Author Archives: Martin Smit

Longwood Graduate Program’s Annual Symposium – Come and get some fresh perspectives and inspiring ideas

With the deadline for registration coming up on the 8th of March we hope you have already registered for this year’s Longwood Graduate Program Annual Symposium.  This year the Symposium aims to encourage public gardens and cultural institutions to examine how they can stay relevant within the ever-changing social landscape.

Speaker Highlight: Louise Chawla

Louise Chawla

Louise Chawla

One exciting relatively new field of research that can provide public gardens with some innovative answers to this age-old question is conservation psychology. This year we are privileged to have Louise Chawla who will not be only giving a broad introduction to this exciting field but also highlight some of the issues it addresses with practical examples.  Louise Chawla is a professor in the Environmental Design Program at the University of Colorado in Boulder, co-editor of the journal Children, Youth and Environments, and associate director of the Children, Youth and Environments Center for Community Engagement. Some of her popular publications include the books In the First Country of Places: Nature, Poetry and Childhood Memory and the edited collection Growing Up in an Urbanizing World.

In addition to her presentation Louise Chawla will conduct an interactive workshop during the Special Sessions that aims to help participants understand the principles involved in designing environmental programs that encourage care for the environment. This session can accommodate a limited amount of participants, so be quick to register to avoid disappointment.

For those of you who can’t make it out to Longwood Gardens there is also the possibility to participate via our webcast. Also, we want you to contribute to the conversation whether you can be there or not on Twitter or TweetChat at #lgpsymp.

The JC Raulston Arboretum

August 23, 2012 – The JC Raulston Arboretum, NC
(written by Martin Smit, photographs by Sara Levin Stevenson)

The JC Raulston Arboretum, one of our own director’s former stomping grounds, was our first stop in Raleigh.  The history of the Arboretum dates back to 1976 when Dr. J.C. Raulston initiated the first steps to develop the site as an arboretum for the Department of Horticultural Science at NC State University.  The Arboretum is managed under the Department of Horticultural Science and focuses particularly on supporting research, extension and teaching. Beside these crucial functions within the University, the Arboretum also has become a popular public green space and an important educational facility, especially for the local community.

Lath House

Lath House

Upon arrival we were warmly received by Dr. John Dole who took some time out of his busy schedule as Department Head to talk to us about the importance of the Arboretum. He emphasized not only the role within the Department of Horticultural Science but also within the local community.

Pot on the A.E. Finley foundation Rooftop Terrace

Pot on the A.E. Finley Foundation Rooftop Terrace

Mark Weathington, the current Assistant Director and Curator of Collections, discussed the master plan that was drawn up in 2007 by skilled landscape design professionals who volunteered their time and services to Arboretum.  He also pointed out several new projects that formed part of the master plan as he was touring Fellows through the Arboretum. Mark also explained how the Arboretum has slowly transformed from an entity being fully funded but the Department of Horticulture Science to receiving only about thirty percent of its funding from the Department. Various weird and wonderful plants were also pointed out to the Fellows and Mark explained how trialing new plants is still one of the key functions of the Arboretum.  On average, more than a thousand accessions are added to the collections every year, which is a staggering number for such a relatively small arboretum.

Dr. Robert Lyons

Dr. Robert Lyons

Our very own Dr. Robert Lyons, also gave his insight into the fundraising and completion of the Ruby C. McSwain Education Center, which he oversaw during his tenure as Director at the Arboretum from 1999 through 2004.

Fellows, Nate Tschaenn and Abby Johnson

Fellows, Nate Tschaenn and Abby Johnson

Our visit concluded with lunch and as usual it was put to good use as chance to interact with staff and volunteers in the manicured garden of one of the board members, Sylvia Redwine. During our visit we were pleased to experience the passion that both volunteers and staff had for the Arboretum, which bodes well for the future.

Fellows with staff and volunteers in the garden of board member Sylvia Redwine

Fellows with staff and volunteers in the garden of board member Sylvia Redwine

Safely in Singapore

January 8, 2012 – Singapore Zoo, Singapore
(written by Martin Smit, photographs by Nate Tschaenn )

Everything went seamlessly as our group all ascended on Singapore from various corners of the earth. The drive to the hotel immediately blew us away because of the scale of landscaping everywhere and the beautiful epiphyte smothered street trees. After booking in at our hotel some of us explored the immediate surroundings while others briefly caught their breath before we headed out for our visit to the Singapore Zoo. We were warmly received by the enthusiastic staff and were quickly astonished by the amazing gardens and surroundings of this wonderful zoo. We were also informed about some of the conservation and education efforts that were undertaken at this institution. We were taken behind the scenes where we had the opportunity to interact with various staff members and of course, some animals.

A quick photo opportunity with some local zoo residents

Sara with some ring-tailed lemurs

Fellows in a section of the zoo displaying ethnobotanic plants

Our first impressions of Singapore were wonderful, not only because of the beauty of this urban paradise but also because of the extremely helpful and friendly people that we have met thus far. It already promises to be an unforgetful experience.