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