Tag Archives: field trip

Mount Auburn Cemetery – NAX day 4

Photography by: Lindsey Kerr

In rural countryside outside of Boston, before Frederick Law Olmsted designed the Emerald Necklace system, a new public space opened that had a profound impact on society. Mount Auburn Cemetery was founded in 1831 by the Massachusetts Horticultural Society in response to urban land use problems that were appearing as Boston grew in population.

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Grand vistas at Mt. Auburn Cemetery

One hundred and eighty two years later, on a beautiful, cool summer day, the Longwood Graduate Program visited the 175 acre arboretum and cemetery located in Cambridge, Massachusetts; now a bustling suburb of Boston. As we arrived, we were greeted by DaveDSC_0128 Barnett, President and CEO of the Mount Auburn Cemetery, and, after short introductions, departed for a tour of the grounds. Mount Auburn is still an active cemetery, but one that would defy many preconceived notions one might have about such places. As we toured through the native wetlands, and wooded slopes, we learned how the grounds are laid out to both honor the deceased while also providing a space for the living to contemplate, heal, and find tranquility. The staff is devoted to conservation of the natural landscape, native biota, and historic fabric that all come together to make Mount Auburn the national treasure that it is. We ended our walking tour on top the Washington Tower surrounded by a native wildflower meadow, staring out towards Boston’s skyline in the distance.

Washington Tower

Washington Tower

Native Wildflower Meadow

Native Wildflower Meadow

We then jumped in a van and drove over to the brand-new greenhouse complex and composting facility, where we learned even more about Mount Auburn’s commitment to sustainability. The organization operates six new organic growing greenhouses, which allow them to grow many of the plants for the grounds and floral-shop on premises. They also collect many of the fallen leaves each autumn, along with all horticultural waste, and create their own compost on site to be used throughout the grounds. They have also installed a large underground cistern to collect rainwater runoff from the greenhouse complex that is then used to water the grounds during most of the year. Though the grounds are historic and reserved, the staff has a wonderful forward-looking mentality and a deep commitment towards the future.

Bigelow Chapel

Bigelow Chapel

After viewing the back-of-house facilities, we drove to the Bigelow Chapel for lunch. This Chapel was built in 1840, and was the original space created on the grounds for funerals and memorial services. It is now a multi-purpose building that can be used for funerals, weddings (yes this is true), board meetings, or, in the case of the LGP’s visit, a banquet hall. Dave Barnett and several other key staff members joined us for lunch and to discuss all aspects of the organization. Mount Auburn Cemetery is unique in the sense that as you browse their educational offerings you will notice classes about both horticulture and end-of-life planning. As with many small arboreta, the staff must wear many hats, including cemetery services, a situation that is absent in most public horticulture institutions.

After a wonderful lunch, the Fellows were able to enjoy some more time strolling the grounds and talking with staff members before getting back in the van and heading down the road to Harvard University to view the Glass Flowers. This spectacular collection of botanical specimens, created purely of glass, is mesmerizing as well as educational. It was a wonderful way to end our time in Boston before all piling into the van one more time to travel up to Maine.

Historic Beech

Historic Beech

Day 1 of NAX at The Arnold Arboretum

 

(Photography by: Chunying Ling)

Our introduction to the Arnold with Michael Dosmann

Our introduction to the Arnold with Michael Dosmann

We had perfect weather for our first day of NAX at the Arnold Arboretum.  We were greeted upon arrival by Former Fellow and Supervisor of Horticulture, Andrew Gapinski.  A few minutes later we met Michael Dosmann, Curator of Living Collections. Before long, Kyle Port, of Plant Records and Joyce Chery, the Curatorial Fellow joined us. Holding six NAPCC collections (Acer, Carya, Fagus, Stewartia, Tsuga and Syringa) and boasting 15,000 individual accessions, it was clear from the moment we arrived that the Arnold Arboretum is an abundant, dynamic resource..

Tree of Heaven on the path designed for seeing the trees of the world

Tree of Heaven on the path designed for seeing the floras of the world

As the enchanting fragrance of the Katsura tree filled our senses, we listened to the story of America’s first arboretum, established in 1872, at the generous bequest of James Arnold.  A deal was struck between the City of Boston and Harvard University to preserve the Arboretum’s land in perpetuity. Many familiar names are a part of the Arnold’s sensational history, including Liberty Hyde Bailey, J.P. Morgan, Beatrix Farrand and Frederick Law Olmstead. The very path we were walking along was originally designed to allow visitors to “appreciate the floras of the world without even getting out of their carriages…”

Largest Franklinia in the world

Largest Franklinia in the world

 

Although the original mission of the Arnold’s 281 acres was, “…to plant every tree, shrub, vine and herbaceous plant that could grow in Boston…,” the staff has had to make strategic decisions about the collections. To do so, they created a plant Inventory Operations Manual in addition to a Landscape Management plan. (Both are available in their entirety on their website (http://arboretum.harvard.edu/plants/collections-management/.) They have completely digitalized their archive including maps, photographs and correspondence.

 

American Beech predating the Arboretum

American Beech predating the Arboretum

Nestled in the hills are forsythia and roses mixed with incredible tree giants that pre-date the Arboretum. The first Acer griseum ever planted in American soil lives at the Arnold. More recently, the Vine and Shrub garden was redesigned with diagonal beds and galvanized steel arbors. This garden is impressively maintained and manicured by two very bright horticulturists.

 

We spent our lunch with some of the knowledgeable and passionate ladies of the education staff, Daphne Minner, Nancy Sableski and Julie Warsowe. In varying capacities, these ladies design and implement educational programs that serve everyone from the casual visitor to the students in the Boston public schools.

 

The Arnold's secret Bonsai collection

The Arnold’s secret Bonsai collection

Our visit with the Librarian, Lisa Pearson, revealed even more treasures, including a rare book of hand painted botanical drawings.

 

In the afternoon, we met Oren McBee, Manager of the Dana Greenhouses and Nursery. Here plants are methodically propagated and grown from seed. Once mature, they are planted out in the Arboretum.  Oren also gave us a sneak peak at the Arnold’s historic bonsai collection.

 

Our last stop was the new research building at Weld Hill. Bathed in natural light and recycled wood, the building is stunning. Our tour was expedited by Faye Rosin, Director of Research Facilitation.  This peek into the possibilities of plant science research was a fine way to punctuate our whirlwind day at the Arnold Arboretum.  Stay tuned for Day 2 of NAX.

The Arnold's emblem The Dawn Redwood

The Arnold’s emblem The Dawn Redwood

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First year Fellows visit Chanticleer

(written by Laurie Metzger, photographs by Chunying Ling)

It was a sunny, sometimes cloudy– typically capricious Autumn day in Eastern PA when we made a visit to Chanticleer. A seeming anomaly in a region dominated by DuPont estates turned public gardens, Chanticleer is the estate of the Rosengarten family, of pharmaceutical fame. Named after an estate in Thackeray’s novel The Newcomes, Chanticleer was originally the family’s summer home.  They spent a pretty penny readying the house to become their full time residence. The name consequently came from a line in from the novel, “mortgaged to the very castle windows but still the show of the county.” In addition the family played on the fact that Chanticleer is the name of the Rooster from the Nun’s Priest Tale in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.  Over time, the rooster became a kind of mascot for the estate.

Chanticleer’s website explains that “everything is carefully orchestrated…” in the garden. This truly describes the enchanting impression that Chanticleer left with us.  I would add to it, “thoughtfully, with love and appreciation.” The ambiance at Chanticleer is like being in the presence of a person who celebrates each tiny detail of life’s rhythm, the vast variety of beauty in plants, and the special qualities that make people individuals.  The stories of the landscape, of the family, and of each structure, inspires awe wrapped in a feeling of affection. Creativity abounds.  Beautiful patterns are revealed in furniture, banisters and container gardens. No pattern is repeated yet everything fits.  In this way, Chanticleer is like walking in a tangible dream.

The garden design seamlessly mixes old and new.  This allows guests to imagine they had walked into another time, but still feel right at home. Chanticleer aims to be ‘a pleasure garden.’ Forgoing plant labels for plant lists hidden in beautiful boxes, each one is creatively constructed by one of Chanticleer’s staff.  One gets the feeling that the Horticultural staff members are like elves, displaying their secret talent for detail as metal artisans, master wood workers and florists all over the 37 acre garden.

The first frost was predicted for the evening of our visit, so the staff was hard at the more practical work of covering, moving and preserving the plants in the outdoor tropical displays.  We were gifted with a special tour by Chanticleer’s director, Bill Thomas.  He wove the story of Chanticleer, revealing a philosophy of generous freedom and trust in his staff.  In addition, working at Chanticleer sounds delectably creative and full of opportunities to grow.  Each member of the staff is encouraged to “take their time,” knowing they are a part of “the important garden experience.”   Chanticleer believes in doing a job well to start because it will last longer in the end.

The garden shed mimics a carriage house and has always stood that way.  The vegetable garden is filled with charming cultivars, especially the hardy Kiwi—a juicy snack for an observant, hungry passer by.  A restroom facility was recently built in the Asian Woods (the point furthest from the entrance.) Designed to look like a Japanese Tea house it’s humorously and unofficially called the “Pee House.”  Featuring stonework and artwork by staff and friends, this project gives opportunity to artist, horticulturist and facilities manager alike.

Chanticleer is lovely from start to finish, magnificent, splendid, special and not unlike Chaucer’s description of the Rooster…

 …There was not his equal in all the land. His voice was merrier than the merry organ that plays in church, and his crowing from his resting place was more trustworthy than a clock. His comb was redder than fine coral and turreted like a castle wall, his bill was black and shone like a jet, and his legs and toes were like azure. His nails were whiter than the lily and his feathers were like burnished gold.

-The Nun’s Priest Tale, Canterbury Tales

 

Mt. Cuba Center

August 17, 2012 – Mt. Cuba Center, Hockessin, DE
(written by Lindsey K. Kerr, photographs by Chunying Ling)

Bright and early, the First Year Fellows and Dr. Lyons left Townsend Hall for Mt. Cuba Center in Hockessin, Delaware. Mt. Cuba Center was founded by Mrs. Lammot du Pont Copeland at the site of her home. In 1935, Mr. and Mrs. Copeland built a stately house they named “Mt. Cuba” and soon afterwards began developing the original agricultural landscape into a series of garden spaces.

The Copelands took a particular interest in plants native to the Piedmont, which was typical of their home site. From the time they moved in until Mrs. Copeland’s death in 2001, the gardens grew in both number of individual plants and diversity of appropriate species. Today, the Copeland’s house and gardens are maintained by Mt. Cuba Center staff and the organization itself has become a non-profit dedicated to native plants of the the Appalachian Piedmont Region.

Upon our arrival, we were warmly greeted in the parking lot by Longwood Graduate Program alumna Julia Lo-Ehrhardt. She escorted us to the Main House and introduced us to the senior staff. We spent the rest of the morning with Interim Executive Director Steve Martinenza and his senior team learning about Mt. Cuba’s strategic plan and management practices. The different managers introduced us to the history of Mt. Cuba, the founding family, and how Mt. Cuba continues to evolve and grow to fulfill the vision of its founder. We learned about Mt. Cuba’s research and educational programs as well as its commitment to improving the visitor experience and making stronger connections with the public. Mt. Cuba staff discussed their respect for Mrs. Copeland’s ideas and aesthetics and their challenge to embrace the future. They want to enhance native plant accessibility for the average homeowner and encourage their greater use in garden design.

Later in the afternoon we headed outside for a tour of the grounds. First stop was the new Trial Gardens, which were two years in the making and initially planted in spring 2012. Gardener George Coombs explained the goals of the trial garden as we admired the set-up and the plants. The trial gardens aren’t just focused on the latest introductions—they are also trialing tried-and-true cultivars to find out which ones are really the best for gardeners in the region.

Horticulturalist Marcy Weigelt then gave us a quick walking tour of the West Slope Path, the ponds, and the meadow garden, soon pausing in the meadow garden to admire the large number of pollinators and several exotic praying mantises. We finished up our field trip with a visit to the greenhouses where staff grow approximately 10,000 plants every year. In the future, they plan to start collecting more seeds locally for propagation as part of Mt. Cuba’s commitment to native plants of the Piedmont region.

Visiting Mt. Cuba Center was a wonderful experience and a great way for First Year Fellows to finish up their summer field trip series of DuPont legacy gardens!

Hagley Museum and Library

August 10, 2012 – Hagley Museum and Library, DE
(written by Laurie Metzger, photographs by Lindsey K. Kerr)

It was a rainy morning as we prepared to visit the Hagley Museum and Library. Being a 253 acre museum, with extensive grounds, gardens and mills, we were a bit nervous that the rain would put a damper on our visit. Nevertheless, we made our way through the Delaware countryside to Wilmington.

Upon arrival, Geoff Halfpenny, Executive Director, and Mike Wilson, Interpreter, greeted us cheerfully. Fortunately, the rain lessened and we began our journey back in time to the birthplace of the du Pont fortune and legacy.

Hagley was originally the home of E.I. du Pont. Having mastered the French techniques for manufacturing black powder before he immigrated to America, E.I. chose to settle on the banks of the Brandywine Creek, where he could take advantage of the power afforded by the Creek’s fast running currents.

The first stop on our tour was the restored 1870’s machine shop. Here we observed a demonstration by Stephen DeVeber. This was a wonderfully rare opportunity to see 100 year-old machines still accurately cutting steel. While Steve demonstrated this art, he spoke to us about the Dupont company and what powder mill life was like. We learned that a machinist was the highest paid worker at the mill and made between 10 and 20 cents per hour, working six days per week. Mill workers received two paid holidays (Independence Day and Christmas Day).

Back outside we were rejoined by Steve and introduced to Richard Larkin, the staff horticulturist. Both men toured us through the magnificent gardens as they discussed the recent renovation and restoration that have occurred over the past decade. Since reopening in 2008 the garden only welcomes about 12,000 guests a year since tours are given only three times a day and have a maximum of 48 people each. This allows guests to have a much more intimate experience while touring around the gardens, at times feeling the gardens are their own.

Avoiding puddles, we made our way to the mills along the Creek’s edge. The milling apparatus is made of cast iron, weighs 20 tons and is powered by the harnessed force of the Brandywine. Tom Stack showed us the explosive nature of the powder, warning us about the danger of a mill job. Sadly, if a worker was standing on the mill deck when an explosion occurred, the Dupont company was forced to tell the family that their relative had “gone across the creek” (and never to return).

As great proponents of education, du Pont built a school on the Hagley property for the workers and their families. The phrase “Sunday School” refers the fact that the people worked six days a week and went to school on Sunday. The schoolhouse has been restored to its original purpose. Angela Williamson, Volunteer Coordinator and a former Longwood Fellow, toured us through the vegetable garden and the school while discussing Hagley’s volunteer needs and challenges.

In the afternoon, the rain finally tapered off and the sun came out. We were introduced to the Horticulture staff and taken inside the mansion, the estate garden, and the greenhouses. We learned about Hagley’s tree collection and inventory, whereby the most exciting was the Osage Orange tree, co-champion on the National Register of Big Trees.

Hagley is a wonderfully intriguing place. We could not have been more impressed with the staff or its history. We are looking forward to going back to learn more about this important American family’s legacy.

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.

First year Fellows visit Mt. Cuba Center

July 22, 2011 – Mt. Cuba Center, DE
(written by Sara Levin, photographs by Quill Teal-Sullivan and Martin Smit)

The First Year Longwood Graduate Fellows’ inaugural summer field trip was to the Mt. Cuba Center in Hockessin, Delaware.  Historically, this property was the home of Mr. and Mrs. Lammot du Pont Copeland who transformed open farmland into the woodland gardens and wildlife landscape we find there today.  The Copelands bought the property in 1935 and started their plant collection soon thereafter.  Native plants became their great interest, which is still clear today in the garden’s mission to remain “…dedicated to the study, conservation, and appreciation of plants native to the Appalachian Piedmont region through garden display, education, and research.”  Currently, Mt. Cuba Center works to balance several contrasts: public/private, open/secluded, contemporary/ traditional, native/non-native.

As a non-profit organization, Mt. Cuba Center is in its infancy and is in the process of determining its priorities and direction of growth.  At the moment, the garden is open to the public by appointment only (with the exception of an annual Wildflower Day each spring).   This limits the foot traffic and helps preserve the plant collection.

The grounds are designed with elegance and intent.  As you move away from the main house, the gardens become wilder.  The foot paths wind through the grounds in such a way that you can never see too far ahead on your walk, adding a sense of mystery. The woodland garden was not only beautiful but on a record hot day, we found comfort in the shade of the giant tulip poplars and white pines.

As the mission states, there is a great emphasis on native plants, especially those native to the Piedmont region (a geological region stretching from New York to Alabama, just west of the Atlantic Coastal Plain).  This does not mean that you will only find native plants at Mt. Cuba Center.  History and legacy are also considered in the plant collection and some non-native plants remain as a reminder of the family that once lived on the grounds and thought highly enough to plant them.

The First Year Fellows were lucky to have Mt. Cuba Center Director Rick Lewandowski as our knowledgeable guide.  Mr. Lewandowski shared many of their exciting programs and important collections with our group.  Mt. Cuba Center does extensive plant research and is looking to expand in this area with a new plant trials research facility on its way. It is also the local authority on trilliums, not to be missed in the spring!

After an extensive tour of the grounds, the Fellows joined a few key staff members for lunch and were able to gain more insight into the workings of Mt. Cuba Center.  A return trip is slated for the fall to enjoy the changing colors and to revisit this woodland retreat.