Category Archives: Conferences

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…

The Power of the Internet; Museums and the Web 2011

(written by Aubree Pack)

This month I had the opportunity to attend a conference I’ve had my eye on since last year. Although my first love will always be horticulture, my interests have grown to include understanding how public horticulture institutions can utilize the different opportunities that technology can provide. Exploring how we can use technology in innovative, sustainable, and problem solving ways is a passion of mine.

Museums and the Web, hosted by the Archives and Museum Informatics organization, is designed by and for museum professionals, features the best work from around the world, and highlights the use of new technologies in the museum context. Imagine my excitement when it was being held at the Loews Hotel in Philadelphia this year! Over 25 countries were represented and over 600 individuals attended.

(A selected slide from the Plenary Session)

The opening plenary session was a fun start – it was presented by Kristen Purcell of the Pew Internet Research group. She provided an overview of the data they had found for currently trending topics. The overall focus was on how the internet is currently shaping our country. Some of the subtopics included cell phone use across all demographics, teens use of texting and social media (it may surprise you, but teens are using social media less and less – primarily because it’s no longer ‘their’ space. Parents have invaded!), mobile, the changes in how society finds information, etc.

(Another selected slide from the Plenary Session)

A new experience for me was the ‘un-conference’. After my confusion as to what it meant subsided, I was really excited about it.  (thank you Wikipedia! Yes, I use Wikipedia; I openly admit that I’m not afraid of user generated content :)) Okay, so if you don’t know what an un-conference session is, it’s a participant driven session where anyone can suggest a topic and groups are formed around those topics. (I attended Crowdsourcing Plus Tools for Mobile User Generated Content)

(Here is part of the list of topics that came up in the un-conference – it was really hard to choose!)

Other sessions I attended were Social Media and Organization Change, Online Presence and the Act of ‘Just Not Being There‘, Mobile and Geolocation Issues (Getting on, not under, the mobile 2.0 bus), Web Crit Room (existing webpages were evaluated by a panel of professionals), How to Evaluate Online Success, Professional Forum on Re-Thinking Evaluation Metrics, Mini Workshop on Grid Based Web Design, Mobile Crit Room (existing mobile initiatives were evaluated by a panel of professionals), and a few other in conference opportunities. A few of these sessions were direct connections with my thesis research, so it was great to speak with professionals about their similar work. Here’s a teaser about my thesis, should you be interested…

(From the Mobile Crit Room – they put a camera over a smartphone so we could all see the multiple apps)

I would love to talk to anyone about these sessions that is interested; I’m not going to put details abut them here lest this blog post become WAY too long. But I’ve learned so much from this conference; I’m hoping to continue to attend them in the future.

Questions? Comments? Would love to hear them! E-mail me at aubreecherie (at) gmail (dot) com

Spring in Colonial Williamsburg

Last weekend Raakel Toppila, first year Longwood Graduate Fellow and John Moore, second year Professional Gardener Student attended Colonial Williamsburg’s 65th Annual Garden Symposium in Williamsburg, Virginia. John and Raakel were the recipients of the Williamsburg Garden Symposium Student Scholarships generously supported by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and a number of conference attendees.

(Duke of Gloucester Street in the historic area of Colonial Williamsburg)

Laura Viancour, Manager of Garden Programs at Colonial Williamsburg, made John and Raakel feel welcome by introducing them to some of the speakers and ensuring that they gained the most from the symposium.


(Lambs – less than a week old!)

The charm and the weather of Williamsburg did not disappoint. The flowering cherries, red bud, dogwood, paw paw, and oaks seemed especially lovely in the 80-degree weather.


(Asimina triloba (paw paw) in bloom)

John and Raakel spent a delightful two-days learning from the “who’s-who” in horticulture including host of Growing a Greener World, Joe Lamp’l, the “perennial diva” Stephanie Cohen, garden author Suzy Bales and director of the Morris Aboretum, Paul Meyer, to name a few. Following morning sessions with the featured speakers, the students were able to spend afternoons with staff of Colonial Williamsburg learning about the plants of 18th century town and how they were used. Highlights from the conference included hearing from the University of Delaware’s Doug Tallamy about Bringing Nature Home through the use of native plants in the home garden to attract insects, birds and other animals. A behind the scenes look at the nursery offered a whirlwind introduction to saving vegetable seeds, the use of plants for dying textiles, the importance of honeybees for pollination, and a rare breeds program for livestock which seeks to preserve genetic diversity in animals.

The symposium offered an outstanding opportunity for John and Raakel to visit the colonial town while learning about the topic they love most.

(Dusk in the Colonial Garden)

 



Close Encounters of the Cacti Kind: APGA Design and Planning Symposium

Last week, Second Year Fellow, Zoe Panchen attended APGA’s Design and Planning Symposium at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, AZ. With the symposium entitled “Collections and Design: Power to the Plants”, plants played centre stage in all the presentations and discussions.

The eye-catching entrance area of Desert Botanical Garden

The pre-conference tour visited Frank Lloyd-Wright’s intriguing winter camp, Taliesin West, where attendees learned about Lloyd Wright’s architectural philosophy, the Arizonan desert plant palate and how these plants influenced his designs: bio-mimicry is not new!

Teddy Bear Cholla (Cylindropuntia bigelovii) at Taliesin West - the Arizona desert life inspired Frank Lloyd Wright's Architectural design

Public garden staff had teamed up with landscape architects to deliver an inspiring set of presentations on how to “wow” the public in a garden. The first day focused on design principles and the second on using plant designs to educate and raise awareness of topical issues such as conservation and climate change.

The Desert Botanical Garden had stunning displays to inspire desert style gardening. Foreground: Golden Barrel Cacti (Echinocactus grusonii); Background Giant Sagauro (Carnegiea gigantea)

There was also plenty of time during and after the symposium to explore the Desert Botanical Garden’s stunning designed cacti gardens, natural areas and informative ethnobotany trail. The weather was perfect, sunny and warm and the cacti were just starting to bloom. Photo ops abounded!

Mammallaria sp. in flower at Desert Botanical Garden

Post conference, Zoe took the opportunity to visit the Boyce Thompson Arboretum established by mining magnet and philanthropist William Boyce Thompson and now run as a state park. The arboretum has stunning cactus gardens, beautiful natural areas and an impressive succulent and cacti collection.


Stunning cacti garden at Boyce Thompson Arboretum

The high trail through Boyce Thompson Arboretum's natural area takes the visitor across the Queen Creek on a suspension bridge and along a precipitous trail clinging to the canyon cliff

Want MORE in 2011?

First year students, Dongah Shin and Kate Baltzell, have been helping to produce aspects of the marketing campaign for the APGA 2011 Conference in Philadelphia, PA. If you haven’t heard, this Conference is going to be MORE of everything-MORE gardens, MORE sessions, MORE tracks, MORE networking, and MORE fun.

We have had a great time working with the Marketing Committee on this “revolutionary” conference. One of the Marketing Committee’s most recent tasks was the production of a brief video explaining the concept of the Conference and generating excitement for what’s to come with the attendees of the 2010 APGA Conference in Atlanta. We were lucky to work with some great leaders of the public garden world to shoot the video and are happy to share with you a few of the photos from that day…PLUS the video! Have a look and we hope to see you in Philadelphia.

Kate's 15 minutes of fame

Dongah's turn in the spotlight

Dongah's turn in the spotlight

Dr. Lyons being interviewed

Dr. Lyons being interviewed

The crew hard at work in the Acacia passage

The crew hard at work in the Acacia passage at Longwood Gardens

Use this link to view the video or send to friends!

18th-Century Fun at the Colonial Williamsburg Garden Symposium!

Three of us – Laura Aschenbeck, Shari Edelson, and Keelin Purcell – just returned from the Timeless Lessons from Historic Gardens conference, a two-day symposium presented by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation in partnership with the American Horticultural Society. The conference was held in Colonial Williamsburg, VA, and included informative lectures, walking tours of Williamsburg’s beautiful 18th-Century gardens, and even a culinary demonstration! The weather was perfect, and the gardens were in peak spring bloom with colorful heirloom tulips, redbud trees, Carolina jessamine, and fragrant lilacs.

Our host for the weekend was Laura Viancour, Manager of Colonial Williamsburg’s garden programs. She oriented us to the gardens, introduced us to a number of conference speakers and attendees, and served as a great guide and source of information all around!

The three of us attended the conference as recipients of a generous student scholarship made possible by supporters of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, as well as by donations from other conference attendees. We thank all of these donors for making it possible for us to attend – the experience was fun and educational, and provided a great opportunity for us to learn about historic gardens in Williamsburg and around the country.

Since Shari and Keelin had never been to Colonial Williamsburg, and Laura hadn’t been since she was a kid, we were all excited to get a chance to look around the garden areas. On the first day, we all went on the Horticulture in the Historic Area tour, which was a self-guided opportunity to meet with different garden experts throughout the grounds. We spoke with arborists, gardeners, and landscapers about how they plan and maintain the historical plantings. The garden beds were bursting with spring tulips, narcissus, and other bulbs, and newborn lambs were grazing in pastures throughout the town.

Senior gardener Charles Spruell talks to Symposium attendees about the management of one of the gardens.

Later Sunday afternoon, Laura attended a session entitled, “From Field to Fork.” Executive Chef Rhys H. Lewis, of the Williamsburg Lodge, demonstrated the use of local, seasonal produce in recipes used at the Lodge. From a mixed greens salad with wild honey vinaigrette and poached pears to seared scallops with roasted corn relish, the audience gained a new appreciation for the use of ingredients from field to fork. Laura rounded out her delicious afternoon by exploring Colonial Williamsburg vegetable gardens and chatting with the interpreters about 18th century cultivation techniques.

These beautiful yet functional glass pieces were often used as season extenders for cool season vegetables.

On Monday, all three of us attended a great lecture by Scott Kunst, landscape historian and proprietor of Old House Gardens, the only mail-order company in the U.S. specializing in heirloom bulbs. Scott talked about the importance of preserving these historic plants, and introduced the audience to a few of his favorites, including the ruffly parrot tulips that became popular during the tulip craze of the 18th century. Scott works closely with Colonial Williamsburg’s horticultural staff to identify period-appropriate bulbs for the gardens. Landscape supervisor Susan Dieppre told us that when assembling her fall bulb order, she wouldn’t be without the Old House Gardens catalog!

Beautiful heirloom tulips bloom in one of Colonial Wiliamsburg's period gardens.

All in all, the three of us had a fantastic time in Colonial Williamsburg. We’d love to go back for another visit – perhaps next spring, when the Garden Symposium rolls around again!

Association of Zoological Horticulture Annual Conference in Jacksonville, FL from September 26 -30, 2009

Kate Baltzell, first year fellow, attended the Association of Zoological Horticulture’s annual conference in Jacksonville, FL entitled ‘Flora Meets Fauna’.

Welcome to Jacksonville! The host hotel was situated right on the St. Johns River with a great view of the Jacksonville city skyline.

Welcome to Jacksonville! The host hotel was situated right on the St. Johns River with a great view of the Jacksonville city skyline.

The five day conference at the end of September was sponsored by the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens. The schedule was packed full of informative presentations covering a range of topics including: the design of the new gardens at Jacksonville Zoo, bee keeping efforts at the Pittsburgh Zoo, invasive plant issues, and plant conservation partnerships. The opportunity to meet and network with other professionals within the field was a great learning experience. Kate looks forward to maintaining these relationships through thesis work and future ventures. During the conference, the group of zoo professionals had the chance to tour Kanapaha Botanical Garden and Jacksonville Zoo. Kate was excited to see the Longwood Hybrid Victoria Lily at both locations! Thanks for the great introduction into AZH and a fulfilling first time conference…See you next year!

Kanapaha Botanical Gardens in Gainesville, FL has a great display of 'Longwood Hybrid' water lilies. These overlapping platters are a much different sight than what visitors see at the lily ponds at Longwood Gardens.

Kanapaha Botanical Gardens in Gainesville, FL has a great display of 'Longwood Hybrid' water lilies. These overlapping platters are a much different sight than what visitors see at the lily ponds at Longwood Gardens.

Opened in the spring of 2005, the 'Savanna Blooms' area of Jacksonville Zoo and Garden is quite unique.  This garden is inspired after a South African oasis with transitions from soft grasslands and fine textured acacia leaves at each entrance into a bold contemporary garden at its core.

Opened in the spring of 2005, the 'Savanna Blooms' area of Jacksonville Zoo and Garden is quite unique. This garden is inspired after a South African oasis with transitions from soft grasslands and fine textured acacia leaves at each entrance into a bold contemporary garden at its core.

After wandering through the Savanna Blooms' pathways, Kate was pleasantly surprised with what she found...Life sized elephant statues!

After wandering through the Savanna Blooms' pathways, Kate was pleasantly surprised with what she found...Life sized elephant statues!

Flamingos and 'Longwood Hybrid' water platters-what a great example of flora meeting fauna at Jacksonville Zoo and Garden.

Flamingos and 'Longwood Hybrid' water platters-what a great example of flora meeting fauna at Jacksonville Zoo and Garden.

Seasonal Stingray exhibit at Jacksonville Zoo and Garden-Kate's first encounter with a stingray.  The expression says it all...Yeesh!

Seasonal Stingray exhibit at Jacksonville Zoo and Garden-Kate's first encounter with a stingray. The expression says it all...Yeesh!

Jacksonville Zoo and Garden opened the Gardens at Trout River Plaza in September 2007. The water spilling over the fountain helps to accentuate the menagerie of animals depicted in the mosaic under visitors' feet.  Kids love splashing around in the fountain to beat the hot Florida heat!

Jacksonville Zoo and Garden opened the Gardens at Trout River Plaza in September 2007. The water spilling over the fountain helps to accentuate the menagerie of animals depicted in the mosaic under visitors' feet. Kids love splashing around in the fountain to beat the hot Florida heat!

Jacksonville Zoo and Garden NEWEST addition-Most recently, Jacksonville Zoo and Garden opened an Asian fusion inspired garden. This area includes an expertly selected green bridge, a classic moongate entrance, and a bamboo garden. The hedge framing this photo will continue to be maintained as a 'window' into the garden beyond. The gardens at Jacksonville Zoo and Garden are setting standards for zoo horticulture and definitely require a return visit in the future.

Jacksonville Zoo and Garden NEWEST addition-Most recently, Jacksonville Zoo and Garden opened an Asian fusion inspired garden. This area includes an expertly selected green bridge, a classic moongate entrance, and a bamboo garden. The hedge framing this photo will continue to be maintained as a 'window' into the garden beyond. The gardens at Jacksonville Zoo and Garden are setting standards for zoo horticulture and definitely require a return visit in the future.

October 16, 2009, Perennial Plant Conference, Scott Arboretum, PA

On 16th October Zoe Panchen attended the Perennial Plant Conference hosted by the Scott Aboretum at Swarthmore College. It was a wet and cold day, perfect for being inside to see and hear about beautiful, colourful perennials. The auditorium was packed with over 500 people from public gardens, commercial horticulture companies and avid gardeners attending. There were six excellent presentations given. Zoe found three of the presentations stood out in particular for her.
The stunning pictures of Jackueline van der Kloet’s bulb designs in Europe and the US brought anticipation of spring colour on a dreary autumn day. Van der Kleet explained her approach of naturalised bulb plantings where two or three bulbs of complimentary height, colour, texture and bloom time are planted in drifts to give the effect of, in her words, “the bulb flowers dancing above the foliage”.
Jimmy Turner, Director of Gardens at the Dallas Arboretum & Botanical Garden, spoke at a mile a minute in a Texan drawl but had the audience enthralled with what could have been a dry topic of the A to Z of outstanding perennials from the Arboretum’s trial gardens. His tongue in cheek moto was “if we can’t kill the plants nobody can” refering to the extremely tough conditions perennial must endure in Dallas, Texas.
Tomasz Anisko, Curator of Plants at Longwood Gardens, spoke on perennial bloom times. He started with a very clear and concise explaination of the botany behind bloom times and horticulture cultural practises relating to flowering and then finished with some very effective charts on chosing perenials for a colour scheme to give blooms from spring to fall.
As an incentive for participants to be green, the conference offered a $10 refund to those that used the Philadelphia public transport system (SEPTA) to get to the conference. Zoe took advantage of this offer and enjoyed a relaxed journey by train from Newark to Swarthmore.

Parish Hall, Swarthmore College

Parish Hall, Swarthmore College

Swarthnore College Amphitheatre

Swarthnore College Amphitheatre

October 7-9, 2009 – WaterSmart Innovations Conference, Las Vegas, NV

In early October second year Fellow, Daniel Stern, attended the 2nd WaterSmart Innovations Conference to further his thesis research on public gardens and water-wise landscaping. The Southern Nevada Water Authority, EPA’s WaterSense Program, and the American Water Works Association were the primary sponsors of the conference, which brought together industry, government, and other professionals to share innovative approaches to water efficiency. Indeed, conference attendees needed to look no further than artificial turf used in the landscape outside the hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, where the average rainfall is less than four inches per year, to appreciate the dire need for water conservation.

View of desert scrub vegetation and colorful hills in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area outside of Las Vegas, NV

View of desert scrub vegetation and colorful hills in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area outside of Las Vegas, NV

The conference took place at the South Point Hotel and Conference Center and drew over 1,000 participants from 42 states and 12 countries. Featuring 130 half-hour concurrent sessions in a variety of professional tracks and more than 100 exhibitors the casino was abuzz with activity. The three-day event was punctuated by keynote addresses by Dan Bena, the international sustainability director for PepsiCo, and Jill Gill, former CEO of the Water Corporation of Western Australia and inaugural chairman of Water Australia. Another highlight of the conference was Railbird’s 2009 Intelligent Use of Water award ceremony http://www.rainbird.com/iuow/award.htm. The Naples Botanical Garden, Inc. of Naples, FL was awarded the 2009 Intelligent Use of Water™ Leadership Award. The evening’s event also featured a screening of the finalists in the 2009 Intelligent Use of Water Film Competition http://www.iuowfilm.com/.

Roof from old water resevoir retrofitted to serve as an awning over parking area and hold banks of photovoltaics at Springs Preserve

Roof from old water resevoir retrofitted to serve as an awning over parking area and hold banks of photovoltaics at Springs Preserve

Following the conference, Daniel visited The Springs Preserve, a 180-acre cultural site located three miles north of downtown Las Vegas http://www.springspreserve.org/html/home.html. There, Daniel met with Jay Nichols, General Curator, to get an overview of the institution’s history and tour of the site. The Las Vegas Valley Water District owns the Springs Preserve and started developing the site in 2005 as part of their public service strategic plan. The site houses the Desert Living Center, a campus of platinum LEED certified buildings dedicated to environmental education and providing a vision of sustainability by demonstrating “green” building techniques. Other major components of Springs Preserve include the Origen Experience, which features exhibits about the history of Las Vegas, and the Nevada State Museum.

Bird sculptures in the children's garden at Springs Preserve

Bird sculptures in the children's garden at Springs Preserve

Outside, Daniel explored the preserve’s carefully managed habitat collections that showcase the region’s history, geology, flora and fauna and also toured its eight-acre botanical gardens. The botanical garden’s history goes back to 1982 when the local Kiwanis Club opened a 2.5-acre Water Conservation Park on a different piece of land donated by the Las Vegas Valley Water District. The park’s gardens, which featured several hundred drought tolerant and regionally adapted species, was renamed the Desert Demonstration Gardens in 1990. In 2007, the Demonstration Gardens closed and many of its mature specimens were moved to the Springs Preserve site to form the backbone of its botanical garden. Today, the Garden provides educational outreach about water-efficient landscaping through demonstration gardens, classes, and expert advice.

Water-efficient display showing the irrigation demands of different kinds of turf at Springs Preserve

Water-efficient display showing the irrigation demands of different kinds of turf at Springs Preserve

Display of drought-tolerant plants at the Springs Preserve Botanical Garden

Display of drought-tolerant plants at the Springs Preserve Botanical Garden

Before flying back to the east coast, Daniel took advantage of the opportunity to visit a couple of nearby natural areas. He spent a morning hiking to Keystone Thrust in the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area and a scenic drive through Valley of Fire State Park in the afternoon. Both sites afforded a fantastic opportunity to learn about the region’s geological history, marvel at the beautiful rock formations, and practice some outdoor photography.

View of the Calico Hills in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area

View of the Calico Hills in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area

Valley of Fire State Park, NV

Valley of Fire State Park, NV

Red sandstone (formed during the Jurassic period) at Valley of Fire State Park

Red sandstone (formed during the Jurassic period) at Valley of Fire State Park

October 2, 2009 – Global Plant Conservation Science and Outreach

Rebecca Pineo attended this year’s Janet Meakin Poor Research Symposium, hosted by Chicago Botanic Gardens and co-sponsored by Botanic Gardens Conservation International.  The keynote speaker, Steven Blackmore, Regius Keeper of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Scotland, highlighted the positive role gardens can play in promoting sustainability.  Other speakers addressed how plant science, education, outreach, and public-private partnerships can aid conservation and help tackle the challenges of climate change.