Reminder: Submit your LGP Symposium Travel Award Applications!

 

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Speakers at the 2016 LGP Conference included Paul Smith (BGCI), Nayra Pacheco (Just Communities), Joseph McGill (Magnolia Plantations and the Slave Dwelling Project), and Guina Hammond (PHS)

The Fellows would like to remind students and emerging professionals of the Travel Award opportunity for the 2017 Longwood Graduate Symposium and encourage anyone interested to apply. The deadline is Sunday, January 8th, 2017. Additional information and applications can be found here.

This week, we are excited to feature Alexa Wright – current Education Intern at Longwood Gardens! Alexa has a BA in Biology from Oberlin College, and her MS in Horticulture from NC State. Below, she shares her experience as a Travel Awardee in last year’s Longwood Graduate Symposium!

“Attending the 2016 Longwood Graduate Program Symposium immersed me in the culture and organization of the public garden world. I was able to partake in conversations about issues that cultural institutions (especially public gardens) face and help brainstorm ways to overcome them.  I was also able to engage with those who share my passion for horticulture and environmental education. I enjoyed all of the wonderful aspects of attending a symposium from the thought-provoking dialogue and networking to the sense of inspiration from the unique experiences and knowledge obtained. As an Emerging Professionals Travel Awardee I was also able to be behind-the-scenes and have excellent one-on-one conversations with the guest speakers and surround myself with others like me, current students, recent graduates and those who were beginning their careers in the public horticulture field.

The 2016 Graduate Symposium was a stepping stone for my career. After attending the symposium I applied and was selected for a yearlong internship in the education department at Longwood Gardens. Being a travel awardee at the graduate symposium gave me unique perspective, fresh ideas and an edge in the job market. Additionally, meeting, conversing with and receiving advice from attendees helped and motivated me as an emerging professional in the field. The people (especially the graduate students) were awesome, the conversations (and meals) were amazing and overall it was an incredible experience!”

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Longwood Graduate Fellows and Travel Awardees take a photo with Paul and Martha Parvis, long-time supporters of the program and Symposium! Alexa Wright is second from the right in this photograph.

 

Thanks for sharing your experience with us, Alexa! The Fellows look forward to meeting 2017’s Travel Awardees!

Further updates (including open registration and speaker announcements) will be posted through this blog (http://agdev.anr.udel.edu/longwoodgradblog/) as well as our Facebook page.

For questions about the Travel Award, please contact Erin Kinley at ekinley@udel.edu. Questions about the Symposium event can be sent to Elizabeth Barton at ebarton@longwoodgardens.org.

 

 

 

 

The Sounds of the Season: It’s Christmas at Longwood!

Happy Holidays from the Longwood Graduate Program!

Each year, A Longwood Christmas invites guests to experience a garden transformation like no other. Featuring intricate design, holiday cheer, and horticultural excellence, this year’s theme, The Sounds of the Season, resonates throughout the indoor and outdoor gardens during this musically-inspired display.

This year's theme: The Sounds of the Season

This year’s theme: The Sounds of the Season

As Longwood’s most popular season, thousands flock to the conservatory to take shelter from the cold and marvel at the elaborate sights. If you’ve ever found yourself stopped in your tracks when greeted with an indoor display and wondered, “How on earth did they do that?”, you’re not alone! Thanks to the LGP’s Mentorship Program, which pairs each Fellow with a Longwood staff member, I consulted Jim Sutton, Display Designer and my mentor, on this very question. The short answer: it takes a village, specifically a Longwood village.

As a mentor, Jim understands the importance of highlighting lessons in project management through experiential learning opportunities at Longwood. When it comes to preparing for and installing A Longwood Christmas, the lesson is clear: communication and teamwork. This is exemplified in one of this year’s grandest features, a two-story Christmas tree displayed on the Fern Floor in the Exhibition Hall. Supporting over 1,000 potted poinsettias, orchids, ivies, and ferns, if you look closely you will find it’s not a tree at all! In fact, it is a modular structure designed, constructed, and maintained by numerous teams of Longwood staff.

While Jim and Display Design intern, Greg Schival, produced the concept and drawings for the tree, Longwood’s carpenters and metal shop brought the structure to life, building each section like a puzzle piece able to lock in and come apart. Meticulously crafted with safety in mind, the tree’s base is comprised of wood and rests on the floor. Its top, however, is a separate metal piece suspended from the ceiling and secured through a base within its counterpart. Outfitted with lights and irrigation, Koa Kanamee, Senior Gardener, made sure plants were added in a top-down fashion to preserve a finished look throughout the installation process.

Longwood’s strong culture of teamwork has been bolstered in recent years with another Mentorship Program, one specifically designed to support the Horticulture staff in the Christmas season. Voices and talents from throughout the gardens form a network of committees, collaborating among themselves and with one another, to create the wonder that is A Longwood Christmas without losing site of the nuances that make for an enchanting guest experience.

Make your plan to visit A Longwood Christmas: Sounds of the Season today!

Make your plan to visit A Longwood Christmas: Sounds of the Season today!

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POP 2016 Wrap Up: TheDCH Garden Site Vision Plan

The Fellows are excited to present the finished product of the 2016 Professional Outreach Project – a Garden Vision Plan for the Delaware Center for Horticulture (TheDCH).

It has been a busy and educational summer working with TheDCH. June and July were spent conducting a document review of the organization and making site observations. August was heavily focused on internal stakeholder interviews, and external benchmarking interviews of organizations with similar missions, site sizes, and access. September saw an intimate gathering of staff, board members, community stakeholders, and TheDCH members for a Community Workshop. Key considerations included the renovation of Conaty Park next door to include a children’s playground, as well as ways to generate revenue for the new garden site.

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TheDCH Executive Director Vikram Krishnamurthy, and Longwood Fellows Elizabeth Barton and Erin Kinley during the first site visit.

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The renovation of Conaty Park from basketball court to playground. The orange fencing marks the future rain garden between TheDCH site and Conaty.

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POP Lead Fellow Tracy Qiu describing the Garden Site during the Community Workshop

The Fellows then compiled, synthesized, and analyzed document notes, interview data, and community workshop observations into the final report – a 60+ page document detailing the past, present, and potential future activities of the garden site. Recommendations and resources were included to help guide the identity of the garden as TheDCH grows over time.

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Cover page for the 2016 POP Report

Lastly, the Fellows were honored to present their findings to TheDCH staff, board, and membership at TheDCH Annual Meeting on October 26, sharing their observations and recommendations with the larger community. The Fellows would like to thank TheDCH staff, board, and membership, as well as the 2016 POP Advisory Committee. The 2016 Professional Outreach Project was a valuable hands-on experience in the public garden field, and the Fellows look forward to seeing the future development of the garden site!

NAX Day 4: Moore Farms Botanical Garden

Moore Farms Botanical Garden

The Fire Tower Center and Garden greet visitors with warmth and hospitality.

Like a horticultural beacon among a sea of sorghum fields, Moore Farms Botanical Garden draws over 8,000 visitors each year through its whimsical designs, educational programming, and southern hospitality. This “very public private garden” has been a powerhouse of change both within the garden gates and beyond, growing new community initiatives every day. A fairly young garden, the passion and vibrancy of the Moore Farms staff shined through every project, conversation, and tour, providing the Fellows with an unforgettable experience.

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Dense, colorful plantings delight visitors and guide them throughout the garden.

Once a landscape of tobacco fields as far as the eye could see, garden founder Darla Moore envisioned Moore Farms Botanical Garden as a place of respite and welcome to all who visited. Indeed, in the spirit of true southern hospitality, staff treated the Fellows to a home-cooked meal Wednesday evening before we even explored the gardens Thursday morning, which were a treat in their own right!

Beginning at the Fire Tower Center, which functions as the hub for garden visitors and education, the Fellows toured through long leaf pine corridors, fire-restoration projects in the Pine Bay garden, a formal garden with seasonal displays, a mature green roof (and wall!), trial gardens, and state-of-the-art green house facilities.

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Completed in the winter of 2012, the green roof and living wall is irrigated using recycled water distributed through an overhead system.

At the culmination of their visit, the Fellows climbed the site’s 110’ tall fire tower to get a bird’s eye view of the gardens and see how they function together to provide a multitude of offerings to visitors.

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View of Fire Tower Center Garden from atop the garden’s 100′ tall tower.

 

Beyond the garden gates, Moore Farms’ reach extends throughout nearby Lake City, Ms. Moore’s hometown. Her influence and generosity can be seen throughout the community in any number of public landscapes including the Village Green, over 50 containers, and many other pro bono consultation projects completed for local businesses. As a private garden, Moore Farms is able to give back to the community because it directs all monetary returns from events and programs back into other local groups and organizations.

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Horticulture Supervisor Erik Healy discusses the impact of Moore Farms’ public landscapes projects within Lake City.

The Fellows would like to thank the amazing staff at Moore Farms Botanical Garden, especially Education and Events Manager Rebecca Turk, for not only sharing such a special and unique place, but also going above and beyond to provide an incredible guest experience!

NAX Day 3: A Man Named Pearl

On a drizzly Wednesday morning, the Fellows pulled up to a small house nestled in Bishopville, South Carolina. Pearl Fryar, legendary topiary artist and community leader, was seated in a John Deere gator, flipping through the pages of the Lee County Observer.

Pearl Fryar graciously spent the better part of the morning touring with the Longwood Fellows

Today’s paper included a story on the Pearl Fryar Topiary Garden, and Pearl proudly showed us the article, which highlighted a generous donation from the local Waffle House in order to support the garden’s scholarship fund. A self-proclaimed “average student” with no training in horticulture, Pearl was passionate about supporting at-risk youth and “C-level” students in their creative and career goals.

Pearl and the Fellows

Pearl and the Fellows

“My point to students is: don’t allow someone to tell you what you can and can’t do by some test score, […] because you may be average academically and very talented in some other area.” The Friends of Pearl Fryar’s Topiary Garden scholarship was most recently awarded to two local high school students who would be attending technical college in the fall.

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Pearl’s organic sculptures often start as rescue’s from the discard pile

The same love and nurture was evident as we toured the garden. Starting in the 1980’s, Pearl defied stereotypes and prejudices towards black/African-American homeowners by winning Yard of the Month. He then continued to astound neighbors and plantsmen with his abstract topiary sculptures. Of all the specimens in his three-acre garden, over 70% came from discarded nursery plants meant for the compost pile. The message is united throughout the garden: with love, encouragement, and a steady hand, something that might have slipped through the cracks can become something incredible. One person can achieve incredible things against seemingly impossible odds.

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One of the more infamous pieces of work, this topiary has a distinct African art influence

The Fellows were deeply moved and inspired by Pearl’s creativity and positive spirit. We look forward to seeing how the garden will progress as part of the Garden Conservancy, and hope to see it remain as a beacon of Love, Peace, and Goodwill (the garden’s motto) in Bishopville and all of South Carolina.

Love, peace, and goodwill: Pearl's motto for the garden. This still was taken from the Youtube video Planting Hope

Love, peace, and goodwill: Pearl’s motto for the garden. This still was taken from the Youtube video Planting Hope

To learn more about the Pearl Fryar Topiary Garden, please check out their website and documentary, “A Man Named Pearl“. Donations for both the garden and its scholarship fund can be made at www.pearlfryar.com or through the Garden Conservancy Donation page.

 

 

NAX Day 2: South Carolina Botanical Garden

Today we spent a scorching afternoon with Dr. Patrick McMillan at the South Carolina Botanical Garden on the Clemson University campus. Our tour focused on the Natural Heritage Trail, a quarter mile experience that takes the visitor through all of the major ecosystems of South Carolina.

Several signs like this one are installed over the length of the Natural Heritage Trail to orient visitors.

Several signs like this one are installed over the length of the Natural Heritage Trail to orient visitors.

A holistic, ecosystem-focused approach is evident in this garden as the team strives for healthy authenticity. We saw thriving pollinator communities, many federally threatened plant species, and visually stunning displays.

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Many plant species along the trail were swarming with healthy pollinator communities

The Natural Heritage Trail is a fascinating work in progress and the Fellows look forward to following the future of this innovative garden. Thank you to Dr. McMillan and to the staff and students of the South Carolina Botanic Garden for generously sharing your time and knowledge!

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The Natural Heritage Trail winds through South Carolina forest ecosystems, providing welcome shade.

 

 

NAX Day 1: Biltmore House and Gardens

Hello, friends and followers of the Longwood Graduate Program! This week, the Fellows are exploring the Carolinas on their North American Experience (NAX). NAX is part of the core LGP curriculum and allows the Fellows to explore public gardens in another region of North America while forging connections with professionals from across the country.

The Fellows’ adventure began today at Biltmore House and Gardens in Asheville, North Carolina. Biltmore is one of the few for-profit public gardens in the U.S. and was created from the original Vanderbilt estate. As one of the original founders of Biltmore said, “We don’t preserve Biltmore to make a profit, we make a profit to preserve Biltmore.”

An incredible vista of Biltmore house that the Fellows captured on their tour of the 8,000-acre property.

An incredible vista of Biltmore house that the Fellows captured on their tour of the 8,000-acre property.

To generate that profit, Biltmore leverages every part of its 8,000 acre-estate to create an incredible and unique visitor experience. Biltmore encompasses multiple businesses beyond the house and gardens, including a vineyard, winery, equestrian facilities, agricultural production, and outdoor recreation. The organization even offers multiple on-site accommodation options for guests to immerse themselves in the Biltmore atmosphere.

The Fellows stop to take in the vineyard views while on their tour with Biltmore Director of Horticulture Parker Andes.

The Fellows stop to take in the vineyard views while on their tour with Biltmore Director of Horticulture Parker Andes.

The Fellows would like to thank all of the fantastic directors and staff at Biltmore for their time, wisdom, and hospitality. It truly made for an unforgettable experience!

Professional Outreach Project 2016

It’s August, and the Fellows are three months into this year’s Professional Outreach Project with the Delaware Center for Horticulture. The project will result in a Garden Site Vision Plan for TheDCH’s Demonstration Garden. Created in 1987 and dedicated in 1992, the original grounds of TheDCH “aimed to showcase urban gardening ideas”. Now almost thirty years later, the garden site is under renovation as TheDCH undergoes a new strategic planning phase. The Fellows will gather feedback from TheDCH’s stakeholders and community members to create a vision for what the garden site could be in the future.  

The 2017 LGP Fellows with Vikram Krishnamurthy, TheDCH Executive Director, and Ann Mattingly (TheDCH Director of Programs) on their first site visit!

The 2017 LGP Fellows on their first site visit with TheDCH Executive Director Vikram Krishnamurthy and Director of Programs Ann Mattingly.

To date, the Fellows have conducted site visits, staff interviews, external benchmarking, and community workshop planning. The Fellows will be holding a community workshop at TheDCH on September 7th from 6 – 8pm to invite feedback and discussion from local neighbors and supporters of the organization. Their final report will be presented on October 26th at TheDCH’s Annual Meeting.

American Public Gardens Association 2016 Annual Conference

The American Public Gardens Association Annual Conference in Miami was an amazing and educational experience for the Longwood Graduate Fellows and a fitting send-off for the Class of 2016. The conference theme, Changing Perspectives: Planting for the Future, was well supported with panels, presentations and workshops.

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Erin Kinley and Tracy Qiu before setting off on a wet hike in Big Cypress National Preserve

Highlights included incredible tours of local gardens, two thought-provoking keynote presentations, and a round of Plant Jeopardy hosted by Association President, Casey Sclar.

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Casey Sclar (aka Alex Tree-bec) hosts a stimulating game of Plant Jeopardy

The Emerging Professionals Student Presentations illustrated the thoughts of the next generation of public horticulturists. Documenting, verifying and protecting our living collections was one theme featured by Emily Detrick (“Documenting Living Collections”, Cornell University), Ben Stormes (“Verification of Identify in the Living Collections”, Cornell University), and Fran Jackson (“Managing the Risk of Water Shortage”, Longwood Graduate Program). Another theme was the connection of gardens with the community, exemplified by Mackenzie Fochs (“Culinary Connections at Public Gardens”, Longwood Graduate Program), Michelle Gluck (“How Green are the Greenest Blocks?”, Pratt Institute), and Stephanie Kuniholm (“A comparison of Public Garden Membership Programs”, Longwood Graduate Program).

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Fellows from the Class of 2015 (Sarah Leach-Smith), 2016 (Stephanie Kuniholm), and 2017 (Elizabeth Barton) came together at Vizcaya

Thank you to the American Public Gardens Association, the host gardens, and to all the conference attendees for making this a week to remember!

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A Fond Farewell from the Class of 2016

The Longwood Graduate Program Class of 2016 extends a fond farewell, with their sincerest appreciation to Longwood Gardens and the University of Delaware, as they prepare to graduate on Friday, May 27th. The Fellows’ time over the last two years has been shaped by the many amazing opportunities they took part in during the program.  They learned and gained hands-on leadership experience through many classes at the University of Delaware and projects through Longwood Gardens. Projects included supporting local organizations through two Professional Outreach Projects and leading the conversation on current public horticulture topics by organizing two symposia.  The Fellows were also able to expand their world perspective through domestic and international travel, such as their International Experience trip to Japan, North American Experience trip to Massachusetts, and numerous field trips to local public gardens and arboreta in the greater Philadelphia region.

The Class of 2016 at the Kyoto Imperial Palace during their International Experience study abroad trip to Japan. (Left to right: Keith Nevison, Mackenzie Fochs, Stephanie Kuniholm, Fran Jackson, and Andrea Brennan)

The Class of 2016 at the Kyoto Imperial Palace during their International Experience study abroad trip to Japan. (Left to right: Keith Nevison, Mackenzie Fochs, Stephanie Kuniholm, Fran Jackson, and Andrea Brennan)

The Fellows will graduate from the University of Delaware on May 27th and will be sharing the results of their thesis research during public presentations taking place at Longwood Gardens on the same day from 9:00-11:00 am in the Visitor Center Auditorium. No RSVP is necessary; all are welcome to this free event.

The seminar will be live-streamed and recorded through the Longwood Gardens Continuing Education Program. Interested individuals can register to watch for free via this link. Participants will be able to ask questions of the Fellows via a live chat and should sign in beginning at 8:45 am.

Here is a quick preview of each of the graduating Fellows’ seminar presentations:

Andrea Brennan – Conserving Oaks Through Tissue Culture

Oak acorns are recalcitrant, meaning they cannot be seed banked.  This eliminates an important method of conserving threatened oak species, and increases the importance of other techniques, such as tissue culture. This process involves growing plant tissues, like shoot tips, on nutrient media in a sterile, enclosed, and controlled environment.

Mackenzie Fochs – Exploring Culinary Arts Programming at Public Horticulture Institutions

Public gardens are a natural fit for learning about and enjoying all the culinary world has to offer. Through interviews and participant surveys, this research provides insight on the types of culinary programs currently being offered at public gardens, the audience attending them, and recommendations for creating successful and sustainable programs.

The 2016 Fellows and Judy Stevenson of Longwood Gardens, Kristin McCullin, Superintendent of Allen C. Haskell Public Gardens, and Dr. Brian Trader, Interim Director, Longwood Graduate Program.

The 2016 Fellows and Judy Stevenson of Longwood Gardens, Kristin McCullin, Superintendent of Allen C. Haskell Public Gardens, and Dr. Brian Trader, Interim Director, Longwood Graduate Program.

Fran Jackson – Managing Plant Collections Under Threat From Water Shortages

Are public gardens ready to deal with water shortage? This research documents the level of planning undertaken by gardens in Australia and the United States to manage water shortage, and explores the variety of ways they are dealing with this threat.

Stephanie Kuniholm – A Comparison of Membership Programs at Public Gardens in the United States

Public gardens seek revenue from diverse sources, including individual contributions in the form of membership dues. Despite widespread popularity at cultural institutions, the role and importance of membership programs is not well documented. This study explored differences in the administration and success of nearly 300 membership programs at public gardens.

Keith Nevison – Evaluating the Role of Phlox Cultivars in Ecological Landscaping

In 2015, Keith conducted this experiment at Mt. Cuba Center in Hockessin, DE, to compare insect attraction and nectar quality between cultivars and straight species of Phlox. This research was designed to address the growing popularity of native plant cultivars in the nursery marketplace and whether their use in ecological landscaping provides similar habitat benefits as straight species for native wildlife.

The Class of 2016 and several other members of the International Experience Japan trip in 2015, join a young couple in their wedding pictures at Okayama Kōraku-en. Okayama Castle is in the background.

The Class of 2016 and several other members of the International Experience Japan trip in 2015, join a young couple in their wedding pictures at Okayama Kōraku-en. Okayama Castle is in the background.