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Students in Longwood’s Professional Gardener (PG) Program will have hands-on training in a highly visible way this year: through designing, installing, and maintaining their own gardens in the Gardens proper. “For years, the students have had their own gardens on Red Lion Row,” says Dr. Doug Needham, Education Department Head. “The spaces were beautiful and showed tremendous creativity, but they were not visible to the public.”
That’s about to change for second-year students. The rigorous two-year program in professional horticulture includes collegiate level coursework combined with rotational work internships in the garden. Only ten students are accepted each year.
“One of my passions is to align the curriculum with experiential, project education,” explains Needham. “It’s so much more impactful for students to design a garden, install it, bring it to fruition, and then have it seen by thousands of guests. That was the whole reason for incorporating project education into our curriculum.
“Many of the students will go on to become estate gardeners or horticulturists at public gardens,” Needham adds. “The high-level experience they will get through this project is tremendous.”
The process works just like in the real world. Working in teams of two or three, students examine the space and design suitable gardens that show their creativity and fit in with Longwood’s annual theme. After presenting their concepts to an internal advisory panel for feedback, the students further refine their designs and plant lists.
Next, it’s time to share the designs and the list of plants with the Longwood Gardens Advisory Committee, which oversees all design work. This is wonderful training for doing presentations to important clients; some of the Committee members are also Longwood Gardens Trustees.
Designs are tweaked again, construction documentation is prepared, and plant lists are finalized and submitted to Purchasing. In April, hardscaping is created, landforms take shape, and hardy, woody materials are installed. The rest of the plantings go in around mid-May when the danger of frost is past.
It’s a big effort, but that’s only part of it. Students have also been working on interpretive material such as signage, the text for cell phone audio tours, and information for Longwood’s docents. All summer long, they will tend and maintain their gardens. Being present in this public space will give them the opportunity to engage with guests.
The Student Exhibition Garden is located behind the hedgerow adjacent to the Idea Garden. “Interestingly, the overall space, previously known as the Example Garden, was redesigned for the project by Dan Maffei, a landscape designer at W.D. Wells & Associates, who is an alumnus of the PG Program and an instructor for two of our courses,” says Needham. “He had to incorporate the four ephemeral gardens, making sure that each could stand on its own and not be obstructed or misinterpreted by the presence of adjacent gardens. Dan designed a cross-shaped hedge to divide the space into quadrants with ample teaching spaces, within the central walk and eastern patio.”
Needham predicts that visitors will be wowed by the creativity and whimsy in the Student Exhibition Garden. “Even though they are all taught by the same instructors, the students have come up with four very different gardens,” says the justifiably proud Head of Education. “Two are rectilinear and the other two are curvilinear, each with its own color palette and unique selection of fragrant plants. It’s wonderful to see how the students have incorporated their individual styles into their designs.”
For more information about Longwood’s Professional Gardener training program, visit http://www.longwoodgardens.org/ProfessionalGardenerTrainingProgram_1_3_4_3_2.html.
Fascinated with fragrance? It’s easy to infuse beautiful aromas into your own home, thanks to some new products in The Gardens Shop. “The whole right-hand side of the store will be based on scent,” says Chuck Ross, General Manager, Retail, “with the main fragrance changing throughout the year.”
Selections in the gift shop will mirror what’s blooming outside. “We start with a daffodil-tulip feature in the spring,” says Ross, “then we go into rose. Next will come lotus and lilies. Orchid is available all year round.”
One of the most striking installations in the shop is the new Potpourri Bar, with dried, naturally fragrant mixes displayed in large glass apothecary jars. “It will be fun for the guests,” Ross says. “They can pick out the pieces that they like. If they want to, they can choose just one scent, or they can mingle several fragrances.
“We have growers that dry all of this for us,” Ross adds. “We started planning a year ago and placed our orders at least six months ago.”
Potpourri themes include gardenia, rose, thyme, lilac, and lavender. For each, there’s a diffuser, a candle, a shea butter, milled soap, and liquid soap.
Guests will also enjoy other new merchandise in The Gardens Shop this spring, including some rustic products from Belgium and a large selection of containers and clay pots. “We offer plants with brightly colored, scented blooms at nice prices and excellent quality,” says Ross, “and a wide range of pottery. We’re also doing a lot with herbs. They’re perfect for cooking and grilling all through the summer, and their leaves are highly scented. That’s definitely a focus this year.”
If you’ve ever longed to capture the essence of Longwood Gardens in a bottle, your wish has come true. Longwood now has its own signature perfume, Always In Bloom, created by 2009 International Fragrance Prize winner Olivier Polge. “This is one of the most exciting things we have coming along,” Ross says. “Everything about the fragrance was specifically developed for Longwood, from the bottle and the graphics to the scent. Its main note is lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis).”
Always in Bloom is truly where art and science—and maybe a little magic—come together. Longwood Gardens in a bottle is the perfect gift for that special someone, including yourself.
For information about The Gardens Shop or to shop online, visit http://www.longwoodgardens.org/TheGardensShop.html.
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Meet the arborists and gardeners that care for our trees and flowers throughout Spring Blooms, and see demonstrations throughout our Conservatory and outdoor gardens.
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Get ready for an evening of oohs and ahhs, as Longwood presents spectacular Fireworks & Fountains shows guaranteed to make your summer memorable.
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Registration is now open for our 2013 Continuing Education courses!
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