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…

A Visit to the Infamous “U”

August 15, 2011 – St. Paul Campus, Minnesota University
(written by Aubree Pack, photography by James Hearsum)

Around here, the University of Minnesota is commonly, as well as affectionately, referred to as “the U.” The Longwood Graduate Program’s current Director, Robert Lyons, is a graduate of “the U,” so we had with us an excellent guide. Although the campus boasts many desirable features, our focus was the Department of Horticultural Science, of which Dr. Lyons received both his Masters and Ph.D. degrees. If you’ve been following our blog, you may remember a recent post about our trip to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. The Arboretum is actually an extension of the University of Minnesota and is within the Department of Horticultural Science.

Upon arrival at the University of Minnesota St. Paul Campus, the first thing we did was discover a photo of Dr. Lyons from when he was a graduate student there. And of course, as any good student would, we teased him a little. He seemed to be fine with that though : )

We then went just outside Alderman Hall to meet with Roger Meissner and Garrett Beier. Roger has been employed by the department since 1976 and since then has worn many “hats.” Garrett is a graduate student there who was hired to manage the display garden, which is a landscape laboratory for the College of Food, Agriculture, and Natural Resource Science; involved students generally have a main focus in horticulture or environmental studies.

Garrett told us that the site is primarily used for study purposes, but also attracts casual visitors. One thing we found amusing was that there were duplicate plants from the garden elsewhere on campus, for the purpose of preventing students in ID courses from memorizing a location instead of the actual plant characteristics. He also described some of the challenges they face there at the garden, including an invasive weed he referred to as black swallow wart, a member of the milkweed family (pictured above).

Cultivar development and breeding are major endeavors for the department. Many faculty members are reknown for their plant introductions. Jim Luby, in particular, introduced a very well received variety of apple, Honey Crisp, which many of us have enjoyed. More recent apple introductions from the department are SnowSweet, Frostbite, and SweeTango, which are a trademark of the Ball Horticultural Company. Along with their large array of fruit crop introductions, new, cold hardy ornamental plant cultivars have been introduced from the following popular garden plants: chrysanthemums, azaleas, roses, gaura, dogwood, forsythia, pearlbush, viburnum,  maples, white pine,  redbud, buckeye, plums, crabapples, corktree, jack pine, and many grass varieties; both ornamental and turf. This research is done along with the Horticultural Research Center and the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, who provides stock or grounds for research.

Como Park Zoo & Conservatory

(written by Felicia Yu, photographs by Aubree Pack)

Just in case we didn’t already think we were spoiled by warm receptions and generosity everywhere we’ve been so far in the Twin Cities, the staff of the Como Park Zoo & Conservatory REALLY made us feel welcome during our visit on Monday.

Old and new: the historic Marjorie McNeely Conservatory with its 64-ft. Palm Dome, and the adjoining new section with impeccable water gardens.

Horticulture Manager Tina Dombrowski met us at the main entrance along with several staff members from the conservatory, and at each part of the Margorie McNeely Conservatory, gardens, and zoo thereafter we met with more members of the staff who were happy to show us around and answer all our questions. We got a thorough behind the scenes look at the historic and new portions of the conservatory as well as the Ordway Memorial Japanese Garden, and the new Polar Bear Odyssey exhibit at the zoo, where we had a delicious lunch before getting a free hour to explore.

The Sunken Garden of the Conservatory, featuring spring, summer, fall, holiday, and winter floral displays.

The Japanese Garden, designed by Masami Matsuda in 1979 to commemorate the friendship between St. Paul and its sister city Nagasaki

Horticulture production supervisor Paul Knuth explaining the greenhouse operations.


An alpine rooftop garden on the upper level of the new visitor center.

The zoo and conservatory are located within Como Park, a 384-acre oasis within the city of St. Paul. The zoo is well over a hundred years old, while the conservatory opened in 1915. Each has undergone major renovations, with more improvements to come in the near future. The building of the new visitor center in 2005 physically joined the zoo and conservatory into one campus for the first time in their histories, along with the merger of their supporting non-profit and volunteer organizations. Some of the most intriguing features of Como Park Zoo & Conservatory involve the direct collaboration between zoo and horticultural staff in combined plant and animal exhibits, such as their Tropical Encounters exhibit and RibbitZibit frog displays in the Children’s Gallery.

Zookeeper Liz feeding fruit flies to the poison dart frogs in the Children’s Gallery RibbitZibit.

It was clear that the zoo and conservatory are beloved by the community, judging from the number of families streaming through the doors as soon as opening hour arrived—and this was on a “slow” Monday, according to the staff. After our half-day visit, I could completely understand why—if I lived in the area I’d be back every week! The zoo remains one of the few remaining free zoos in the country, with just a suggested donation of $2 per adult and $1 per child for entry to both zoo and conservatory, which most visitors seemed glad to pay. The high-quality horticultural and animal exhibits were definitely worth much more than that.

A Walk in the Park – Minneapolis Style.

August 13, 2011 – Minneapolis, Minnesota
(written by James Hearsum, photography by Ashby Leavell)

Few cities enjoy the benefit of a visionary parks department: One that takes a leadership role in economic development, is a broker of community creation and that does this whilst integrating citywide networks of facilities, recreation and environmental services.  Fewer still have the resources and political clout to deliver.  That Minneapolis is one of this select group is evident to anyone enjoying the city on a fine summer day, as we did.

The view from the Guthrie Museum to the former railroad Stone Arch Bridge over the Mississippi River

Guided by John Erwin, a Parks Commissioner, the Longwood Graduate Fellows sought the answer to this question – How is it achieved?

 

As John conducted a whirlwind tour, we visited The Peace Gardens, Rose Garden and The Annuals and Perennial Border.  All were immaculately maintained by staff and volunteers, and clearly loved by Minneapolitans.  A real pride and care by the public is evident throughout the system.  On a Saturday afternoon, the parks were well used, with all types of recreation happening around Lake Calhoun.

Flower vendors at the vibrant famers market at Mill City

It was always evident that the parks comprised a complete system, a network of places and links, tied to specific communities.  A visit to a section of the Grand Rounds, a 53 mile loop of lakes in the heart of the city, showed that they were used both as a destination; for beaches, canoeing, eating, picnicking – and as a route; for jogging, walking, commuting.

John Erwin describes a map of the Grand Rounds in Minneapolis, the only National Scenic Byway located in a major city in the US.

The concept of networks also dominated a presentation by Mary deLaittre, Project Manager for the Minneapolis Riverfront Development Initiative.  Using the advantage of semi-autonomy from the city to great advantage, this project has developed and designed a strategic physical master plan for a 5.5 mile section of the Mississippi River bank, completing the parks path and bike network in challenging industrial and multiuse spaces.  More than this, it seeks to connect existing parks and recreation assets to a wider system and create new interfaces between communities, using the Mississippi as its central corridor.  In addition to all this, it has an economic mission to spur development, as in the district now developed around the beautiful Guthrie Theater (led by a $30 million investment in the area by Parks and Recreation).  It also seeks to create integrated environmental systems, manage storm water, recreate habitats – all whilst maintaining industrial use and jobs.

Looking out on the ruins at the Mill City Museum, once the world’s largest flour mill

So what is the secret? – Yes, Minneapolis Parks have more autonomy, more money, and more public support than many parks.  But this alone doesn’t explain it.  Rather, two things stood out.  Firstly, visionary leadership at all levels in the organization.  Secondly, a truly comprehensive approach to parks – the integration and consideration of all elements as important to the system.  In practice, this means that no one factor dominates, but all are considered – economic, environmental, community, recreation and industry.  It recognizes that people have complex needs, and seeks to address them comprehensively.

Posing with John Erwin, our generous guide for the day and Chair of Minneapolis Parks Department and Professor of Hort. Science at the University of Minnesota

Wow! Our thanks to Minneapolis for a wonderful day in your parks, and please, if you are lucky enough to live here, don’t take them for granted – they are truly extraordinary.