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David L. Culp is a well-known gardener and past chair of the Hardy Plant Society. He works as a sales representative and in plant evaluation and acquisition for Sunny Border Nurseries, Inc., the largest perennial grower on the east coast. Culp lectures throughout the United States, does garden consultations, contributes articles to a variety of horticulture magazines, and has taught at Longwood for several years.
Q. What is your background?
A. For the past twenty years I’ve been lecturing nationwide on perennials. I’ve been with Sunny Border Nurseries for seventeen years. Before that I was the perennial buyer at Waterloo Gardens. I went to Temple University for horticulture.
Q. You also do a lot of writing and have been on television frequently.
A. Yes, I’m a former contributing editor to Horticulture. I’ve also written for Fine Gardening, Martha Stewart Living, Green Scene, Country Living, Colonial Home, The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post…a lot of national publications. I’m currently writing a book that will be coming out in 2012 from Timber Press.
I’ve appeared on “Martha Stewart Living” six times, HGTV, and many local television programs.
Q. Brandywine Cottage, your personal garden, is a frequent stop for local and professional garden tours, and is especially notable for the hellebores you have hybridized. Tell us a little bit about that.
A. In 1990 I bought an eighteenth-century farmhouse and two adjoining acres on a hillside between the forks of the Brandywine. It’s planted in a naturalistic style, typical of a Pennsylvania country garden. We strive for four seasons of interest.
We have many collections of plants, including hellebores. I’ve been traveling all over the world to find specimens to hybridize. Brandywine Hybrids™ are seedlings from plants grown at the Cottage. The plants are bred for a wide variety of colors and forms, including singles, doubles, and semi-doubles.
I see my garden as a message of hope. When people visit, it inspires them to think about what they could do in their own garden.
Q. I understand that your garden will be featured in an art exhibit.
A. Adrian Martinez is the artist who did the mural of national parks for the White house, and he did one of George W. and Laura Bush’s Christmas cards. Starting October 1st he will have a one-man show, “Hellebore,” with paintings and drawings inspired by Brandywine Cottage, at the Sunset Hill Fine Arts Gallery in West Chester. It’s a wonderful unity of the arts.
Q. In what other ways do you feed your plant passion?
A. I travel nationally and internationally looking for new and exciting plants to bring to market for Sunny Border. I also lead tours for professional societies.
Q. You have a lot going on!
A. You know that guy who keeps all the plates spinning on sticks? I’m a modern-day version of that guy. A horticultural acrobat!
Q. Longwood is lucky to have you teaching the Shade Perennials class. What appeals to you about the topic?
A. This is one of my favorite subjects because the east coast wants to be a shade garden. It is the climax garden here. For sustainability reasons, you want a shade garden. Martha Stewart’s “Best of” featured my dry shade hillside garden. You can be creative with form, texture, and color. There are many choices for the perennial garden. In the course, we cover the things gardeners need to know so they can make good selections and be informed consumers. Along with size, habit, ornamental characteristics, and care requirements, we look at new cultivars that give gardeners even more options.
Q. What new challenges are you looking forward to?
A. There’s always one more plant, one more combination. I’m very fortunate in that I’ve been able to have a career and a life that acknowledge my passion for plants. I have met the most wonderful people. The best common denominator is plants.
David L. Culp teaches Shade Perennials from August 10-September 21. For more information, visit http://www.longwoodgardens.org/ClassesbyStartDate.html. Learn more about David L. Culp at DavidLCulp.com or brandywinehellebores.com. For information about artist Adrian Martinez, visit http://www.adrianmartinez.com/
Principles of Color
with Nancy Gingrich Shenk
DATE: Friday, August 20 and Saturday, August 21
9:00 AM to 4:00 PM
FEE: $270 Garden pass member, $300 non-member
Students and instructors agree that this course is essential to good design. The difference between an average creation and one that "sings" is often found in color. Explore the role of color using a spectrum of flowers, greens, and fabric backgrounds in this two-day retreat. Properties, psychological effects, and harmonies of color will be discussed. Color is a central part of any floral design, and students will create beautiful designs in prescribed hues and harmonies. Never look at color the same way again!
Need a quick arrangement or hostess gift for the weekend? Try our Floral Fun classes. They are quick, fun, and designed for everyone, regardless of experience. Each month participants will create a themed design, perfect for weekend entertaining, to give as a gift, or just to enjoy at home.
August: Zany Zinnias
with Shelley Clemens
DATE: Friday, August 27
TIME: 10:00 AM to 12:00 Noon
FEE: $ 45 Garden pass member, $ 50 non-member
A riot of color to decorate your table.
*Local Grower – Pete’s Produce Farm will supply the flowers.
Plants aren’t the only things that Longwood Gardens grows—it also trains and nurtures a thriving crop of gardeners. The Professional Gardener (PG) program is Longwood’s two-year school, begun in 1970 to provide experience in the art and science of horticulture.
“We have a junior and senior class with eight to ten students each,” says Dr. Brian Trader, Coordinator, Domestic and International Studies. “Our students represent a myriad of backgrounds, experiences, and ages. Admission is competitive: we have about forty applicants per year.
“The program couples a rigorous academic curriculum of over twenty-five courses with hands-on experiential learning to prepare individuals for careers in public, private, and commercial horticulture,” Trader adds.
All students receive free tuition, on-site housing, and a stipend every two weeks. In return, they dedicate themselves completely to their classes and hands-on training in twelve-week blocks. “There’s not a lot of free time,” says Trader. “It’s a complete immersion in horticulture. One of the greatest attributes of this program is the ability to live, work, and socialize with other students from all over the country who are studying different disciplines.”
Classes cover everything from the ground up (literally—Fundamentals of Soil Science). The curriculum is incredibly broad and deep. Here’s a small sample of the course load: History & Theory of Garden Design, Entomology, Greenhouse Management, Arboriculture & Pruning, Equipment Operation & Maintenance, Business Management, Floricultural Crop Production, and Plant Ecology & Sustainable Practices. Students also must complete eight courses from the Certificate of Merit in Ornamental Plants series. Add the working rotations and the capstone project every graduate must complete, and “immersion” sounds like an understatement!
A large part of the program’s strength is the faculty, most of whom have master’s or Ph.D. degrees. Some instructors are on staff at Longwood; others come from the University of Delaware, Temple University, West Chester University, and Swarthmore College. “Our students receive a caliber of education equivalent to what a four-year institution offers,” says Trader. “We have an agreement with Temple University so that our PG graduates can, if they wish, continue their education and receive a bachelor’s degree from Temple, and we hope to expand that to more schools. Other students go on to become estate gardeners, pursue employment in horticulture or floriculture, work for a plant nursery, become a grounds manager, or start their own business.”
In addition to their work at Longwood, PG students study abroad for ten days to two weeks senior year. Small groups pitch a location, then the entire class votes on where to go. The 2010 trip was to Spain.
Trader, who came to Longwood in January from Mississippi State University, admires the students’ professionalism and energy. “They are tasked with so many different things,” he says. “Not only do they take courses and work in rotation, they also do quite a bit of outreach in the community. They work at Chanticleer in exchange for a donation for their study abroad trip, have embarked on a vegetable venture with the Terrace Restaurant, and help out with the Rare Plant Auction sponsored by the Delaware Center for Horticulture. When their plates are already full, they accept the challenge to do even more. They look at it as an education.”
For more information about the Professional Gardener Training Program, visit http://www.longwoodgardens.org/ProfessionalGardenerTrainingProgram_1_3_4_3_2.html. Applications are due July 1, 2011 for the class that begins in January 2012.
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Enjoy family-fun activities, an outdoor concert, and behind-the-scenes experiences.
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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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