International Experience New Zealand Day 7: The Taranaki Triptych

Today, still in the greater New Plymouth area, we visited with Greg Rine, Regional Gardens Manager for the Taranaki Regional Council, and his wife Sue. Greg has the privilege and skill to manage three amazing gardens, all very different from one another.

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First stop: Tupare
Tupare was started by a wealthy businessman who enjoyed landscaping the 10 acres of valley and hillsides around his 1941, Tudor-style home. Greg first took us to an overlook where we caught a breathtaking view of the valley before descending the switchback pathways to the house. The paths were lined with hundreds of tall, bright blue and white hydrangeas and the pervasive purple and white agapanthus, all in full bloom. The garden designs and structures were created in the Arts-and-Crafts style, and are maintained as such when it’s practical.

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Next stop: Pukeiti
The mountain forest here is steeped in Maori spiritual history, and the garden is renowned worldwide for its rhododendron collection, including vireyas. Since the 790-acre rainforest/garden recently became public in 2010, Greg has plans in motion for a modern visitor center, dramatic garden landscaping, and sustainable biodiversity in the rainforest.
Our trip through the 65-acre rhododendron collection was a series of pathways with “hotspots” of interesting plantings that always kept us wondering what we would find around the next corner.

IMG_2282Last stop: Hollard
Bernie Hollard was a true plantsman, collecting “one of everything” and planting them around his home near Mount Taranaki, a dormant volcano. As he collected, he worked his way further and further from the house, and soon had a unique paradise. In amongst the original eclectic plantings, Greg’s team has implemented a home kitchen garden, a swamp garden, a barbecue and playground, and an edible forest garden.

IMG_2238Greg’s philosophy of management really gets to the heart of why we are all enthusiastic students of public horticulture. The gardens are there for public purpose and public value. The community and the people are the ones who truly own and benefit from their conservation and beauty. Spending the day with Greg and his wife was a truly great experience before piling into the van for a 4-hour countryside drive to Wellington.

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Written by Sara Helm Wallace, photos by Sarah Leach Smith

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International Experience New Zealand Day 6: Traversing Taranki

Sunny skies greeted us as we woke up and made our way to the charming garden of Valda Poletti. Located close to the center of New Plymouth, Te Kainga Marire is comprised purely of plants native to New Zealand and the surrounding islands.

The unusual Collospermum hastatum.

The unusual Collospermum hastatum.

Valdas house surrounded by native flora.

Valdas house surrounded by native flora.

We were surprised to learn that on purchasing the property in 1972, the first thing that Valda did was to design and implement the garden, never mind the house! The property was completely bare apart from some invasive gorse bushes and Valda has turned it into a native wonderland that still flourishes today. Highlights include a luxurious fern walk, a water garden and a dark tunnel, which is said to house glowworms at certain times of the year. Valda prides herself on having some rare native plants and they certainly are unlike anything we have seen in the United States. Two stunning examples are the blue-flowered Colensoa physaloides and the epiphytic Collospermum hastatum.

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Birds are also encouraged in the garden and we were lucky enough to spot a Tui in the trees. This species is found only in New Zealand and until recently was absent from the valley adjacent to Valda’s garden.

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Following our visit to Valda’s sanctuary, we then entered the Garden of Eden in the form of Pukekura Park. Within walking distance from New Plymouth, the Pukekura Park is comprised of native forest areas, botanical collections and open areas dedicated to parks and recreational activities.

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We met with Christopher Connoley who has been the curator of the Park for the past seven years. Pukekura Park was established in 1876, and initially was comprised of Pinus radiata, which, coincidently, is a native of California. Only a few of the pines remain with some examples dating back 150 years. Even more impressive was a native tree estimated to be over 1000 years old. Chris guided us through a portion of the 52 hectares of parkland, while educating us on the collections, as well as park management and community involvement and support.

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Colorful Lobelia hybrids.

Colorful Lobelia hybrids.

An unexpected highlight was the display houses, which contained flowering species from all over the world. Judging by the condition of the potted plants, the daily maintenance is expertly handled by the staff, leaving a lasting impression and a fitting end to the visit.

photos by Kevin Williams and Gary Shanks

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International Experience New Zealand Day 5: Let’s see what’s behind door number 2!

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Imagine that you are in a circular room with 5 closed doors leading to 5 different worlds. No matter which door you choose, there is sure to be an amazing adventure ahead. Today we visited Hamilton Gardens in Hamilton, New Zealand and had a decidedly “choose your own adventure” experience.

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We met with Director Peter Sergel and Manager of Operations Gus Flower to discuss Hamilton’s management plan and tour the gardens. Hamilton Gardens focuses on telling the history of gardens around the world. They do this by presenting five garden collections: Paradise Gardens, Productive Gardens, Fantasy Gardens, Landscape Gardens, and Cultivar Gardens. For example, the Paradise Gardens comprise of several individual gardens rooms based on world cultures. There is a Chinese Scholar’s garden, an American Modernist garden, an English Flower garden, a Japanese Garden of Contemplation, an Italian Renaissance Garden, and an Indian Char Bagh Garden. Each garden forks off from a central courtyard, allowing for garden guests to choose which garden to visit and then build anticipation upon approach. This is where Sergel, a landscape architect, has perfected the “reveal.” One of the most memorable experiences from the day was our visit to the Indian Char Bagh Garden.

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A short walk though a covered walkway opened into a bright white hardscape with a light teal blue fountain, and four beds of colorful annuals. Bright golden yellow paired with deep burgundy alongside vivid fuchsia and orange provided for a vision reminiscent of a Persian carpet. Upon entry to the garden, we all let out a simultaneous exclamation of “Wow!” Both the Productive Gardens and Fantasy Gardens also had this great layout. Hamilton Gardens balances out this highly structured layout with the less-formal Valley Walk, one of the Landscape Gardens, which takes guests to the northeastern edge of the property and features a naturalistic aesthetic created with native Waikato plants.

After our visit, our fearless driver Colin took us on an exciting road trip southwest to the quaint coastal town of New Plymouth. This drive included breathtaking views of the countryside’s rolling hills and densely forested valleys. We took an exciting detour to a black sand beach and dipped our toes into the chilly Tasman Sea!IMG_2284

In New Zealand, it seems, no matter what adventure you choose, it is sure to be fantastic. Tomorrow: Pukekura Park and Te Kainga Marire!

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International Experience New Zealand Day 4: Ayrlies and Auckland Botanic Garden

20140115_110041Ayrlies is known as the quintessential country garden. It has received the highest ranking possible from New Zealand and was recently featured in the Wall Street Journal.

To say this garden is beautiful is only part of the story;

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it draws you in and teases you with vistas and then quietly envelops you in an intimate grove of sequoias.

20140115_100548As we wove our way through the garden with Head Gardener Ben Conway, he shared the story of Ayrlies. In 1964, Bev McConnell began the transformation of her home and dairy farm into a garden.

Ten years later, Bev added a gardener to her staff who was instrumental in creating this truly breathtaking garden.Bev is still very much involved in creating seemingly impossible combinations of plants that highlight the ideal growing conditions available to gardens in this region.

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Before we left Ayrlies, we had the chance to sit down with Bev McConnell’s son, John, and Jack Hobbs, Director of Auckland Botanic Gardens, to discuss the Longwood Graduate Program.
20140115_114412The group had a great conversation about the future of public horticulture professionals and one that we were able to continue with Jack as we visited Auckland Botanic Garden (ABG) next.

 

 

20140115_165023We began our visit to ABG inside the library with a short overview of the Garden. Jack explained that this relatively young (32 year old), 156 acre garden is free to the public and boasts an attendance that has more than doubled in the last 8 years to over 900,000 visitors annually.

20140115_152853Jack has an excitement to share horticulture with garden visitors that is contagious.We followed Jack into the grounds where he pointed to a number of techniques used to interact with visitors. 

 

20140115_162848Impossible to miss are eclectic sculptures in the garden, water features and native plant collections important to the Maori people. 

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Jack explained that there are more naturalized non-native plants than natives in New Zealand and the garden showcases native plants that can be used in the home garden to encourage greater use.

 

 

 

As we finished our walk we explored the children’s garden and stopped to enjoy one final sculpture before thanking Jack for being a great host and sharing his garden with us.20140115_161954

 

 

Blog by Bryan and Photos by Felicia

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International Experience New Zealand Days 1–3: “This group is keen to hear about bureaucracy.”

My everlasting, heartfelt compassion and understanding goes out to all of our colleagues who made the trip to New Zealand for the 2013 BGCI conference. No matter where in the world you depart from, the flight is a beast, but I knew from the moment I saw the sunrise over Hauraki Gulf that every second spent in the air was worth it.

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We were greeted at the airport by Adele Marsden of New Zealand Educational Tours, and our driver Colin Berquist with whom we explored the Mt. Eden volcanic crater. A park run in conjunction with the Auckland City Council and a community board, Mt. Eden attracts tourists with its intense vistas, and locals with its hilly walking trails. The crater itself is swathed with low-growing grasses that sway and ripple in the ever-changing winds of Auckland. Several panoramic group photos followed, and we made our way to Auckland Domain where we enjoyed breakfast with Adele and Colin at the Wintergarden Pavilion and Café in Auckland Domain park. Adele introduced us to “jandals,” the Kiwi word for flip-flops, and a Cadbury candy favored by New Zealanders called “Chocolate Fish.”

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After breakfast, Adele passed us off to David Millward, the Manager of Metroparks for the city of Auckland with the caveat “This group is keen to hear about bureaucracy.” David gave us a thorough explanation of the history, and financial and operational structure of the Auckland Domain and city parks system. Auckland Domain was founded in 1880 as a 200 acre public preserve created on the cones of an extinct volcano. The Wintergarden Glasshouses were built in 1920 to feature temperate and tropical plants in a constant rotation of bloom. David toured us through the Wintergarden Glasshouses and a native Fernery, where we all agreed that the traveller’s palm in the Glasshouses was the largest that we’ve ever seen.

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Text by Kevin Williams, photos by Sara Helm Wallace

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Electronic Recycling Day December 2013!

On December 4th the Longwood Graduate Program once again hosted its very successful Electronic Recycling Day (ERD). The Graduate Program holds this event twice annually, and it is the perfect opportunity to get rid of obsolete and unwanted electronic items. Most of the electronic items are recycled or donated, and items that still function were claimed by interested parties.

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 All the cell phones that were collected were sent to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) for their Donate a Phone Program. This organization has been in operation for over 34 years, raising awareness and providing assistance to affected families. The University of Delaware student organization buildOn held a similar event on north campus to help raise money to build a primary school in Nicaragua. The PC’s that we collected went towards this cause.

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Nearly 100 items were collected over three hours and most went directly to recycling through the University of Delaware. We would like to thank all the Graduate Program Fellows who assisted in this event, as well as those individuals who dropped off their electronics; we look forward to a greater ‘’harvest’’ next year.

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Planting day at Longwood Gardens’ Webb Barn

2013-10-03 07.31.49It started on a cool, beautiful and misty morning on 3 October 2013. Longwood Graduate Program (LGP) first year Fellows Sarah Leach, Felicia Chua, Gary Shanks, Kevin Williams and other volunteers gathered at 7am to prepare for a day of meaningful planting at Longwood Gardens’ Webb barn.

 

2013-10-03 07.12.28The plants arrived on site and before commencing the planting, Bill Haldeman and Tom Brightman from the Natural Lands Management team conducted a brief meeting and handed out hard hats and vests to all the volunteers.

 

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After gearing up, the four of us dived straight into working the grounds.One of Longwood’s staff prepared the planting holes by drilling into the ground with a hand-held machine, while Kevin went alongside him and cut off any excessive long grasses with his hand-held grass cutter.

 

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Sarah, Gary and Felicia took different trays of the plug plants and worked their way from the existing walnut tree and outwards towards the stream at the site. There was a lot of laughter and everyone took the opportunity to get to know each other better while getting our hands dirty and planting in new lives into Mother Nature.

 

2013-10-03 11.02.12After we finished a whole stretch of the plantings at about 11am, Tom Brightman gathered us together and gave us a brief introduction and the history of the Webb Barn Project. He encouraged us to return and take a walk through the Webb Barn property during the winter season and promised that we will see many interesting things during our walk.

It was truly an enjoyable and therapeutic day for us to be able to know more people and playing our parts in greening the earth. We look forward to the next planting day and will certainly love to do it again!

 

Photos and Content by: Felicia Chua

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Moving ahead with POP 2013!

We have all been working hard over the past couple of months and have made good progress at Tyler Arboretum. Here is a brief rundown of our activities:

The first big accomplishment was a certified assessment of all of the Painter trees in the collection. Robert Wells, Associate Director of Arboriculture at the Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania, and a Morris Arboretum Urban Forestry Consultant, performed this assessment. Mr. Wells provided us with expert advice on the maintenance of the Painter trees and their long-term preservation. Most of the trees are in a very good condition, with only a couple needing immediate attention, and a few with minor root damage and or dead wood in the crown.Image 4

To further our efforts to preserve the Painter trees we are starting partnerships with several local individuals and organizations regarding the propagation of the painter trees and the subsequent maintenance of the propagules. We have also updated Minshall Painter’s 1856 list of plants, with modern botanical names and their locations in the Arboretum and put it into an Excel format, for easier use by the Tyler Arboretum staff.

We are finishing up new postcards and rack cards using images from old slides of the Painter arboretum. These cards will raise awareness about Tyler Arboretum as well as funding opportunities for any interested donors.

Currently, we are in the process of redeveloping a Painter Plant Collection brochure highlighting a new route and different viewing areas for the Painter Plants. The map will be stylized according to the existing Tyler Arboretum brochure, and will contain information about the Painter brothers and their living legacy, as well as a look into the future of the collection.

We are also in the process of changing the signage and interpretation pertaining to the Painter Plant Collection. We have proposed the idea of viewing areas with large signboards depicting a group of plants, rather than individual trees, with the addition of interesting facts and anecdotes.

As we move through October, we will continue to work on these projects, wrapping up with a final meeting at the end of the month.

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NAX addendum

Top 10 things that did not make it in our garden visit blog posts:

10. The North End, Boston. The Fellows and Ed headed into Boston on Wednesday evening for dinner in the old Italian section of the city. It was restaurant week and the neighborhood was bustling. We happened upon a beautifully landscaped hotel along the waterfront and paused for a group photo. After a delicious Italian dinner in the loudest restaurant I’ve ever been in, we capped off the evening with cannoli and gelato.

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Cannoli from Mike’s in the North End.

9. Petunias. We learned at Arnold Arboretum that Dr. Lyons has a reputed affinity for gaudy petunias. He may or may not have pulled over the van in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, and jumped out to take photos of petunias and sweet potato vines growing at a local garden center.

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Be still, Dr. Lyons’ heart.

8. Lounge singers. They already got a mention in the blog, but they’re worth bringing up again. We were treated to the singing of two different lounge singers during our stay in Maine. The second one was for the memory books, as he serenaded us to the likes of Andrew Lloyd Weber, Puccini, Elton John, Willie Nelson, and Plain White Ts. Laurie and Josh, and about 20 septuagenarians, sang along and applauded his talents.

7. Boston streets. Need I say more? Even our GPS couldn’t figure out the streets. Even if we knew where we were going, the traffic lights were totally confusing. You’re sitting at a stop and notice that there are 5 different lights to choose from. 2 are green and 3 are red. Do we stop or go? I think we’re all relieved that we got home in one piece. (Yours truly was banished to the back seat of the van for being a back-seat driver too many times.)

6. New scientific names for plants. At Garden in the Woods, we discovered that the scientific names for plants are being revised again. Cornus florida is now Benthamidia florida. This created some controversy amongst the Fellows and Dr. Lyons and opened to the door to lively discussions in the van.

5. Composite flowers. Ed Broadbent, Head Gardener at Longwood Gardens, accompanied us on our trip as a chaperone. Ed was generally pretty quiet on the trip and not much seemed to phase him. We learned, however, on our last day that one thing that gets him riled up is too many composite flowers in the landscape. Apparently, he and Dr. Lyons argued about composite flowers late at night, then started again in the morning, and then brought it up with us in the van to get our opinions.

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An example of a composite flower

4. This van might tip. As we settled into the 13 passenger van that we would use the whole length of the trip, we were informed by the rental agent that the van could tip if we took turns too quickly. This information set off a running joke that still will not die.

“Dr. Lyons, slow down on this curve, the van might tip!”

“Really? I hadn’t heard that before. Did you say the van could tip over?”

“The rental guy did say to watch out for tippage.”

“I must be careful–the van could tip over.”

3. The amazing staff at all the gardens we visited. We are seriously indebted to Michael, Mark, Joanne, Dave, and Bill who took time out of their busy schedules to show us around and answer all of our questions. We are also grateful to the other executive directors and support staff to met with us as well. They were very candid and offered great insight and advice to us as emerging professionals.

2. Lobster rolls. Or should I say, lobstah rolls? Chunks of succulent lobster, a light dressing, topped by a garnish of greens, all encased in a toasted piece of bread. Simple, yet utterly delicious. A Maine staple, we sampled lobster rolls on two occasions. On the drive from Maine back to Boston, Laurie seriously considered jumping out of the van and running to a roadside stand to get one last roll.

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Lobstah roll at Coastal Maine BG

1. Longwood Graduate Program alumni. Andrew Gapiniski toured us all around Arnold Arboretum. Mark Richardson spent the day with us at Garden in the Woods and Bill Brumback spoke with us in the afternoon. Rodney Eason showed us his work at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. It was so great to meet with alumni and see them working in the field.

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Alumus Andrew Gapinski, Dr. Lyons, and Ed Broadbent at Arnold Arboretum

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A Coastal Experience

Author: Robert Lyons, Director of the LGP
Photography: Lindsey Kerr and Laurie Metzger

The last leg of our North American Experience journey took us 3.5 hours north of Boston to the charming town of Boothbay Harbor, Maine.  To get there, our primary route out of Boston’s twisted and contorted system of complex intersections and rotaries was a familiar I-95.  Upon our arrival, we checked into the Tugboat Inn, a slightly enigmatic hotel that echoed into the evening with the voices of seasoned, anonymous lounge singers.

After a welcomed night sleep, we boarded the van on a glorious morning saturated by bright sun, clear blue skies, and crisp temperatures that beckoned a sweatshirt or long sleeves.  Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens (CMBG) was our destination and none of us had ever visited, making this destination greatly anticipated.  Upon our arrival, we met up with Executive Director Bill Cullina, who escorted us through their “net zero” LEEDDSC_0299 certified administration and education building.  Fascinating! We ended up in the conference room where Bill and his entourage of key staff introduced us to CMBG’s history, mission, current operations, and future plans. Their property is beautiful, and ironically became available for purchase when a developer abandoned plans for a subdivision and sold the 128 acres to the founders of what was to become CMBG. Today there are 298 total acres, 8000 members, 100,000 visitors/year, 31 permanent employees, 800 volunteers, and an annual operating budget of  $3.2 million.  While open year round, there is an entry fee from April 15 – October, with the remaining months free.

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We couldn’t wait to get outside and Bill readily obliged.  A quick pass through a recently renovated and bustling visitor center led us to the Burpee Kitchen Garden, which was DSC_0302cleverly integrated into the restaurant’s al fresco dining area.  What a concept…many of the same plants that were harvested for the menu grew within arm’s reach.  We were joined by Rodney Eason, former Longwood employee and now Director of Horticulture for CMBG. He and Bill guided us in tag team style through the green spaces and internal pathways, all bordered by artfully designed beds rampant with color or brushed with the diverse green shades of Maine’s natural vegetation. Our tour soon exited the cultivated spaces, including what we all determined was an ingenious approach to a children’s garden, and we found ourselves within a completely forested region dominated by conifers.  We were indeed close to the IMG_0524water and Bill was excited to show us the coastline.  We lingered there to catch our breath and take a group photograph before heading back to conclude our visit.Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens lived up to all the pre-visit hype and landed on our own wish list of places to see again as soon as we can!

 

 

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