From Summer Home to Central Park

(Photos by Bryan Thompson-Nowak)

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Believe it or not, the tranquil, wooded grounds of Morris Arboretum are within the city limits of booming Philadelphia. In fact, it is just 12 miles from the University of Pennsylvania campus and 9 miles from King of Prussia. This gem, paired with gorgeous autumn-like weather, made for a memorable field trip for the first-year Fellows.

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Upon arrival, Morris Arboretum’s Director, Paul Meyer, greeted us and shared a bit of Morris’s history. The Arboretum recently celebrated its 125th anniversary: a brother and sister pair, John and Lydia Morris, founded it in 1887 as their summer home. The Arboretum officially opened to the public in 1933, but it wasn’t until 1977 when former director Bill Klein spearheaded a master planning process that made Morris Arboretum into the destination that it is today. Affectionately known these days as the “Central Park of southeastern Pennsylvania,” Morris is looking ahead to the future and working on plans to renovate the front area of the George D. Widener Education and Visitor Center as well as several other improvement projects.

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Paul led us on an intimate tour of the grounds, sharing both facts and stories that most guests will never have the opportunity to hear! As we passed a modest Chinese hemlock (Tsuga chinensis) specimen, Paul paused and pointed out the lack of hemlock woolly adelgid damage. Canadian hemlocks have recently succumbed to this pest on quite a large scale, but its Chinese cousins were observed to be resistant. Paul told us that Morris Arboretum led expeditions to China to collect more specimens of the hemlock and introduce it more widely in the United States.

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The Chinese hemlock is only one example of the impact that Morris has had in collecting and distributing significant new plant species in the US. Another interesting discovery from a Chinese expedition trip came from a surprising species: seeds of the oft-used Liriope muscari, collected from a specimen in China. It provided for some interesting genetic diversity when Morris grew the seeds out. With uniquely wide foliage, as well as a tall, spindly inflorescence, this variation will definitely make visitors to the Arboretum do a double take!

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Our trip to Morris would not be complete without a group photo with the wildly popular “Big Bugs,” which will be on display until the end of August. These giant bug sculptures, created by David Rogers, have been an amazing asset for Morris this year. With their arrival on April 1, the “bugs” helped Morris have their biggest attendance month ever in its history! The local media loved the exhibit, and Morris experienced incredible exposure in the greater Philadelphia area. It has been a win-win all around!

We had a fantastic visit with Paul and his staff, enjoyed amazing weather in a beautiful setting, and learned exciting “insider info” about some of Morris’s plant collections. For more information about planning a visit for yourself, just check out the Arboretum’s web site!

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100 Years as an Estate…. 20 Years as a Public Garden!

 (Photographs by Gary Shanks)

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The new first-year graduate students got a chance to visit one of the more intimate gardens in the greater Philadelphia area. Since Chanticleer has been written about in a previous LGP blog, let’s just dive right in to the details.

Our tour with Bill Thomas, Chanticleer’s Director, began in the Teacup Garden. Exotic plants are mixed creatively with natives, and because it is directly behind the main house, it feels like one’s own private courtyard.

IMG_1668On the way to the Tennis Court Garden, there is a stately hybrid oak (Quercus alba x Quercus montana) that keeps one humble due to its enormous size. Not until one is faced with a giant tree like this does one realize one’s own small stature. The Tennis Court Garden is full of flowers that fascinate, and sitting on the staff-made wooden glider under the shady arbor is a great vantage point to appreciate the vibrancy of this garden.

Down the slope is a 120-foot “hedge” of asparagus. That’s right, asparagus hedge. The frilly fronds wave in the wind, enticing the visitor to investigate what is behind it… a charming cut-flower and vegetable garden. Tended by a graduate of the Longwood Professional Gardener Program, flowers from this garden are used in the flower arrangements in the house.

Here we stopped, and Bill pointed out what appeared to be an ordinary patch of land. He explained that water from the parking lot flows underground, down the hill to this site, where there is a 10,000-gallon pipe full of holes. This allows the water to come out through the holes and diffuse throughout this patch of land instead of running off and causing flooding. Brilliant!

IMG_1678Our tour continued into the Woodland Garden where one of the staff horticulturists (who doubles as a metal- and wood-worker in the winter) created a giant, partially-enclosed bridge over Darby Creek to resemble a fallen log.

 

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The path on the bridge and into the Woodland Garden is made of recycled tires, shreddedand dyed to look like wood chips. There is a binder added to the tire pieces to prevent leaching of the rubber products into the soil. It also provides a soft and comfortable base for pedestrians, as well as being wheelchair and stroller accessible!

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From the mysterious Lady of the Pond to the frog gravity fountain; from bubbling rocks to the stepping-stones through the moss garden, it is a charming stroll through the Woodland Garden. The path leads to the Asian Woodland Garden where most of the herbaceous plants, shrubs, and small trees originate from China, Japan, and Korea.IMG_1723

Chanticleer’s charms continue on. You will have to go visit yourself to find out about the Pond Garden, Serpentine Garden, Terrace Garden, Ruin Garden, and the countless hidden treasures waiting for discovery as you wander the grounds.

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Nemours: “To Love and To Know”

(Photographs by Felicia Chua)

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As our inaugural field trip for the Summer 2014 season, the first-year fellows toured the mansion and grounds of Nemours, the former home of gunpowder magnate A.I. duPont. Located in Wilmington, Delaware, the palatial estate, modeled after Versailles in a formal French style, was draped in the heat and humidity of a true Mid-Atlantic July.

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We were greeted at the Visitors Center by Public Relations Manager, Steve Maurer, who escorted us by vehicle up to the center drive of the mansion, catching glimpses of the gardens and fountains through the allee of thickly planted oak, chestnut, and cryptomeria.

Our second host, the Head of Horticulture at Nemours, Richard Larkin joined us at the front entrance of the mansion where our view was no longer obscured by the allee. Although hesitant to wander the grounds in the heat, Richard and Steve expertly guided us through the shade to view the estate’s gardens. 

2014-07-19 10.31.52The extensive boxwood designs, gravel paths, and gold leaf details were balanced by the charming wildness of a rural historic site. The trees led our gaze down one-third of a mile of intensely manicured formal gardens, highlighting architectural features that included fountains, ponds, a sunken garden, Greco-Roman temples, and statues and stonework of old gods.

 

2013-07-19 10.07.21Currently sitting on three hundred acres, the site for the house and garden was chosen by A.I. duPont to honor a memory of his father, anecdotally relayed to us by Steve Maurer, “While on a walk in the woods with his father, E.I. duPont, a young A.I. was brought to a spot surrounded by tulip poplars. His father told him that he would like to build a house there so he could spend his days reading and eating ice cream.” There were five original tulip poplars on the property of which only one remains. It is very badly in decay and currently being held upright by a concrete slab, preserved as an historic and emotional connection to the past.

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A Lord & Burnham greenhouse sat unused, derelict, and beautifully invaded by flowering butterfly bush. It stood in sharp contrast to the meticulously restored and maintained house and gardens, both a testament to the skill of the staff, as well as a reminder of the effects of time and nature unchecked.

The house itself was stunning, and the taste and style of their personal esoterica may be unmatched. It was to great disappointment that we were not allowed to take photographs inside of the mansion, but understandable. The duPonts of Nemours surrounded themselves with objects of personal appeal. Amassing a collection based purely on personal preference, the house was filled with paintings, rugs, furniture, and objets d’art unified by a strong aesthetic taste. Some personal highlights included a locked refrigerator in the lower level of the house where A.I. duPont kept his ice cream, and a basket of vegetable and fruit shaped ice cream molds (alarmingly made of lead)!

2014-07-19 10.08.46The functional design of the house was equally impressive. Being an MIT trained engineer, A.I. DuPont spared no expense or craftsmanship in Nemours’ mechanical systems. Early ammonia based refrigerators, ergonomically conscious cork flooring, and redundant generators were all installed, and remain as a testament to innovation and classic industrial design.

Nemours follows faithfully in the family motto “To Love and To Know.” Built for his second wife, and honoring the memories of his father, Nemours is a revelation in that which A.I. duPont both knew, and loved.

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2013 Professional Outreach Project Begins

Each summer the Longwood Graduate Program partners with an outside organization to accomplish a task that is both beneficial to the partner organization and educational for the fellows. In April the (then) first-year fellows sat down for the first meeting of the 2013 Professional Outreach Project (POP). Since that meeting we sent out our Request for Proposals, attended the 2013 APGA national conference, selected our partner organization for POP, tearfully said good-bye to the graduating class, and cheerfully said hello to the incoming LGP class of 2014. With all that excitement behind us now, we have gotten to work on this year’s POP.

Tyler Arboretum's Logo

We are excited to be working with Tyler Arboretum this year in Media, PA; a historic arboretum and landscape, Tyler is home to the historic collection known as the Painter plants. The Painter plants were planted in the mid-1800s by the Painter brothers, who lived on what was then their family farm. They were two Quaker brothers, who were true amateur naturalists – interested in minerals, animals, plants, and all things scientific.

During their lives they planted over 1,000 trees, shrubs and perennials around their house and barn (which are both still standing today), in hopes of gaining a better understanding of the natural order of life. After their deaths, the estate continued to be passed down through the family, until it was finally transitioned into a public arboretum in 1944.Unfortunately, many of these plants have not survived the decades, but those that have are magnificent specimens, many of which are now state champion trees.

Tree at Tyler

This summer the Longwood graduate fellows are undertaking the task of preserving and reinterpreting these historic plants. We started our process by combing through boxes of archival material from the Painter brothers, now stored at Friends Historical Library at Swarthmore College, and reaching out to other historic institutions to learn as much as we could about the brothers, their plants, and about the era in which they co-existed.

As we move forward we will be looking at modern-day best practices for maintaining the health of historic trees, ways to propagate these plants in order to preserve their unique genetics, and how to best showcase these plants to visitors of all ages at Tyler Arboretum. It is a very exciting project we are undertaking, and we are excited to move forward with it. Check back later in the summer for more updates!

Students at Tyler

Visiting Tyler in the Rain

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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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