A Happy Oaktober at the International Oak Society Conference

Second year Longwood Fellow, Andrea Brennan, was excited to be able to take part in the recent International Oak Society (IOS) Conference in Lisle, IL.  The conference was hosted by the Morton Arboretum in late October – prime time of year to catch the trees resplendent in their fall color!  The oak is the state tree of Illinois. In honor of this, and of the value contributed by Morton Arboretum to the state, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner recently declared October to be State Oak Awareness Month, better known as “Oaktober”.

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Bur Oak (Quercus macrocarpa) leaves frame the view of a pond at the Morton Arboretum

In reference to the genus name of oaks, Quercus, oak fans proudly call themselves “quercophiles”. The IOS conference was quite inclusive and welcomed anyone with a love of oaks, from the hard-core scientist to the homeowner with the majestic trees planted in their yard. The wide diversity of attendees made for a fascinating variety of presentations, workshops, and tours in areas such as conservation, propagation, breeding, phylogeny (evolutionary history), collections management, and ethnobotany (study of the relationship between plants and people).

A line of trees, including a White Oak (Quercus alba), silhouetted against the setting sun at the arboretum

A line of trees, including a White Oak (Quercus alba), silhouetted against the setting sun at the arboretum

Andrea presented a poster on her thesis research of oak conservation through tissue culture. Tissue culture involves taking a piece of a plant, called a tissue, and placing it into a small container such as a test tube.  At the bottom of the container is a gel-like material that contains all the nutrients the tissue needs to survive and grow into a new plant.  Oaks tend to be difficult to grow via tissue culture, and so more research is needed to determine the best conditions for reproduction.

Oaks play a vital role in ecosystems across the globe, but the survival of many species is under threat. Tissue culture could be a valuable tool in saving these important trees.

Andrea’s remaining “oak army” growing in tissue culture

Some of Andrea’s “oak army” growing in tissue culture

Andrea had a number of oak tissues, called explants, still growing in tissue culture left from her recently concluded experiment, so she took the conference as an opportunity to give them to one of her committee members, Dr. Valerie Pence.  Dr. Pence is Director of Plant Research of the Center of Conservation Research of Endangered Wildlife at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, and will continue to study and grow the young oaks in her lab there.

Oaks standing tall at the arboretum’s Schulenberg Prairie

Oaks standing tall at the arboretum’s Schulenberg Prairie

The International Oak Society Conference was a wonderful experience with immense and enjoyable learning, engagement, and networking opportunities. This gathering of quercophiles gave attendees the chance to … branch out.

Volunteer Engagement in Santa Barbara, California

Volunteers are the heart and hands behind many public gardens and play an integral part in garden operations and engagement. First Year Fellow Tracy Qiu represented the Longwood Graduate Program at the 2015 American Public Gardens Association Volunteer Engagement Symposium, held in sunny Santa Barbara.

Fellow Tracy Qiu examines the beautiful tilework at Ganna Walska Lotusland

Fellow Tracy Qiu examines the beautiful tilework at Ganna Walska Lotusland (photo credit: Allie Skaer, Cheyenne Botanic Gardens)

The Symposium kicked off with an opening reception at Ganna Walska Lotusland, and docent-led tours provided attendees with fascinating insight on the life and loves of Madame Ganna Walska, a Polish opera singer and garden enthusiast. Her sense of style was visible all over the themed gardens in the form of lush tropical plantings, soda glass-lined gravel paths, oversized seashells surrounding a decadent pool, and many other details. “I’m an enemy of the average,” Ganna Walska is often quoted, and her vision of Lotusland certainly supports her words with its dramatic and whimsical designs.

The enchanting soda glass of Lotusland is also available in the giftshop as a souvenir!

The enchanting soda glass of Lotusland is also available in the giftshop as a souvenir!

Presentations began with a keynote address from noted environmentalist Sigrid Wright, followed by a risk management session – always an important topic when working with volunteer groups. The afternoon brought about an excellent exploration into diversity within volunteer workforces. Nayra Pacheco of Just Communities used a combination of guided exercises and free discussion to dialogue with the audience about the complex issues of race and privilege and how it relates to our volunteer workforces.

In the evening, shuttle buses whisked attendees to Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, where native plants, sustainable practices, and conservation highlight over 1,000 species of indigenous plants. A highlight of the event was an installation of yarn and fiber arts, surprising guests with bursts of color throughout the California landscape.

The breathtaking skyline of Santa Barbara Botanic Garden

The breathtaking skyline of Santa Barbara Botanic Garden

Leadership was the central theme of the final day, with sessions that discussed leadership roles within the volunteer workforce and the multiple roles that volunteer program leaders must fill on a daily basis. The Symposium closed with a tour and reception at the spectacular Casa Del Herrero, a fine example of Spanish Colonial Revival architecture.

Tracy’s favorite memories of the Symposium include Lotusland’s charismatic cacti and succulent garden, the “mirrors and windows” exercise for diversity and representation, “extreme examples” in liability and risk management, and dinner at Mesa Verde with a fabulous group of garden and volunteer professionals.

Beautiful Santa Barbara, California

Beautiful Santa Barbara, California

Many thanks to the American Public Garden Association and planning committee for organizing the symposium, and to the staff and volunteers of Ganna Walska Lotusland and Santa Barbara Botanical Gardens for such a welcoming and invigorating experience! Fellows always look forward to opportunities to develop professional skills and to network, and the 2015 Volunteer Engagement Symposium surpassed expectations.

Vita Nova: A Farm to Table Arrangement

“Vita Nova” in Latin means “new life,” and that is exactly what Longwood Graduate Fellows bring to the Vita Nova restaurant each Monday morning. As a way to connect with the greater University of Delaware community, Fellows bring fresh flowers and cuttings from the University of Delaware Botanic Garden to this fine dining restaurant located on north campus.

Tracy Qiu with flowers for you

Tracy Qiu with flowers for you

Vita Nova is run by students in the University’s Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Management program and provides hands-on experience they will use in their careers. The flowers are arranged by the students and used to decorate the tables for the week.

Winter arrangements Winter arrangements utilize greens, dried flowers, and seasonal berries

Winter arrangements Winter arrangements utilize greens, dried flowers, and seasonal berries

The University of Delaware Botanic Gardens is a research center, laboratory, and living classroom for the students and visitors that enjoy its beautiful 15 acres. The gardens have more than 3,000 species and cultivars of perennials, shrubs, and trees. Picking flowers or other greens in the garden is strictly not allowed, but the Fellows have special permission to harvest plant material for Vita Nova.

The University of Delaware Botanic Gardens is a research center, laboratory, and living classroom for the students and visitors that enjoy its beautiful 15 acres. The gardens have more than 3,000 species and cultivars of perennials, shrubs, and trees. Picking flowers or other greens in the garden is strictly not allowed, but the Fellows have special permission to harvest plant material for Vita Nova.

Felco pruners in action

Felco pruners in action

For some Fellows, long trained not to pick the flowers in a botanical garden, it can feel a little naughty to be let loose with a pair of pruners in the garden!

Fellows enjoy the chance to get outside and see what is in bloom, as well as to support Vita Nova and their delicious and educational mission. You can connect with Vita Nova on Facebook, and check out their dramatic and excellently produced new video on their blog.

2015 Outreach Project Update: Bright Spot Farms

Over the past few months, the Fellows have been busy working on their annual Professional Outreach Project. This experiential project is designed to offer the Fellows an opportunity to engage with regional professionals, gain project management experience, and work collaboratively within a specific area interest in public horticulture. This year the Fellows have partnered with Bright Spot Farms, a social enterprise program of West End Neighborhood House in Wilmington that offers hands-on horticultural job training to young adults aging out of Delaware’s foster care system. Together with the staff from Bright Spot, the Fellows are working to create an updated business and program plan to serve as a guide to increase the efficiency and sustainability of this unique and important initiative.

Bright Spot Farms Team at the Cool Spring Farmers' Market (photo courtesy of Bright Spot Farms)

Bright Spot Farms Team at the Cool Spring Farmers’ Market (photo courtesy of Bright Spot Farms)

So what exactly have they been busy doing all summer with this project? The Fellows have conducted interviews and surveys, engaged in benchmarking with similar programs all over the region and nation, become regulars at the Cool Spring Farmers’ Market (which is run by Bright Spot), followed the Mobile Market all over Wilmington, and have eaten some seriously delicious local produce grown at Bright Spot.

Read more about the great work of Bright Spot Farms or see (and taste) for yourself at the Cool Spring Farmers’ Market!

Summer Summary: Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now

Beginning the 2015-2016 school year this week has us reflecting on our accomplishments this past summer and looking toward what is ahead:

The Class of 2016 traveled throughout Massachusetts to visit The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, Mount Auburn Cemetery, and other locations owned by the Trustees of Reservations at the beginning of June. Fellows also presented their research and experiences at the American Public Gardens Association Annual Conference in Minneapolis in late June.

July brought the Class of 2017, who dove into learning about all the departments that comprise Longwood Gardens, meeting public horticulture professionals in July and August, and formulating their thesis research topics.

Several Fellows attended the American Society for Horticultural Science annual conference in New Orleans, LA at the beginning of August. They received the following awards and presented their research:

2015-07-14 00.02.57 (1)Elizabeth Barton, Class of 2017
Award: Industry Division Student Travel Grant

Research: Moderated an oral session and presented her research, “A Comparison of Organic Matter Amendments for Use in Extensive Green Roof Substrates”

 

Andrea ASHS Poster

Andrea worked hard this spring to complete experiments central to her thesis research on oak trees


Andrea Brennan, Class of 2016
Awards: 3rd Place in Scholars Ignite Competition for her speech Tissue Culture for Oak Conservation: Graduate students share their research discoveries and creations to a non-specialist audience in under 3 minutes; ASHS Travel Grant

Research: Presented posters on her research, “The Effect of 6-Benzylaminopurine (BAP) on Bud-forcing of Twelve Quercus L. Species” during two sessions: Propagation I and the Graduate Student Poster Competition

2015-07-14 00.06.12Erin Kinley, Class of 2017
Award: American Society for Horticultural Science Scholar Award

 

 

 

 

Most recently, the Class of 2016 have been guiding the Class of 2017 throughout this year’s Professional Outreach Project, which is focused on Bright Spot Farms and creating an updated program and business plan. Lead Fellow Stephanie Kuniholm will share our experience at the beginning of October.

Fellows are also gearing up for the 2016 Symposium, the annual International Experience (for the Class of 2017), attending conferences and looking forward to classes this semester. Check back for updates every two weeks this fall!

Congratulations, Class of 2015!

 

Graduates in full regalia with Interim Director Dr. Brian Trader

Graduates in full regalia with Interim Director Dr. Brian Trader                                                photo credit: Felicia Chua

by Sarah Leach Smith

It’s all still so clear in my mind: getting the invitation to interview period, practicing my 5-minute presentation every day for a month, and the excitement and fear when coming face-to-face with the other candidates. I remember Kevin’s cool plant website, Sara’s compelling herbarium presentation, Felicia’s beautiful photos from Gardens by the Bay, Gary’s charming accent and enthusiasm for conservation, and Bryan’s passion for education. When my parents asked how it went as they picked me up from the airport, the only thing that popped into my head was, “The other candidates were really really good…”

I still have the voicemail saved on my phone. Yes, it went to voicemail… I sat by the phone all day and chided my husband whenever he called to check in. “I thought you would be Dr. Lyons! Stop calling!” Of course, when Dr. Lyons actually did call, I missed it. I actually think it was a blessing though; I was such a mess of excitement and happiness, I think I needed a little time to get myself together. I called Dr. Lyons back, accepted the Fellowship, and the rest is history.

I could never have imagined that I would learn as much as I have, have the experiences that I had, travel to the places I went, or make such fulfilling and quality relationships with my classmates. Together, we helped Tyler Arboretum move forward with the preservation and interpretation of their Painter Plant Collection, worked with Wyck Historic House, Garden, and Farm to redesign their garden borders, interpret their historic rose garden, and implement a plant database. We traveled all over New Zealand, visiting gardens, learning Kiwi slang, and tasting lamb, L&P, Speight’s beer, and hokey pokey ice cream. We experienced Northern California and all that it had to offer, including Mendocino Coast Botanic Garden, Muir Woods, Filoli, and Monterey Bay Aquarium, stopping briefly for an olive oil and vinegar taste test in a local shop. We took Museum Studies classes with the lovable Kasey Grier and learned about Plant Collections with Dr. Frett. We were embraced by Longwood Gardens and invited to board meetings and visiting committee presentations to learn and experience as much as possible.

Class of 2015 in New Zealand on their International Experience

Class of 2015 in New Zealand on their International Experience

With graduation officially behind us, it’s hard to believe that it’s all over. I know that the our time in the Longwood Graduate Program is something that we will all carry with us, no matter where we go. I am so proud to be associated with my classmates and look forward to what the future has in store for each one of us. Congratulations, class of 2015! We did it!

Class of 2015 with the scenic Meadow Garden in the background

Class of 2015 with the scenic Meadow Garden in the background

Submit a Proposal for the 2015 Professional Outreach Project!

Fellows working at Wyck Historic House, Garden, and Farm during the 2014 Professional Outreach Project

Fellows working at Wyck Historic House, Garden, and Farm during the 2014 Professional Outreach Project

Only one week left to submit a proposal for the 2015 Professional Outreach Project! This annual project allows the Fellows to partner with a local institution to complete a project in a specific area of horticulture. Need a refresher on past Outreach Projects? Visit our blog to see projects from years past. This year the Outreach Project will focus on engaging a broader community through a collaborative, cross-institutional project. This project may include, but is not limited to, one or more of the following related areas: marketing an event or program co-sponsored by multiple institutions, developing interpretation for a collaborative exhibit or display, communication strategies for institutional partnerships, or some aspect of fundraising for cross-institutional projects.

Take a look at our request for proposals for more information or to submit a proposal.

Be sure to check back soon for more Outreach Project updates!

 

Native Plant Conservation and Design in the Lone Star State

by Keith Nevison

Deep in the heart of Texas I ventured for the American Public Gardens Association’s inaugural native plant symposium, which was held at the stunning Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center (LBJWC) in Austin, Texas. The Center was founded by former First Lady “Lady Bird” Johnson and her long-time friend Helen Hayes, the “First Lady of the American Theatre.” The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is a must-see public garden featuring amazing stone buildings and walkways, spectacular native Texan floral displays, and innovative design features such an observation tower with a green roof and artwork featured throughout the garden.

The Luci and Ian Family Garden. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center’s newest garden addition opened last year.

The Luci and Ian Family Garden. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center’s newest garden addition opened last year.

On the first day of the conference, registrants were treated to a magnificent tour of the Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve which features waterfalls, blooming Texas redbud and other drought-resistant trees, abundant songbirds, and fabulous fossil hunting across the underlying strata.

APGA Native Plant Symposium attendees receiving a comprehensive overview of the Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve from local plant legend David Mahler of Environmental Survey Consulting

Local plant legend David Mahler of Environmental Survey Consulting provided a comprehensive overview of the Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve

The Texas Hill Country!

The Texas Hill Country

Participants also explored a private residential landscape exclusively featuring central Texas native species from the Edwards Plateau and Texas Hill Country. These areas are biodiversity hotspots with numerous endemic plant and animal species. The garden was exquisite with impressive design features such as a grotto, a creek wetland, and restored native wildflower meadows.

The theme of the 2015 symposium was Cultivating the Future of Native Plants: Conservation and Design. This was an apt theme as the conference roster was comprised of equal parts horticulturists and ecological restoration practitioners. Very interesting conversations were had on subjects such as native plants in design, the role of botanic gardens in plant conservation, creating the native plant market, and landscape design as ecological art. LBJWC has been a leader for years in these areas with their Native Plant Information Network and Sustainable SITES® Initiative partnership with the American Society of Landscape Architects and the United States Botanic Garden. In addition, they maintain partnerships with the Center for Plant Conservation and the Bureau of Land Management’s Seeds of Success Program which aims to collect wildland seeds for research, development, germplasm conservation, and ecosystem restoration. Clearly an active place with lots going on!

Homeowner’s Inspiration Gardens near the entrance to LDJWC.

Homeowner’s Inspiration Gardens near the entrance to LBJWC

Spring was in effect down in Austin and many species were blooming, including the iconic state flower, the Texas bluebonnet (Lupinus texensis).

Texas bluebonnet (Lupinus texensis)- state flower and endemic to the Lone Star state.

Texas bluebonnet: state flower and endemic to the Lone Star state

The garden features many oak meadows with both live oaks and deciduous oaks as well as a rich understory of shrubs, forbs, and grasses.

Inviting meadows abound at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Inviting meadows abound at the LBJWC

Well-known landscape designer Darrel Morrison concluded the Symposium by speaking about his designs and inspiration, from the layout for LBJWC to his most recent design for Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Native Flora Garden. Perhaps the most enlightening thing I learned from him is that one should always camp out on the land prior to working on a project in order to get a feel for the land and to observe its features over the course of the day. Through this experience, one can determine the ideal placement for soft and hard garden elements.

The stonework and hardscape features of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center are striking and plentiful. The gardens features many xeric species such as Opuntia, Nolina, Muhlenbergia, Cercis, Agave, etc. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is a must-see if you ever find yourself in Central Texas!

Stonework and hardscape features are striking and plentiful at LBJWC

Membership and Development in Sunny California

Professional development is a key aspect of the Longwood Graduate Program, and four Fellows, Mackenzie Fochs, Stephanie Kuniholm, Sarah Leach Smith, and Kevin Philip Williams, attended the American Public Gardens Association’s inaugural Membership and Development Symposium at the end of February.

The Fellows at Sherman Library & Gardens

The Fellows at Sherman Library & Gardens

Sherman Library & Gardens in Corona Del Mar, California hosted the beginning of the Symposium in their Central Patio room, a beautiful space with cathedral ceilings, exposed wood beams, and a cozy fireplace for the evening. The Symposium opened with a presentation on results from a benchmarking survey for philanthropy at public gardens, and the event continued to provide relevant information about how gardens of different sizes tackle recruiting members, soliciting donations, and cultivating relationships with garden supporters.

The gardens at Sherman made the Fellows completely forget the weather they had left behind in Delaware: the succulent garden called to mind the ocean with its use of pattern and strategically placed shells, and the variety of thriving palms, begonias, bromeliads, orchids, and ferns made it feel like paradise.

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San Diego Botanic Garden hosted participants on Thursday afternoon and evening, providing time to explore their 37 acres. A favorite of the Fellows’ was the Subtropical Fruit Garden, where a gardener shared his wealth of knowledge about the citrus fruits and the bounty the trees had produced.

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Stephanie shows off the bounty of lemons and kumquats at San Diego Botanic Garden

The final morning of the Symposium, the Fellows had an early start for a tour of Disneyland before the gates opened to visitors. Adam Schwerner, Director of Horticulture & Resort Enhancement, and his team guided groups through the park and discussed the differences and challenges of horticulture at a place like Disneyland versus a typical botanical garden.

Early morning at Disneyland

Early morning at Disneyland

To conclude the Symposium, participants came together for a final session about putting personal touches on donor relations, brainstorming what was learned over the past few days, and topics for future events.

On the last full day of their trip, the Fellows rented a car and headed to two highly anticipated gardens: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens and Descanso Gardens. The Desert Garden at The Huntington was absolutely stunning and it was hard for the Fellows to pull themselves away for lunch. The promise of In ‘N Out Burger proved to be motivation enough and after refueling, they headed to Descanso Gardens. Lucky for the Fellows, the Camellia Festival was happening!  To wander the garden paths and see large camellia bushes blooming beneath the canopy of oak trees in Februrary was a delight.

Kevin, perfectly at home in The Huntington's gardens

Kevin, perfectly at home in The Huntington’s gardens

The spectacular Desert Garden at The Huntington

The spectacular Desert Garden at The Huntington

Camellias as far as the eye can see at Descanso Gardens

Camellias as far as the eye can see at Descanso Gardens

Special thanks to Sherman Library and Gardens and San Diego Botanic Gardens for hosting and the American Public Gardens Association for helping coordinate the Symposium as well as Cristeen Martinez and Somer Sherwood-White at Descanso Gardens.

 

To Preserve or Change: Redefining Heritage to Guide the Future– This Week!

lgp symp web banner high resMarch is here, which means the LGP Symposium is right around the corner! While we make our final preparations and cross our fingers for good weather, we wanted to share a few updates from the Symposium team:

Symposium Webcast

We hope you will be able to join us in person for the Symposium, but if you can’t make the trip to Kennett Square, be sure to attend the Symposium webcast. We will be live-streaming the Symposium online at no cost. The webcast chat feature will allow you to type in questions for a Grad Fellow to ask during Q and A sessions. Visit our online registration page more information or to register. We hope to (virtually) see you there!

Emerging Professionals Travel Award

This year, for the first time ever, we offered a Travel Award to emerging professionals in the field of horticulture. We were blown away by the enthusiastic response we received from applicants as well as sponsors. A huge ‘thank-you’ to our sponsors:

 Adkins Arboretum
The Chanticleer Foundation
Lark Label
Mt. Cuba Center
Former and Current Longwood Graduate Fellows 

Also, a huge ‘congratulations’ to our Travel Award winners:

Adi Bar-Yoseph, Jerusalem Botanical Gardens
Amanda Plante, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Andrew Sell, University of Michigan Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum
Ben Stormes, Cornell University and Cornell Plantations
Chantal Ludder, Museum of the Shenandoah Valley
Doug Schuster, Kingwood Center
Emily Detrick, Cornell University
Jordan Wood, Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University
Kate Nowell, University of Washington
Maddie Paule, Jenkins Arboretum & Gardens
Tracy Qiu, Niagara Parks School of Horticulture  

If you’re planning to attend the Symposium, make sure you introduce yourself to these talented young professionals. Hope to see you on Friday for the Symposium!