Second Year = Board Positions

One exciting aspect of being a Longwood Graduate Fellow is that in the second year of the program we are appointed to sit as an observer on the Board of a local institution of horticulture.  I was appointed to the Tyler Arboretum and attended my first Board meeting last week.

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One of Tyler’s Treasures   (Sequoiadendron giganteum)

 

A non-profit organization’s Board of Directors (or Board of Trustees in Tyler’s case) has numerous responsibilities. Its purpose can vary depending on the institution, but in most cases the purpose is to provide guidance and oversight.  The responsibilities can include maintaining momentum, approving finances, overseeing fundraising, working in committees and promoting the institution.

I have often wondered what the Board really does and how influential they are. I’ve wondered how the Board members can be effective. Sitting in on my first Board meeting at Tyler seemed like a good way to start my investigation.

The meeting took place near the end of the workday and lasted about an hour and a half.  There were snacks and refreshments since it was a scorcher of a summer day.  A variety of topics were covered, a few things were voted upon, some great news was shared, some questions asked, research assigned, events noted, updates given and then there was a motion to close the meeting.  Pretty standard fare as I understand it, but what I enjoyed the most was seeing the way the Board members interacted with me and with eachother.  As I watched them work through the various issues at hand I noticed a few common threads that seemed to define the individuals.  I noted the following items that seemed like the six ‘must-do’s’ being effective:

  1. You have to be realistic but you have to be fearless
  2. You have to be willing to ask questions when things don’t make sense and ready to celebrate the small victories when they do.
  3. You have to have genuine interest in the institution, yet be able to keep your perspective.
  4. You have to figure out how far a dollar will go without sacrificing your mission or the quality of your work.
  5. You have to be excited by the opportunity to look for and design alternative solutions and when you find them you have to be willing to accept them.
  6. You have to choose the right people and then trust them to do their job.

I look forward to my year observing Tyler’s Board of Trustees and plan to periodically check-in on the LGP blog with the new insights gained about the purpose of Boards and the methods that make them most effective.

 

 

 

 

 

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Post-Symposium Celebration

Photography by: Longwood Graduate Fellows

It has already been two months since we had our annual symposium, though it feels much longer. Since then the second years have been working hard on finishing their theses, the first years have dived head first into theirs, plans for the annual APGA conference have been made, the graduation dinner has been organized, and overall we have all been very busy…however not too busy to take time to visit some public gardens and celebrate all of the hard work we put into this years Symposium.

On May 8, early in the morning, Laurie, Lindsey, Ling, Josh and Quill (the rest of the second years were busy – see above) all set off to visit gardens in northern New Jersey. We were fortunate enough to not hit too much traffic and arrived on time to our first destination, Greenwood Gardens in Short Hills. We were met here by Louis Bauer and Brendan Huggins, the two horticulturists on staff at this newly opened public garden. Greenwood Gardens opened to the public for the first time this year, and is a historic house and garden rooted in the Arts and Crafts and Classical approach to garden design. The site is located on a lush hillside, adjacent to a large nature preserve and recreation complex owned by the state. It is easy to forget that you are less than hour away from Manhattan as you stare off into the distance of green rolling hills. The whole garden is a series of gorgeous grottos, terraces, balustrades, allées and water features; there is even a small farm with goats, chickens, and geese – a remembrance of the past owners. Louis and Brendan showed us around the gardens and explained the history of the land, as well as some of the challenges in restoring a garden back to a specific time period. We finished our tour of Greenwood inside the house where we were able to go through some historic photo albums of the family and the gardens.

GoatAfter Greenwood, we headed into the small, nearby town of Summit, NJ, and found a great lunch restaurant simply called Food. As we walked in we commented on how lucky we were that it had not rained on us, and in fact how it was even getting a little sunny out. No sooner than we had sat down though, the sky opened and it began to pour. We were in no rush so we took the opportunity to eat a leisurely lunch and we even took some time to talk about next year’s symposium.

DSCN8424As the downpour subsided we headed out for our second garden, Reeves-Reed Arboretum, located about five minutes away from Greenwood Gardens. At Reeves-Reed Arboretum we were greeted by 2010 LGP alumna Shari Edelson, who is now the director of horticulture at the garden. Reeves-Reed Arboretum is a historic house and estate that has been graced DSCN8426with the design work of several prominent landscape architects throughout its history, including Calvert Vaux and Ellen Biddle Shipman. The garden has many wonderful treasures including its narcissus bowl, several champion trees, a rose garden, and traditional herb garden. Though the area has been victim to natural disasters in the past two years, the garden looked magnificent and they are still moving a head with their plans to expand their children’s programming, including the new children’s vegetable garden being installed for this summer. And to make our visit even better the rains held off for us yet again, though Shari did provide some wonderful Reeves-Reed umbrellas just in case.

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It was a long day, but a wonderful way to celebrate the success of Symposium 2013 and look forward towards Symposium 2014!

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2013 Spring Electronic Recycling Day

Photography by LGP fellows

Friday May 10th, marked the Longwood Graduate Program’s final Electronic Recycling Day (E.R.D.) for the 2012-2013 School year and the final event hosted by the Environmental Impact team for the Class of 2013.

On such a momentous day, it’s only appropriate that every single Fellow, our attentive program secretary, Patty, and our dedicated director, Dr. Bob Lyons, were all present to participate. Even better, we collected more electronics than ever before.
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We collected more than three truckloads of electronics from the South Campus buildings. These included, televisions, computers, laptops, VCRs, scanners, various appliances, batteries, light bulbs and cellphones just to name a few.

DSC_0004According to eWaste, Inc.  Electronic recycling has many important benefits:

By dismantling and providing reuse possibilities, intact natural resources are conserved and air and water pollution caused by hazardous disposal is avoided. Additionally, recycling reduces the amount of greenhouse gas emissions caused by the manufacturing of new products. It simply makes good sense and is efficient to recycle and to do our part to keep the environment green.

DSC_0015We are so happy to provide this opportunity to lighten the load of our landfills.

In closing, don’t forget to hold onto your old electronics for the next E.R.D (December 2013) and cheers for a productive and fancy free summer season from the Fellows at the Longwood Graduate Program’s Environmental Impact Team.

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Longwood Graduate Program’s Annual Symposium – Come and get some fresh perspectives and inspiring ideas

With the deadline for registration coming up on the 8th of March we hope you have already registered for this year’s Longwood Graduate Program Annual Symposium.  This year the Symposium aims to encourage public gardens and cultural institutions to examine how they can stay relevant within the ever-changing social landscape.

Speaker Highlight: Louise Chawla

Louise Chawla

Louise Chawla

One exciting relatively new field of research that can provide public gardens with some innovative answers to this age-old question is conservation psychology. This year we are privileged to have Louise Chawla who will not be only giving a broad introduction to this exciting field but also highlight some of the issues it addresses with practical examples.  Louise Chawla is a professor in the Environmental Design Program at the University of Colorado in Boulder, co-editor of the journal Children, Youth and Environments, and associate director of the Children, Youth and Environments Center for Community Engagement. Some of her popular publications include the books In the First Country of Places: Nature, Poetry and Childhood Memory and the edited collection Growing Up in an Urbanizing World.

In addition to her presentation Louise Chawla will conduct an interactive workshop during the Special Sessions that aims to help participants understand the principles involved in designing environmental programs that encourage care for the environment. This session can accommodate a limited amount of participants, so be quick to register to avoid disappointment.

For those of you who can’t make it out to Longwood Gardens there is also the possibility to participate via our webcast. Also, we want you to contribute to the conversation whether you can be there or not on Twitter or TweetChat at #lgpsymp.

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Symposium 2013: One Month Away!

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The Fern Floor at the Longwood Gardens Conservatory

Photography: Laurie Metzger

The Longwood Graduate Program’s Annual Symposium, Shifting Landscapes: Cultivating Connections with a Broader Community, is a little less than a month away!  If you are on the fence about attending, let me paint you a picture…

When you arrive at Longwood Gardens Visitor’s Center, you are greeted by the Graduate Students and Longwood’s friendly staff.  Beyond the glass doors, the garden steals your gaze, beckoning you into the crisp early spring morning. This is a special time in the garden.  The fresh air invigorates you.  Just as you begin admiring the spring bulbs, you catch a glimpse of the magnificent conservatory on the hill.

The scent of orchids intermingled with the aroma of fresh brewed coffee lead you to Longwood’s historic ballroom where your day of cultivating connections begins.  You’re surrounded by stunning beauty and thought provoking conversation.

This year’s Symposium boasts fresh perspectives and a delicious menu.  A Bistro style lunch will feature a variety of offerings from soups and salads to risotto cakes and vegetable dumplings.  Fine meats and savory vegetarian options will leave no guest unsatisfied.  Lunch will be held on the elegant Patio of Oranges with lots of opportunity for conversation.

This year’s Symposium will make use of advanced technology forums such as Twitter in addition to recognizable tools like chalk boards to help us creatively answer questions posed by our speakers. The multi-leveled discussion will spark imaginations and generate opportunities for growth in our public gardens.  Interacting with on-line viewers in addition to those in attendance, will allow for collaboration between States and Nations!

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The Flower Walk at Longwood Gardens

The day will finish with optional behind-the-scenes tours of various aspects of Longwood Gardens in addition to an optional, limited seating session with speaker, Louise Chawla.  Finish your day at the Symposium by prolonging your exploration and experience Longwood Gardens: Beyond the Garden Gates.

Please join us on March 15th 2013 for The Longwood Graduate Program’s Annual Symposium.  Shifting Landscapes: Cultivating Connections with a Broader Community. To register, click here. See you there!

 

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2013 Annual Symposium Coming Soon – Shifting Landscapes: Cultivating Connections with a Broader Community

Here at the LGP, the onset of spring is marked not only by fragrant witchhazels and dancing snowdrops, but the culmination of one of our yearly crowning projects – the Annual Longwood Graduate Symposium.

2013 Annual Symposium

2013 Annual Symposium

On March 15th, 2013, nine months of brainstorming and planning will blossom in one day of engaging lectures and discussion centered on the theme of the public garden’s relevancy within the ever-changing social landscape.  While perhaps a timeless topic, in the past several years it has surfaced at the forefront of discussion in the field of public gardens and cultural institutions at large.  We hope that this symposium will encourage further thought and dialogue on how each public garden or cultural institution might continue to proactively think about how they can best meet existing and new audiences on common ground.

The daylong program will feature a slate of speakers with diverse experiences from within and outside the field of public horticulture, including Asimina Vergou (BGCI London), MaryLynn Mack (Desert Botanical Garden), Kathleen Socolofsky (UC Davis Arboretum), Louise Chawla (University of Colorado), and keynote speaker Gregory Rodriguez (Zocalo Public Square).

 

Speaker Highlight: Gregory Rodriguez

Gregory Rodriguez

Gregory Rodriguez

Traveling from Los Angeles, California, Gregory Rodriguez will be featured as this year’s Parvis Family Endowment Keynote Speaker.  Rodriguez is the founding director of the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University, and currently serves as Executive Director of Zocalo Public Square, a non-profit Ideas Exchange utilizing journalism and live events as a medium to “foster healthier, more cohesive communities by tackling important contemporary questions in an accessible, non-partisan, and broad-minded spirit”.   Currently an op-ed columnist for the Los Angeles Times, Rodriguez has written extensively for prominent publications including the New York TimesNewsweekTimeThe Wall Street Journal, and The Economist. His book, Mongrels, Bastards, Orphans and Vagabonds: Mexican Immigration and the Future of Race, was listed among the Washington Post’s  “Best Books of 2007”, and won him an invitation as a guest on The Colbert Report in 2008.

Register online to reserve your place at this year’s symposium. Places in the “Special Sessions” tours and workshop fill on a first-come-first-serve basis, so sign up soon to get your first choice! For those who are not able to attend in person, we are offering an online webcast option.

We hope to see you there!

 

 

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Farewell Brazil

Photography by: Longwood Graduate Fellows

IMG_0794Some how two weeks have already flown by and today is our last day in Brazil. Thankfully, we get the morning off to relax, pack, and prepare ourselves for the journey off.

DSCN8153At 2:00pm our guide Vera picked us up for our final adventure in Brazil; Parque Das Aves. The Bird Sanctuary is a private business that works to preserve native birds, reptiles, and even some mammals, along with their natural habitat. The park receives animals rescued from the black market pet trade, as well as injured and abandoned wildlife. The park is placed inside of a native forest with large enclosures for the birds to have plenty of space for flight and nesting. Guests are even allowed to walk through some of the larger enclosures to get a more personal experience.

 

DSCN8170It wasn’t all animals though. The park is a nature preserve where visitors can learn about the native flora of the Parana Forest. Interpretive panels explained the importance of various plants as food and medicinal sources for wildlife and humans a like. The park isn’t very large, but it was easy to spend several hours there strolling through the pleasant surroundings and enjoying the company of rare and beautiful birds.

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Alas, we were forced to leave as we had a flight to catch out of the Foz do Iguaçu airport.

Over 24 hours later we all arrived home – safe, exhausted, hungry, and weary, but we were home. As with all travel there were unexpected delays, missed connections, and bad airport food, but luckily all of our luggage arrived when we did!

Hope you enjoyed our posts, because I know we all enjoyed writing them!

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Iguaçu Falls

After our late arrival in Foz do Iguaçu last night, we indulge by sleeping in until 8am.  After a quick breakfast at the hotel buffet, we are in the van at 8:30 with our local guide, Vera.  Vera is from Foz do Iguaçu and has been guiding tours of the area for 28 years.  We know we are in good hands.  Our mission today is to see both sides of the famous Iguaçu Falls, named as one of the great wonders of the natural world.

The Iguaçu Falls are waterfalls on the Iguaçu River at the border of Brazilian state Paraná and Argentine province Misiones. The falls have a flow capacity equal to three times that of Niagara Falls. 20% of the falls are in Brazilian territory, and the other 80% in Argentina. The “Garganta do Diablo” (“Devil’s Throat” in Portuguese) is the tallest of the falls at 318 feet.

We arrive at the Brazilian side of the falls at 9am.  The falls are surrounded by Iguaçu National Park, a huge swath of sub-tropical rainforest.  Vera pays our admission and we begin our journey to the falls.  A short walk later, we get our first of the falls.  All we can say is, “Wow!”

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One of the first views of the falls through the trees–it would only get better.

A view from a platform on the Brazilian side.

A view from a platform on the Brazilian side.

A viewing platform.

A viewing platform.

Two hours and hundreds of photographs later, we climb back in the van to visit the Argentinian side of the falls.

On our way to Argentina, Vera takes us to a local barbecue spot so that we can try mate.  Mate is a tea-like drink made from Ilex paraguariensis.  Drinking and sharing mate has its own set of traditions, much like coffee does in the US and Europe. We are in a bit of a hurry, so we are only able to enjoy the mate for a few minutes before we must leave. We pass around the special mate cup, sipping the hot liquid from a silver straw.  It tastes a little bit like very strong green tea.

Back in the van, we cross the Argentina border with no problems.  A short time later, we enter the Argentina side of the Iguaçu National Park.  As we begin our walk to the falls, we quickly notice the popularity of mate amongst park visitors.  Many carry the distinct cup and thermoses for extra hot water.  After a short train ride and a lot of walking, we suddenly come upon the falls and look down straight down into the Devil’s Throat.

After the train ride back to a visitor center, we are tempted to take the train back to the park entrance.  Fortunately, Vera insists we take another walk. Little did we know, this walk includes several more stunning views of the waterfalls. We can see the platforms where we walked on the Brazilian side earlier that morning.  We can’t resist taking more photos.

Falls from the Argentinian side.

Falls from the Argentinian side.

Finally, we are done with the falls and climb back in the van to return to Brazil. We are very lucky to have Vera as our guide. Not only does she know the Iguaçu area very well, but she also loves birds, animals and plants.  All day long, she points out plants and animals that she knows will interest us and carries with her a book on wildlife that we frequently reference.  We are grateful to have her as our guide.

There really are no words adequate to describe Iguaçu Falls.  Hopefully some of our photographs will convey some of the majesty of the waterfalls.

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Curitiba

We started our day in luxury bus fitted for 60 people and headed to Curitiba Botanical Garden with our guide Fabio. He told us a lot of interesting stories about the history of Curitiba. The name of this city is from a native “pine” tree (Araucaria angustifolia) which has a long history and is well represented in this region. Curitiba means ‘here many pine trees’ in the native Tupi language.

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The Curitiba BG has free admission and many visitors come to the garden especially on weekends. The garden includes outdoor natural areas and a greenhouse. They are well maintained by the largest local cosmetic company in cooperation with the local government. They have their logos on the interpretation boards and labels that make a win-win situation for both government and the company.

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In the garden, we saw the beautiful tree that tells the story about how this country got its name. Brazil means “red wood like a hot ember”.  Red was the noble color in the past and they could use the tree to dye fabric a red color. Also some other beautiful blooming trees like monica (Tibouchina) and golden rain tree (Vochysia) are very impressive in this season.
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Behind the garden is the plant museum where we learned some biology and botanical history. The famous Brazilian botanist, Gerdt Hatschbach, made great contributions to the plant world. 180 plants are named after him, and when you see a plant scientific name that includes’ gertii’ or ‘hatschbachii’, it means it was discovered or named by him.
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The sensory garden demonstrates a great way of allowing people to interact with plants. Josh experienced the garden wearing a blindfold. He experienced the plants only by touching or smelling  them. “It is great and wonderful experience,” he said. After that, we went to the native plant garden which displays Brazilian native plants in well designed landscapes and views. It is a powerful encouragement for people to use native plants in their gardens.IMG_0985

After a delicious lunch in the biggest Italian restaurant in Brazil, we started a whirlwind suburban park tour. At one park, we walked around the big loop to the top of hill where we got great view of the city. Looking down rom the Free University of the Environment to the bottom of the woods, we could see that the lake was made as the shape of the state of Parana. The Bosque do Alemão (German woods)leads visitors on a trail that tells the German tale, Hansel and Gretel, for kids.
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The tour ended at the museum of Oscar Niemeyer, which features postmodern design and state-of-the-art engineering. We loved Curitiba, a city that combines historic and modern culture and architecture, a city that values sustainability with great landscapes and a fantastic environment.

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A day in Sao Paulo

Photography by: Longwood Graduate Fellows

IMG_4494Day two with our guide was a little slow. We started out exploring the natural areas behind the Museum Paulista. They are full of native Brazilian trees and tropical plants along with lots of exercise equipment. What’s different about Brazil compared with the US is that we constantly saw people of all ages utilizing this equipment, doing pull ups and using the leg and running machines. The woods in Sao Paulo, along with the parks and open areas all over Brazil were lively and well used.

We then toured the Museum Paulista, which chronicles Brazil’s Independence. Everything was in Portuguese and our guide was somewhat helpful in explaining the items and translating the interpretation. However we realized on this day specifically the importance of a good guide. A good guide can make or break your opinion of a city and the amount you are able to learn. This made us realize the value in mastering some useful phrases in the language of the country we are visiting before arriving. In our case the guide’s English was not great so sometimes we had a little trouble.

IMG_4500The garden in front is modeled after Versailles and is quite formal with a beautiful choreographed fountain. It is aptly named Independence Park and there is a monument to celebrate independence and also the original emperor. It was interesting to see how they were managing the loss of some of the larger trees by replacing them in the formal allées. In addition we were surprised at the amount of boxwood used in the design.

IMG_0658In the afternoon we visited the central market where we sampled lots of tropical fruit and ate lunch. Some of the best stories from the trip happen whenever we attempt to order food. Sometimes the restaurant has a menu in English which is very helpful to us in ordering. However, most of the time the waiter cannot read the English menu so we still have trouble ordering the correct item. All in all that part has been an entertaining learning experience.

That evening we flew to Curitiba. The hotel was old fashioned but the people working there were fantastic! Helpful and friendly, they carried our bags for us, were really appreciative of our smiles and attempts at Portuguese and helped us to order a vegetarian pizza. The pizza arrived with peas, corn, hearts of palm and oregano,…oh and no sauce. It was interesting compared with our vegetarian pizzas in the states but it was delicious. It was quite late and were off to bed.

 

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