POP 2012 Update

The Fellows have been hard at work all summer on the Professional Outreach Project at Awbury Arboretum.  The project began by researching examples of inviting entryways and effective internal signage at similar institutions so that the same could be developed at Awbury Arboretum.

After this initial research phase, the Fellows started phase two, Inviting Entryways.  In this phase the main goal was to attract visitors to the Arboretum by making each entryway consistent and inviting.  The Fellows created a general template with which they designed new signs to be placed at the various entrances to the Arboretum.  They also developed a plant list and plant installation garden design to add color and seasonal interest to four of the entrances to the Arboretum.

The second POP Advisory Committee (POPAC) produced positive feedback regarding the proposed signs and planting designs.  The entire POPAC includes Chris Van de Velde, General Manager, and Beth Miner, Director of Outreach, both of Awbury Arboretum, as well as Dottie Mile, Interpretation Manager at Longwood Gardens, and Robert Lyons, Professor and Director of the Longwood Graduate Program.

Now the Fellows are using the next two weeks to finish their work in Phase Three, Internal Signage.  They are currently addressing way-finding and interpretation needs inside the borders of the Arboretum and are developing way-finding signs to place in various locations around the Arboretum.  New interpretive signs are being designed for several areas, which correspond to places currently highlighted on the Awbury map.  This interpretive material will explain basic information about selected gardens and habitats to aid in informal education at the Arboretum.

The Fellows will spend the final two weeks in September compiling a summary document to share with Awbury’s staff. Going forward, the Fellows plan to produce the signs they have designed and to install the signs and selected plants.

Sarah P. Duke Gardens

August 22, 2012 – Sarah P. Duke Gardens, NC
(written by Sara Levin Stevenson, photographs by Abby Johnson)

The Fellows spent Wednesday morning visiting the Sarah P. Duke Gardens, located on 55 acres in the center of the Duke University campus.

Entrance of the Sarah P. Duke Gardens

Upon our arrival, the Director of the Gardens and LGP alumnus, Bill LeFevre, met us.  Bill and part of the Sarah P. Duke Gardens team took time to help us get to know the gardens and its various programs and events.  Our meeting took place in the Doris Duke Center, a focal point in the grand entryway experience.  We then toured the grounds with some of the knowledgeable staff.

White Garden

A few of the tour highlights included the Terrace Garden, H.L. Blomquist Garden, and the Discovery Garden.  The Terrace Garden is located in the heart of the historic area.  It is a vibrant collection of perennials that sit in large rock walls made of a rich blue Duke stone, from a local quarry.  The historic area is a popular spot for weddings and events, especially among Duke University alumni.

Terrace Garden

The H. L. Blomquist Garden of Native Plants focuses on conservation and is the most heavily interpreted area of the gardens.  Its design and messaging encourage visitors to embrace native plantings and learn conservation techniques.  Stephan Bloodworth, the curator of this garden, describes it as an education tool for applied plant conservation and he aims to create an interpretive experience that leaves a lasting impression on visitors.

Sign in the Blomquist Garden of Native Plants

The newest garden is the Discovery Garden, a farm education area.  This garden is packed with interesting details, including a vegetable garden, tobacco barn-turned education center, beehives, chickens, fruit orchard, bio-swale, rain garden, herb garden, composting station, and storytelling area.  It was designed for with the public, children, and families in mind with an emphasis on presenting ideas that would be easy for a visitor to replicate at home. The Discovery Garden is a prototype site for the Sustainable Sites Initiative so various techniques were incorporated in the building process that promoted sustainability, such as using salvaged materials.

Charlotte Brody Discovery Garden

The Sarah P. Duke Gardens has over 300,000 visitors every year and is a well-loved and often visited institution on the Duke University campus.  It attracts student groups and classes and the local community through programs such as an annual film and concert series.

Japanese Garden

We enjoyed our visit to this vibrant garden and are grateful to our hosts for their hospitality!

POP 2012 at Awbury Arboretum

The Fellows received several excellent proposals for the Professional Outreach Project this spring and selected Awbury Arboretum.  Now that the First Year Fellows have joined the group, POP 2012 is officially underway!


The POP 2012 project aims to use interpretation to inform visitors and the community of where Awbury is, what an Arboretum is, and how visitors can enjoy Awbury’s resources.  The project will focus in two areas: creating inviting entryways around the perimeter of the Arboretum and creating additional way-finding strategies to help visitors navigate through the Arboretum.


The Fellows will be working as one team and moving through the phases of POP as a group.  The first phase of the project is “research”.  The Fellows are using interviews and written materials to better understand Awbury Arboretum’s history and to get to know its current staff, community and garden features.  Research will also include benchmarking institutions that face similar challenges to Awbury such as other free public institutions in urban settings.  The Fellows will use this research to help shape the interpretive material.

Beth Miner, Dottie Miles, and Bob Lyons, part of the POP Advisory Committee


The next phase of the project will be creating deliverables for Awbury.  The Fellows plan to create informational signage around the perimeter of the Arboretum and basic way finding signage to ease navigation and to inform visitors about the significance of various Arboretum features.  The Fellows are off to an exciting start and look forward the interesting research and creative work that will take place this summer!

Requests for Proposals

We are now accepting proposals for the 2012 Professional Outreach Project (POP) if you are located approximately within a 60 mile radius of Newark, DE! 

What is POP?
Each year the Fellows collaborate with a local client institution to create a project in a specific area of public horticulture.  Past projects include the development of a membership and programming plan for the Scott Arboretum and a meadow management plan for Bartram’s Garden.  Please follow this link to learn more about past Professional Outreach Projects.

How to get involved:
We are now accepting proposals for the 2012 Professional Outreach Project.  This year the Fellows are interested in pursuing a project in planning and development of interpretation efforts involving one of the following areas: natural habitat conservation efforts, community outreach, K-12 education, or ethnobotany.  We encourage submissions with a variety of interpretative methods.
Follow this link to learn more and to submit your proposal.

Please contact Sara Levin with any questions at levin@udel.edu.

Arrival in Bali

(written by Sara Levin, photographs by Martin Smit)

We made it to Bali on Friday evening accompanied by Wendy and Tom who joined us for the second leg of our trip.  Bali is fresh and fragrant with bright flowers found everywhere from the Plumeria strands handed to us as we left the airport to the small colorful Hindu offerings set out each morning.

Hindu offering

We started our first full day in Bali with a visit to the IDEP Foundation, an NGO that strives to “help people help themselves by cultivating resilient and sustainable communities.” IDEP uses permaculture education to help the community in a variety of ways.  They offer workshops on natural disaster preparedness and recovery by teaching earthquake-resistant building techniques and educating communities on how to sustainably rebuild after a natural disaster.

IDEP Demonstratioin Garden

They work with school groups to teach organic horticulture techniques and have an outreach program with prisons to teach prisoners how to grow vegetables and save seeds.  The IDEP farm consists of a small demonstration garden featuring permaculture practices to help teach the community about organic gardening.  They have sites all around Indonesia and a few neighboring islands.  We were incredibly impressed with their work.  More information on the IDEP Foundation can be found at www.idepfoundation.org.

Nelumbo nucifera

We ended our first day in Bali with a trip to Taman Tirtagannga, the water temple.  This beautiful temple was once a retreat for the royal family.  Today it is a pubic oasis, tucked away among the rice fields in eastern Bali.

Rice fields close to Tirtagannga

Taman Tirtagannga

POP Comes to a Successful End!

The LGP Fellows have at last completed their 2011 POP project!  After collective research, they broke into two teams: programming and membership.  The Fellows used their extensive research to identify new programmatic activities that will serve to connect the Scott Arboretum with the Swarthmore College community.  They also used their research to create new strategies for membership growth.

The programming team was divided into three groups: student life, academics, and community outreach.  In the student life group, the Fellows outlined educational and recreational activities that would raise awareness of the Arboretum on campus.   The academics group examined how to best get the faculty involved through potential connections between the Arboretum collections and the academic curriculum.  They used information from benchmarking research to determine how the Arboretum could formalize this curricular collaboration.  The community outreach group identified areas for growth, such as family programming, and highlighted the potential for the Arboretum to join regional events like the Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival of Greater Philadelphia.

The membership team interviewed expert professionals to identify opportunities to increase membership and improve the membership program at the Scott Arboretum.  Strategies for success included restructuring their membership program staff, reframing membership levels and benefits, and proposing new approaches to membership growth and retention through marketing and surveys.

The Fellows have produced a thorough and informative document from which the Scott Arboretum can build its programming and membership.  Congratulations to Raakel Toppila for her excellent work as team leader for POP 2011 and a big thanks to the POP Advisory Committee for their advice and guidance.

Longwood Fellows “POP” into the Scott Arboretum!

(written by Sara Levin, photographs by Raakel Toppila)

The Professional Outreach Project (POP) is an annual collaboration between the Longwood Graduate Fellows and various horticulture organizations.  Recent projects have included developing a garden design concept for the Delaware Health and Social Services and creating a meadow management plan for Bartram’s Garden in Philadelphia.

The 2011 Professional Outreach Project is now underway! This year the Longwood Graduate Fellows are teaming up with the Scott Arboretum of Swarthmore College.   The Scott Arboretum encompasses the entire Swarthmore College campus and it is free and open to the public every day.  The beautiful grounds helped Swarthmore gain the title as one of the most beautiful campuses in the country.  In their work with the Scott Arboretum, the Fellows will look at two major issues: membership growth and strategies to increase student and community interaction with the Arboretum.

The Fellows begin this year’s project with extensive research.  They hope to get a better understanding of the Scott Arboretum, its staff, vision, programs and connection to Swarthmore College.  They will look at the curriculum and event calendar at Swarthmore to find ways to link the College to the Arboretum.  They will also benchmark other university arboreta and gardens to determine best practices for connecting students to the collections.  Finally, the Fellows will research cultural events in the Philadelphia area that may have a relevant link to programs at the Scott Arboretum.

Once they identify areas of potential growth the Fellows will give the Scott Arboretum recommendations for programs and their implementation.  The Swarthmore College events calendar will be used to add events appropriately and the Scott Arboretum’s resources will be considered to ensure the longevity of these new programs.

In the final phase of POP 2011, the Fellows will use their research to help grow the membership base by including programs and events that will attract visitors from the surrounding community.  The Fellows look forward to the product of their research in the coming weeks.  Keep up with the POP progress on the LGP blog!