Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Animals at the Morris Arboretum

Morris Arboretum has a lot of beautiful plants in bloom right now.  But when you walk around the garden, it is easy to see that a lot more than plants live at the Arboretum.  There are plenty of animals that you will see and hear as you enjoy the gardens.  Ducks and geese are easy to see by the wetlands (and you may be lucky and see a fox or a hawk or heron).  Squirrels and chipmunks can be seen scrambling across the paths.  Birds are also prolific and you will likely see robins, orioles, warblers, catbirds, wrens, cardinals, red-winged blackbirds and more.  These are just a few animals that I saw during my walk this afternoon.

If you are interested in birding, there are some great birding classes that you can take here at the Morris Arboretum.  These classes build appreciation for nature and can help you identify birds that live or migrate through the Arboretum.  Browse our classes offered here.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Plant Sale 2011

The Plant Sale was off to a great start this afternoon, starting with the Plant Sale Luncheon for upper-level members of Morris Arboretum.  The staff has been working very hard to get ready for the Plant Sale, bringing special selections to this year's sale.  They worked throughout the rain yesterday getting everything into place but it looks like the weather for the next three days is going to be perfect!  The sale is located at the new LEED Platinum Horticulture Center at Bloomfield Farm.

Browsing through the Plant Sale
Come out and join in on the fun!  Tomorrow (Friday) is Plant Sale Members-Only day from 10am - 8pm with Family Night from 5:30 - 7:30 (you must register).  On Saturday, the Plant Sale is open to the public from 10am - 4pm.  More info here on our website.

This cart is filled with some colorful plants.

Pam Olshefski, Curatorial Assistant, gives some expert plant advice.

One of the best things about the Morris Arboretum Plant Sale is the chance to get expert advice from knowledgeable Morris Arboretum staff and volunteers.  You can come with your questions and get answers and guidance from our staff. 

Plants blooming on this sunny day.

Some serious plant talk with Tony Aiello, Director of Horticulture

The Greater Philadelphia Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society will hold its Annual Plant Sale at Morris Arboretum again this year. A large selection of outstanding rhododendrons, all hardy in the Delaware Valley, will be available. Helpful staff will guide you in choosing the right shrub for your needs and share their expertise to successfully grow it in your garden. Plants offered will include large-leaf (elepidotes) and small-leaf (lepidotes) rhododendrons, evergreen and deciduous azaleas, and kalmias (mountain laurels). 

I would be excited about such a beautiful selection, too!

Featured this year will be seedlings of the fiery blooming Rhododendron calendulaceum (flame azalea). This native, deciduous azalea graces the Appalachian Mountains with delightful blossoms of orange, yellow and red in May and June. William Bartram in his book Travels wrote, “This is certainly the
most gay and brilliant flowering shrub yet known.”

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Sacred Spaces

In March, Shea Zwerver, The Charles S. Holman Rose and Flower Intern, gave her internship project presentation to a captive audience.  Her project was called the Sacred Sites Survey of the Morris Arboretum and aimed at identifying the "sacred spaces" of the Arboretum.  Sacred spaces in the context of this project are areas within the Arboretum that are special to visitors (including members, volunteers and staff) and their experience at the Arboretum.

Shea gives her internship project presentation to a full house

Reviewing the Sacred Spaces visuals.

Sacred Spaces layers

Throughout the months before her presentation, Shea distributed a paper survey to members, visitors and staff  and asked them to identify the spaces, views, garden feature, etc. with which they felt a particular connection.  Because visitor's experiences and valued areas can be so varied, Shea constructed most of the survey to be open-ended to collect qualitative and subjective information.  Shea also collected some basic demographic information.  The most useful information from the survey came from two sources: the places respondent circled "sacred spaces" and an open-ended "notes" section.

Shea analyzed and presented the results in order to begin a conversation between the Arboretum and its constituents about the sacred spaces at the Arboretum.  Below is a graphic representation of the sacred spaces that were identified (look for the stars) on top of geographic layers of the garden, including hydrology, shady areas, traffic patterns and benches.  Her findings will help inform the master planning process in the years to come.

Sacred Spaces with layers overlay

The open-ended notes section also produced some enlightening details about respondent’s attitudes about the garden and why they enjoy certain parts of the Arboretum.  Below are a few of the quotes:

"Sometimes I come to the Arboretum for a walk and enjoy the peacefulness. Our family feels so lucky that the Morris Aboretum is so close for us to enjoy. Each time I visit I always seem to find something new to enjoy!"

"I enjoyed the anticipation of things to come-All the buds ready to burst open"

"I enjoy the free standing green house (fernery) Clean smell, green colors, life everywhere. So peaceful"

"The most memorable parts for me were smelling the witchhazel in the breeze"     

"The witchhazel area reminds me that life goes on even in the snow and ice"

"The hill overlooking the entrance is the spot where my husband and I had our wedding ceremony, driving by car of walking through takes me back to that day."

The step fountain--"This is my other sacred space because it feels small and secret and still has water"

"Having pulled weeds, raked, mulched and planted over so much of the Arboretum, my greatest pleasure is to sit and look into the distance-spring, summer, fall, and winter"

"I like the Japanese Overlook Garden because it is very peaceful and hidden behind the trees"

"When I was little, my favorite activity at the Arboretum was walking and playing among the rocks behind the canopy tree."

"When the late morning sun in the Spring and Summer ignites the Japanese maples in the center of the garden, it always stop me in my tracks"--Japanese Overlook Garden

"The log cabin is special to me. I tell the grandchildren it is cinderella's house and ask them to run up and see if she is home. She must be very busy since we have not found her at home."

"I came here once in the evening during a thunderstorm and it was truly magical" --Stone bridge that looks at the metasequoias

"I used to come to the Rose Garden, center fountain, to recuperate in the late 1950s-The fountain was dry, and I could sit there, sheltered from the wind in winter cold. Virtually no-one came to the Arboretum in those days so I had the entire place to myself.  My recuperation was for Post Traumatic Stress and I desperately needed solitude."

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Costa Rica Birding

In February 2011, the Arboretum embarked on an 11-day birding trip to Costa Rica. Led by Morris Arboretum Education Coordinator Jan McFarlan and Expert Birders Ruth Pfeffer and Rudy Zamora, the goal of the trip was to discover the diverse bird habitats of Costa Rica – a country with more species of birds than the United States and Canada combined.   

Some of the most memorable stops included the Lankester Botanical Gardens with its world class collection of nearly 1,000 orchids, the Los Esquinas Rainforest Lodge Gardens located deep in the Costa Rican rainforest, and the Wilson Botanical Garden home to an amazing collection of colorful bromeliads.

Whether the group was enjoying a river boat ride through the mangroves, enjoying the view at Rancho Naturalista, or visiting the gardens of Savegre Lodge, there was always an abundance of avian friends to be seen. Of the almost 900 hundred species of birds found in Costa Rica, 200 are migrants from North America, and many of them migrate through or nest in the wetlands, meadows, and wooded areas found at the Arboretum.  It was a great experience to see some of these species in Costa Rica knowing that they would return to the Arboretum's beautiful gardens in the spring.  

Enjoy some pictures from the trip below: