Japanese Forest Deity

A Day at the Museum- Coming of Age Day in Japan

IMG_8375 For our second full day in Japan we ventured to the Samurai town of Sakura in Chiba Prefecture to visit the National Museum of Japanese History. What a day for a visit! The sun shone down and the sky was a perfect blue as we made the 1.5 hour journey via foot and the Keisei Electric Railway. Tokyo glistened as we sped past buildings, parks, rivers and girls in kimono for Coming of Age Day- a Japanese National holiday.

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All dressed up for the Coming of Age Day.

The National Museum of Japanese History is a rich cultural institution providing a comprehensive account of civilization in the Japanese archipelago. Starting with the ancient Jōmon people and carrying through to present day, the Fellows learned a great deal about the culture of Japan while witnessing prime examples of craftsmanship and ritual in the lives of Japan’s citizens.  The Special Exhibit on Animism was a must-see, with amazing displays of nature deities and multimedia showcasing annual folkloric ceremonies.

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A Lion

Moving along into the modern day exhibit on Japanese culture we stumbled into one of the most recognizable faces in 1950s cinema- Godzilla!

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Mackenzie-san has a close encounter with the monster lizard

In the afternoon, we headed over to the Botanical Garden of Everyday Life, where we met with Mr. Ayumu Ota who gave us an overview of the garden and introduced us to the head horticulturalist, Mr. Natoshi Yamamura. Ayumu-san and Yamamura-san provided us with a comprehensive overview of the types of chrysanthemum (kiku) that are cultivated for display in a manner consistent with the unique style of a particular region. The 5 regions where kiku growing was refined are: Saga Prefecture, Ise, Higo Province, Edo and Ōshū Province. Very distinct cultivars were introduced in each region, leading to an incredible display of beautiful flowers in an impressive array of shades.

Not bad for a wintertime mum!

Not bad for a wintertime mum!

Like Jindai Botanical Garden (see yesterday’s post), the Botanical Garden of Everyday Life currently has an exhibit on Camellia sasanqua, a species native to Japan and China that produces aromatic blooms that fade less quickly than other Camellia species. Sasanqua camellias were first exported to the west by the Dutch physician, Philipp Franz von Siebold, who was also responsible for introducing plants such as Hosta and Japanese knotweed to the West.

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A very nice Sasanqua bloom

We would like to extend our greatest thanks to the staff of the National Museum of Japanese History for being so free with their time to provide a wonderful, behind-the-scenes tour of their facilities and for explaining kiku culture in great depth to the Longwood Fellows. Thanks to the generosity and friendliness of our Japanese hosts, the Fellows are enjoying our trip immensely.

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A cold, but very informative tour!

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Principal Horticulturalist Mr. Natoshi Yamamura explains a bit about the kiku (chrysanthemum) breeding process.

 

Trains, Planes, and a few Buses as well

After having a magical mystery tour on the Tokyo subway, the Fellows miraculously arrived at Jindai Botanic Gardens without getting hopelessly lost, an achievement we all plan on putting on our CVs. Section Manager Mr Shinobu Kawamura generously answered a multitude of questions and led us on a tour of the Gardens. Jindai Botanic Garden has two main objectives; for people to enjoy flower displays throughout the year, and to preserve the flowers from the Edo period, a time in Japanese history characterized, among other things, by enjoyment of arts and culture.

Wintersweet, or Japanese Allspice Chimonanthus praecox var. grandiflora  the subject of plenty of photographer attention.

Wintersweet, or Japanese Allspice Chimonanthus praecox var. grandiflora the subject of plenty of photographer attention.

Jindai Botanic Garden grows 150 cultivars of Chrysanthemums including classic varieties from the Edo period and hosts a keenly contested competition each year for amateur and professional growers to display their Chrysanthemum cultivation skills. The Gardens aims to have flowers throughout the year, featuring Wisteria, Chrysanthemum, Primulas and Camellia. We met a rock star of Japanese flowers at the Gardens, the Chimonanthus praecox var. grandiflora, which had its very own crowd of paparazzi keen to get the perfect photo. The flowers had the most fabulous scent, contributing to their rock star aura.

The Jindai precinct was crowded with visitors. Part of the ritual of welcoming in the new year is visiting the Temple.

The Jindai precinct was crowded with visitors. Part of the ritual of welcoming in the new year is visiting the Temple.

650,000 people visit the Gardens each year, with many also going to the Jindai temple, established in 733 and located just a short walk away.

A stallholder encouraged our group to play dress-up.

A stallholder encouraged our group to play dress-up.

We completed the day by eating what seemed to be a mountain of noodles at one of the many soba restaurants near the Temple, celebrating the tradition of soba cooking which Jindai is renowned for.

The Longwood group with Mr Shinobu Kawamura of Jindai Botanic Garden, and Mrs Ayumi Green, the group’s interpreter.

The Longwood group with Mr Shinobu Kawamura of Jindai Botanic Garden, and Mrs Ayumi Green, the group’s interpreter.

International Experience 2015: Japan

The First Year Fellows are gearing up for their January 2015 International Experience trip to Japan!  After extensive research, the Fellows have put together a full itinerary for exploring Japanese horticulture and traditions in Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka.  A central theme for their study abroad is the Chrysanthemum, or Kiku, which has historically been an important part of Japanese culture.  The flower first arrived in Japan around the 8th century A.D. and was quickly adopted as the official seal of the emperor.  The popularity of this flower and its continued prominence in Japanese culture can be easily seen today in the country’s National Chrysanthemum Day, also referred to as the Festival of Happiness.

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Longwood Gardens also takes part in the festivities honoring this beautiful flower with its annual Chrysanthemum Festival and their cultivation of the Thousand Bloom Mum (pictured above for 2014, with over 1500 blooms).  In order to enhance both programming and the Chrysanthemum core collection at Longwood Gardens, the First Years will be exploring and documenting Japanese horticultural traditions and techniques not yet practiced at Longwood.  The Fellows will be departing from the United States on January 9th to begin their exciting two-week research expedition through Japan and will be providing frequent narratives of their journey through this blog.

Fire and Ice: A memorable trip to Cornell

View down to the Cornell Plantations Visitor Centre

View down to the Cornell Plantations Visitor Center

This year the Longwood Graduate Fellow trip to Cornell was quite eventful! After departing from the University of Delaware post-class and driving by night, we had hardly put our belongings down at our Ithacan hotel when the fire alarms sounded. We, along with a hundred other patrons, had to evacuate smoke-filled corridors into the parking lot just as a fresh snow began to fall. A few hours passed before we managed to book rooms at another hotel, and after a fitful night’s sleep, we began orientation and tours on the grounds of the beautiful, distinguished Cornell University.

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Waiting for the Ithaca FD to extinguish the flames. No one was hurt in the fire!

We were greeted in the morning by Dr. Donald Rakow and Graduate Fellows in the Cornell Public Garden Leadership program. Dr. Rakow, previous Director of Cornell Plantations and current Associate Professor in the Department of Horticulture, was an exceptionally courteous host during our trip and we appreciated all the fun, informative activities that the Fellows had scheduled for us. We started the day with an engaging lecture entitled “Board Interactions and Leadership in the Non-Profit Sector” delivered by Joseph Grasso, Associate Dean for Finance, Administration, and Corporate Relations in the Industrial and Labor Relations School at Cornell University. Mid-morning we were shuttled to the impressive School of Integrative Plant Science to attend a seminar by Dr. William Powell of State University of New York’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF) where we learned about the Ten Thousand Chestnut Challenge, a campaign to grow thousands of blight-resistant, genetically-modified American chestnut trees to “jumpstart the effort to restore the tree to its native range in North America.” The lecture was stimulating and a great example of the important work being done to promote biodiversity through advanced plant breeding techniques.

On our way to lunch we stopped by Cornell’s Kenneth Post Laboratory Greenhouses to learn about “Wee Stinky”, a titan arum (Amorphophallus titanum) that has bloomed twice in the last three years (a rare feat considering their typical re-bloom cycle in cultivation is 7-10 years!). James Keach, PhD Candidate in Plant Breeding along with Paul Cooper, Cornell University’s Experimental Station Greenhouse Grower, presented us with some facts on the physiology and morphology of the corpse flower along with some other riveting (and smelly!) details.

James Keach, PhD student in Plant Breeding explains the physiology of the corpse flower (Amorphophallus titanum)

James Keach, PhD student in Plant Breeding, explains the physiology of the corpse flower (Amorphophallus titanum)

After a wonderful lunch at the Cornell Dairy Bar, we had a tour of the Ithaca Children’s Garden (ICG) with Executive Director Erin Marteal. The Fellows were able to burn off some excess energy while playing in the Hands-on-Nature Anarchy Zone, one of the newest additions to the ICG. Erin gave us a comprehensive presentation on the benefits of playing in nature, including the ways in which students improve in confidence, empathy and cognition through taking leadership over their own play. Go ICG and Erin!

The Cornell/Longwood Graduate Program gang with Erin Marteal, Executive Director of the Ithaca Children's Garden

The Cornell/Longwood Graduate Program gang with Erin Marteal, Executive Director of the Ithaca Children’s Garden

Our next adventure was a driving tour through the F.R. Newman Arboretum at Cornell Plantations. We passed wonderful collections of crabapples, oaks, maples, and other trees on our way to a brief stop at the overlook where we snapped photos and posed for a group shot.

Just in time for sunset over the Finger Lakes region!

Just in time for sunset over the Finger Lakes region!

Our final presentation of the day was held at the Cornell University Library’s Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections (RMC), where David Corson, Curator of the History of Science Collections, gave us an overview of the unique properties of early horticulture illustrative texts housed in the library’s collections. Also assisted by Magaret Nichols, RMC’s Head of Collection Management and Rare Materials Cataloguing Coordinator, we were able to take in breathtaking plates showcasing the fine talents of botanical artists while learning about the time-intensive processes required to produce such amazing works through lithography, woodcuts, hand coloring and other laborious techniques.

Magaret Nichols, Rare Materials Cataloging Coordinator (LTS) & Head of Collection Management (RMC) at Cornell University's Library with a fine book of lily prints.

Magaret Nichols, Rare Materials Cataloging Coordinator (LTS) &
Head of Collection Management (RMC) at Cornell’s Library with a fine book of lily prints.

The Rhododendrons of Sikkim-Himalaya by Sir Joseph Hooker circa 1851

The Rhododendrons of Sikkim-Himalaya by Sir Joseph Hooker circa 1851

The next day, some of the Longwood Graduate Fellows stayed around for a great trip to the partially frozen waterfalls of the Cascadilla Gorge. Guided by Ben Stormes and Emily Detrick, we learned about the efforts to shore up trails and enhance habitat in the gorge after Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee submerged the landscape and eroded trails back in the fall of 2011. The falls were stunning this morning and a few of us were simply enchanted by the beautiful natural areas around Cornell and the City of Ithaca.

Frosty wonderland- the Cascadilla Gorge trail recently opened after 3 years of reinforcement

Frosty wonderland- the Cascadilla Gorge trail recently opened after 3 years of reinforcement

The Longwood Graduate Fellows would like to sincerely thank the Cornell Public Garden Leadership Fellows and Dr. Rakow for their wonderful hospitality during our stay. We are looking forward to next year when they visit us at Longwood Gardens and the University of Delaware!

Thanks Cornell!

Thanks Cornell Fellows and Plantations staff!

2015 Symposium Emerging Professionals Travel Award

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The Longwood Graduate Program is excited to announce a new Emerging Professionals Travel Award to attend the 2015 Longwood Graduate Symposium. This day-long event features speakers, panel discussions, and conversations on a topic geared towards public garden and museum professionals.

This year’s Symposium, “To Preserve or Change: Redefining Heritage to Guide the Future,” will explore how institutions evolve while honoring their past. Emerging museum or garden professionals in the Philadelphia region and beyond, including students and interns, are encouraged to apply and join in this important dialogue.

Please follow the link to Download the Travel Award Application.
Visit the Symposium online for more information.
Thank you in advance for spreading the word!

That’s a wrap! The completion of POP 2014.

The Fellows are proud to announce the completion of the 2014 Professional Outreach Project at Wyck Historic House, Garden, and Farm! September was a busy month, with several days spent planting, clearing and mulching.

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September kicked off with two weeding days on the 3rd and 5th. It was all hands on deck with both classes being involved in the process. These days mainly involved weeding, the clearing of unwanted woody material, and creating bench areas. The bench areas were leveled, lined with a weed cloth and edged with Wissahickon schist, which was already present on the property. The work was done in preparation for our planting days, but had a dual purpose of neatening up the site for the Honey Festival that was held at Wyck on September 6th.

The Fellows had the opportunity of being present at the Honey Festival, where they represented the Longwood Graduate Program and the Professional Outreach Project at Wyck, thoroughly enjoying the festivities, especially the man with the bee beard!

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Towards the end of September the Fellows dedicated two more days for planting and putting finishing touches on the project. We installed back up roses into their final positions in the planting beds along Germantown Avenue. Ferns originally donated from the Barnes Foundation, irises, peonies, hellebores, hostas, and shasta daisies were divided and planted into their final positions in various parts of the perimeter beds. We ended the day by planting plugs of Achillea, Monarda, and Amsonia in large groups, which helped to fill the gaps between some of the existing perennials mentioned above.

The final day involved planting some of the larger plants we purchased from Pleasant Run Nursery and the unveiling and installing interpretive signage. We also installed new benches for the guests. Once the planting was completed, it was time for the mulching, which required the help of all the Fellows, including several international students from Longwood Gardens and two staff members from Morris Arboretum. Many hands make light work, and all our hard work was rewarded with delicious pizza, kindly provided by the staff at Wyck.

Once the project was completed, we provided Wyck with a final report which included a summary of the project and tools that will be useful for the management and maintenance of the perimeter beds and the rose garden.

This project has been a wonderful opportunity for the Fellows. A definite highlight was the fact that we saw this project from the initial planning stages right through to completion; achieving the goals we set out in July. We would like to thank Wyck for this opportunity and we wish them the best of luck with all their future endeavors.

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Professional Outreach Project 2014: Wyck Historic House, Garden and Farm

The Fellows are hard at work and well on the way to completing a successful Professional Outreach Project (POP) for 2014! Our 2014 POP project is at Wyck Historic House, Garden and Farm located in Germantown in Philadelphia PA. Wyck has a rich Quaker history and was recognized as a National Historic Landmark in 1971. For 250 years Wyck was a working farm and this still continues today, with seasonal produce being sold at a weekly farmers market and at the many festivals that Wyck holds during the summer.

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One of the highlights at Wyck is the historic rose garden, which dates back to the 1820s and contains more than 50 varieties of antique roses. Many of these cultivars were thought to be lost to horticulture until they were rediscovered growing happily at Wyck. Three sides of the property, eac with their own perimeter beds, border the rose garden.  It is the task of the Longwood Graduate Fellows to redesign these beds so that they represent the look and feel of the mid 1820s, and serve as a backdrop, accentuating the rose garden.

Our first task was to visit the American Philosophical Society (APS) in Philadelphia as it holds many of the historical records from Wyck. We discovered plant lists from the 1800s, including many articles detailing flowering bulbs, various fruit trees, and herbs. All of our research helped to inform the new plant palette and design for the perimeter beds, which will be installed at the end of September.

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We will also be providing two benches, which will fit the Quaker style of the garden and house. These will be installed directly in the beds, and will serve as a great resting spot on a hot summers day.

We have recently completed writing a grant to the Stanley Smith Horticultural Trust that included a request for funds for the repair of several of the historic wooden structures at Wyck. The wooden structures are currently being used to house tools and equipment. The grant would also be used for the purchase of new tools and equipment for Wyck. The grant was submitted in mid-August, with an expected decision being made by early December. Until then, we are all keeping our fingers crossed!

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Another component of the project is the development of display labels for the historic rose collection, as well as interpretive signage for the historic rose garden and the perimeter beds. We are working closely with Wyck staff and designers at Longwood Gardens to develop copy and layout for the signs.

Stay tuned to see how our final month progresses, and if you’re in the area, why not pay a visit to Wyck, and come smell the roses.

Bartram’s Garden: Reconnecting People, Plants, and Place

John Bartam was a Quaker farmer, passionate botanist, and life-long plant collector of the 1700s.  He traveled extensively, particularly around the southeastern United States, and brought back many plants to his 102-acre Philadelphia garden.  From there, Bartram propagated and sold these species to other avid plant collectors, especially those in Europe.  The garden was able to stay in this family of plant enthusiasts through three generations and is now being cared for by the John Bartram Association.

Standing at the Bartram's Garden entrance, Longwood fellows listen to curator Joel Fry, as he describes the development of the city of Philadelphia around the garden. (Left to right: Joel Fry, Andrea Brennan, Mackenzie Fochs, Keith Nevison, and Fran Jackson.)

Standing at the Bartram’s Garden entrance, Longwood fellows listen to curator Joel Fry, as he describes the development of the city of Philadelphia around the garden. (Left to right: Joel Fry, Andrea Brennan, Mackenzie Fochs, Keith Nevison, and Fran Jackson.)

On August 15th, the Class of 2016 was able to explore the remaining 45 acres of the historic Bartram’s Garden.  They were welcomed by executive director, Ms. Maitreyi Roy, and curator, Mr. Joel Fry, clearly talented individuals, both devoted to the garden.  Bartram’s Garden is composed of a diversity of landscapes: tidal wetland, meadow, water front, and urban farm.  It was first conceived that the garden would be surrounded by city housing, but the area actually became quite industrial, making Bartram’s Garden an oasis.

Unfortunately, Bartram’s Garden went through a period of mild neglect, but this was followed by a major revitalization effort in 2007 that still continues today.  Ms. Roy and Mr. Fry were excited to tell the Fellows about three new capital projects currently in process at Bartram’s Garden:  the Schuylkill River Trail expansion, the Carr Garden Restoration, and the John Bartram House restoration.  Bartram’s Garden is also now offering after-school programs to channel and engage neighborhood children with environmental stewardship.

Curator Joey Fry chronicles the history of the John Bartram House and the surrounding garden. (Left to right: Joel Fry, Mackenzie Fochs, Stephanie Kuniholm, Fran Jackson, and Keith Nevison.)

Curator Joey Fry chronicles the history of the John Bartram House and the surrounding garden. (Left to right: Joel Fry, Mackenzie Fochs, Stephanie Kuniholm, Fran Jackson, and Keith Nevison.)

Another major effort at Bartram’s Garden involves the Schuylkill River, which, given the two acres of waterfront, plays an important role at the site.  In the past though, the community has had understandably negative views of the river due to a history of pollution and crime.  However, Bartram’s Garden is working to change these perceptions, even creating a new staff position to address the issue.  River pollution is down considerably, aided by Bartram’s very successful and thriving tidal wetland.  Now the garden is working to reconnect the community to the river with engagement initiatives like the trail expansion and River Festival.

This tree is believed to be North America's oldest specimen of Ginkgo biloba.

This tree is believed to be North America’s oldest specimen of Ginkgo biloba.

After hearing about the fascinating history and numerous exciting community engagement efforts of Bartram’s Garden, the Class of 2016 had the opportunity to explore the site.  Mr. Fry led the tour and provided a wealth of information.  The fellows were able to see a wide variety of historical plants, including the 21 medicinal species described by John Bartram in 1751 and what is thought to be North America’s oldest specimen of Ginkgo biloba.  Also encountered were various species and variants of Magnolia, Rhododendron, Dahlia, and Zinnia, discovered and made available by John Bartram.

The Class of 2016 completed their tour of Bartram’s Garden with one of the most significant species of the garden: a blooming specimen of Franklinia alatamaha.

Bloom of the Franklin tree (Franklinia alatamaha)

Bloom of the Franklin tree (Franklinia alatamaha)

This tree is descended from the seeds of the original specimens discovered by John Bartram and his son, William, in southern Georgia in 1765.  Franklinia alatamaha is now extinct in the wild, but is still able to exist in cultivation today, thanks to the botanical passion of the Bartram family.

For more information on this fascinating family and garden, please visit: http://www.bartramsgarden.org/.

The Delaware Center for Horticulture: Urban Greening and So Much More

Friday, August 8 was a gorgeous, sunny day in northern Delaware and perfect for the First Year Fellows to visit The Delaware Center for Horticulture’s (DCH) headquarters and greening projects throughout Wilmington.

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Stone railings from a former Wilmington bridge accent the DCH headquarters garden

The DCH is a multifaceted organization involved in projects that include park improvements, life skills and job training, local prisons initiatives,  youth development and gardening experience, and of course, environmental and economic improvements in public landscapes. The Fellows met with Ms. Pamela Sapko, Executive Director, and Mr. Lenny Wilson, Associate Director of Development. Despite the construction of a $3.5 million green renovation and expansion to the buildings, the offices were relatively quiet. Ms. Sapko and Mr. Wilson said this is not uncommon—not because The DCH staff isn’t busy, but because their work is often out in the “field.” The field being the entire state of Delaware, with an emphasis in and around Wilmington.

Mr. Wilson took the Fellows on a driving tour of spaces where The DCH has worked on projects, including the a variety of right-of-way areas, an ACME parking lot, and several community gardens.

Burton-Phelan Garden

l to r: Lenny Wilson, Hazel Brown, Stephanie Kuniholm, Fran Jackson, Andrea Brennan, Keith Nevison

A reprieve from blocks of row houses exists on the corner of 10th and Pine Streets.  What is now the Burton-Phelan Garden was once a space used for illegal dumping and drug trafficking. The Fellows were lucky enough to meet Hazel Brown, 87, the garden coordinator. She was working at the garden with a group from Habitat for Humanity, who had just installed an attractive cedar fence on the backside of the garden. An inspiring person, Hazel recently began working with The DCH to tame the garden as it had become unruly over several years.

12th and Brandywine Urban Farm

One of our last stops was at 12th and Brandywine Urban Farm, which won the 2010 Garden Club of America Founders Fund award, which is accompanied by $25,000, and a Community Greening Award from the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society in 2012. The Urban Farm exists to provide access to healthy food in an area of Wilmington where access is limited. A farmer’s market is hosted at this site every week and community members can rent a raised bed to grow and harvest their own produce.

The Delaware Center for Horticulture is a extraordinary community organization and a valuable asset to the city of Wilmington and state of Delaware. The Fellows are looking forward to volunteering for The DCH over the next two years!

Mount Cuba’s Native Garden Wonderland

The Class of 2016 visited Mt. Cuba Center in Hockessin, Delaware on August 4th. Entering through the house, we were briefed in the beautifully proportioned Colonial Revival style former residence by the senior staff, and were quickly made aware of the scope of Mt. Cuba’s work.

Yet another photo opportunity!

Yet another photo opportunity!

However, the briefing did not prepare us for the horticultural impact of the gardens once we stepped outside. Our garden tour with Eileen Boyle, Mt. Cuba Center’s Director of Education, probably took twice as long as projected, with the Fellows stopping every few yards to photograph the abundant butterflies, flowers, and insects, and exclaiming over each new plant discovery!

Mt. Cuba Center was formerly the home of Mr. and Mrs. Lammot du Pont Copeland. The du Pont Copelands were at the vanguard of encouraging the use of native Eastern North American plants to create ecologically vibrant and beautiful horticultural displays. Mrs. du Pont Copeland was a forward-thinking conservationist, advocating the use of native American plants in gardens. The extraordinary garden was designed in stages by three landscape architects, beginning with the gardens and terraces closest to the house in the mid-1930s. The woodland gardens were completed in the 1960s by landscape designer Seth Kelsey. Dr Richard Lighty, the first Director of The Longwood Graduate Program, was appointed Director of Horticulture at Mt. Cuba in 1983.

The garden is quite formal near the house, playful sculptures  and carefully selected native perennial borders inviting the visitor to explore further.

The garden is quite formal near the house. Playful sculptures and carefully selected native perennial borders invite the visitor to explore further.

The 583 acre estate features 50 acres of display gardens and managed landscapes, the remainder of the estate being primarily natural lands featuring a variety of the landforms and habitats of the Appalachian Piedmont.

Mt Cuba is an important habitat for bees and other insects

Mt. Cuba is an important habitat for bees and other insects.

The gardens contain a diverse range of native Eastern North American plants arranged in displays reflecting various habitats ranging from perennial borders to meadows, woodlands, and ponds. The result is a harmonious series of gardens that are exquisite works of beauty as well as functioning ecosystems alive with butterflies, beneficial insects, and birds. Achieving this natural look is deceptively complex and requires an eye for shape, form, and color.

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The chain of ponds featuring moisture-loving plants of eastern USA

Mt. Cuba is slowly unfurling its public garden identity, taking careful and considered steps towards increasing the audience for its remarkable landscapes and living collections.  ‘Gardening on a Higher Level’ is the recently adopted tagline for Mt Cuba. The line is reflected in its educational offerings, including Mt. Cuba Center’s Ecological Gardening Certificate course, with units including “Sustainable Landscape Techniques” and “Inviting Wildlife Into the Garden”. Other offerings include gardening, art, and photography. Seven summer internships are also offered each year. An internship typically involves four days per week working in the garden with the other day spent on projects, field trips and classroom activities.

Mt. Cuba Center undertakes plant trials of native American plant species. Evaluations thus far include Coreopsis, Echinacea, and North American Asters. Currently 53 cultivars and selections from 14 different species of Baptisia – false indigo – are undergoing evaluation to assess their horticultural potential. Over fifteen cultivars and selections have been introduced to American gardens by Mt. Cuba including the Golden Fleece goldenrod (Solidago sphacelata ‘Golden Fleece’), and Trillium grandiflorum ‘Quicksilver’.

Owen Cass explaining insect monitoring techniques. He's using a fine screen over a garden vacuum to collect insects in the trial area

Owen Cass explaining insect monitoring techniques. He’s using a fine screen over a garden vacuum to collect insects in the trial area. Eileen Boyle, Director of Education, is in the right foreground.

A research collaboration between Mt. Cuba Center and the University of Delaware is comparing the ecological value of native plants with their corresponding cultivars and improved varieties. Owen Cass, Mt. Cuba Fellow and University of Delaware Masters candidate explained that the research is aimed at determining whether plant cultivars, which may differ from their ‘wild’ cousins in terms of flower size, color, or shape, offer the same or similar ecological services as their wild counterparts.

This remarkable garden is open to the public. For details on visiting take a look at the Mt. Cuba Center website.