Herbaria 51

Internship Blog/Plants/Interesting Facts

Longwood Gardens: Day 8 August 3, 2011

Filed under: Longwood Gardens,Triad Internship — To Prune Or Not To Prune @ 7:57 am
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Today, I began the task of tagging plants within QUAD M10. When you put an accession tag on a plant, you must always place it on the north side of the plant.

Staking the tags or tying them to the plants may not seem like a lot of work, but it was definitely a work out! The worst plant to tag within the Quad M10 was Opuntia phaeacantha, also known as the prickly pear cactus. I got stuck several times trying to put the brass tags in the ground. If you think the large, smooth spines are a pain, just wait until you have to pull the smaller, finer spines out of your skin.

And yet another Piatt’s Pro-Tips for Landscapades:

The best recommendation for getting the smaller, finer spines out of your skin? Stand in the sun–you should be able to catch the sunlight on the spines to see them and pull them out. It also would be extremely helpful if you had a pair of tweezers. 



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 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!!!