Category Archives: General

A Trip to Cornell

Photography: Longwood Graduate Fellows

At the peak of fall color in mid-October, all ten Longwood Graduate Fellows and our Director, Dr. Lyons, journeyed to Ithaca, New York for a field trip to Cornell Plantations. Before sunrise on the first day, we set out from Townsend Hall.

Cornell Plantations at Cornell University offers a Master’s Degree of Professional Studies in Public Garden Leadership not unlike Longwood Gardens and the University of Delaware’s Master’s of Science in Public Horticulture. Cornell’s program has four Fellows (two a year,) University of Delaware’s program has ten (five per year.) Both programs focus on leadership in public horticulture. The trip provided a wonderful opportunity for all of us to connect.

Director Don Rakow and the Cornell students planned an interesting, personalized two-day excursion. Upon arrival we enjoyed lunch and introductions. We met with various members of the Plantations staff to discuss interpretation and new signage and then participated in a small project with the Youth and Education staff. Later, we embarked on our tour of the Botanic Garden and the Arboretum. Many beautiful views, vantage points and photo ops ensued.

Day two started in a downpour. Undeterred, we walked Cornell’s picturesque campus to find our lecture hall. Professor Mike Hostetler, whose main research and teaching interests are in strategy, decision-making, leadership, and high performance, generously led us in a leadership workshop. The discussion centered on an article by John Kotter called, What Leaders Really Do. We discussed the differences between management and leadership, the importance of both and how to cultivate them. The topics were stimulating and insightful and I think I can speak for all when I say that we didn’t want the session to end.

The rain cleared, giving way to blue skies and glistening colorful foliage. Venturing into one of the many Plant Science buildings, we enjoyed a delightful lunch arranged by the Cornell Fellows. After that we visited the Hortorium and learned a bit of Cornell history. We toured the natural lands for an in depth view of deer destruction, the current methods of mitigating the problem and a grim prediction for the future of our forests if we don’t do something soon! We enjoyed an interesting late afternoon hike of Park Park with Botanist, Robert Wesley. Park Park boasts Sugar Maples, Black Maples and Eastern Hemlock that are hundreds of years old. Our final stop was the Ithaca Children’s Garden, where we met with Director and former Cornell Graduate Fellow, Erin Marteal. Ithaca Children’s garden is doing wonderfully innovative work engaging children of all ages.

We finished our trip with a delicious dinner at the Boathouse Restaurant. Armed with photographs, new friendships and new knowledge for career connections we departed, leaving behind an invite to the Cornell Fellows for a visit us at UD and Longwood gardens next year!

First year Fellows visit Chanticleer

(written by Laurie Metzger, photographs by Chunying Ling)

It was a sunny, sometimes cloudy– typically capricious Autumn day in Eastern PA when we made a visit to Chanticleer. A seeming anomaly in a region dominated by DuPont estates turned public gardens, Chanticleer is the estate of the Rosengarten family, of pharmaceutical fame. Named after an estate in Thackeray’s novel The Newcomes, Chanticleer was originally the family’s summer home.  They spent a pretty penny readying the house to become their full time residence. The name consequently came from a line in from the novel, “mortgaged to the very castle windows but still the show of the county.” In addition the family played on the fact that Chanticleer is the name of the Rooster from the Nun’s Priest Tale in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.  Over time, the rooster became a kind of mascot for the estate.

Chanticleer’s website explains that “everything is carefully orchestrated…” in the garden. This truly describes the enchanting impression that Chanticleer left with us.  I would add to it, “thoughtfully, with love and appreciation.” The ambiance at Chanticleer is like being in the presence of a person who celebrates each tiny detail of life’s rhythm, the vast variety of beauty in plants, and the special qualities that make people individuals.  The stories of the landscape, of the family, and of each structure, inspires awe wrapped in a feeling of affection. Creativity abounds.  Beautiful patterns are revealed in furniture, banisters and container gardens. No pattern is repeated yet everything fits.  In this way, Chanticleer is like walking in a tangible dream.

The garden design seamlessly mixes old and new.  This allows guests to imagine they had walked into another time, but still feel right at home. Chanticleer aims to be ‘a pleasure garden.’ Forgoing plant labels for plant lists hidden in beautiful boxes, each one is creatively constructed by one of Chanticleer’s staff.  One gets the feeling that the Horticultural staff members are like elves, displaying their secret talent for detail as metal artisans, master wood workers and florists all over the 37 acre garden.

The first frost was predicted for the evening of our visit, so the staff was hard at the more practical work of covering, moving and preserving the plants in the outdoor tropical displays.  We were gifted with a special tour by Chanticleer’s director, Bill Thomas.  He wove the story of Chanticleer, revealing a philosophy of generous freedom and trust in his staff.  In addition, working at Chanticleer sounds delectably creative and full of opportunities to grow.  Each member of the staff is encouraged to “take their time,” knowing they are a part of “the important garden experience.”   Chanticleer believes in doing a job well to start because it will last longer in the end.

The garden shed mimics a carriage house and has always stood that way.  The vegetable garden is filled with charming cultivars, especially the hardy Kiwi—a juicy snack for an observant, hungry passer by.  A restroom facility was recently built in the Asian Woods (the point furthest from the entrance.) Designed to look like a Japanese Tea house it’s humorously and unofficially called the “Pee House.”  Featuring stonework and artwork by staff and friends, this project gives opportunity to artist, horticulturist and facilities manager alike.

Chanticleer is lovely from start to finish, magnificent, splendid, special and not unlike Chaucer’s description of the Rooster…

 …There was not his equal in all the land. His voice was merrier than the merry organ that plays in church, and his crowing from his resting place was more trustworthy than a clock. His comb was redder than fine coral and turreted like a castle wall, his bill was black and shone like a jet, and his legs and toes were like azure. His nails were whiter than the lily and his feathers were like burnished gold.

-The Nun’s Priest Tale, Canterbury Tales

 

Mt. Cuba Center

August 17, 2012 – Mt. Cuba Center, Hockessin, DE
(written by Lindsey K. Kerr, photographs by Chunying Ling)

Bright and early, the First Year Fellows and Dr. Lyons left Townsend Hall for Mt. Cuba Center in Hockessin, Delaware. Mt. Cuba Center was founded by Mrs. Lammot du Pont Copeland at the site of her home. In 1935, Mr. and Mrs. Copeland built a stately house they named “Mt. Cuba” and soon afterwards began developing the original agricultural landscape into a series of garden spaces.

The Copelands took a particular interest in plants native to the Piedmont, which was typical of their home site. From the time they moved in until Mrs. Copeland’s death in 2001, the gardens grew in both number of individual plants and diversity of appropriate species. Today, the Copeland’s house and gardens are maintained by Mt. Cuba Center staff and the organization itself has become a non-profit dedicated to native plants of the the Appalachian Piedmont Region.

Upon our arrival, we were warmly greeted in the parking lot by Longwood Graduate Program alumna Julia Lo-Ehrhardt. She escorted us to the Main House and introduced us to the senior staff. We spent the rest of the morning with Interim Executive Director Steve Martinenza and his senior team learning about Mt. Cuba’s strategic plan and management practices. The different managers introduced us to the history of Mt. Cuba, the founding family, and how Mt. Cuba continues to evolve and grow to fulfill the vision of its founder. We learned about Mt. Cuba’s research and educational programs as well as its commitment to improving the visitor experience and making stronger connections with the public. Mt. Cuba staff discussed their respect for Mrs. Copeland’s ideas and aesthetics and their challenge to embrace the future. They want to enhance native plant accessibility for the average homeowner and encourage their greater use in garden design.

Later in the afternoon we headed outside for a tour of the grounds. First stop was the new Trial Gardens, which were two years in the making and initially planted in spring 2012. Gardener George Coombs explained the goals of the trial garden as we admired the set-up and the plants. The trial gardens aren’t just focused on the latest introductions—they are also trialing tried-and-true cultivars to find out which ones are really the best for gardeners in the region.

Horticulturalist Marcy Weigelt then gave us a quick walking tour of the West Slope Path, the ponds, and the meadow garden, soon pausing in the meadow garden to admire the large number of pollinators and several exotic praying mantises. We finished up our field trip with a visit to the greenhouses where staff grow approximately 10,000 plants every year. In the future, they plan to start collecting more seeds locally for propagation as part of Mt. Cuba’s commitment to native plants of the Piedmont region.

Visiting Mt. Cuba Center was a wonderful experience and a great way for First Year Fellows to finish up their summer field trip series of DuPont legacy gardens!

LGP Symposium One Month Away

The Longwood Graduate Symposium, The Panda and the Public Garden: Reimaging our Conservation Message, is less than one month away, and we are busy as bees pulling together the last details of what will be a most enjoyable symposium experience – true to the Longwood tradition.

This year's graphics designed by Wonsoon, Sara, and Felicia

 

 

The Guest Relations Committee is dedicated to creating a pleasant and accommodating guest experience for our symposium registrants, so that you may enjoy the lecture sessions to the fullest.  This includes organizing a delicious menu for the day, prepared by Longwood’s in-house catering services.   Coffee and baked goods will be available when registration opens at 8 am – just in case you do not have time to grab breakfast at home.  A lunch buffet will be offered at mid-day, followed by a lovely spread of sweet treats and Longwood’s famous pretzel twists at the afternoon break.  Refreshments will be offered after the final lecture, so please stay for lemonade and a chat with the speakers and guests.

 

Podium decorated with flowers.

 

In keeping with the Longwood Graduate Program’s commitment to sustainability, the Guest Relations Committee has made an effort to reduce waste and use of non-recyclable materials.  Your registration packet has been cleverly designed by Fellow Nate Tschaenn to be in a booklet format printed on FSC paper.  The booklet approach will reduce the amount of paper needed to produce the packet compared to previous years. Compostable cutlery and dishware will be used for food service and later sent through Longwood’s composting system.

Ballroom during 2010 Symposium.

If you have not yet registered, please do so soon!  Click here to be directed to our quick and easy online registration system.

And if you are traveling from afar and need a place to stay, the Guest Relations Committee has arranged for discounted rooms at the Hilton Garden Inn Kennett Square for registrants.  Please book by February 16th to reserve your room.  Click here to be directed to the special reservation page.

For more information regarding the symposium, please visit our official website or contact us at longwoodsymposium@udel.edu.

 

We look forward to seeing you there!

Quill Teal-Sullivan and the Guest Relations Committee

 

 

Safely in Singapore

January 8, 2012 – Singapore Zoo, Singapore
(written by Martin Smit, photographs by Nate Tschaenn )

Everything went seamlessly as our group all ascended on Singapore from various corners of the earth. The drive to the hotel immediately blew us away because of the scale of landscaping everywhere and the beautiful epiphyte smothered street trees. After booking in at our hotel some of us explored the immediate surroundings while others briefly caught their breath before we headed out for our visit to the Singapore Zoo. We were warmly received by the enthusiastic staff and were quickly astonished by the amazing gardens and surroundings of this wonderful zoo. We were also informed about some of the conservation and education efforts that were undertaken at this institution. We were taken behind the scenes where we had the opportunity to interact with various staff members and of course, some animals.

A quick photo opportunity with some local zoo residents

Sara with some ring-tailed lemurs

Fellows in a section of the zoo displaying ethnobotanic plants

Our first impressions of Singapore were wonderful, not only because of the beauty of this urban paradise but also because of the extremely helpful and friendly people that we have met thus far. It already promises to be an unforgetful experience.

Forty five years? Check.

After over a decade apart, the LGP alums finally reunited this June 26th in the Italian Water Garden at Longwood.  Alumni from near and far came together to celebrate 45 years of the Graduate Program, reconnect with classmates, and meet new friends in the field of public horticulture.

Kate Baltzel and Raakel Toppila trying on a fresh new style in the photo booth

Even after the busy American Public Gardens Association conference in Philadelphia leading up to the event, nearly 150 people turned out on Saturday evening.  Guests celebrated in style, enjoying delicious food and cocktails, perfect weather, and live jazz in the garden.  Pierre duPont would certainly have been proud.

Fabulous turn out!

The Longwood Graduate Program Alumni Association also made its formal debut during the evening, and all were invited to contribute thoughts on its future direction.  To those who made it to Longwood, thank you for contributing to the great atmosphere and outstanding evening.  We’ll see you all at the next reunion!  Pictures from the event can be found here: https://picasaweb.google.com/lgwweb/LGPReunion?authkey=Gv1sRgCLWTqd-3udOm9gE

In a rare instance all three directors, past and present, welcomed students. Dr. James Swasey, Dr. Richard Lighty, and Dr. Robert Lyons pictured.

Shari Edelson peruses LGP memorabilia

Felicia Yu, Won Soon Park, and Mark Highland enjoying the festivities

 

Note from the Director: Reunion!

I’m into my 7th year directing the Program and really look forward to seeing all the Former Fellows who worked with me starting in 2005. However, my connection to the Program goes back much further when I was on the Horticulture faculty at Virginia Tech from 1981 – 1999.  During that period, I sent 5 of my students into the LGP and I’m very much hoping to see them all at the Reunion!

Lead Fellow for the Reunion has been second year Fellow Dongah Shin, who has done a marvelous job in insuring that everyone will have a great time.

I know that reunions are meant for reminiscing and catching up with old friends, so we are planning lots of time to do exactly that, all within the unsurpassed atmosphere of Longwood. If you are a former Fellow, please join us: this will be an event to be remembered for a long time to come!

Bob Lyons

EI Spring Field Trip: Organic Mechanics Soil

(written by Felicia Yu; photos by Dongah Shin)

The Organic Mechanics Soil processing facility, complete with industrial found-object landscaping.

On a not-so-unlucky Friday the 13th, Laura Vogel, Rebecca Pineo, Dongah Shin, Ashby Leavell, Raakel Toppila, and I went on our last EI spring field trip for the year, this time to Organic Mechanics Soil in Modena, PA. We met with company founder and president (and former LGP Fellow) Mark Highland, who took us on a tour of the site and shared the story of the company’s beginnings and growth, as well as his own experiences pre- and post-LGP.

Mark Highland explaining the ins and outs of making organic potting soil to the Fellows.

Organic Mechanics Soil, for the uninitiated, is an organic potting soil manufacturer, distributing throughout the mid-Atlantic region. The company has been growing in its reach and success since its foundation in 2006, carrying out Mark’s vision of making the most environmentally sustainable potting soil on the market.

Checking out the soil mixer.

Their soils rely on compost made locally in Chester County to supply water retention, nutrients, and biological activity, rather than on peat, which is nonrenewable and takes a heavy environmental toll for its extraction. Mark also pointed out each of the other ingredients and explained their benefits and how they’ve been sourced as locally and/or responsibly as possible: worm castings, rice hulls from Arkansas and Louisiana (to substitute for perlite when possible), aged pine bark from Delaware, and coconut fiber from India. India, you say? Mark explained that they were careful to choose a supplier with a high quality product, low in salts and chlorides from being washed in rainwater rather than seawater, and which is itself the just leftover dust after the coconuts have been processed for meat, shells, juice, oil, and husks. Shipping the dried, compressed coconut dust by boat is less fuel-intensive than trucking.

An experiment with biochar in the works; behind us are stacks of compressed coconut fiber.

The same intentional approach to sustainability permeates the whole operation, from the worm bin in the office and the employee CSA garden with aquaculture tanks outside, to the close working relationship Organic Mechanics has with Waste Oil Recyclers, the company from whom they lease the site and with whom they share biodiesel for vehicles and equipment.

The employee vegetable garden, with a fish tank to the left. Yum.

As we’ve seen before, being sustainable definitely does not conflict with running a successful business. In its fifth year, the company is already planning its next expansion into a larger processing space, and with recent recognition by Organic Gardening Magazine with its first “Seal of Approval” for organic products, the future looks very bright for Organic Mechanics Soil.

A finished bag ready to go, complete with Organic Gardening’s Seal of Approval.

 

Electronics Recycling Day – perfect spring weather edition

(written by Felicia Yu; photos by Raakel Toppila)

Tis the season…for getting rid of trunk-loads of old electronics!

Some junk items just have more character than others.

Our fifth Electronics Recycling Day for the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) was held outdoors in front of Townsend Hall, which turned out to be an extremely convenient place for staff, faculty, and students to pull up their cars and unload their unwanted electronics. As in past ERD’s, we collected all manner of outdated computers and broken printers, ancient radios and dusty landline telephones, and batteries—lots and lots of batteries! We were also able to give away a handful of working items to new owners, and another box of cell phones was set aside to donate to Cell Phones for Soldiers.

The EI team sitting pretty on our junk pile. “Hey, are you at ERD? Oh yeah? Me too!”

Ashby Leavell, Rebecca Pineo, and Kate Baltzell loading up the van.

We plan to make ERD an annual spring event from now on, so if you missed this one, save your electronic junk until next time! Unless the pace of technology slows waaay down, we will continue to need a responsible way to dispose of electronics as they get outdated or broken, and the Environmental Impact team is happy to make it easier for people to do so.

We nearly filled up the back of the UDairy Creamery van. At the drop-off at UD General Services, we loaded up five pallets about 3-4 feet high. Good work, CANR!

Scott Arboretum – July 23, 2010

Located on the campus of Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania the pristine gardens and majestic trees of Scott Arboretum make this campus one of the most beautiful in the United States. This unique setting also makes the Arboretum one of the most accessible of all public gardens; there is no admission charge and the “gates” never close. This was a great first stop for the class of 2012 to kick off their summer field trip series.

From the College’s inception in 1864 to present day, the Scott Arboretum materialized and persisted due to a common passion for plants. Swarthmore College was founded by Quakers who revered nature and maintained a close connection with the land. Some of the oldest trees that create a backdrop for the campus were planted in celebration of Founders Day, the anniversary of the founding of the College, over 130 years ago. Arthur Hoyt Scott, whose name the Arboretum bears, graduated from Swarthmore College in 1895. His love for plants prompted him to travel the world in search of interesting flora such as tree peonies and lilacs. Realizing that most people did not have the means to travel to exotic places, Scott began collecting plants for display on the grounds of Swarthmore College. Later, John Caspar Wister, a prominent landscape architect and plant fanatic, served as director of the Arboretum, receiving a salary of just one dollar per year. He continued collecting plants for demonstration and organized their planting by like genera so that species could be compared easily.

This common passion for plants is evident today, with over 100 volunteers and 26 staff who share the tasks required to make this Arboretum a beautiful destination. Claire Sawyers, former Fellow of the Longwood Graduate Program, director of the Arboretum and tour guide for the day, undoubtedly shares this reverence for plants. She can find beauty just as easily in a decaying tulip tree stump in the amphitheater to a much more blatant red-painted bur oak located in the heart of campus.

Red-painted bur oak (photo by James Hearsum)

This love for plants is infectious; students of the College take notice of elements in the landscape. The red bur oak’s predecessor, a blue Chinese maackia, had an obituary written by students when it fell to the ground in 2008.

Our visit to Scott Arboretum ended in the Wister Education Center and Greenhouse, the newest addition to the garden. The building’s name commemorates the Arboretum’s former director, just one of the many people who made our visit memorable.

A view of Crum Woods (photo by James Hearsum)

Green roof (photo by James Hearsum)

Swarthmore College campus (photo by James Hearsum)

Clair telling the group about programming at Scott Arboretum (photo by James Hearsum)

The group posing in the garden (photo by Dr. Robert Lyons)