Herbaria 51

Internship Blog/Plants/Interesting Facts

Longwood Gardens: Day 5 July 29, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — To Prune Or Not To Prune @ 12:33 pm

I was very busy today. Kristina instructed me on how to make accessions within BG Base, which has two parts. The first part is making the accessions within BG Base.

In order to do that, one has to go to the Accessions tab. Hitting F7 will pull up the next available accession number. Then there are several tables you have to fill out:

  • The date on which you’re accessioning
  • The date you received the plant if it is a different date than the date of accession (which is 90% likely that this is the case)
  • Received how (basically, how the plant came to you: plant, plug, cutting, seed, germ plasm…)
  • Received size, received amount
  • Source (where/from whom you got the plant)
After that, you then have to update the Plants table.
  • You pull up the plant by the accession number and qualifier
  • You go down to field checks and observation, hit Ctrl + N –and fill in the data.
  • Then go to where it says Check Note, and put “per inventory check”.
  • And, save it!
I also got to make labels today on a piece of equipment worth about $30,000… That was a bit intimidating, but it was also a great experience and fun.
Kristina and I met with April Bevans (who is the gardener in charge of the Theatre Garden in Quad M10) to figure out which plants were still in the area, which had been taken out, etc. Sitting down with April was really helpful, since I was unfamiliar with some of the plants.
I accomplished a lot today; time flies when you’re busy!

Longwood Gardens: Day 4 July 28, 2011

Filed under: Longwood Gardens,Triad Internship — To Prune Or Not To Prune @ 10:23 pm
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SPOILER ALERT: This post may have some spoiler material about Longwood Garden’s Christmas Display. Readers, you have been warned. 


Today, I took another walk in the Theatre Garden and found more plants. I attempted to find a few  tags on the roses that were in my area, but it was a complicated task. A few tags were missing, or some of the original brass tags were hard to read due to the weathering they have endured over the years. Plants such as the roses, a few masses of Japanese Pachysandra, and others have different accession tags than some of the others that are used within the rest of the garden.

Normal accessions at Longwood Gardens look like the following:


The “2011” represents the year in which the plant was accessioned (meaning the year in which a number was assigned).

The “oo13” represents the individual number given to the plant. So in this case, 0013 tells us that it is the 13th plant to be accessioned in the year 2011.

The “*A” can represent an individual plant or mass of plants. “*A” is called a qualifier, and qualifiers are added if there are multiples of a plant in different areas. To use the Theatre Garden as an example, I have two Clematis ‘Will Goodwin.’ They are not planted next to each other, but rather on opposite sides of the garden. Because they are in different locations, I cannot mark them both as A (as a mass planting). This is the time where you would use two different qualifiers: A and B.

I also got to attend a Horticulture staff meeting today. These meetings happen quarterly so that everyone in Horticulture knows what everyone else is working on and are able to hear the achievements or benchmarks that have been reached by each division.

Divisional meetings, as Kristina and Sara Helm (who works on the herbarium at Longwood Gardens) told me occur on a monthly basis.

I was able to learn about the theme of Longwood’s Christmas display: GINGERBREAD! I won’t ruin it for everyone, but let me just tell you this; Longwood Gardens’ Unofficial Motto is “Go big or go home.” I’ve seen pictures of the plans that they have in store for the Christmas season, and it is going to be spectacular. It is embarrassing to admit that I have never been to a Longwood Gardens Christmas display, but rest assured I will not be missing this year’s display!

I also got to learn about the community efforts in which Longwood Gardens is participating. They are working on the beautification project in Rodney Square in Wilmington, Delaware. Currently, the site serves as a small park and as a transportation hub. Most of the trees that had been planted in this area have been failing due to soil compaction. They plan to overhaul the area, making ‘tree cell pits’ to allow the trees to have plenty of room for their root systems. A few plants that will be brought in are Quercus bicolor and Alnus americana. 

They are also working on the Curtis Institute; Linfest Hall (which is a state-of-the-art living space) in particular. Two plants that they will be installing here are Acer campestre and Platanus acerifolia.

Last but not least, they are assisting the Hamorton Church which is right up the road on Kennett Square Pike. I don’t recall all the details, but I do know that Longwood Gardens will be donating at least 18 large shrubs and 12 large trees to give the church with an instant landscape.

After that, I took pictures of  some plants that didn’t have images up on Plant Explorer.

All in all, a very interesting and exciting day at Longwood Gardens!


Longwood Gardens: Day 3 July 27, 2011

Filed under: Longwood Gardens,Triad Internship — To Prune Or Not To Prune @ 10:11 pm
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My main focus today was using Plant Explorer. Plant Explorer is a site that was launched by Longwood Gardens last year to provide information to the world about plants that are in the collection. This morning, I used Plant Explorer to look for the plants in my area that did not have pictures uploaded to the site. The number of plants that didn’t have pictures was relatively small, so it shouldn’t take me long to snap a few and get them uploaded to the site!

After I made my picture list, I took a walk around my area to find the plants that were on my plant inventory sheet. My plant inventory sheet has several columns-three of which (Accession, Name, and Location) had been filled out for me, thanks to BG-Base. The other columns, however, I had to fill out. For instance:

  • Status- I had to mark the plant in question alive (A), dead (D), dormant (Do), or unable to locate (UTL).
  • Picture-  I had to mark Y(es) or (N)o.
  • Brass Tag- Woody plants get big brass tags, and herbaceous materials would be getting smaller dog tags.
  • Mapped-  I only had to map the woody plants that were not previously mapped and stored into BG Map; herbaceous materials were located in “beds”, which had been one of Mindy’s projects. (Mindy used to be the curatorial intern at Longwood Gardens; she is now a seasonal worker in the curatorial office).
M10 is a huge area to cover; I still have quite a few plants on my inventory to find!

Longwood Gardens: Day 2 July 26, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — To Prune Or Not To Prune @ 9:51 pm

Today, with Josh’s help, I drafted up my inventory (or plant list) for Quad M-10.

We mostly spent the day mapping and tagging plants in different areas of the garden.

We  went to the Mound (which is located next to the East Conservatory Plaza) and mapped and tagged some box-woods,  Osmanthus, and Diervilla.  We then moved on to the Chimes Tower,  the Front Gate, and the Oak Knoll (which isn’t really a place that is listed on the map of the garden).

I also worked a little in BG-Base, and was researching my inventory plant names to make sure that they were accepted names within the data base. Mindy, who works as a seasonal in the Curatorial office, accompanied me to the library to get some books out about clematis; I have to become an expert on them as there are 6-8 of them in my area, and not all of them are blooming at this time of year.


Longwood Gardens: Day 1 July 25, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — To Prune Or Not To Prune @ 9:19 pm
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Today was my first day at Longwood. I’m working with Kristina Aguilar and her one-year intern,  Joshua Willis.

I got assigned to map a 200′ x 200′ quadrant at Longwood Gardens, which was the Theatre Garden and the surrounding area. The Theatre Garden is a formal area that is highly visible to the public (no pressure in identifying, labeling, and mapping the plants at all)!

This garden has a Mediterranean-Californian dry feel to it; it is home to plants like hens-and-chicks, trifoliate orange, and sedum (which, I’ve now learned, that they’ve broken down into 3 different genera: Sedum, Hylotelephium, and Phedimus). The plant beds had been renovated this year; some plant materials were taken out, and others were added. I’ll get the chance to play plant-detective.

Plant records are important. Kristina told me if you don’t have them: you’re not a garden, but a park. Most institutions use BG Base/BG Map; the first being a data base in which you can make accessions (or records) of plants that are being kept in the garden, and the second being a program that is set “on top” of AutoCAD and is used to map the plants in the collection.

Most institutions use BG Base and BG map, but Kristina told me that Winterthur was one of the few that uses its own data base. BG Base is the “brain”; for instance, if it’s alive or dead, if it has been planted, moved to a different location, or removed altogether, how it came to you (plant, cutting, bare root, etc). You can also use this data base to keep track of your plant sources: who you got them from, where you got them. BG Base is also used to export the data to the web.

There’s 3 main tables that I’ll be working in for my project:

  • Plants
  • Names-which is the largest table within BG Base (it has 10 pages to fill out for data)!
  • Accessions

The most important thing to do before you start adding data into the data base is to make sure that the name is accepted. The way to verify this is to check with multiple, current sources. A few of the sources I used today were:

  • USDA.gov
  • eFlora.org
  • GRIN (Germplasm Resources Information Network)

Overall, an overwhelming change from the Mt. Cuba scene! I knew Longwood Gardens was a huge institution when I’ve been a visitor; but being behind the scenes and  looking at just the number of Horticulture staff, it really blew me away!


Mount Cuba: Day 10 July 22, 2011

Filed under: Longwood Gardens,Triad Internship,Uncategorized — To Prune Or Not To Prune @ 10:56 pm
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Today was my last day at Mt. Cuba. I am really sad about leaving; I thoroughly enjoyed working with all of the staff at Mt. Cuba and getting to know them over the last two weeks. I couldn’t have asked for a better two-week experience (except for maybe more pleasant weather); I couldn’t have asked for a better crew or a better group of co-terns to work with.

We did our Friday plant walk with Eileen from 8AM-9AM, then we were with Renée from 10AM-11AM-ish learning about insects; some were beneficial and some were harmful to the garden.

After we were finished with Renée, we had about an hour to ourselves for lunch, as they let the grounds staff off early due to the heat. After that, we were off on our Friday field trip to Longwood Gardens.

We met briefly with Brian Trader as he talked about continuing education and various other programs in the horticulture field that Longwood has to offer. When he was finished, Dee gave us our tour. She’s currently in the 2 year professional gardener’s program at Longwood.

We toured the Idea Garden, the Chimes Tower, the Birdhouse Treehouse, the Lookout Loft Treehouse, the Canopy Cathedral Treehouse, and the Conservatory. We also had a behind-the-scenes look at the Production/Research area,  which is where I’ll be working on Monday (with Kristina Aguilar in Plant Records).

We finished our tour and we went on to La Michoacana as a reward for touring Longwood in the heat. La Michoacana is a little mom-and-pop ice cream shop. If you’re looking for awesome (and unique flavors) of ice cream, this comes highly recommended (and so does their corn ice cream) if you happen to be in the area!!!


Mount Cuba: Day 9 July 21, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — To Prune Or Not To Prune @ 7:21 pm
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This morning, I briefly worked with Donna to water the South and East Terraces before the interns from Winterthur Gardens arrived to have lunch with us at Mt. Cuba. The Winterthur interns showed up around 10AM, and we gave them a short tour of Mt. Cuba, as it was hotter than blazes outside.

The lunch was wonderful (thanks Jeanette for ordering it!), and it was informative to hear the Winterthur interns talk about their experiences.

The grounds staff were dismissed at 1:30pm due to the heat, so we didn’t get much of a chance to work with our mentors. I didn’t go home because of the Intern Conference at Winterthur at 5:00pm. Interns from all over the area (Longwood Gardens, Winterthur, Mt. Cuba, Chanticleer, and Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve) attended and we all mingled. I  had a blast at the picnic even though it was so hot out! We played some volleyball (yes,  myself and the other interns are crazy!),  and ate some food and had some ice cream to help combat the heat.

I saw Joshua, who is the year-long plant records intern at Longwood Gardens, and told him that I’d be seeing him on Monday.

I can’t believe that tomorrow will be my last day at Mt. Cuba. Time has really flown!


Mount Cuba: Day 8 July 20, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — To Prune Or Not To Prune @ 9:26 pm

Today, it seemed to me, was a little cooler than yesterday–although it was still warm by all means. I was working with Vic and Walker again today.

This morning, Vic gave me an overview of the scree garden and what he calls “the scab” (in an earlier post, I referred to this as the “bald”).  As you are coming up the driveway of Mt. Cuba, the bald is to your left, and the scree will be on your right.

To accurately explain what a ‘scree garden’ is, one must know the definition of ‘scree’. First, it starts in the mountains. The mountains go through the weathering process, and eventually turns into a talus (which is a sloping accumulated mass of normally larger in texture detritus) further down. This then gets weathered down even further, which produces scree (a finer texture of rock debris). The scree at Mt. Cuba was started in September 2007 and was mostly completed in March of 2008 (they are still installing a dry-laid stone wall to keep the slope from eroding). They used indigenous rocks/stones that were found on the property for the project.  This area (as well as the rock bald I’ll be describing shortly) are showcasing native plants that can withstand harsh conditions. The scree itself is composed of 80% minerals, which is expanded shale and calcine clay. The other 20% is made up of organic mushroom compost. It’s an extensive green roof medium, which they purchased from Laurel Valley Soils.

Just to give you an idea of what they now have growing in the scree garden:

  • Cheilanthes linosa
  • Bigelowia nuttalli
  • Amsonia ciliata var. tenuifolia
  • Leptopus phyllanthoides
  • Ipomopsis rubra
  • Ionactius linariifolius
  • Silene virginica
  • Viola pedata
  • Clinopodium georgianum
  • Liatris microcephala
  • Liatris pilosa var. pilosa
NOTE: There are a few rare and endangered plants that have been planted in the scree garden. These are not available in commerce for the public,and one also needs a permit to own, collect, or to even sell them. While I am at it, I’d like to make a general disclaimer: If you are out at a public garden…do not pull out flowers! It may seem like common sense to some, but there are people who are *completely* oblivious to what they are plucking out of the garden. Remember the Golden Rule: If it’s not yours, don’t touch it!!

The rock bald has been a more recent project. It was a project that was started in the Fall 2010 and was partially completed in early 2011. It’s still a work in progress, and they will be developing  a plan further about what plant materials they would like to install, and allocating money in the budget to its cause.

They are also:

  • still removing pockets of soil by hand
  • deciding how far back to remove soil/other plant materials (I’ve been told they want to go back at least another 20-30′)
  • discuss with Rick Lewandowski (the Director of Mt. Cuba) about what plant materials will be going in once the hardscape is complete.

This, like the rock scree, is to showcase predominately wild collected native Piedmont plants of granitic and dolomitic outcrops and balds, and to show the public that there are plants for difficult sites.  Two plants that are being used in the rock bald are Rosa carolina and Phermeranthus teretifolius.

We did some paperwork after my crash course in rock bald/scree gardens. We had to meet with Amy, who is the plant recorder for Mt. Cuba, and pick up some accession labels, and to tell her that we would be removing the Coreopsis from the bald, as it is too much of a hassle for little reward (if you don’t understand what it means…go dead-head some Coreopsis).

Towards the end of the day,  Walker and I pruned some suckers off the dogwood at the base of the rock bald area. Walker found a female toad resting *on* the tree. We supposed that she was a little confused, and must have been a tree-frog in her past life (hehe!). Then Walker, Vic and I did some weeding around the rock bald/scree area and removed those bothersome Coreopsis.

All in all, not too bad a day at Mt. Cuba. I’m getting closer to the end of my first rotation, and I really don’t want to leave Mt. Cuba. I’ve really enjoyed working with the staff, and it’s been a blast.


Mount Cuba: Day 7 July 19, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — To Prune Or Not To Prune @ 7:44 pm

Today’s even hotter than yesterday! I got the opportunity to work with Victor and Walker today on the rock bald. I watered a  few things that were in desperate need of it, then Walker and I began working on dead-heading annual Coreopsis  on the bald. Vic made us stop shortly after, and we ended up removing debris from “Area 195” around the Rhododendron (or rhodys for short). It was mainly large sticks, which now leads into another Piatt’s Pro-Tips for Landscapades:

  • If you are removing large logs, twigs, or leaf litter mounds in the woods, beware of bees’ nests that may live in them. Removing them haphazardly is the fastest way to get stung. Watch the area periodically for movement, and keep an ear out for buzzing. If you do disturb a nest–as Walker so aptly put it “Book it!” or drop your stuff and run.
I also pulled out some thistle (an obnoxiously prickly weed which has made it into my “Plants That I Hate” book, right next to poison ivy and English ivy).
*Walker and I also viciously attacked some wild grape-vine and Rhodotypos scandens (black jetbead).  He was a lopping-pruning-plant-demolishing machine, while I dragged the sorry remains of the plants into two piles about 5′ high to be sent through the wood chipper.
There is something cathartic about ripping out an unwanted plant or weed; I don’t think I’d mind doing that again tomorrow!

Mount Cuba: Day 6 July 18, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — To Prune Or Not To Prune @ 8:04 pm
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Today was HOT with no end in sight (the temperature is supposed to be creeping all week)! Donna, Mike, Walker and I worked over in the Lilac Allée. Mike and Walker mulched a bit while I weeded in/around the other plants.

When we were done, I watered the forecourt, which was home to some Geum, Carex, and Phlox.  They definitely needed the water; they are the border plants that surround the house which is made out of brick, and most of the forecourt is a paved surface.

I finished that, and watered both the South and East Terrace before lunch. After lunch, Donna had me start watering 1/2 of the Sweet Gum Allée, as it was in the shade. We actually worked through afternoon break! So we decided to take a little breather, and I laid down in the shade of the Sweet Gum Allée because I didn’t have enough energy to go to the head house (which is where breaks and lunch normally happen).

I have almost mastered that blasted water meter, but a hose decided it was going to kick my hind end at the end of the day when we were packing up. I fought the hose, but the hose won.  I definitely will be sleeping good tonight!