Last weekend Raakel Toppila, first year Longwood Graduate Fellow and John Moore, second year Professional Gardener Student attended Colonial Williamsburg’s 65th Annual Garden Symposium in Williamsburg, Virginia. John and Raakel were the recipients of the Williamsburg Garden Symposium Student Scholarships generously supported by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and a number of conference attendees.
(Duke of Gloucester Street in the historic area of Colonial Williamsburg)
Laura Viancour, Manager of Garden Programs at Colonial Williamsburg, made John and Raakel feel welcome by introducing them to some of the speakers and ensuring that they gained the most from the symposium.
The charm and the weather of Williamsburg did not disappoint. The flowering cherries, red bud, dogwood, paw paw, and oaks seemed especially lovely in the 80-degree weather.
(Asimina triloba (paw paw) in bloom)
John and Raakel spent a delightful two-days learning from the “who’s-who” in horticulture including host of Growing a Greener World, Joe Lamp’l, the “perennial diva” Stephanie Cohen, garden author Suzy Bales and director of the Morris Aboretum, Paul Meyer, to name a few. Following morning sessions with the featured speakers, the students were able to spend afternoons with staff of Colonial Williamsburg learning about the plants of 18th century town and how they were used. Highlights from the conference included hearing from the University of Delaware’s Doug Tallamy about Bringing Nature Home through the use of native plants in the home garden to attract insects, birds and other animals. A behind the scenes look at the nursery offered a whirlwind introduction to saving vegetable seeds, the use of plants for dying textiles, the importance of honeybees for pollination, and a rare breeds program for livestock which seeks to preserve genetic diversity in animals.
The symposium offered an outstanding opportunity for John and Raakel to visit the colonial town while learning about the topic they love most.
(Dusk in the Colonial Garden)