Tag Archives: class of 2013

Arrival in Bali

(written by Sara Levin, photographs by Martin Smit)

We made it to Bali on Friday evening accompanied by Wendy and Tom who joined us for the second leg of our trip.  Bali is fresh and fragrant with bright flowers found everywhere from the Plumeria strands handed to us as we left the airport to the small colorful Hindu offerings set out each morning.

Hindu offering

We started our first full day in Bali with a visit to the IDEP Foundation, an NGO that strives to “help people help themselves by cultivating resilient and sustainable communities.” IDEP uses permaculture education to help the community in a variety of ways.  They offer workshops on natural disaster preparedness and recovery by teaching earthquake-resistant building techniques and educating communities on how to sustainably rebuild after a natural disaster.

IDEP Demonstratioin Garden

They work with school groups to teach organic horticulture techniques and have an outreach program with prisons to teach prisoners how to grow vegetables and save seeds.  The IDEP farm consists of a small demonstration garden featuring permaculture practices to help teach the community about organic gardening.  They have sites all around Indonesia and a few neighboring islands.  We were incredibly impressed with their work.  More information on the IDEP Foundation can be found at www.idepfoundation.org.

Nelumbo nucifera

We ended our first day in Bali with a trip to Taman Tirtagannga, the water temple.  This beautiful temple was once a retreat for the royal family.  Today it is a pubic oasis, tucked away among the rice fields in eastern Bali.

Rice fields close to Tirtagannga

Taman Tirtagannga

Pulau Ubin

(written by Nate Tschaenn, photographs by Abby Johnson)

On our last full day in Singapore, we took a trip away from the many tall buildings of mainland Singapore to a smaller, largely uninhabited island on the northeast side of Singapore called Pulau Ubin.

Boat ride from mainland Singapore to Pulau Ubin

Boat ride from mainland Singapore to Pulau Ubin

In the morning we met with Dr. Robert Teo, assistant director of the park at Palau Ubin, who described some of the work National Parks has been doing on the island. The name Palua Ubin roughly translates “granite island” and several granite quarries once operated on the island. The quarry industry, along with the farming of various crops like rubber and coconuts, left the island badly damaged. In 1977 National Parks started to manage the island to protect and restore the biodiversity of this area. Since this time 254 new species of plants have been recorded in Singapore and 69 species once thought extinct in Singapore were rediscovered.

Tour of sensory garden trail

Tour of sensory garden trail

After our meeting, we were shown the butterfly garden, which attracts 80 different species of butterflies. We were also given a tour of the sensory trail where we had the opportunity to see, touch, smell, and taste many interesting plants. While on the tour we were very lucky to see a hornbill, a beautiful bird that had once been driven off the island due to the destruction of its natural habitat  by the quarry and agricultural operations.

Oriental Pied Hornbill

Oriental Pied Hornbill

 

One of the large trees found on the island

After lunch we visited Chek Jawa, a wetland park on the far eastern side of Pulau Ubin. Here we had a fantastic tour through the wetlands and were able to see a variety of ecosystems in this one area, including mangroves, sandy beach, rocky beach, seagrass lagoon, coral rubble, sand bar, and coastal forest. The whole area was teeming with life, and we were able to spot beautiful birds, crabs, and lots of funny looking mudskippers.  In December of 2001, Check Jawa was saved from a planned reclamation project that would have destroyed this natural area. Volunteers conducted a biodiversity survey and convinced the government to suspend the project, at least temporarily. We were certainly lucky to have been able to experience this beautiful park and hope that Singapore will continue to preserve these unique habitats.

Tour through the mangrove wetlands

Tour through the mangrove wetlands of Chek Jawa

Mudskipper

This funny looking mudskipper is a species of amphibious fish

 

Gardens by the Bay & HortPark

January 11, 2012 – Gardens by the Bay & HortPark, Singapore
(written by Quill Teal-Sullivan, photographs by Wonsoon Park and Sara Levin)

The past two days have been full to the brim with visits to many of Singapore’s beautiful parks and urban green spaces. Tuesday morning started at Gardens by the Bay, Singapore’s newest and largest garden project sitting on one-hundred and one hectares encircling Marina Bay.  We were greeted by Chris Dalzell, a former Longwood international intern who recently moved from South Africa to act as the garden’s Assistant Director of Garden Operations.  Chris and his colleagues toured us around the site, which will be completed for an official public opening in June of this year. Gardens by the Bay features two large conservatories – one that will create a cool-dry Mediterranean climate, and the other a cool-moist mountain climate.

Flower Dome of the Gardens by the Bay

We were able to tour the Flower Dome, freshly planted with remarkable specimens imported from around the world.  Most notable were the enormous baobabs planted on a cantilevered overlook, and the gnarled one-thousand-year old olive trees just in from southern Spain.  Another highlight of the gardens were the eighteen “super trees” gracefully arching overhead, clad with epiphytes and climbers.  The “super trees” are one of the spectacularly clever aspects of the garden design, acting as a venting system for the glasshouses, water catchment mechanism, solar energy receptor, as well as an aesthetic wonder.

Super Tree

After a lunch of various local delights, we met with Dan Burcham (our host with the most and LGP alumn), and his colleagues at the National Parks Board (NParks) to tour four exceptional urban greening sites. As part of Singapore’s vision of “the city in a garden”, NParks offers financial assistance to green the exterior of existing buildings.  Three of the sites we visited were vertical green walls each designed by a different firm with a unique system and design philosophy.  The end of a long and most stimulating day of garden touring culminated in a trip to the top of Marina Bay Sands Sky Park to decompress and admire the city from above.

Green wall at the F1 race track

On Wednesday we traveled to HortPark, a display garden within the NParks system that features small-scale garden exhibits aimed to inspire Singaporean residents to include gardens and horticulture in their home life.  HortPark partners with local landscape companies that rent small plots to display their design, acting as publicity for the company and inspiration for the visitors.  As Abby says, “it is the perfect collaboration between government, industry, and community”.

Vegetable Garden at HortPark

Silver Garden at HortPark

HortPark sits within the Southern Ridges region, a chain of parks, gardens and natural areas linked with ‘park connectors’.  Two knowledgeable NParks staff, Wilson and Eric, led us on an excursion through a few of the natural areas. This included a jungle accessed by a 9 km canopy bridge, home to a delinquent gang of macaque monkeys, as well as a most beautiful wooden bridge with views to the sea and the city.

Dillenia suffriticosa

The evening was capped with a barbeque accompanied by the senior staff of NParks at the Outwardbound Singapore headquarters.  We ate satay and fresh fruit in the evening heat, feeling so grateful for the generosity of our Singaporean hosts and, the incredible opportunity we have as Longwood students to experience the ‘city in a garden’.

Canopy walkway at southern ridges

Henderson Waves

Singapore Botanic Gardens and CUGE

January 9, 2012 – Singapore Botanic Gardens, Singapore
(written by Wonsoon Park, photographs by Martin Smit and Wonsoon Park )

Even though Singapore can be very hot and humid the weather was cool enough for us to forget about our jetlag and be immersed in the beauty of the Singapore Botanic Gardens. Imagine vast breathtaking tropical gardens with enormous trees and extraordinary flowers, all without the need of any glasshouses or conservatories.

Tour of the orchid breeding program facilities of SBG

The SBG was established in 1859 as the very first garden in Singapore and was initially used in introducing various tropical crops to Southeast Asia. These days the SBG is conducting all the functions of a modern botanic garden. Amazingly, it is open to public from 5am to midnight daily and attracts more than 4 million visitors per year, making it one of the most publically used gardens of the world.

The national flower of Singapore, Vanda Miss Joaquim

The national flower of Singapore, Vanda Miss Joaquim

The Cool House for displaying orchids needing cooler conditions

After a brief meeting with the director, Dr. Nigel Taylor, and various heads of departments, we had a tour of the facilities and gardens. We ended our visit to the SBG with a Q&A session with the SBG staff.  Our last activity of the day was a quick visit to Centre for Urban Greenery and Ecology (CUGE). Assistant director, Chong Whye Keet, gave a quick presentation on CUGE that provided a greater insight into this unique department.

Oncidium arches in the National Orchid Garden

A strangler fig growing in the remnant rainforest in the SBG

 

Safely in Singapore

January 8, 2012 – Singapore Zoo, Singapore
(written by Martin Smit, photographs by Nate Tschaenn )

Everything went seamlessly as our group all ascended on Singapore from various corners of the earth. The drive to the hotel immediately blew us away because of the scale of landscaping everywhere and the beautiful epiphyte smothered street trees. After booking in at our hotel some of us explored the immediate surroundings while others briefly caught their breath before we headed out for our visit to the Singapore Zoo. We were warmly received by the enthusiastic staff and were quickly astonished by the amazing gardens and surroundings of this wonderful zoo. We were also informed about some of the conservation and education efforts that were undertaken at this institution. We were taken behind the scenes where we had the opportunity to interact with various staff members and of course, some animals.

A quick photo opportunity with some local zoo residents

Sara with some ring-tailed lemurs

Fellows in a section of the zoo displaying ethnobotanic plants

Our first impressions of Singapore were wonderful, not only because of the beauty of this urban paradise but also because of the extremely helpful and friendly people that we have met thus far. It already promises to be an unforgetful experience.

Travel to Singapore and Indonesia: follow us

This January the first year fellows will be traveling to Singapore and Indonesia for what promises to be an amazing International Experience 2012. Longwood staff members, Shawn Kister and Sharon Loving, will be joining for the Singapore leg of the journey while Tom Brightman and Wendy Gentry will be traveling with the fellows to Indonesia.

Inside one of the new conservatories at Gardens by the Bay, Singapore. (Photo, courtesy of Chris Dalzell)

This travel opportunity will be the culmination of months of preparation in which all fellows were working diligently to make contact with and plan visits to various institutions. We will kick off our International Experience when we arrive in Singapore on the 8th of January. From Singapore we will be traveling on to the island of Bali and then on to Bogor, located on West-Java, before returning on the 21st of January. Some of the diverse sites that we will be visiting include the Singapore Botanic Gardens, Gardens by the Bay, Pulau Ubin, Bali Botanic Garden, Bogor Botanic Garden, Cibodas Botanic Garden, Taman Bunga Nusantara and the Gede-Pangrango National Park to name but a few.

We invite you all to follow us on our Blog and share in this unique experience.

Philadelphia’s Park System, Fairmount Park

August 26, 2011 – Fairmount Park, PA
(written by Abby Johnson, photographs by Quill Teal-Sullivan)

Mr. Tee Jay Boudreau, Special Projects Manager at Fairmount Park gave students a behind the scenes tour of Fairmount Park.  Tee Jay Boudreau is a former Fellow of the Longwood Graduate Program.

History of Fairmount Park

In the late 1790’s there was a yellow fever epidemic. In an effort to ensure clean drinking water, the first municipal water department in the country was developed on the site that is now Philadelphia City Hall. Additional efforts to ensure clean drinking water included purchasing buffer land surrounding the five waterways: Dahrby Cobbs, Pennypack, Poquessing, Tookancy/Tocany-Frankford, and Wissahickon Creek.  This buffer land totals 9,200 acres, which composes 10% of the city’s infrastructure, 13% of the city’s land mass, and all of this comprises the Fairmount Park System of Philadelphia.

The City of Philadelphia merged the Department of Recreation and the Department of Parks, which, combined, is now responsible for maintaining everything from city street trees, to public gardens, to ball fields. Altogether, that’s a 150,000 – 200,000 trees!  The departmental merging is an unusual but successful model.  Philadelphia’s Mayor Nutter’s initiative is to plant 300,000 trees by 2013. Other facilities include the Please Touch Museum, Horticulture Center and conservatory.

Organic Recycling Center w/ Tee Jay Boudreau and Marc Wilken

The students got a first hand look at the recycling yard waste and compost center. Twenty years ago the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) set out a concrete pad to collect and deposit yard waste. Today, this site is used by Fairmount Park and other municipal areas for composting purposes. Collected materials are handled so as to convert raw vegetative matter to mulch and organic compost over time. The conversion process takes about four months to turn from a mixture of foliage and manure to “black gold.”  Compost turners and aerators figure prominently in the successful conversion process.  In previous years, 3400 tons per week were collected; however, due to current budget cuts only curbside pick up matter is retained, yielding about 2100 tons per week. Manure from city horse farms also contributes to the richness of the compost. Philadelphia residents can take advantage of this clean compost for free.  Compost is sold to contractors for a larger fee.

Disaster Preparedness

In 1996 Hurricane Floyd washed away one of the maintenance buildings. It was quite a coincidence that when we visited Fairmount Park, the staff was in the throes of preparations for an impending Hurricane Irene, which was scheduled to hit the next day!

Flood Plain management/ Water Flow Diversion

Fairmount Park staff have proactively developed a diversion plan to mitigate land erosion and pool water at certain points in the Park. This not only protects the land above but also the park users below. The topography map showed very steep points of terrain above the historic Valley Green Inn at Wissahickon Park below. The trails at  Wissahickon  are  used by joggers, walkers, and other park patrons daily.  The flood plain management activities do not impede animals from traveling throughout the park, rather it protects habits from washing away.

Chanticleer, a Pleasure Garden

August 19, 2011 – Chanticleer, PA
(written by Quill Teal-Sullivan, photographs by Nate Tschaenn)

The third destination for the First Year Fellows’ summer fieldtrip series was Chanticleer, a 35-acre estate garden along the Philadelphia mainline.  Once the home of the Rosengarten family of Philadelphia, the house and surrounding grounds became a non-profit organization with the death of Adolf Rosengarten, Jr. in 1990.  While the house is preserved to illustrate how the family may have lived during the early 1900’s, the grounds are not maintained according to historic records. In keeping with the founder’s wish, the grounds are intended to be pleasure gardens designed and kept to the standards of the talented garden staff.  Chanticleer’s vision is to be one of the most beautiful gardens in the world, while creating the intimacy and comfort of a private estate.  And this they do quite well. The moment we pulled through the gates it was as though we had fallen through a rabbit hole and landed in a world of horticultural wonder, where tranquility and sensual stimulation are perfectly balanced.

We were greeted by Bill Thomas, Chanticleer’s Executive Director, who was dressed in work boots as though just in from the dirt.  He led us to the open-air welcome pavilion, nestled in a tropical extravaganza of banana trees and elephant-ears, its roof dripping with a tangle of passionflower and Dutchman’s pipe. The pavilion was crowned with a statue of Chanticleer himself, a proud rooster who shares the namesake of the garden, and can be found perched here and there atop a fence or column.  Bill subsequently sent us out into the gardens to explore at our own pace, so that we could develop our own unique interpretations.

The gardens at Chanticleer are comprised of a series of vignettes, each with its own character, charm and mystery. Each could stand on its own, yet they are gracefully strung together by the common thread of horticultural whimsy. I found myself drawn to the Ruin Garden, which sits on the footprint of what was once an original estate house. The ruin itself is not authentic, but it certainly elicits the allure of crumbling farmhouse in the Irish countryside.  Traces of human habitation and order are combined with the wildness of nature overtaking an abandoned structure. Vines creep up the walls.  Echeveria adorns the mantle like an overgrown arrangement. A tree bends through the opening of a window. Ferns take the place of a fire in the hearth. This play between human function and nature’s prowess is a reoccurring theme at Chanticleer. But it is orchestrated with such intention and elegance, a testament to the gardener’s creativity and skill.

At lunchtime, we gathered at the terrace gardens beneath the pool pavilion for sandwiches and sweet tea with Bill Thomas and Ed Hincklen, the facilities manager and general contractor. Afterwards, they lead us on a behind-the-scenes tour of the new projects underway, so we could see first hand the incredible amount of work that goes into making such a garden so pleasurable. The first stop was Bell’s Woodland, Chanticleer’s newest addition to the gardens that exhibits flora of the native east coast forests.  A winding path throughout the woods is made from rubber mulch, an innovative new material of recycled tires, quite convincingly made to look like natural mulch but with a spring underfoot. A feature of Bell’s Woodland will be a bridge resembling an abstract fallen beach log, which, when finished, will be dripping with ferns an moss.

Chanticleer is very conscious of energy consumption and is working to be as gentle on the environment as possible.  This effort is seen in their recent solar panel installation atop the equipment garage, which produces 20% of Chanticleer’s energy needs. Ed showed us the “numbers rolling in” on the megawatt meter, a sight that makes an energy-wise facilities manager proud. The major capital project at the moment was the construction of a new greenhouse big enough to over winter a menagerie of tropical plants. The new greenhouse features radiant floor heating and all American made building materials, 98% of which are recycled. In another effort to reduce energy use, Chanticleer is minimizing turf by replacing areas with plantings of mondo grass, ferns and fescue mixes. It is clear that the staff of Chanticleer takes pride in their environmental initiatives both big and small. It is inspiring to see that innovations in environmental responsibility are approached with the same enthusiasm as innovations in horticultural display.

Our tour came to an end at the Entry Courtyard, which boasts containers planted with vegetables in the most inspired ornamental arrangements.  The elements of color, texture and form were each considered carefully in stunning compositions. We said goodbye to our generous hosts amidst urns ripe with kohlrabi and cascading cucumbers.  And away we went, the image of a crowing rooster disappearing in the distance. Each First Year Fellow dreaming of their next visit to the beautiful gardens of Chanticleer.

First year Fellows visit Tyler Arboretum

July 29, 2011 – Tyler Arboretum, PA
(written by Martin Smit, photographs by Abby Johnson and Nate Tschaenn)

With a documented history stretching back to 1681, when William Penn released the property to Thomas Minshall, the Tyler Arboretum has a rich legacy. Since 1944 when Laura Tyler donated the property to be developed as an arboretum, in memory of her husband, the Tyler Arboretum has slowly evolved and grown as an organization. With rich plant collections, notably due to the work of the Painter brothers and the first director Dr. John Wister, combined with large natural areas, Tyler has always been an inspirational setting. In the last few decades, Tyler has become focused on sharing these wonderful resources with the community. In its own words, the Tyler Arboretum wants to “stimulate stewardship and understanding of our wonderful natural world.”

The current Executive Director, Mr. Rick Colbert, welcomed First Year Fellows and discussed the Arboretum’s more recent history. It was interesting to learn about Tyler’s process of drawing up a master plan in 1996, a groundbreaking step in the field of public horticulture at the time. It was interesting to see how this document was put into practice and how, partly because of it, the organization has experienced significant growth during the last decade. Mr. Colbert also pointed out how continuous long term planning is an essential part of the Tyler Arboretum’s successful management and that the organization regularly updates the master plan. He also explained how various efforts were being put into growing the Arboretum’s endowment to ensure the organization’s future, a crucial step in these uncertain financial times.

Ms. Betsey Ney, Director of Public Programs, guided First Year Fellows through the Arboretum and pointed out how new developments are aimed at making it more accessible to visitors. Hopefully, future visitors will also be drawn into some wonderful, previously hidden, areas of the Arboretum. The Tyler Arboretum offers a diverse range of activities but is especially focused on engaging families and children. Tyler has made a concerted effort to align the educational programs for children with school curriculums, which has led to Tyler becoming an ever more popular destination for regional schools. Enhanced programming has also increased family visitation, as well as improved membership growth in recent years.

With exhibits such as playful tree houses, various quirky sculptures, the butterfly house, amazing landscapes and natural areas, it is easy to see why this Arboretum has become such a popular regional destination. With its strong institutional leadership it is sure to continue its important role in the region for the years to come.

Longwood Fellows “POP” into the Scott Arboretum!

(written by Sara Levin, photographs by Raakel Toppila)

The Professional Outreach Project (POP) is an annual collaboration between the Longwood Graduate Fellows and various horticulture organizations.  Recent projects have included developing a garden design concept for the Delaware Health and Social Services and creating a meadow management plan for Bartram’s Garden in Philadelphia.

The 2011 Professional Outreach Project is now underway! This year the Longwood Graduate Fellows are teaming up with the Scott Arboretum of Swarthmore College.   The Scott Arboretum encompasses the entire Swarthmore College campus and it is free and open to the public every day.  The beautiful grounds helped Swarthmore gain the title as one of the most beautiful campuses in the country.  In their work with the Scott Arboretum, the Fellows will look at two major issues: membership growth and strategies to increase student and community interaction with the Arboretum.

The Fellows begin this year’s project with extensive research.  They hope to get a better understanding of the Scott Arboretum, its staff, vision, programs and connection to Swarthmore College.  They will look at the curriculum and event calendar at Swarthmore to find ways to link the College to the Arboretum.  They will also benchmark other university arboreta and gardens to determine best practices for connecting students to the collections.  Finally, the Fellows will research cultural events in the Philadelphia area that may have a relevant link to programs at the Scott Arboretum.

Once they identify areas of potential growth the Fellows will give the Scott Arboretum recommendations for programs and their implementation.  The Swarthmore College events calendar will be used to add events appropriately and the Scott Arboretum’s resources will be considered to ensure the longevity of these new programs.

In the final phase of POP 2011, the Fellows will use their research to help grow the membership base by including programs and events that will attract visitors from the surrounding community.  The Fellows look forward to the product of their research in the coming weeks.  Keep up with the POP progress on the LGP blog!