Author Archives: Lindsey Kerr

Second year Fellow board experience

Every year, second year Fellows in the Longwood Graduate Program are appointed as non-voting members to local non-profit boards. This year, I am excited to serve on the board of Healthy Foods for Healthy Kids.

 

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Child harvesting radishes

Healthy Foods for Healthy Kids (HFHK) is a non-profit organization based in Hockessin, DE. HFHK partners with Delaware schools to start vegetable gardening programs that are fully integrated into the science curriculum. HFHK helps to establish the school program over 2-3 semesters and then gradually transfers the responsibility of the program to the school. HFHK currently assists 21 schools in northern Delaware and works with approximately 8,000 students.

As part of the program, students experience all aspects of vegetable growing, from seed to harvest to table. Different grades take on different responsibilities in the gardens that support their studies or curriculum. The gardens are strategically planted so that they provide provide learning opportunities and food during the spring and fall seasons but require no care during the summer months when schools are not in session.

Serving on the board of HFHK is a wonderful learning experience. The organization is well established but still quite small. The board meets on a monthly basis.  It is actively working to recruit new board members as it looks to the future and to ensuring its longevity.

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Spinach

Having worked at a fledgling non-profit in the past and then having seen the board of an older organization like Longwood Gardens, working with a board somewhere in the middle is invaluable to my development as a public horticulture professional. I am honored and delighted to have the opportunity to work with Healthy Foods for Healthy Kids.

 

2014 Symposium Speakers Highlight

The winter of 2014 has been hard here in Delaware. We’ve had over a foot of snow at times. Classes at the University have been cancelled more than once. Nevertheless, the Longwood Graduate Program is hard at work preparing for our Annual Symposium! We are counting down the days and cannot be more excited about this year’s event.

On March 7, 2014, all of our months of planning and preparation will come together in a day of engaging lectures, discussions, and networking, focused on the theme of  creative leadership and succession planning within public horticulture institutions. Leadership and planning for the future are always in the minds of public horticulture professionals, but it is becoming a more pressing issue as the baby boomer generation prepares to retire from the workforce. We hope that this Symposium will inspire organizations to cultivate leadership within their own staff and, at the same time, create dialogue on how public gardens and other cultural institutions can continue to proactively think and plan for their futures.

In order to bring fresh ideas to our field of public horticulture, we chose six speakers with diverse experiences and a wide range of expertise. We are delighted to welcome Michael Hostetler (Cornell University), Dr. Judy Jolley Mohraz (Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust), Teniqua Broughton (VerveSimone Consulting Firm), Dr. Casey Sclar (American Public Gardens Association) and our two keynote speakers, Alpesh Bhatt (The Center for Leadership Studies) and Lynden Miller (Public Garden Design).

 

Speaker Highlight: Michael Hostetler

Mike Hostetler, Cornell University

Traveling from Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, Michael Hostetler will explore in his presentation the meaning of leadership in the context of public horticulture. Second year fellows met Mr. Hostetler in the fall of 2012 when we visited Cornell Plantations. We so enjoyed the workshop that he conducted for us that we are thrilled to welcome him to our Symposium.

Michael Hostetler is a faculty member of the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University. Mr. Hostetler’s main research and teaching interests are in strategy, decision-making, leadership, high performance teams, and change management. Mr. Hostetler is also the author of on-line courses in strategic thinking, scenario planning, leadership and team effectiveness for eCornell, Cornell’s distance learning subsidiary. Prior to joining Cornell University, Mr.  Hostetler was assistant dean for executive education at the Fuqua School of Business, Duke University. His prior experience also includes positions with St. Mary’s Medical Center, the University of Tennessee, and the Office of the Governor of Kentucky. He is generously sponsored by Chanticleer.

 

Keynote Speaker Highlight: Lynden Miller.

Lynden Miller, Public Garden Design

We are so privileged to have Lynden Miller as this year’s Parvis Family Endowment Keynote Speaker. Ms. Miller is a public garden designer in New York City and the Director of The Conservatory Garden in Central Park, which she rescued and restored beginning in l982. Based on her belief that good public open spaces can change city life, she has designed many other gardens and parks in all five boroughs since that time. She is on the Board of Trustees of the Central Park Conservancy, New Yorkers for Parks and the New York Botanical Garden and teaches about public space and horticulture at New York University and Columbia University. She is the author of Parks, Plants and People: Beautifying the Urban Landscape, published by Norton in 2009.  The book was the winner of American Horticultural Society 2010 National Book Award. She will be speaking about inspiring people with a passion for plants to make their careers in urban horticulture.

For those of you who can’t make it out to Longwood Gardens, you have the option to participate via our webcast (more information to follow). You can also participate by tweeting with us throughout the day on Twitter or TweetChat. Use #LGPSymp to join the conversation.

With the deadline for registration coming up on the 3rd of March, we hope that you have already registered for the Longwood Graduate Program Annual Symposium.  To learn more or to register, please visit our website.

NAX addendum

Top 10 things that did not make it in our garden visit blog posts:

10. The North End, Boston. The Fellows and Ed headed into Boston on Wednesday evening for dinner in the old Italian section of the city. It was restaurant week and the neighborhood was bustling. We happened upon a beautifully landscaped hotel along the waterfront and paused for a group photo. After a delicious Italian dinner in the loudest restaurant I’ve ever been in, we capped off the evening with cannoli and gelato.

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Cannoli from Mike’s in the North End.

9. Petunias. We learned at Arnold Arboretum that Dr. Lyons has a reputed affinity for gaudy petunias. He may or may not have pulled over the van in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, and jumped out to take photos of petunias and sweet potato vines growing at a local garden center.

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Be still, Dr. Lyons’ heart.

8. Lounge singers. They already got a mention in the blog, but they’re worth bringing up again. We were treated to the singing of two different lounge singers during our stay in Maine. The second one was for the memory books, as he serenaded us to the likes of Andrew Lloyd Weber, Puccini, Elton John, Willie Nelson, and Plain White Ts. Laurie and Josh, and about 20 septuagenarians, sang along and applauded his talents.

7. Boston streets. Need I say more? Even our GPS couldn’t figure out the streets. Even if we knew where we were going, the traffic lights were totally confusing. You’re sitting at a stop and notice that there are 5 different lights to choose from. 2 are green and 3 are red. Do we stop or go? I think we’re all relieved that we got home in one piece. (Yours truly was banished to the back seat of the van for being a back-seat driver too many times.)

6. New scientific names for plants. At Garden in the Woods, we discovered that the scientific names for plants are being revised again. Cornus florida is now Benthamidia florida. This created some controversy amongst the Fellows and Dr. Lyons and opened to the door to lively discussions in the van.

5. Composite flowers. Ed Broadbent, Head Gardener at Longwood Gardens, accompanied us on our trip as a chaperone. Ed was generally pretty quiet on the trip and not much seemed to phase him. We learned, however, on our last day that one thing that gets him riled up is too many composite flowers in the landscape. Apparently, he and Dr. Lyons argued about composite flowers late at night, then started again in the morning, and then brought it up with us in the van to get our opinions.

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An example of a composite flower

4. This van might tip. As we settled into the 13 passenger van that we would use the whole length of the trip, we were informed by the rental agent that the van could tip if we took turns too quickly. This information set off a running joke that still will not die.

“Dr. Lyons, slow down on this curve, the van might tip!”

“Really? I hadn’t heard that before. Did you say the van could tip over?”

“The rental guy did say to watch out for tippage.”

“I must be careful–the van could tip over.”

3. The amazing staff at all the gardens we visited. We are seriously indebted to Michael, Mark, Joanne, Dave, and Bill who took time out of their busy schedules to show us around and answer all of our questions. We are also grateful to the other executive directors and support staff to met with us as well. They were very candid and offered great insight and advice to us as emerging professionals.

2. Lobster rolls. Or should I say, lobstah rolls? Chunks of succulent lobster, a light dressing, topped by a garnish of greens, all encased in a toasted piece of bread. Simple, yet utterly delicious. A Maine staple, we sampled lobster rolls on two occasions. On the drive from Maine back to Boston, Laurie seriously considered jumping out of the van and running to a roadside stand to get one last roll.

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Lobstah roll at Coastal Maine BG

1. Longwood Graduate Program alumni. Andrew Gapiniski toured us all around Arnold Arboretum. Mark Richardson spent the day with us at Garden in the Woods and Bill Brumback spoke with us in the afternoon. Rodney Eason showed us his work at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. It was so great to meet with alumni and see them working in the field.

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Alumus Andrew Gapinski, Dr. Lyons, and Ed Broadbent at Arnold Arboretum

A visit to Tower Hill Botanic Garden

Photographs by Laurie Metzger

As 9am rolled around on Wednesday, we piled into the van for our third garden visit. Driving away from the morning commuters, we saw city sprawl dwindle to small neighborhoods, neighborhoods become single houses, and finally houses make way for the beautiful Massachusetts countryside. Rolling hills, rocky outcrops, dense woodlands.

Up a winding lane, we reached our destination, Tower Hill Botanic Garden. Walking up from the parking lot, we were immediately distracted by a stunning black tomato growing in the mixed ornamental and vegetable beds outside the Visitor Center. Finally making our way inside, we were greeted by Joann Vieira, Director of Horticulture.

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‘Indigo Rose’ tomatoes

Joann introduced us to Tower Hill, giving a brief history of the property and the Worcester County Horticultural Society, the founding and governing organization, which was first organized in 1840. However, Tower Hill was not established until the 1980s; officially opening in 1986. The botanic garden was conceived and designed with a long-term vision. Tower Hill prominently displays its Master Plan and 50-year vision for the gardens on the wall near the café.

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Arbor with container plants

After walking through the cathedral-like Limonaia, we sat down for a round-table with senior staff, including Executive Director Kathy Abbott. As we nibbled on pastries and drank hot coffee, Tower Hill staff shared with us their insights and challenges of developing a younger institution. Staff was very candid and even shared their thoughts on potential topics for our upcoming Symposium. The hours passed very quickly and we were shocked when someone announced it was time for lunch.

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Inside the Limonaia

We delayed lunch in order to spend time touring through the gardens. We were particularly entranced by the historic apple tree collection. Tower Hill preserves historic apple tree cultivars by growing them on the property and selling scions. Although fire blight and other diseases pose challenges, Tower Hill is nevertheless committed to preserving the apple orchard. Given the go-ahead by Joann, we happily sampled a few early varieties.

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Historic apple variety

After lunch in the on-site Twigs Café with senior staff, we spent more time in the gardens and hiking the paths around the property.  Stepping outside the Orangerie, we encountered the Systematic Garden where  plantings are arranged according to how scientists understand plant evolution. The garden begins with algae in a pool near the building and then stretches out in 26 Italianate style flower beds overflowing with plants massed according to their families and other classifications.

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Flower border

There are several hiking trails on the Tower Hill property. Situated on top of a hill, Tower Hill overlooks the Wachusett Reservoir and capitalizes on the views of the water and rolling hills when designing its system of paths and gardens. We could only imagine how stunningly beautiful the gardens and views must be in late autumn, as the leaves change colors on the hillsides.

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View of the reservoir

We left Tower Hill late in the afternoon. Tired from lots of walking, we were nevertheless energized by the enthusiasm of the Tower Hill staff and the beauty of its landscape. We are excited to see what this young botanic garden becomes in the next few years.

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Statue with roses

Iguaçu Falls

After our late arrival in Foz do Iguaçu last night, we indulge by sleeping in until 8am.  After a quick breakfast at the hotel buffet, we are in the van at 8:30 with our local guide, Vera.  Vera is from Foz do Iguaçu and has been guiding tours of the area for 28 years.  We know we are in good hands.  Our mission today is to see both sides of the famous Iguaçu Falls, named as one of the great wonders of the natural world.

The Iguaçu Falls are waterfalls on the Iguaçu River at the border of Brazilian state Paraná and Argentine province Misiones. The falls have a flow capacity equal to three times that of Niagara Falls. 20% of the falls are in Brazilian territory, and the other 80% in Argentina. The “Garganta do Diablo” (“Devil’s Throat” in Portuguese) is the tallest of the falls at 318 feet.

We arrive at the Brazilian side of the falls at 9am.  The falls are surrounded by Iguaçu National Park, a huge swath of sub-tropical rainforest.  Vera pays our admission and we begin our journey to the falls.  A short walk later, we get our first of the falls.  All we can say is, “Wow!”

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One of the first views of the falls through the trees–it would only get better.

A view from a platform on the Brazilian side.

A view from a platform on the Brazilian side.

A viewing platform.

A viewing platform.

Two hours and hundreds of photographs later, we climb back in the van to visit the Argentinian side of the falls.

On our way to Argentina, Vera takes us to a local barbecue spot so that we can try mate.  Mate is a tea-like drink made from Ilex paraguariensis.  Drinking and sharing mate has its own set of traditions, much like coffee does in the US and Europe. We are in a bit of a hurry, so we are only able to enjoy the mate for a few minutes before we must leave. We pass around the special mate cup, sipping the hot liquid from a silver straw.  It tastes a little bit like very strong green tea.

Back in the van, we cross the Argentina border with no problems.  A short time later, we enter the Argentina side of the Iguaçu National Park.  As we begin our walk to the falls, we quickly notice the popularity of mate amongst park visitors.  Many carry the distinct cup and thermoses for extra hot water.  After a short train ride and a lot of walking, we suddenly come upon the falls and look down straight down into the Devil’s Throat.

After the train ride back to a visitor center, we are tempted to take the train back to the park entrance.  Fortunately, Vera insists we take another walk. Little did we know, this walk includes several more stunning views of the waterfalls. We can see the platforms where we walked on the Brazilian side earlier that morning.  We can’t resist taking more photos.

Falls from the Argentinian side.

Falls from the Argentinian side.

Finally, we are done with the falls and climb back in the van to return to Brazil. We are very lucky to have Vera as our guide. Not only does she know the Iguaçu area very well, but she also loves birds, animals and plants.  All day long, she points out plants and animals that she knows will interest us and carries with her a book on wildlife that we frequently reference.  We are grateful to have her as our guide.

There really are no words adequate to describe Iguaçu Falls.  Hopefully some of our photographs will convey some of the majesty of the waterfalls.

Rio and Sitio Roberto Burle Marx

Photography by: Longwood Graduate Fellows

DSCN28269am sharp and we are out the door with our guide Gerardo. Our destination today is the Sitio Roberto Burle Marx, but first Gerardo is taking us on a whirlwind tour of the city of Rio.  Driving along the Copacabana beach, we pull over for 5 minutes to snap a group photo on the famous sidewalk designed by Brazilian landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx.

 

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Back in the van, we drive through the city to the Sambadromo, a huge stadium designed by Oscar Niemeyer just to host the samba competitions during Carnival.  Gerardo gives us a quick lesson on how to dance the samba and then Laurie, Ling, and Josh try on carnival clothing and pose for photos.

 

 

 

 

 

We finish our city tour at see the cathedral, a huge, imposing concrete structure inspired by the pyramids at Chichen Itza in Mexico.DSCN2863

 

 

 

 

 

An hour later, we arrive at the Sitio Burle Marx, the home and studio of landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx. Burle Marx was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in 1909.  As a young man, he traveled to Germany where he was inspired by the use of Brazilian plants in the Berlin Botanical Garden.  Returning to Brazil, he began collecting plants around his home in Guaritiba and designing landscapes for friends and clients.  He is most well known for the design of the Copacabana promenade and the landscapes around some of the government buildings in Brasilia. He also designed the Cascade Garden at Longwood Gardens. Burle Marx’s property in Guaritiba was donated to the Brazilian government in 1985 and became a national monument. It houses over 3,500 species of plants and many works of art by Burle Marx and other artists.

DSCN2904Thanks to our tour guide Gerardo, we have a wonderful and insightful tour of the Sitio. Gerardo translated everything that the Sitio tour guide said and added his own information about Brazilian plants.  He also provided everyone with much needed mosquito repellant!

The Sitio is truly stunning.  Swaths of bromeliads.  20 foot tall Plumeria trees. Contrasting black and chartreuse foliage (years ahead of his time) and the use of textured plants and hardscaping.  So many native Brazilian plants, including the Helenconia hirsuta ‘Burle Marx’ that the designer discovered in the Amazon region. Burle Marx’s use of native plants in design is inspiring.DSCN2946

We left the garden and returned to Rio late in the afternoon.  A shopping trip before dinner turned into a hilarious adventure after we got caught in a downpour (we were told it doesn’t rain in Rio!) and took a wrong turn walking back to the hotel.  After a misadventure with a sink, we finally made it to dinner at a churrascaria (a Brazilian steakhouse) where we indulged in beef and sushi and various Brazilian dishes.  It was a wonderful way to celebrate our last night in Rio and the start of our day off.

Strange things happen in the Amazon

Photography: Longwood Graduate Fellows

The sound of knocking on our door wakes us up at 5:30. It’s piranha fishing day and we need to be ready to leave in a few minutes.  In our groggy state, we throw on clothes, our life-preserver and run to catch one of the small boats (called “canoes” by our guides) that is taking us out to fish.

DSC_0141A quick boat ride away, up along a bank, we are in prime piranha fishing territory.  After a quick lesson in how to fish, we throw our lures over the sides of the boat and wait for a nibble.  In no time at all, our hooks are picked clean but we have no fish! This takes more patience and skill than we thought.  David Sleasman is the first of our group to catch a piranha, a “small fellow” as he describes it.  With the help of a guide, Laurie Metzger reals in a large black piranha.

DSCN1700Back to the boat for another delicious breakfast of authentic Brazilian food and fresh fruit.  After breakfast, we venture to a caboclo village to learn about açai and maniok. Açai is a type of palm that produces a fruit, commonly eaten for its high nutrient content, as well as hearts-of-palm. The açai palm can also produce hearts of palm but harvesting the heart kills the plant. Our guide Hugo explains explains how maniok was processes historically and how the caboclo people process it today to sell at market. The guides set up a special tour just for us, so we part from the larger group and get a tour of the farm, specifically looking at the trees and flowers that grow there.  In the fields, we notice chia interplanted with the maniok and we are delighted to see a sloth resting in a small tree.

IMG_4046After lunch, we take a special trip to see the Amazon pink dolphins. Pink dolphins are at risk because of boating, changes to their habitat, and because they are hunted by the local people. They are very shy and do not come around humans. However, a caboclo family has begun feeding the dolphins to attract them to a small platform. For a small fee, we get to see the dolphins being fed and to touch them. After the dolphins swim away, we spend half an hour swimming in the river. The family also has captive 14 pirarucu, one of the largest freshwater fish in the world. The fish are incredible! They are 6 feet long and covered in black and red scales.  As we get ready to leave, the family presents us each with a necklace made of wood, beads, and one large fish scale at the center.

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First-year fellow Ling Poses with the dolphins

After a few hours break back on the Clipper and at a beach, we head out again in the canoes to look at more plants and animals. Since we have continued to travel east, the plants and animals are very different than what we saw yesterday.  The water is less acidic here and supports more wildlife. It is late afternoon and the birds and animals are becoming more active. DSC_0206 As we pass a lodge, our guide Hugo spots a group of squirrel monkeys near the river bank.  Hugo throws chunks of bananas to attract the monkeys to the boat and soon we have several monkeys running up and down the canoe searching for more food.  Once the bananas run out, the monkeys scamper back to the shrubs on the bank and we move out.  A few minutes later, we spot a fishing hawk in a tree.  Hugo tries to bring it down by throwing fish into the water but a pink dolphin keeps eating the fish before the hawk can get it! Finally, the hawk successfully swoops down and grabs the fish. In the next hour, we see more kingfishers, herons, ibis, and other waterbirds than we can count.

After dinner, we all head up to the top deck of the boat and watch as we approach the city of Manaus.  A bridge spans the width of the Amazon and connects Manaus to the southern bank of the river.  We watch a long time as we approach the bridge which is lighted and changes colors every few seconds.  Finally, long after bed-time, we return to our cabins and fall into bed, ready to wake up again for another adventure.

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Mt. Cuba Center

August 17, 2012 – Mt. Cuba Center, Hockessin, DE
(written by Lindsey K. Kerr, photographs by Chunying Ling)

Bright and early, the First Year Fellows and Dr. Lyons left Townsend Hall for Mt. Cuba Center in Hockessin, Delaware. Mt. Cuba Center was founded by Mrs. Lammot du Pont Copeland at the site of her home. In 1935, Mr. and Mrs. Copeland built a stately house they named “Mt. Cuba” and soon afterwards began developing the original agricultural landscape into a series of garden spaces.

The Copelands took a particular interest in plants native to the Piedmont, which was typical of their home site. From the time they moved in until Mrs. Copeland’s death in 2001, the gardens grew in both number of individual plants and diversity of appropriate species. Today, the Copeland’s house and gardens are maintained by Mt. Cuba Center staff and the organization itself has become a non-profit dedicated to native plants of the the Appalachian Piedmont Region.

Upon our arrival, we were warmly greeted in the parking lot by Longwood Graduate Program alumna Julia Lo-Ehrhardt. She escorted us to the Main House and introduced us to the senior staff. We spent the rest of the morning with Interim Executive Director Steve Martinenza and his senior team learning about Mt. Cuba’s strategic plan and management practices. The different managers introduced us to the history of Mt. Cuba, the founding family, and how Mt. Cuba continues to evolve and grow to fulfill the vision of its founder. We learned about Mt. Cuba’s research and educational programs as well as its commitment to improving the visitor experience and making stronger connections with the public. Mt. Cuba staff discussed their respect for Mrs. Copeland’s ideas and aesthetics and their challenge to embrace the future. They want to enhance native plant accessibility for the average homeowner and encourage their greater use in garden design.

Later in the afternoon we headed outside for a tour of the grounds. First stop was the new Trial Gardens, which were two years in the making and initially planted in spring 2012. Gardener George Coombs explained the goals of the trial garden as we admired the set-up and the plants. The trial gardens aren’t just focused on the latest introductions—they are also trialing tried-and-true cultivars to find out which ones are really the best for gardeners in the region.

Horticulturalist Marcy Weigelt then gave us a quick walking tour of the West Slope Path, the ponds, and the meadow garden, soon pausing in the meadow garden to admire the large number of pollinators and several exotic praying mantises. We finished up our field trip with a visit to the greenhouses where staff grow approximately 10,000 plants every year. In the future, they plan to start collecting more seeds locally for propagation as part of Mt. Cuba’s commitment to native plants of the Piedmont region.

Visiting Mt. Cuba Center was a wonderful experience and a great way for First Year Fellows to finish up their summer field trip series of DuPont legacy gardens!