Snapshots of the 2017 Longwood Graduate Symposium

With over 100 attendees, the 2017 Longwood Graduate Symposium was an exciting day of economic discussions pertaining to public gardens. We had a great time exploring topics such as the Greater Philadelphia Gardens Economic Impact Report, Cleveland Botanic Garden’s Vacant to Vibrant program, gardens’ impact on community revitalization and gentrification, and the story of Singapore, a “city within a garden”.

Below are some of our favorite photos of the day, taken by Gene McCutchen, a Longwood Volunteer Photographer.

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Only One Week Left! Symposium and Webinar Registration, Day-Of Program, and Announcing Travel Awardees!

Only one week left until the symposium on March 3rd, 2017! This year’s symposium, Growing Together: Cultivating Change in the Economic Landscape, brings together a variety of speakers to discuss the economic impacts of public gardens.

Registration for the symposium is $119, with a student pricing of $59! If you can’t make it in person, consider joining us via interactive live webinar, where a Fellow will be available to moderate, take questions, and engage the audience in discussion.

Click here for a copy of the Day-Of Program!

We are also pleased to announce the 2017 Longwood Graduate Program Symposium Travel Awardees, who will join the us to learn about economic impacts of public gardens, and to make connections in the public horticulture field.

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Growing Together: Symposium Registration Open!

Registration is now open for the Longwood Graduate Symposium – Growing Together: Gardens Cultivating Change in the Economic Landscape! Registration is $119, and $59 for full-time students with ID. If you can’t make it in person, consider signing up for the webinar ($35), where a Fellow will be moderating and taking questions for the speakers.

The Fellows are excited to present this year’s line-up of speakers. They represent some great minds in economics and public horticulture alike, and are all looking forward to the discussion that the Symposium will bring.

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Reminder: Submit your LGP Symposium Travel Award Applications!



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!”


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 ( as well as our Facebook page.

For questions about the Travel Award, please contact Erin Kinley at Questions about the Symposium event can be sent to Elizabeth Barton at





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!






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.


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


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


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.


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.

Planting Design

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.

Green Roof

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.

View from Fire Tower

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.

Public Landscapes in Lake City

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 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.


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!


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