEDDSC_0299 certified administration and education building.  Fascinating! We ended up in the conference room where Bill and his entourage of key staff introduced us to CMBG’s history, mission, current operations, and future plans. Their property is beautiful, and ironically became available for purchase when a developer abandoned plans for a subdivision and sold the 128 acres to the founders of what was to become CMBG. Today there are 298 total acres, 8000 members, 100,000 visitors/year, 31 permanent employees, 800 volunteers, and an annual operating budget of  $3.2 million.  While open year round, there is an entry fee from April 15 – October, with the remaining months free.

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We couldn’t wait to get outside and Bill readily obliged.  A quick pass through a recently renovated and bustling visitor center led us to the Burpee Kitchen Garden, which was DSC_0302cleverly integrated into the restaurant’s al fresco dining area.  What a concept…many of the same plants that were harvested for the menu grew within arm’s reach.  We were joined by Rodney Eason, former Longwood employee and now Director of Horticulture for CMBG. He and Bill guided us in tag team style through the green spaces and internal pathways, all bordered by artfully designed beds rampant with color or brushed with the diverse green shades of Maine’s natural vegetation. Our tour soon exited the cultivated spaces, including what we all determined was an ingenious approach to a children’s garden, and we found ourselves within a completely forested region dominated by conifers.  We were indeed close to the IMG_0524water and Bill was excited to show us the coastline.  We lingered there to catch our breath and take a group photograph before heading back to conclude our visit.Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens lived up to all the pre-visit hype and landed on our own wish list of places to see again as soon as we can!

 

 

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Juniper Level Botanical Garden at Plant Delights Nursery

August 23, 2012 – Plants Delights Nursery, NC
(written by Dottie Miles, photographs by Quill Teal-Sullivan)

Hidden within a hedge of ‘Nellie Stevens’ holly and other “spiny” plant material, Plant Delights Nursery at Juniper Level Botanic Gardens is an eclectic collection of diverse plants gathered from near and far.  Passionate founder, Tony Avent, describes it as a research and botanical garden funded by a plant nursery operation with a mission, “to discover, study, select, preserve, and make available new hardy perennial plants for both shade gardens and sun gardens around the world.”

Our host, Tony Avent

Looking for non-invasive plants that can be hardy in the North Carolina climate, Avent is the mythbuster of horticulture, noting, “where you find it in the wild is not necessarily where it grows best.”  The garden is a testament to his pursuit to learn more about his collection, as he designs planting beds for both pleasure and research.

Martin examining a South African species

Within his garden, Avent has built an organic series of trails inviting one to wander, immerse and delight in the unique collection.  Containing whimsical garden elements and a smart irrigation and filtration system, the collection and juxtaposition ofplantings is astounding. Avent explains, “you don’t learn something new by duplicating what you already know,” and then goes on to highlight an experience of plant discovery that challenges known research and historical data.

Rain Lillies

To date, his collection has massed to 19,836 accessions that have been assembled through plant exploration in the U.S. and abroad. Avent and his associates have been on more than 70 collection trips during which they gathered over 1000 different ferns, the largest Aspidistra collection worldwide, an Amorphophallus collection that is the third largest in the country, rain lilies, agave, trillium, and the list goes on.

Beautiful agaves

To further plant propagation and research efforts, Avent has recently acquired neighboring land to expand operations; he anticipates opening to the public 7 days a week in the next few years.  Until then, Juniper Level Botanic Gardens is open eight weekends a year.

Cactus bloom

All in all, Avent may just be the most unique part of his eclectic garden.  To those who know him and his passion for plants, it should come to no surprise that he seems to find extreme enjoyment in sharing his garden with others.  The knowledge and insight he shared about his collection was a special treat and we all walked away wanting more than one of his plants.

Group shot with Tony Avent

Thank you to our Sponsors

The Longwood Graduate Program Symposium is fast approaching. The Fellows have been working hard to ensure the success of the event. However, none of that success comes without the support of our Symposium Sponsors. Each year, one Fellow takes the lead in raising funds to cover Symposium costs. This year, each Fellow had the opportunity to join Raakel Toppila in sponsorship meetings in which the Fellows learned, through experience, what it takes to cultivate donor relations. Like years before, public horticulture institutions and businesses near and far came forth with immense support for the Program and the Symposium. Nineteen organizations contributed funds and/or in-kind donations to the Symposium. We are forever grateful for their continued support of the Longwood Graduate Program.

Another aspect of our fundraising efforts involved a Former Fellow Campaign in which we reached out to graduates of the Longwood Graduate Program to support our efforts. Eleven Former Fellows contributed this year, in addition to former Program director, Dr. Jim Swasey.

On behalf of all the current Fellows and Dr. Lyons …THANK YOU.

This year’s Symposium Sponsors:

Speaker Sponsors

American Public Gardens Association
Chanticleer
Parvis Family Endowment

Golden Larch Sponsors

Color Advantage Photography
Hilton Garden Inn Kennett Square
Mt. Cuba Center
Nemours Mansion & Gardens
University of Delaware Department of Plant and Soil Sciences

Silver Linden Sponsors

Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve
Center for Public Horticulture
Tyler Arboretum
Welkinweir

Copper Beech Sponsors

Adkins Arboretum
Garden Club of Wilmington
Philadelphia Parks & Recreation
Lark Label
Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania
University of Delaware Botanic Gardens
Debra L. Rogers and Paul W. Meyer, Former Longwood Graduate Fellow, Class of 1977

Bronze Fennel Sponsors

Botanic Gardens Conservation International, U.S.
Dr. Jim Swasey, Former Program Director

Former Fellows
Jim Swasey, Former Program Director
Kathryn and Gary Gerlach, Class of 1969
Richard Brown, Class of 1970
Colvin Randall, Class of 1975
Jane Pepper, Class of 1978
Claire Sawyers, Class of 1983
Nancy Bechtol, Class of 1984
Erich Rudyj, Class of 1988
Patrick Larkin, Class of 1995
William Lefevre, Class of 1999
Matthew Quirey, Class of 2009

Mt. Gede-Pangrango National Park

(written by Tom Brightman, photographs by Martin Smit and Tom Brightman)

Today was a study in contrasts—between the stark reminders of the burgeoning Indonesian population (now 14 million strong in the Jakarta area), the steep slope deforestation for tea plantations, and the lush beauty and biodiversity of the sub-montane rainforest on the slopes of volcanic Mount Pangrango.

Tea plantations

Our driver skillfully maneuvered us up the narrow, serpentine, lorry and motorbike-choked road from the city of Bogor, through a profusion of roadside vegetable and fruit stands (life is not complete without enjoying the sweet and sour nirvana of a fresh-picked mangosteen) and satay purveyors. We drove past the lower slopes of Mount Pangrango that are covered in thousands of hectares of tea plantations, orderly and lovely, but devoid of their virgin rainforest cover.  As we approached the Cibodas Botanic Garden, our point of embarkation for our rainforest trek, both sides of the road were filled with small, local plant nurseries boasting healthy inventories of every tropical plant imaginable.  We met Eka Iskandar, a researcher from Cibodas, who turned us over to our guide for the hike, Ken.

Typical fruit stand

Gede Pangrango Park consists of a landscape dominated by twin volcanoes: Mt. Gede at 9,704 ft above sea level and Mt. Pangrango topping out at 9,904 ft. above sea level.  The mountains’ slopes are very steep and are cut into by rapidly flowing streams that carve long ridges and deep valleys.  To quote the official park guide, “Pangrango evokes esthetic feelings of what a graceful volcanic cone should look like and, reflecting its tranquil appearance, is classed as extinct.  On the other hand, Gede is a very active volcano. Currently deceptively quiet, viewed over time Mt. Gede is one of the most active volcanoes on the island of Java.”  Given the recent earthquake activity in Indonesia, we were glad that both were quiet this day!

Mushrooms

Our hike took us on a steep, rocky trail through thick sub-montane rainforest to our destination of the Cibeureum waterfall. Not one, but three waterfalls are formed by the confluence of the Cibeureum, Cidendeng, and Cikundel rivers.  At over 90 feet tall, the falls crash into the lush surroundings, thrusting a cool mist into the forest below.

Cibeureum waterfall

The forest is full of plants competing for light. The large canopy trees host their own ecology of ferns, orchids, and climbing vines and provide a home to Ebony leaf monkeys, false cajoles lizards (pictured), and many spectacularly gilded butterflies.  Plants of note included Rattan (Plectomia elongate), Arisaema filiforme, and numerous orchids.

Tree fern covered in moss and epiphytes

This level of biodiversity has not gone unnoticed.  The park is one of seven World Biosphere Reserves in Indonesia, as designated by UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere program.  Although just a remnant of the large rainforests that once dominated this part of the world, the Gede-Pandrango forest is impressive nonetheless.

False cajoles lizard

LGP Symposium: Speakers you won’t want to miss!

By now, you’ve hopefully heard about the 2012 Longwood Graduate Symposium, which is quickly approaching. Held on Friday, March 2nd at Longwood Gardens,  “The Panda and the Public Garden: Reimagining our Conservation Story” is sure to shed new light on how public gardens (and zoos, aquarium, parks, and museums!) can inspire their audiences to advocate for conservation issues.

Our keynote speaker, Jerry Borin, served as the executive director of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium for sixteen years. During his tenure, Mr. Borin transformed nearly every aspect of the zoo, galvanized community support for global conservation issues, and cultivated a complete visitor experience. The keynote address will examine how zoos have developed into centers for wildlife conservation through international collaboration, effective messaging, and experiential display.

Dr. Alistair Griffiths will be arriving from the Eden Project in Cornwall, UK, to analyze creating a public garden around an environmentalism message. Dr. Griffiths is the Horticultural Science Curator at the Eden Project, and will use the case study of commercializing a critically endangered impatiens to build awareness for conservation of Seychelles flora.

John Gwynne melds plant and animal conservation expertise. Speaking with twenty years of experience with integrated design for conservation messaging at the Bronx Zoo, Mr. Gwynne will examine marketing environmental issues to the typical visitor. He will also explore living museums in the US, and their connections to his international conservation endeavors.

Catherine Hubbard comes to us from the Albuquerque BioPark, which includes a zoo, aquarium, botanic garden, and park. She has over 30 years experience working in both zoos and gardens and will discuss conservation strategies currently employed by American zoo and aquarium facilities.

Kathleen F. Wagner has more than 30 year’s experience, including time at the Philadelphia Zoo and independent consulting with zoos, museums, botanical gardens, interpretive centers, and aquariums throughout the country.  She will bring her experience together to show that successful conservation is about great storytelling and helping people connect the dots. Message relevance and effective evaluation techniques will be discussed.

If successful conservation is all about great storytelling, we need to learn how to tell better stories! To help us do that, we invited Sally O’Byrne and Andrew Losowsky. Sally O’Byrne, President of the Delmarva Ornithological Society and board member of Hawk Mountain Sanctuary and the Delaware Nature Society, will share the significance of conservation messaging through the art of storytelling. Andrew Losowsky, award winning journalist, playwright, content curator, thinker, and Books Editor of the Huffington Post, will dramatically explain what makes a story compelling.

Don’t forget to register soon! Please visit the 2012 Longwood Graduate Symposium Website for more information.

 

 

Symposium Update!

If your organization is an APGA member and you’ve received a few copies of our 2012 Symposium brochure, never fear! It’s not a mistake – we wanted you to have extras to pass around your organization or among anyone you know who might be interested in this year’s conservation-themed sessions. Unfortunately we faced a very quick turn-around time when we arranged to have them mailed off, so we were unable to include an explanatory note with the brochures. Be sure to look out for them if you haven’t already received them!

Introducing: the 2012 Longwood Graduate Symposium!

(written by Ashby Leavell)

The holidays are over, and some of you out there may be wondering what there is to look forward to as you settle in for the winter. Never fear, the 2012 Longwood Graduate Symposium is almost here! Mark your calendars for Friday, March, 2nd when we will be excited to present “The Panda and the Public Garden: Reimagining our Conservation Story.” Join us at Longwood Gardens as we bring zoo and garden experts together to explore how public gardens can inspire audiences to advocate for conservation issues.

Our Speakers Committee worked up until the last minute before the holiday break to put the finishing touches on the schedule of the day and the presenter lineup.  Many thanks to Fellows James Hearsum, Aubree Pack, Abby Johnson, and Martin Smit for organizing an outstanding group of speakers. We are excited to bring you:

Jerry Borin of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Dr. Alistair Griffiths from the Eden Project,  John Gwynne of the Bronx Zoo and the Wildlife Conservation Society, Catherine Hubbard of the Albuquerque BioPark, and Kathy Wagner of the Philadelphia Zoo. Stay tuned for an upcoming blog post introducing these compelling speakers, as well as details regarding a special session on better storytelling with Sally O’Byrne of the Delaware Nature Society and Andrew Losowsky of the Huffington Post.

The Marketing Committee Fellows Felicia Yu, Sara Levin, and Won Soon Park graciously put in overtime this holiday to finalize the Symposium brand, website, and brochure.  Check out our website to register and to learn more about the speakers and schedule of the day: http://ag.udel.edu/longwoodgrad/symposium/2012/index.html

Working with staff at Longwood Gardens, Guest Relations Committee Fellows Quill Teal- Sullivan and Nate Tschaenn have organized an exceptional attendee experience for our guests on March 2nd. We know you’ll be pleased with their careful attention to detail when the big day arrives. Our Symposium is made possible through the generous support of our sponsors. This year, we have reached out to an enthusiastic network of local gardens, horticultural sponsors, and professional organizations. We have seen tremendous support through both monetary and in-kind donations.  Bravo to Sponsorship chair Raakel Toppila for spearheading these efforts.

Check back here and on our Symposium website to follow our progress and learn more about the event. If you have any questions, please contact us at longwoodsymposium@udel.edu.

Travel to Singapore and Indonesia: follow us

This January the first year fellows will be traveling to Singapore and Indonesia for what promises to be an amazing International Experience 2012. Longwood staff members, Shawn Kister and Sharon Loving, will be joining for the Singapore leg of the journey while Tom Brightman and Wendy Gentry will be traveling with the fellows to Indonesia.

Inside one of the new conservatories at Gardens by the Bay, Singapore. (Photo, courtesy of Chris Dalzell)

This travel opportunity will be the culmination of months of preparation in which all fellows were working diligently to make contact with and plan visits to various institutions. We will kick off our International Experience when we arrive in Singapore on the 8th of January. From Singapore we will be traveling on to the island of Bali and then on to Bogor, located on West-Java, before returning on the 21st of January. Some of the diverse sites that we will be visiting include the Singapore Botanic Gardens, Gardens by the Bay, Pulau Ubin, Bali Botanic Garden, Bogor Botanic Garden, Cibodas Botanic Garden, Taman Bunga Nusantara and the Gede-Pangrango National Park to name but a few.

We invite you all to follow us on our Blog and share in this unique experience.

Business Innovation Factory Conference

September 20-21, 2011
(written by James Hearsum)

An unusually titled conference for a horticulturist to attend, you might think.  But wait; we (hopefully) have a clear mission for our organisations, we live in a disruptive social and commercial environment, and we need innovative ways of doing business.  This conference provided the latest disruptive systems thinking and business models in the fields of education, health, and entrepreneurship.  It is billed as the place to get connected and collaboratively innovative through the medium of unforgettable storytelling.

It delivered.

Speakers outlined both methodology and vision for new types of schools, new purposes for education, improved care delivery in hospitals and how to medically prescribe food.  Social change was on everyone’s lips, and this wasn’t just talk, these people had already had notable success.  A hedge fund manager talked about purpose and integrity (yes- they can go together), an entrepreneur ($billion sale to Microsoft) about overcoming fear, and a Huffington post editor about the art of storytelling.

The last of these was a particular highlight.  Andrew Losowsky, books editor at the Huffington Post, spoke about framing stories within a possibility space and defining the likely elements within that space.  A good story, he said, seeks to expand beyond what is considered likely.  This introduces drama, suspense and satisfaction for the hearer.  A great storyteller will toy with our perception of the possible, but not smash it entirely – too much and the story becomes unbelievable, or disturbing.

Still confused why a gardener was there?

This type of larger purpose, cohesive thinking, and ambition to implement systems change is why I work in gardens.  The top Botanic Gardens reach over 40million annual visitors, plus over 1million school children and 1million adults on organised educational programs.  To me, that is enough of an audience to start making some serious changes.  BIF helped me continue to think about how.

In order to achieve large-scale change, we need to inspire and activate those around us.  Information must be transformed into knowledge.  This happens through contextualisation, and the most powerful way to do this is the humble story.

It is vital to draw on the best ideas from other fields, and present them as inspiring stories.  The Longwood Graduate Program will be implementing this principle in the forthcoming Symposium scheduled for the first week in March 2012.  Keep an eye on the website for more surprising details…

POP So Far

photographs by James Hearsum

This summer the Fellows busily worked on POP with two overarching goals in sight. The first was to develop programming that speaks to the mission of the Scott Arboretum while increasing involvement of the Swarthmore community and students and faculty of Swarthmore College.  The second goal was to grow membership at the Scott Arboretum.

Three research teams were established. One team investigated Swarthmore College. The curriculum was examined for opportunities for collaboration. Student interest groups were considered for partnerships. Surveys were sent to faculty, students and staff. We were pleasantly surprised to have 228 student survey respondents. From it, we learned about where students like to spend time on campus, their interest in horticulture-related topics and overall involvement in the Arboretum.

The second research team investigated the Scott Arboretum. Staff interviews provided invaluable insight into organizational capacity. The current arboretum membership program was explored and current collaborations were considered.

The third research team reached out to other campus gardens and arboreta with the goal of benchmarking best practices. The Botanic Garden at Smith College in Massachusetts was found to have many similarities with the Scott Arboretum. Both campus gardens are free and open to the public, cater to a curriculum that does not have a horticulture major and struggle to engage students in the arboretum’s activities. Madeline Zadik (LGP Class of ’85) provided valuable insight into their Curriculum Enhancement Program and other ways the Botanic Garden has dealt with such challenges.

Now it is time to shift focus. How will we apply the knowledge gained to produce recommendations for the Scott Arboretum?  Stay tuned to find out…