Watering Our Roots to Grow Our Communities

Minneapolis Scuplture Garden on a lovely June day

Minneapolis Scuplture Garden on a lovely June day

Beautiful Minneapolis-St. Paul was the location of this year’s American Public Gardens Association Annual Conference. The Fellows enjoyed every aspect of the week, especially the hospitality of the co-hosting institutions, the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum and Como Park Zoo and Conservatory.

Minnesota Lanscape Arboretum is currently hosting Nature Connects: Art with LEGO Bricks as a temporary exhibition; the colors of this dragonfly perfectly accent the astilbe

Minnesota Lanscape Arboretum is currently hosting Nature Connects: Art with LEGO Bricks as a temporary exhibition; the colors of this dragonfly perfectly accent the astilbe

Public garden leaders presented on wide variety of topics during sessions throughout the week, such as leading organizational change, interpreting science for the public, mapping plant collections, and tackling challenges of growing membership at “gateless” gardens.

Not only did the Fellows attend sessions, but several Fellows had the opportunity to share their research and experience with conference attendees as well:

Andrea Brennan (Class of 2016)- Exploring Horticulture and Chrysanthemum Culture in Japan: A presentation on the Class of 2016’s International Experience in January 2015 in Japan.

Frances Jackson (Class of 2016)- The Maddening Crowd? Collections Protection Strategies to Welcome More Visitors to Your Garden (presented with Rebecca McMackin, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Melanie Sifton, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and Thomas Smarr, Friends of the High Line)

Sarah Leach Smith (Class of 2015)- Evaluation of Trial Garden Practices at Public Gardens and Arboreta

Bryan Thompsonowak (Class of 2015)- Pressures, Priorities and Strategies for Managing Tree Collections Across Budget Restraints

Sarah Leach Smith presents about her thesis research

Sarah Leach Smith presents about her thesis research

In addition to presenting and learning from the engaging sessions, Fellows explored the Twin City metro area on tours and took in the beauty of both the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum and Como Park Zoo and Conservatory in the evening.

The stunning Marjorie McNeely Conservatory at Como Park Zoo and Conservatory is celebrating 100 years in 2015. She's looking pretty good!

The stunning Marjorie McNeely Conservatory at Como Park Zoo and Conservatory is celebrating 100 years in 2015. She’s looking pretty good!

Ford W. Bell, former president of the American Alliance of Museums, energized attendees with his opening speech about the importance of advocacy work. Later in the week, Andrew Zimmern, TV personality, chef, and food writer, showed his appreciation for the work of gardens and arboreta in educating the public on key environmental issues. The acclaimed Dr. Peter H. Raven, president emeritus of the Missouri Botanical Garden and George Engelmann Professor of Botany Emeritus at Washington University in St. Louis, concluded the conference with an inspiring conservation message, leaving each of the conference participants energized to return to their home institutions.

Dr. Raven discusses conservation and biodiversity at public gardens

Dr. Raven discusses conservation and biodiversity at public gardens

Thank you to our hosts and to the planning committee for putting together another fantastic conference!

The Classes of 2015 and 2016 were together for a final time before welcoming the Class of 2017!

The Classes of 2015 and 2016 were together for a final time before welcoming the Class of 2017!

A Beautiful Ending in Western Massachusetts

Landscape architect Fletcher Steele’s designs at the Mission House and Naumkeag were the focus of the final morning of the Fellows’ North American Experience in Massachusetts. Fellows met Mark Wilson, Curator of Collections & West Region Cultural Resources Specialist, and Eric Ruquist, Horticulturist, at the Mission House in Stockbridge. This historic house dates to 1742 and was originally the home of the first missionary to the Mohican Indians.

The Mission House with summer blooming perennials

The Mission House with summer blooming perennials

Mabel Choate, the daughter of Joseph Choate, a leading 19th century attorney, was a preservationist in the 1920s and acquired the Mission House in order to preserve it and its historical significance. The Colonial Revival gardens surrounding the house were among the first projects she and Steele collaborated on and provided a way for Steele to demonstrate his prowess at landscape design.

After this brief introduction to Choate and Steele, the Fellows went up the hill to Naumkeag, the former country estate of Mabel Choate and her family.

The setting could not have been more idyllic: morning at a Gilded Age estate surrounded by the rolling Berkshires and imaginatively designed gardens. Choate and Steele redesigned the gardens at Naumkeag over the course of 30 years and they are in the final stages of being restored to their original glory.

Looking up at Naumkeag from the Tree Peony Terrace

Looking up at Naumkeag from the Tree Peony Terrace

The Blue Steps flanked by birch trees

The Blue Steps flanked by birch trees

Wilson began our tour at the famous Blue Steps, which were in the first of the five restoration phases. The original brilliant blue paint color of the alcoves was discovered on a piece of concrete tucked away in the recesses of one of Mabel’s desks and has now been restored. Walking up the Blue Steps, we arrived at the reason the Choates purchased the property in 1884: a regal swamp white oak (Quercus bicolor) gracing the hillside and providing a perfect picnicking location.

Fellows all in a row under the amazing swamp white oak

Fellows all in a row under the amazing swamp white oak

The favorite picnicking spot of the Choates

The favorite picnicking spot of the Choates

From the Afternoon Garden and its gondola poles to the intricacies of the house itself, the views and artistry involved were spectacular and made it difficult for the Fellows to pull themselves away for their final stop.

Floodplain forest restoration: silver maple saplings stand above grasses

Floodplain forest restoration: silver maple saplings stand above grasses

Bartholomew’s Cobble, a National Natural Landmark in Sheffield, was the perfect ending for the trip. Julie Richburg, West Region Ecologist, met the Fellows and guided them on a relaxing hike through the cobbles and to the floodplain forest. Ten acres were recently restored from fields to floodplain forest, utilizing saplings from similar areas on site to retain genetic diversity. Julie discussed the challenges of managing non-native invasive plant species and erosion, and pointed out several significant species, including a large American elm (Ulmus americana), a massive cottonwood tree (Populus deltoides), and Gray’s sedge (Carex grayi), a threatened plant species.

Exploring Bartholomew's Cobble, bedrock outcroppings formed as a result of the Taconic and Berkshire mountains

Exploring Bartholomew’s Cobble; bedrock outcroppings formed as a result of the Taconic and Berkshire mountains forming

How many Fellows can fit around a cottonwood tree?

How many Fellows can fit around a cottonwood tree?

The Fellows would like to thank all of our wonderful hosts at the various Reservations, The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, and Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cindy Brockway, Program Director, Cultural Resources, for helping coordinate the trip, and our chaperones, Longwood Graduate Program Interim Director Dr. Brian Trader and Longwood Gardens Archivist, Judy Stevenson.

Estate Tours: Day 4

For the fourth day of their 2015 North American Experience, the Fellows toured two stunning estate properties of The Trustees of Reservations. Awaking in the beautiful Castle Hill Inn, the Fellows had a lovely breakfast before setting out on a tour of Castle Hill on the Crane Estate with Operations Manager Robert Murray. Starting at the Great House, the Fellows investigated many of the 59 rooms in this Stuart-style mansion, which features many elements from the Colonial Revival Architectural Period.

The Magnificent Grand House at Castle Hill on the Crane Estate

The Great House at Castle Hill on the Crane Estate

Opulent living area in the Great House. Note the wood floors which feature salvaged wood from England reflecting the Colonial

Opulent living area in the Great House. Note the wood floors featuring salvaged wood from England. This feature reflects the Colonial Revival Architecture style, popular among wealthy Americans of the time.

Although the original land claim for the property dates back to 1637, the mansion and gardens were developed principally by the Crane family who purchased the estate in 1910. The Cranes linked three major tracts of land for their summer estate, which now comprise Crane Beach, Crane Refuge, and Castle Hill. The Cranes amassed vast wealth from their plumbing empire, which produced sewers and industrial piping, later branching into toilets and residential bathroom fixtures.

Original advertisement for Crane interior fixtures

Advertisement for Crane products. The Cranes were one of America’s wealthiest families in the early 20th century.

Today, the Crane Estate is the most visited Reservation in the Trustees portfolio, attracting some 330,000 visitors each year. With so much to explore, Castle Hill on the Crane Estate is a must-see property!

The allée designed by renowned landscape architect Arthur Shurcliff was recently restored by The Trustees.

The allée designed by renowned landscape architect Arthur Shurcliff was recently restored by The Trustees.

View out to Choate Island. The Crane Wildlife Refuge comprises a series of coastal and island habitats supporting numerous bird and mammal species.

View out to Choate Island. The Crane Wildlife Refuge comprises a series of coastal and island habitats supporting numerous bird and mammal species.

Crane Beach is lovely.

Crane Beach at sunrise

Operations Manager Bob Murray providing the Fellows with a rich history of the Casino Complex and other landscape features on the Crane Estate.

Operations Manager Bob Murray providing the Fellows with a rich history of the Casino Complex and other landscape features at Castle Hill on the Crane Estate.

Anyone up for a game?

The Casino Complex: The sunken pool is now a recreational space for visitors to play croquet and bocce.

After a lunch of fried clams, the Fellows headed to Stevens-Coolidge Place, a neo-Georgian Colonial Revival estate featuring many impressive gardens. We received a wonderful, comprehensive tour from Kevin Block, Superintendent for the property, who described the evolution of the landscape and the creation of gardening programs in recent years, which aim to connect local residents to the Reservation. Among the stunning gardens we stopped to admire were the perennial beds, cut flower garden, and un jardin potager or French kitchen garden.

View from the front of the Stevens-Coolidge home.

View of the front of the Stevens-Coolidge home

Perennial garden with many plants in peak of bloom.

The Perennial Garden was in peak bloom

The potager garden with many culinary herbs.

The potager garden featuring culinary herbs.

With its abundance of floral diversity in a tranquil setting, the Stevens-Coolidge Place is absolutely worth a stop for the garden visitor to Northeastern Massachusetts.

The Stevens-Coolidge Place features some trees of impressive stature.

A regal white ash (Fraxinus americana) at the Stevens-Coolidge Place

Northeast Region: Day 3

On Wednesday, the Fellows filled their day with visits to incredibly diverse and beautiful Trustees properties. At the first stop, Appleton Farms, Beth Zschau, ‪Education and Engagement Manager, vibrantly described an approach to telling the story of place through the lens of agriculture. Appleton Farms is considered to be the oldest operating farm in the United States, having celebrated its 375th anniversary just last year. With a rich connection between farmers and the land at Appleton, Beth and her team are offering new and creative ways to continue exploring those relationships between people and place. With a 650 member CSA, farm to table events, culinary classes, cheese production, and children’s programming, Appleton Farms offers the community engaging ways to connect to the food they eat and the history of the land on which it grew.

The Fellows enjoy picking strawberries at Appleton Farms

The Fellows enjoy picking strawberries at Appleton Farms

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Delicious!


After touring the agricultural operations of Appleton, the Fellows visited the Appleton Farm Grass Rides. This unique landscape has an unclear history of use, but is currently being managed through fire to protect the New England Blazing Star (Liatris scariosa var. novae-angliae). Through dedication to observation and documentation, Trustees staff and volunteers have been able to see this population of Liatris stabilize over the past few years, and hope to watch it grow in the coming seasons.

Hiking up to the Grass

Hiking up to the Appleton Farms Grass Rides

The Fellows spent the remainder of the breezy June afternoon with Dan Bouchard, Superintendent at Long Hill and Sedgewick Gardens, an absolute treasure trove for plant geeks. Every corner and turn revealed a different garden “room” filled with unusual, rare, and stunning plants. Dan’s deep horticultural skill and natural curiosity have helped this historic family garden continue to evolve as a spectacular collection of horticultural treasures.

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Gorgeous Peonies at every turn.

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The lovely Long Hill House, tucked in the gardens.

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A little frog enjoying the beauty of the gardens.

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Styrax japonicus, dripping in blooms.

Explorations of Boston

The second day of the Fellows’ time in Massachusetts began in Boston with a fascinating visit to The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University. The group was greeted by Andrew Gapinski, Manager of Horticulture and Longwood Graduate Program alumnus (Class of 2010), and Michael Dosmann, Curator of Living Collections. These skilled plantsmen provided an excellent overview of the Arboretum, its inner-workings, and of course, its plants! The Arnold Arboretum was founded in 1872 and designed through a collaboration between the organization’s first director, Charles S. Sargent, and famed landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted.

The tranquil Linden Path of the Arnold Arboretum.

The tranquil Linden Path of the Arnold Arboretum.

The living collections, in conjunction with research involving those collections, are at the heart of everything the Arboretum does. This is evidenced by the well-cared for and meticulously curated plants, as well as the extensive greenhouses, nursery, laboratories, library, and other growing and research facilities.

The Fellows were given a wonderful look at the vast horticultural library of the Arnold Arboretum.

The Fellows were given a wonderful look at the vast horticultural library of the Arnold Arboretum.

The Fellows were excited to encounter a number of unique and famous plant specimens during their tour of the grounds, including the oldest specimen of paperbark maple (Acer griseum) in North America. This tree is one of three individuals collected in central China in 1907 by notable plant collector, Ernest H. Wilson. While all paperbark maples of this species in the United States were derived from one of these three specimens, very recent efforts have begun to bring in additional trees to diversify the genetics of the species cultivated in North America.

The oldest Paperbark Maple (Acer griseum) in North America growing in the Arnold Arboretum.

The oldest paperbark maple (Acer griseum) in North America growing in the Arnold Arboretum.

The horticultural exploration of Boston continued at Mount Auburn Cemetery. The Cemetery’s President, Dave Barnett, and Vice President of Cemetery and Visitor Programs, Bree Harvey, met the Fellows and guided them throughout Mount Auburn’s vast and beautiful landscape.

  One of the integral components of the Mount Auburn Cemetery are the numerous large, mature shade trees that grace its landscape.

One of the integral components of the Mount Auburn Cemetery are the numerous large, mature shade trees that grace its landscape.

The Cemetery was founded by the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, which purchased 77 acres of land in 1831 with the purpose of creating a “rural cemetery” and experimental garden.  Since then, Mount Auburn Cemetery has grown to 175 acres situated in a very urban area and has nearly 100 staff.

The lovely Rhododendrons of the cemetery were in full-bloom and provided striking “pops” of color throughout the grounds.

The lovely Rhododendrons of the Cemetery were in full-bloom and provided striking pops of color throughout the grounds.

The nearly completed Boston Public Market provided an inspiring finish to a jam-packed day in this lively city. The Market’s goal is to make local food from Massachusetts and New England readily available in Boston through diverse vendors housed in one location. Jeremy Dick, Superintendent of the Trustees of Reservations Boston Management Unit, explained that the Boston Public Market arose from a collaboration between local organizations, including the Trustees. They will be responsible for engaging the public through educational programming such as workshops, demonstrations, tours, and events. Jeremy helped the Fellows better understand the context of the Boston Public Market by leading them through the nearby Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway, which provides a refreshing oasis for the people of Boston.

A long, vine-clad pergola along the greenway near the site of the soon-to-be-opened Boston Public Market.

A long, vine-clad pergola along the Kennedy Greenway, near the site of the soon-to-be-opened Boston Public Market.

Tour of Massachusetts: Day 1

The newly minted 2nd year Fellows traveled to Massachusetts for this year’s Longwood Graduate Program North American Experience. Our first night was spent in the picturesque seaside city of New Bedford, former whaling port, and home to the largest Portuguese-American population in the US. The next morning we set off for Westport Town Farm, one of the ten Trustees of Reservations properties we are visiting on this tour.

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Tranquil Westport River views from the meadow.

The beautiful esturine landscape of Westport Town Farm belies its poignant history, the place having been a ‘poor farm’, an asylum for the poor and destitute, for nearly 100 years. The extensive stone walls that cross the estate’s meadow lands are testament to the backbreaking work of generations of farmers who cleared the rocky land for cropping and grazing. These days, a farmer’s market is held every Saturday during the warmer months, helping to forge new connections with the local farming community and residents of the Westport Town area.

The network of stone walls are a visual reminder of the hard work involved in farming the rocky ground in the Westport area.

Just up the road from Westport Town Farm is the most recent addition to the Trustees of Reservations portfolio, the Allen C. Haskell Public Gardens. The Gardens are the former nursery and garden of well-known horticulturist and designer Allen C. Haskell, offering six acres of precious green space in the city of New Bedford. The Garden is obviously a plantsman’s garden, with a striking range of Hosta, Acer and Magnolia, as well as eye-catching variegated plants contrasting with an array of purple beeches and other assorted woody perennials and trees.

The studio is now the Garden's visitors information and welcoming point.

The studio is now the Garden’s visitor information and welcoming point.

The Master Plan for the Gardens includes plans for a Growing Program, aiming to engage the surrounding community in local food production. It is hoped that its 30,000 square feet of greenhouse space can be utilized to some extent in this endeavor.  Meanwhile, the massive task of cataloging the living collection, the artifacts, and the building structures continues.

The Fellows and Judy Stevenson of Longwood Gardens, Kristin McCullin, Superintendent of Allen C. Haskell Public Gardens, and Dr Brian Trader, Interim Director, Longwood Graduate Program

The Fellows and Judy Stevenson of Longwood Gardens, Kristin McCullin, Superintendent of Allen C. Haskell Public Gardens, and Dr. Brian Trader, Interim Director, Longwood Graduate Program

The last stop for the day was the Archives and Research Center, The Trustees of Reservations’ new facility, which supports research across the organization’s 114 places and specialist storage for archives, objects, and artifacts. A wealth of information about the history of the Trustees of Reservations and its properties is held in the documents, letters, photographs, maps, plans, books, scrapbooks, and ephemera contained within the Archives.

The Fellows with Alison Bassett, ARC Manager.

The Fellows with Alison Bassett, ARC Manager.

The property now housing the Archives was once a farm, becoming the Sharon Sanatorium for Pulmonary Diseases in 1891. Patients with tuberculosis were exposed to the ‘good clean country air’ that was thought to be so essential in the healing process, until antibiotics were discovered and TB could be cured with a course of penicillin. In the early 1950’s the property became a whaling museum, and  in 2007 was gifted to the Trustees.

Day one of our North American Experience was completed with an overnight stay in Boston, and a growing appreciation of the work of the Trustees of Reservations in the State of Massachusetts.

Whilst object storage is not the main function of the Archives and Research Center, nonetheless we did stumble across a room entirely devoted to the storage of chairs!

Whilst object storage is not the main function of the Archives and Research Center, nonetheless we did stumble across a room entirely devoted to the storage of chairs!

 

2015 Symposium Emerging Professionals Travel Award

symposium graphic-print full date

The Longwood Graduate Program is excited to announce a new Emerging Professionals Travel Award to attend the 2015 Longwood Graduate Symposium. This day-long event features speakers, panel discussions, and conversations on a topic geared towards public garden and museum professionals.

This year’s Symposium, “To Preserve or Change: Redefining Heritage to Guide the Future,” will explore how institutions evolve while honoring their past. Emerging museum or garden professionals in the Philadelphia region and beyond, including students and interns, are encouraged to apply and join in this important dialogue.

Please follow the link to Download the Travel Award Application.
Visit the Symposium online for more information.
Thank you in advance for spreading the word!

The Delaware Center for Horticulture: Urban Greening and So Much More

Friday, August 8 was a gorgeous, sunny day in northern Delaware and perfect for the First Year Fellows to visit The Delaware Center for Horticulture’s (DCH) headquarters and greening projects throughout Wilmington.

DCH Garden'

Stone railings from a former Wilmington bridge accent the DCH headquarters garden

The DCH is a multifaceted organization involved in projects that include park improvements, life skills and job training, local prisons initiatives,  youth development and gardening experience, and of course, environmental and economic improvements in public landscapes. The Fellows met with Ms. Pamela Sapko, Executive Director, and Mr. Lenny Wilson, Associate Director of Development. Despite the construction of a $3.5 million green renovation and expansion to the buildings, the offices were relatively quiet. Ms. Sapko and Mr. Wilson said this is not uncommon—not because The DCH staff isn’t busy, but because their work is often out in the “field.” The field being the entire state of Delaware, with an emphasis in and around Wilmington.

Mr. Wilson took the Fellows on a driving tour of spaces where The DCH has worked on projects, including the a variety of right-of-way areas, an ACME parking lot, and several community gardens.

Burton-Phelan Garden

l to r: Lenny Wilson, Hazel Brown, Stephanie Kuniholm, Fran Jackson, Andrea Brennan, Keith Nevison

A reprieve from blocks of row houses exists on the corner of 10th and Pine Streets.  What is now the Burton-Phelan Garden was once a space used for illegal dumping and drug trafficking. The Fellows were lucky enough to meet Hazel Brown, 87, the garden coordinator. She was working at the garden with a group from Habitat for Humanity, who had just installed an attractive cedar fence on the backside of the garden. An inspiring person, Hazel recently began working with The DCH to tame the garden as it had become unruly over several years.

12th and Brandywine Urban Farm

One of our last stops was at 12th and Brandywine Urban Farm, which won the 2010 Garden Club of America Founders Fund award, which is accompanied by $25,000, and a Community Greening Award from the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society in 2012. The Urban Farm exists to provide access to healthy food in an area of Wilmington where access is limited. A farmer’s market is hosted at this site every week and community members can rent a raised bed to grow and harvest their own produce.

The Delaware Center for Horticulture is a extraordinary community organization and a valuable asset to the city of Wilmington and state of Delaware. The Fellows are looking forward to volunteering for The DCH over the next two years!

Mount Cuba’s Native Garden Wonderland

The Class of 2016 visited Mt. Cuba Center in Hockessin, Delaware on August 4th. Entering through the house, we were briefed in the beautifully proportioned Colonial Revival style former residence by the senior staff, and were quickly made aware of the scope of Mt. Cuba’s work.

Yet another photo opportunity!

Yet another photo opportunity!

However, the briefing did not prepare us for the horticultural impact of the gardens once we stepped outside. Our garden tour with Eileen Boyle, Mt. Cuba Center’s Director of Education, probably took twice as long as projected, with the Fellows stopping every few yards to photograph the abundant butterflies, flowers, and insects, and exclaiming over each new plant discovery!

Mt. Cuba Center was formerly the home of Mr. and Mrs. Lammot du Pont Copeland. The du Pont Copelands were at the vanguard of encouraging the use of native Eastern North American plants to create ecologically vibrant and beautiful horticultural displays. Mrs. du Pont Copeland was a forward-thinking conservationist, advocating the use of native American plants in gardens. The extraordinary garden was designed in stages by three landscape architects, beginning with the gardens and terraces closest to the house in the mid-1930s. The woodland gardens were completed in the 1960s by landscape designer Seth Kelsey. Dr Richard Lighty, the first Director of The Longwood Graduate Program, was appointed Director of Horticulture at Mt. Cuba in 1983.

The garden is quite formal near the house, playful sculptures  and carefully selected native perennial borders inviting the visitor to explore further.

The garden is quite formal near the house. Playful sculptures and carefully selected native perennial borders invite the visitor to explore further.

The 583 acre estate features 50 acres of display gardens and managed landscapes, the remainder of the estate being primarily natural lands featuring a variety of the landforms and habitats of the Appalachian Piedmont.

Mt Cuba is an important habitat for bees and other insects

Mt. Cuba is an important habitat for bees and other insects.

The gardens contain a diverse range of native Eastern North American plants arranged in displays reflecting various habitats ranging from perennial borders to meadows, woodlands, and ponds. The result is a harmonious series of gardens that are exquisite works of beauty as well as functioning ecosystems alive with butterflies, beneficial insects, and birds. Achieving this natural look is deceptively complex and requires an eye for shape, form, and color.

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The chain of ponds featuring moisture-loving plants of eastern USA

Mt. Cuba is slowly unfurling its public garden identity, taking careful and considered steps towards increasing the audience for its remarkable landscapes and living collections.  ‘Gardening on a Higher Level’ is the recently adopted tagline for Mt Cuba. The line is reflected in its educational offerings, including Mt. Cuba Center’s Ecological Gardening Certificate course, with units including “Sustainable Landscape Techniques” and “Inviting Wildlife Into the Garden”. Other offerings include gardening, art, and photography. Seven summer internships are also offered each year. An internship typically involves four days per week working in the garden with the other day spent on projects, field trips and classroom activities.

Mt. Cuba Center undertakes plant trials of native American plant species. Evaluations thus far include Coreopsis, Echinacea, and North American Asters. Currently 53 cultivars and selections from 14 different species of Baptisia – false indigo – are undergoing evaluation to assess their horticultural potential. Over fifteen cultivars and selections have been introduced to American gardens by Mt. Cuba including the Golden Fleece goldenrod (Solidago sphacelata ‘Golden Fleece’), and Trillium grandiflorum ‘Quicksilver’.

Owen Cass explaining insect monitoring techniques. He's using a fine screen over a garden vacuum to collect insects in the trial area

Owen Cass explaining insect monitoring techniques. He’s using a fine screen over a garden vacuum to collect insects in the trial area. Eileen Boyle, Director of Education, is in the right foreground.

A research collaboration between Mt. Cuba Center and the University of Delaware is comparing the ecological value of native plants with their corresponding cultivars and improved varieties. Owen Cass, Mt. Cuba Fellow and University of Delaware Masters candidate explained that the research is aimed at determining whether plant cultivars, which may differ from their ‘wild’ cousins in terms of flower size, color, or shape, offer the same or similar ecological services as their wild counterparts.

This remarkable garden is open to the public. For details on visiting take a look at the Mt. Cuba Center website.

Class of 2016’s First Field Trip- Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve

With a mission to engage visitors, inspire action and change social behaviour, the staff members of Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve (BHWP) adroitly steward 100-plus acres of rich forest and diverse meadows in the heart of historic Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Near to the site of General George Washington’s crossing of the Delaware River, the preserve houses over 800 species of wildflowers and other plants, creating healthy, abundant habitat for a plethora of bird and invertebrate species. BHWP is also home to over 80 rare and endangered plant species making it an area of conservation concern for the citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Meadow shot

Meadow on a stunning day!

We were treated to gorgeous weather during our visit to Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve. In a casual stroll of the gardens and meadow we encountered at least 50 plant species, many in bloom, with 8 different species of moths, butterflies and skippers. Particularly noteworthy were the swallowtails feeding on the nectar of Monarda fistulosa (wild bergamot or lavender bee balm)

Swallowtail

Swallowtail on wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa)

Other Lepidoptera species observed included: sleeping orange, cloudless sulphur, red-banded hairstreak, juniper hairstreak and snowberry clear-winged moths.

In the morning we met with Miles Arnott, Director of the BHWP Association, whose organization administers programs targeting school groups and teachers, landscape professionals, homeowners, and members of the general public. Under Miles’s guidance, BHWPA has more than doubled its membership to 1,800 by focusing on educating people both “inside the fence and outside the fence.” This fence is actually a massive deer exclosure which encompasses nearly the entirety of the property, preventing plants from overgrazing by overly abundant ungulates. By excluding deer, the plants are able to grow and reproduce freely, resulting in a healthy multi-storied vegetation layer which approximates a balanced Eastern U.S. forest with large and small trees, shrubs, perennials, and groundcovers. This vertical stratification in turn supports quality habitat for many bird species, including harder-to-spot avians like the Louisiana water thrush, rose-breasted grosbeak and scarlet tanagers.

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Senna hebecarpa– wild senna

Miles also described the work that BHWPA is doing on developing its fee-for-service Plant Stewardship Index (PSI). The PSI is a metric which gives a conservation score of 0-10 based on habitat suitability in a given landscape. The PSI factors among other things: presence of rare species, hard to propagate species and specialist species requiring particular conditions for growth and reproduction to determine a score value for justifying protecting lands. Based on these criteria, Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve is clearly worthy of continued preservation and support to encourage others to experience the beauty and serenity of this magical place, a touchstone of Pennsylvania’s natural heritage.

For more information visit: www.bhwp.org

Longwood Graduate Program class of 2016 group shot with Gary Shanks class of 2015. Plus Mary Ann Borge- BHWP’s wonderful docent naturalist