longwood CHIMES 291
Longwood Gardens and nighttime—both are worlds apart and when combined become otherworldly. This issue of the Chimes shines a light on the artistry and innovation that have transformed our Gardens over the years, from Pierre du Pont’s ﬁrst use of illumination in the Open Air Theatre, to this summer’s Nightscape experience.
Mind Your Mentor Through Longwood’s tradition of mentoring, the spirit of a place—born of one man’s vision—is carried forth by those whom that vision still inspires. By Lynn Schuessler
Anything But Standard A look at the creative use of standards in Longwood displays. By Jim Harbage and Noël Raufaste
Light. Sound. Spectacle. From the Color Organ to Nightscape, tracing one hundred years of innovation and illumination in our Gardens at night. By Aimee Beam
Her Good Fortune New staff exchange program sends our gardeners around the world to experience the opportunity of a lifetime. By Pandora Young
Plants On Trial A look at Longwood’s plant trialing program and what it takes for a plant to make it to display. By Mackenzie Fochs
The Standard Setter Remembering the artistry and vision of John Testorf.
The Fountains of Longwood Part Two: Beginnings at Longwood Pierre du Pont’s humble plans for the small farm he has recently purchased begin to expand, inspired in part by journeys to Italy, France, California, and Hawaii. By Colvin Randall
After Hours The night garden is … a place of wonder and imagination, where the shapes and colors of day take on an otherwordly form once the sun sets. In anticipation of Nightscape, we revisited our archives to unearth some stunning nighttime views of the Gardens as interpreted by some of our favorite photographers.
The Night Gardener When the sun sets the night gardener’s job begins. By Patricia Evans
Nightscape Palm House installation. Photo by Kevin Ritchie, Klip Collective.
Mind Your Mentor
Through Longwood’s tradition of mentoring, the spirit of a place—born of one man’s vision—is carried forth by those whom that vision still inspires. By Lynn Schuessler
The posterity of Longwood’s waterplatters depends on a process that largely goes unseen. At day’s end, a second-night Victoria flower produces pollen for a younger firstnight flower, which then produces fruit and seed for future generations. So it is with mentoring, the unheralded handing down of knowledge from one gardener to another. In 1951, on Patrick Nutt’s first day of studies at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, he attended a lecture by waterlily expert George Pring of the Missouri Botanical Garden. A silent seed was sown. Six years later, Russell Seibert, first director of Longwood Gardens, broke ground on our Waterlily Display as part of his mission to transform Pierre du Pont’s estate into a world-renowned public garden. Seibert hired Nutt to grow the waterlilies; Seibert hired Nutt’s father-in-law, George Pring, to be his mentor. This collaboration among institutions and across generations has helped Longwood to pursue its mission of “inspiring people through excellence.” Like Nutt’s crosspollination technique that produced the first Victoria ‘Longwood Hybrid’ in 1960, the combined skills of Nutt and Pring were greater than the sum of their parts. Seibert, too, was an inspiration to Nutt. He encouraged trips of plant exploration and instituted many educational programs still in place today. “Generations of students have worked in the lily pools,” says Nutt, and have carried their knowledge around the world. Longwood’s Waterlily Display has thrived under one such student—Nutt’s successor, Tim Jennings, a 1988 graduate of the Professional Gardener Program. “Tim is incredible at hand-pollination,” says Nutt. “He has some of the finest Victorias I’ve seen, and has developed the display further than I ever did. He’s also an excellent teacher.” Jennings, now a Senior Gardener at Longwood, fondly recalls learning from Nutt. “When you find someone who truly enjoys
what they do, you instinctively are drawn to want to know more,” explains Jennings. “It started while I was a student with a simple question about a plant. The next day several articles appeared in my mailbox from Patrick about our discussion.” Jennings would later learn that Nutt’s tutelage extended beyond articles and conversations. “His genuine interest in his subject and his willingness to unconditionally share his time and information with anyone that is interested is a testament to Patrick’s personality,” Jennings says. “It is not uncommon for Patrick to call me at home about something that he is watching on TV just because he thinks I might find it interesting. This is one thing that makes him so unique.” Jennings, too, has found pleasure in sharing his knowledge with students, staff, and guests through the years. “For me basic gardening continues to be my favorite teaching experience, the excitement with which students and home gardeners approach the most fundamental tasks revitalizes my own sense of wonder,” explains Jennings. Not all gardeners come to Longwood with formal training. Koa Kanamee came to Longwood in 2005 as a volunteer with a need to nurture and a hunger to learn. He discovered that “horticultural art is born in tradition. You learn it by watching, by listening, by doing. When I came to Longwood, I had to learn to ask questions— to be conscious of the vast amount of knowledge that surrounds us.” From John Testorf, Kanamee learned about topiary standards. From Yoko Arakawa, who first came to Longwood as an international student, he learned the Longwood way of specialty chrysanthemums, including the Thousand Bloom Mum. From Mary Allinson and Ed Broadbent, with more than 60 years of experience between them, he learned the Longwood tradition of Christmas.
The mentoring—and the magic— happens while “working side by side,” says Kanamee, “under the overarching Longwood aesthetic, which is the living legacy of Pierre S. du Pont.” For Kanamee, that legacy is most palpable in the Music Room, which is “so quietly and powerfully endowed with the history of the du Ponts and the lineage of Longwood, that you absorb what has been done here year after year.” Now a full-time horticulturist in Mr. du Pont’s first outdoor garden, Kanamee sees the du Ponts as historical mentors. Indeed, the tradition of mentoring goes back to the very origins of Longwood, as du Pont gathered experts from England, Scotland, and Ireland’s estates and gardens to shape his new properties. He worked closely with his senior staff, and they in turn trained others, in a mentoring progression that continues today. “Not only does mentoring serve the institution by upholding standards and perpetuating intellectual capital,” Kanamee says, “it also serves the individual by allowing each person to excel at whatever they do.” Kanamee is proud of the students and seasonal staff he, in turn, has taught, one of whom was Patrick Nutt’s grandson. Meanwhile, Nutt himself has never stopped learning nor sharing, throughout 38 years of service and 20 years of retirement. He still attends Brown Bag lunch talks, where students and staff continue the legacy of plant exploration and education begun by Russell Seibert. And, at day’s end, Nutt still has advice to hand down to even the youngest gardeners he’s so happy to see on the paths of Longwood Gardens. “Always carry a hand lens,” he says, pulling one from his pocket. So you can see those things that largely go unseen. Through Longwood’s tradition of mentoring, the spirit of a place—born of one man’s vision—is carried forth by those whom that vision still inspires.
“When you ﬁnd someone who truly enjoys what they do, you instinctively are drawn to want to know more.”
Editor’s Note As this issue closed, we were saddened to learn of the passing of Patrick Nutt, at age 85. In an upcoming issue of the Longwood Chimes we will pay tribute to this remarkable man and the many contributions he made to our horticultural legacy.
Senior Gardener Tim Jennings sharing a teaching moment with mentor Patrick Nutt. Photo by Laura Blanchard.
Senior Gardener Yoko Arakawa demonstrates how to pinch out a chrysanthemum display. Photo by Daniel Traub. Right: Yoko Arakawa and protégé Koa Kanamee in the Conservatory with a recently installed Thousand Bloom Mum display.
Mary Allinson placing poinsettias in the Conservatory for A Longwood Christmas. Photo by Alan Petravich.
Her Good Fortune Senior Gardener Pandora Young was the first staff member to participate in a staff exchange program with Chenshan Botanical Garden in Shanghai, China. Longwood embarked on establishing exchange programs in 2012 with the goal of advancing the personal and professional development of Longwood’s staff and to exchange intellectual expertise and innovation with our partner gardens around the world. In addition to Shanghai Chenshan Botanical Garden, we have agreements in place with National Parks Board Singapore, Royal Botanical Garden Edinburgh, The Alnwick Garden, and Waddesdon in the UK. Since the inception of the program, Longwood has hosted seven staff from partner gardens. This summer, Senior Gardener Kat McCullough is at the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh. Here, Young shares what she learned from her experience.
Hiking the Great Wall.
New staff exchange program sends our gardeners around the world to experience the opportunity of a lifetime. By Pandora Young
Last spring, I had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to study horticulture for three months at Chenshan Botanical Garden in Shanghai, China. I was interested in an exchange with Chenshan BG for three reasons. First, one of Chenshan’s many theme gardens is North American plants and, as the gardener for Peirce’s Woods, where native plants are the primary focus, I was curious to see how these species were displayed on the other side of the world. Second, I wanted to gain greater familiarity with the many Chinese native plant species that are closely related to North American natives, but are not often grown in US gardens. Finally, I wanted to develop some speaking ability in Chinese based on the Beijing dialect of Mandarin, and improve my cultural understanding of China. As a front line staff member, I thought this knowledge would help me better interact with our many Mandarin Chinese speaking guests. My first goal, to learn how Chenshan Botanical Garden displays North American plants, evolved into a large project to provide detailed recommendations for their North American garden. In the process, I learned about many interesting North American species and cultivars I was previously unfamiliar with. Using all the knowledge I have gained from ten years working in Peirce’s Woods on such a comprehensive plan was very satisfying. In gaining greater familiarity with China’s indigenous plants, it was exciting to go into natural areas of Eastern China and be able to identify plants down to their genus, using characteristics they share with their Eastern North American cousins. Chenshan’s staff was a great help in keying plants down to a specific species. One such highlight was on Huang Mountain, spotting Veratrum dahuricum in full bloom. This close cousin
to the Appalachian native Veratrum viride (false hellabore), shares its characteristic chartreuse flowers and deeply ribbed leaves. It was also interesting to learn what plants indigenous to North America are invasive in China. One of the worst in the Shanghai area is Solidago sp. (Canada goldenrod). Another incredible horticultural highlight was standing next to what is believed to be the oldest naturally growing ginkgo tree in the world, located on Mount Tianmu. The Chinese describe this tree as “an old dragon trying to fly.” Ginkgo is the first plant I remember being fascinated with as a small child, because its fan shaped leaves were so different from all other trees. I was captivated by the beauty of China’s natural landscapes as well as traditionally designed Chinese gardens. Chinese gardens are so nuanced, and full of layered symbolism, that exploring them was like decoding a secret message of seamlessly interwoven culture and horticulture. During my three-month exchange, I visited a total of 42 different gardens, parks, and natural areas. There was so much to take in, and I didn’t want to waste a minute. This was probably the most sleep-deprived yet entirely rewarding three months of my life. Often the most meaningful moments of any journey are the unexpected ones. At Chenshan, I was deeply impressed by the many opportunities to bond with colleagues while engaging in healthpromoting activities. The garden has a staff basketball court, indoor badminton, and ping-pong tables. I’m pretty sure I would have been completely destroyed in any activities that involved good hand-eye coordination, but I enjoyed participating in the free weekly yoga classes for staff. I also took part in Chenshan’s week-long sports competition, which also included tests of mental fitness such as math and trivia, and culminated in an all-staff walk around the gardens. These activities
“This was probably the most sleepdeprived yet entirely rewarding three months of my life.” Statuary at Han Meilin museum in Hangzhou Botanical Garden.
not only helped develop friendships, but also fostered interdepartmental communication. Fortunately, I am able to stay connected with all my Chinese friends and colleagues, using WeChat, a great social media and messaging app. I not only learned from my colleagues at Chenshan, but also had the opportunity to share Longwood expertise as well. Chenshan’s staff was interested in learning how to make succulent wreaths, so Kat McCullough (who oversees the care of our Silver Garden and is our next staff exchange member) shared her methods with me. On one of my last days at Chenshan, I was able to guide the horticultural team as we all created a succulent wreath together. I also shared our expertise about special orchid growing techniques, as well as using Artemisia grafting to create taller chrysanthemum pagodas. One of the things I missed most while away from Longwood was the ability to engage with guests on a daily basis. However, a huge highlight since my return has been the opportunity to speak Mandarin Chinese with some of our guests. Shortly after my return I was watering the beds at the Visitor Center, when I overheard a gentleman speaking Chinese to the person he was photographing. I was able to ask them if they wanted a picture together. The man’s face lit up with delight when he heard me speak, and we chatted about gardens we had both visited in China. By the end of our conversation, he insisted that I join him and his companion in a photo. In the end, it is the connections such as the one I made with that guest, or the connections you make between people from all over the world who love plants, that are among the most satisfying things you can gain from an international exchange experience.
Topiary tea pot outside the Garden of Autumn Vapors (Qiuxiapu) in Jiading District, Shanghai.
Making a succulent wreath with the Chenshan horticultural team.
Meeting with orchid expert Mr. Li Yan at Chenshan Botanical Garden.
Veratrum dahuricum in full bloom on Huang Mountain.
About 10% of the ginkgos in the Tianmu Shan Reserve, shown here, are estimated to be over 1000 years of age.
Last day with horticulturist Cai Yunpeng.
From the Desk of a Well-Traveled Gardener Objects and mementos collected by Senior Gardener Pandora Young during her journey to China as a participant in our Staff Exchange Progam.
Clockwise from left: Wood carving of auspicious Chinese symbols, from Hangzhou; Map of China, with Pandora’s handwritten notes (in Chinese) on provinces, gardens, places of natural beauty, and regional foods; Tea set, a parting gift from Cai Yunpeng, Deputy Head of Gardening, Chenshan Botanical Garden; Pu’er tea, from Yunnan province, an aged dark tea pressed into a round disk called a bîng; Book on chrysanthemum cultivation, a gift from chrysanthemum expert
Li Haigen; Bamboo tea strainer from a small tea shop in Tiánzîfāng, an area of Shanghai known for handcrafted goods; Upsidedown bat good luck charm; Herbarium notebook, a gift from Chenshan research assistant Ge Binjie; Chinese coins with flowers. NonChina related items from Pandora’s workspace include a pair of antique Craftsman pruners, and a C.S. Osborne & Co. dibble, used for planting seeds and small bulbs, originally owned by Pandora’s great-great aunt.
Photograph by David Ward
Plants On Trial “Wow, hold me back!” says Display Designer Jim Sutton during a recent Plant Evaluation meeting. His playful reaction induces chuckles among the group of 12 or so horticulturists, students, and researchers. The plant in question—a begonia—is in full bloom, but its unremarkable white blooms are sparse and clearly not worthy of display. Consensus is this plant will eventually provide nutrients to the Gardens in the form of compost. The Plant Evaluation meeting is the final stage of the plant trialing process at Longwood. Research Manager Dr. Matt Taylor explains, “It is much like the Roman Coliseum where Jim is the emperor, but instead of going to the lions, plants go to the compost pile, or are moved along in the process to another area in the Gardens.” Not every plant is given the “thumbs down.” Unlike the underwhelming begonia, Kalanchoe ×houghtonii was deemed to be a stellar plant: it has most notably been featured in the center walk of the Main Conservatory. It can be a lengthy journey for a plant to the center walk, and like many plants on display, its journey begins with the plant trial program. Research in plant trials at Longwood began in the late 1950s and has largely been completed in the research greenhouses and nursery, areas that guests generally don’t see. In 2013, that changed with the debut of the Trial Garden, located within the Idea Garden. Why is trialing important? Trialing determines what plants work best for a given situation. From a corn trial in Iowa to see which new cultivars are highestyielding, to the quest for a longer-blooming rose variety, the industry conducts plant trials to see if new plant varieties perform better than existing varieties. The findings are shared with plant breeders and companies who then decide which plants to make commercially available. 12
Behind the scenes of Longwood’s plant trialing program and what it takes for a plant to make it to display. By Mackenzie Fochs
At Longwood, trial information is recorded with the goal of determining a plant’s maximum display potential or ornamental quality for Longwood. This is an important distinction because our criteria are often different from the industry. Whereas commercial horticulture may prefer plants that are smaller and more compact to allow for easier shipping and store display, the scale of our grand Conservatory often means we want the opposite: taller, larger plants that better fit the space. Ideas for plants to trial often come from Sutton, other staff, or plant exploration trips. Once a plant is suggested, Research Specialist Alan Petravich determines a source and whether or not it can be procured in the United States. Approximately 350–400 plants are trialed each year and Petravich works with the greenhouse team to perfect growing conditions for each plant. Research Specialist Barrett Wilson leads this effort for herbaceous perennials, trees, and shrubs. Kalanchoe ×houghtonii produces plantlets on the edges of its leaves, which can be used for propagation. Unfortunately for the research team, the first trial crop of these plantlets resulted in a mix of blooming and non-blooming plants. They determined the plantlets were not mature, so they took stem cuttings from the mature plant. These cuttings successfully bloomed, which demonstrates the inherent process of trialand-error involved in the trialing program. A Plant Evaluation meeting is called about twice per month. During the meeting, Petravich and or Wilson act as emcees, explaining where they obtained the plants, how long it took to grow them, special treatments, and challenges with growing. The plant’s current appearance and the amount of time it can be displayed are also considered.
Each decision is a judgment call with several possible outcomes: send to the compost pile, direct to display, use in the plant breeding program, or send back to trial to grow in a different way or for a longer period of time. Longwood continues to maintain a varied trialing program. In addition to the long-standing trial of Camellia, which began in 1957, we are also trialing ornamental grasses, roses, and begonias. This summer, we will begin trialing phlox. “Plant trials are integral to what we do in Horticulture,” says Taylor. “Very few people grow and display plants in the environments that exist in our Conservatory, or to the scale we need for an amazing display,” he explains. “It all starts with research and plant trials.”
You be the judge! When you visit this summer, be sure to stop by the Trial Garden, where 27 different seasonal plant combinations will be showcased. Members of the horticulture and education departments designed the combinations, and guests will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite. The ultimate winner will be announced in October and will be featured in the Gardens in 2016. Photo by Larry Albee.
Left: Display Designer Jim Sutton and Research Specialist Alan Petravich discuss and critique a selection of plants during a recent Plant Evaluation Meeting.
Right: Alan Petravich reviews notes on Digiplexis ‘Illumination Flame’ and Echium wildprettii ‘Towerof-Jewels’. Far right: Syncolostemon ‘Lemon ‘n Lime’ gets a close inspection. Opposite: Crop Inventory Specialist Jon Webb, Display Designer Jim Sutton, Research Specialist Alan Petravich (hidden), and Senior Grower Ryan Knauer review the merits of Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Ayesha’. Plant trial photos by Trilby Smith.
Anything But Standard When our designers plan Longwood’s displays, they think about many things, including form, color, and dimension— and not just two-dimensional, uniform beds of flowers, but how to create height and vertical interest—especially in a space as vast as our grand Conservatory. Luckily for our designers, Longwood’s horticulturists and growers have a long history of working to “raise the standard” of our displays by training plants into the “standard” form. “Standard” is the name we give to plants trained into the form of a tree, with a single main trunk. The lower part is exposed with no branches; the upper heavily branched crown, known as the “head,” is usually pruned into a rounded form. The likely first appearance of standards at Longwood was in 1921 when Mr. du Pont purchased four bay trees from Edward Stotesbury’s Whitemarsh Hall in Wyndmoor, PA and two from Peter Widener’s Lynnewood Hall in Elkins Park, PA. Those standards ended up on display around Longwood, including on the Conservatory Terrace and in the Exhibition Hall. The use of standards and other tree forms expanded in 1958 with the establishment of the Topiary Garden. Topiaries were also soon to be used in indoor display, as Longwood Chimes issue #147 explains: “One of the first imaginative topiary displays was developed for a chrysanthemum display in 1964 when a mum table and 2 chairs were in full bloom on the lawn of the Main Conservatory.” In the late 1960s and early 1970s Longwood staff began experimenting with growing new plants into standard forms, largely led by the creative influence of John H. Testorf (see sidebar). Testorf was credited with “growing plants as standards that no one would have thought of before, and in formats that were far from their natural habit,” enthused then Horticulture Department Head Ross Edmonds in a 1994 14
article in the Longwood Chimes about the retirement of Testorf. Today, standards continue to be an important part of the horticulture displays at Longwood. We use this training method on about 30 different kinds of plants, and we’re continually evaluating the suitability of new plants for this technique. The plants range from fairly well-known varieties, such as poinsettias and crape-myrtles, to ones that are quite unusual, such as Senna, Westringia, and Clerodendrum. These horticultural showstoppers not only garner the attention of our guests; professionals from public gardens around the world have come to Longwood to see and learn our techniques for creating standards. It is an exercise in patience. The training of a standard occurs in two phases. The first phase is to train a newly propagated plant as a single upright stem, which becomes the trunk of the standard. Side branches are pinched off (between thumb and finger) when they are small. The shoot tip of the main stem provides the vertical growth. This is easy with fastgrowing plants, but with slow growers this phase can be shortened by choosing a more vigorous variety for the trunk, to which is grafted the slow-growing variety desired for the head. Some slow-growing plants may form crooked trunks. This can be resolved by growing the plant for a long enough time to build a large root system and then cutting the plant back to the crown, near the soil-surface. Removing all but the most
A look at the creative use of standards in Longwood displays. By Jim Harbage and Noël Raufaste
vigorous of the resulting sprouts allows the remaining shoot to grow rapidly into a straight trunk. Once the plant is slightly taller than the desired height for the bottom of the head, phase two begins by pinching out the main shoot tip to encourage branching close to the top of the shoot. Side shoots are allowed to grow for several nodes and then pinched to generate a densely branched head. This creates the desired form and large numbers of flowers. Branching is encouraged by repeatedly pinching the tips of the side branches. As the head develops, the branches are pinched at appropriate lengths to make the rounded form. The time to produce a standard depends on the plant species and the size desired. For example, a myrtle (Myrtus communis) standard takes five years to grow into an eight-foot-tall standard with a four-footdiameter head. But the same size standard
Illustration by Rebecca Clarke
Clerodendrum standard on display in Conservatory during Orchid Extravaganza. Photo by Hank Davis.
can be produced with a poinsettia in just two years. The natural habit of the plant will impact the shape of the head—slowgrowing plants with profuse branching will have a tighter, more rounded head like the Senna, and vigorous plants that branch less will have a more open and elongated head like the Westringia. We sometimes modify standards into other shapes such as Spirals, done with chrysanthemum plants; two-ball or threeball standards, done with chrysanthemums or coleus; Cloud Forms, done with chrysanthemums; and Free Forms, done with Fuchsia. Another derivative of the standard is the Topiary standard. In this case the goal is to produce the overall shape of a small tree. However, the lower portion is usually contrived using wood or metal and decorated in a way to make it look like a trunk. The head is created by attaching a spherical grilled framework to the top of the pseudo-trunk and placing many individual plants into the framework sphere, as we do when assembling hanging baskets. Many kinds of plants can be used to create a Topiary standard. Here at Longwood we use Begonia, Phalaenopsis orchids, and Fuchsia, among others. In Japan, the standard has been taken to the extreme to create the Thousand Bloom Chrysanthemum. Here, the head can exceed twelve feet in diameter with 500 to 2,000 perfectly spaced flowers. Longwood growers have learned this technique from Japanese experts, creating a Thousand Bloom with 1,515 blooms and measuring twelve feet wide. Despite what the name implies, a standard is anything but standard. It requires a careful hand, patience, imagination, and expertise—an expertise that began decades ago and is continually and carefully refined today. 16
Above: Artistically trained cloud forms with Chrysanthemum x morifolium ‘Yamanoha-noKumo’, anemone cascade mum. Photo by Cathy Matos.
Left: Mum table and two chairs in full bloom on the lawn of the Main Conservatory, 1964. Photo by Gottlieb Hampfler. Below: Thousand Bloom Mum on display in the East Conservatory during Chrysanthemum Festival. Photo by Daniel Traub.
“He believed in teaching everyone that worked with him, and that the horticultural knowledge should be shared among all who worked at Longwood.”
The Standard Setter Remembering John Testorf
It is often said that Longwood grows “ordinary plants in extraordinary ways.” Perhaps no one grew ordinary plants in more extraordinary ways than John H. Testorf. Testorf, who is largely credited with expanding and advancing the use of standards and hanging baskets at Longwood, passed away December 6, 2014, at the age of 84. “John was growing plants as standards that no one would have thought of before and in formats that were far from their natural habit,” enthused then Horticulture Department Head Ross Edmonds in an 1994 article in the Longwood Chimes about the retirement of Testorf. His influence is still felt today. “He would try anything!” explained Senior Gardener Scottie Pennett, who worked with Testorf for more than 10 years. “Three-tiered coleus standards, grafted ivy standards, lavender standards … John could imagine almost any bedding plant into a six-foot-tall standard.” Born in Uetersen, Germany, Testorf joined Longwood in April 1967 as a floater for the Production Division, where he grew chrysanthemum cascades, bulbs, and African violets, among other responsibilities. But it was in 1969 that Testorf took over growing hanging baskets at Longwood and began experimenting with growing other plants in new and creative forms. Some of his early efforts
included floral trees, developing tree standards using fuchsias, and growing hydrangeas in hanging baskets. “His artistry is what awed me,” explains Pennett. “He could assemble a basket and not have one piece of metal showing.” He was also part of the Thousand Bloom Chrysanthemum project, beginning in the 1990s when smaller plants totaling a few hundred blooms were grown. “He always showed me how to do small details and taught our new team members and students,” explained Horticulture Technical Artist Yoko Arakawa. “He believed in teaching everyone that worked with him, and that the horticultural knowledge should be shared among all who worked at Longwood,” said Senior Grower Kelley O’Sullivan. “I am happy I had the chance to learn so much from him, everything from making topiaries, floral Christmas trees, to standards and baskets.” Testorf officially retired from Longwood on October 31, 1994, after 27 years of service, but still worked part-time creating baskets, standards and floral trees, and teaching his techniques to staff. “When we grew the first real Thousand Bloom, he was 79 years old, but he still came three or four days per week and worked with us,” Arakawa said. “He was a great horticulture artist.” “Today, when I am faced with a challenging basket or standard to develop,” explains Pennett, “I say to myself, ‘How would John do this?’ He was a visionary.”
Above: John Testorf working on a chrysanthemum display. Right: Photo taken in the early 1990s of John Testorf (left) and former Chimes Managing Editor Dave Thompson in the Cattleya House at the annual Beers & Cattleyas get-together, hosted by orchid growers Larry Clouser and Mike Owen, an informal staff gathering which was held just prior to the Director’s Annual Christmas Party. Photo by Larry Albee.
Palm House installation, from Nightscape: A Light and Sound Experience by Klip Collective. Photo by Kevin Ritchie, Klip Collective.
Light. Sound. Spectacle. From the Color Organ to Nightscape, tracing one hundred years of innovation and illumination in our Gardens at night. By Aimee Beam
Opposite: Color organ photomontage, comprised of images from Mary Hallock Greenewalt’s book Nourathar: The Fine Art of Light Color Playing, published in 1946. Composition includes: Play score for Moonlight Sonata with author’s light-color notations; color denotation key; portrait of Mary Greenewalt at her color organ console; fragment detailing author’s 1924 patent information for the Light Color Organ; photo of the manufactured unit for the moving of filter arms optionally by remote solenoid control in front of the lamp opening; and illustration of sectored color wheel and motor with signalling of color position. Original book is in Longwood Gardens Library & Archives Special Collections.
Above: Test run of Nightscape Palm House installation. Photo by Kevin Ritchie, Klip Collective.
“The illuminated fountains on that estate can safely be called the most spectacular night display on this continent, if not perhaps in the entire world.” The words above were written in 1931 to describe the consensus of opinions regarding one of our earliest nighttime experiences at Longwood. It’s an excerpt from the report of the 20th Annual Convention of the American Association of Port Authorities, who had been among the first to view the illuminated fountains in our Main Fountain Garden. These emotions that were recorded so long ago have served as a guiding principle for every evening exhibition and display we’ve created since. Longwood’s new summer nighttime exhibit, Nightscape: A Light and Sound Experience by Klip Collective, debuts July 1 and will be the newest chapter of our 100-year history of presenting a display that artfully combines light, sound, and spectacle in the Gardens. The vision of creating a world apart evening experience all started with founder, Pierre S. du Pont, who, in 1915, used white lights in the Open Air Theatre at a Garden Party. Pierre was fascinated by technology—he was constantly exploring the latest inventions and innovations by attending numerous World’s Fairs here
and abroad. “The white lights that were first used in the Open Air Theatre created Longwood’s first illuminated fountains,” says Colvin Randall, Longwood’s P. S. du Pont Fellow. In 1926 Pierre sponsored the first Color Organ performance at Longwood in the Exhibition Hall. The Color Organ combined the moods of music with the moods of colored lights to produce a mesmerizing effect that appealed to the eye, ear, and mind. Even though Pierre’s experience with the Color Organ was, in his view, a failed experiment, its essence of creating a transformative and multi-sensory experience is still of utmost relevance in the Gardens, as demonstrated by exhibitions such as A Longwood Christmas, Light: Installations by Bruce Munro, Nightscape, and as we look forward to the premiere of the revitalized Main Fountain Garden in 2017. The concept of the Color Organ was the brainchild of Pierre’s friend Mary Hallock Greenewalt. Mrs. Greenewalt, a trained pianist, was very interested in the relationship of music, emotion, and color. In 1922 she convinced Pierre to invest $2,000 into the development of a Color Organ, but by 1924 it was estimated to cost $5,000 to produce. In essence, the Color Organ required changing the light colors for each musical note or chord, which was no small electrical feat. To operate the Color Organ,
Right: View looking east shows the three circular basins at the upper level of the original Open Air Theatre, prior to the 1926–27 rebuilding. There is no stairway yet to the main stage. These were the first illuminated fountains at Longwood, although lighting was likely temporary for events such as garden parties.
An early patent sheet drawing from Greenewalt’s book Nourathar, showing lamps and lamp-head factors controlled from a console type control centre. From a patent issued to Color Organ creator Mary Hallock Greenewalt in 1924. Longwood Gardens Library & Archives Special Collections.
Moonlight Sonata sheet music, with Mary Hallock Greenewalt’s handwritten notations for color organ lighting.
Key with Greenewalt’s handwritten notations for the Moonlight Sonata score.
Mrs. Greenewalt played the piano and Mr. du Pont’s chauffeur, Charles Mason, ran the control board. The first piece they played was Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, and you can see notations on the piece of music (pictured) and a key filled with symbols that explained what to do. Unfortunately, due to dampness in the Conservatory and disagreement over what color combinations should be used for different music, Pierre shipped the unit to Mrs. Greenewalt for use at the Century of Nations Exhibition at Chicago in 1933. It is noted in the book A Man and His Garden by George E. Thompson that “the light color organ apparently was ahead of its 24
time, and P. S. du Pont did not have time to wait for it at Longwood.” “One may think that with this frustration that Pierre wouldn’t have pursued more colored fountains or combining music with lights … but, of course he did,” says Randall. In 1926 Pierre decided to revamp the Open Air Theatre, which originally debuted in 1914. As part of his renovation, Pierre installed the first color illuminated fountains which were inaugurated in September of 1927 at a Garden Party. After enjoying the Open Air Theatre fountains for a few years, Pierre built his hydraulic masterpiece, our beloved Main Fountain Garden. In 1931 the Main Fountain Garden
debuted with 724 individual colored lights that first illuminated the night sky after a performance by the U.S. Marine Band. Nightscape Continues the Vision
Like guests of the past who had transformative experiences when they saw the illuminated fountains, visitors to our nighttime Gardens this summer will encounter a display indescribably memorable. The landscape will be aglow, with lights that are beautifully animated and projected onto the living canvas of topiary and trees. “By presenting Nightscape we believe we are keeping with how our founder
Photograph documenting one of the last nighttime performances of the Main Fountain Garden prior to shut-down for the Fountain Revitalization Project. Photo by Sam Markey.
Operator located at a special control panel in stone tower behind audience governed color and form of stage fountains at the Open Air Theatre, shown here in 1960. This control system has since been computerized. Photo by Gottlieb Hampfler.
used technology to enhance the garden experience, and we’re sure he would embrace the new displays we’re presenting and the cutting-edge technologies of today wholeheartedly,” says Executive Director Paul B. Redman. Klip Collective Creative Director Ricardo Rivera hopes that Nightscape honors Pierre’s vision. “I think he would like Nightscape. I especially think he would like the fact that we’re not just projecting this thing we made onto plants, we’re taking into account everything that is already a part of Longwood. There is a communion that is happening between what is there and what we’re creating— and the result is Nightscape,” says Rivera. Rivera says that music is the beating heart of his work. “Nightscape is kind of like a Color Organ on mega steroids,” says Rivera. “We take the original compositions that were inspired by the specific garden sites, we shape that music further to the vibe we’re creating, and then we also use the music to pace out the visuals we’re projecting.” Rivera believes that creativity comes from the relationship with technology and the world around us. “For the video projection mapping art we’re creating, technology is a means not an end. On the surface, yes, we’re using cutting-edge video projection devices, but we’re using them in unconventional ways to light the gardens. We take this very articulated light made up of pixels and once they pass through a projector
they’re aimed at an area. We can then fully manipulate those pixels digitally to correspond with what it’s projecting upon, such as a tree or a topiary,” says Rivera. “To sum it up, we’re painting with light.” Although the tools that the artists at Klip Collective use to bring Nightscape to life—computers, lights, interactive Arduino boards, graphic cards—are far more advanced than those first glowing white lights in the Open Air Theatre, the creative process to achieve the nighttime experience is much the same. Our archives tell us that all aspects of creating a light and sound experience to accompany our fountains were done through testing, trial, and error. Pierre noted in 1938 how the effects were first achieved at the Open Air Theatre (and then developed for the Main Fountain Garden): “As the electricians and hydraulic workers at Longwood had nothing to guide them, some preliminary experiments were made as to height and color effects and a very primitive apparatus put together on the grounds….” Rivera’s process has been similar. “As a site-specific work, Nightscape was built by capturing the beautiful accidents,” says Rivera. “The most exciting thing is the pleasant surprises we get when we go into a space for the first time and try things out.” What has changed in our Gardens at night over the course of a century? Everything … and nothing … all at the same time.
Right: Nightscape Creative Director Ricardo Rivera experimenting with the position of a projector from the dense foliage of the Palm House floor. Below: Installation Designer Josh James from Klip Collective fine tuning the position of a projector in the Palm House.
Left: In the East Conservatory, a large heliumfilled balloon was used as a scale test for an eventual vine-and-moss-covered sculptural element employed as a projection surface for Nightscape.
“As a site-speciﬁc work, Nightscape was built by capturing the beautiful accidents,” says Rivera. “The most exciting thing is the pleasant surprises we get when we go into a space for the ﬁrst time and try things out.” Right: Ricardo and Josh use a laptop computer to explore Nightscape projection options in the Conservatory Silver Garden. Photos by Kevin Ritchie, Klip Collective.
The Fountains of Longwood: Part Two
Beginnings at Longwood Pierre du Pontâ€™s humble plans for the small farm he has recently purchased begin to expand, inspired in part by journeys to Italy, France, California, and Hawaii. By Colvin Randall
Left to right: Margaretta Carpenter, Alice Belin, Charles and Louisa Copeland, and Pierre du Pont in front of one of the Quercus ilex tunnels at the Villa Gori outside Siena, Italy, 1913.
On July 20, 1906, Pierre S. du Pont purchased all rights to historic Peirce’s Park and to the surrounding lands, totaling over 202 acres, for approximately $16,000. He had no intention of using the place as his permanent residence, and he certainly wasn’t planning to build lavish fountain gardens. A sort of embarrassment pervades his disclosure: “I have recently experienced what I would formerly have diagnosed as an attack of insanity: that is, I have purchased a small farm about ten miles from here [Wilmington]. As I have always considered the purchase of real estate a sign of mental derangement and have so proclaimed, I fear that my friends may be looking for permission to inquire into my condition. However, I believe the purchase worth the risk, for my farm is a very pretty little place, and I expect to have a good deal of enjoyment in restoring its former condition and making it a place where I can entertain my friends.” Pierre later recalled that “the purpose was to save the collection of old trees, which had been accumulated by the Peirce family over a period of more than one hundred
years, many of them then of extraordinary growth and arresting appearance. A casual visit made to the property had revealed a plan on part of the then owner to sell the timber from all of the woodland. The woodlot had been sold already and the trees in the park were to be offered for sale. To the casual observer it seemed that the property was being denuded for the benefit of the owner before the maturity of the debts incurred for its purchase.” That summer, order was restored to the former park, which had become greatly overgrown. Many trees were dead, and others needed help if they were to be preserved. Immediate attention was given to the Large Lake and to the water supply from it. The ravages of time had largely obliterated the original shoreline, so in August and September, the lake was drained and cleaned. Securing an adequate supply of potable water was no easy task. There were two wells plus the remains at the lake of a hydraulic ram (a pump that raises water by additional water falling through a pipe), which Pierre replaced. Unfortunately, the pond water,
transported through the existing pipe, was not good for drinking and in rainy weather was muddy. 1907 brought great expectations. By May, Pierre noted, “I have lately taken great interest in the new garden that I have laid out in the small field immediately in front of the house. It is to be on the old fashioned plan of straight walks and box boarders [sic] at the edge of the flower beds. So far, considerable progress has been made, and I have set myself and guests to work planting flower seeds whenever I have opportunity. On account of the number of workmen, I fear that the garden will be somewhat irregular in appearance this season.” That summer, a circular pool was constructed in the center of the garden at the intersection of the main paths. The single, thin jet of water that embellished this pool was Longwood’s first fountain. The water came from a tank in the house, which in turn was supplied by the hydraulic ram at the lake. A “clean” pond also provided opportunity for recreation, but the
Early photograph of Peirce’s Park, taken about 1884. Longwood Gardens Library & Archives.
Workers draining and cleaning the Large Lake, 1907. Courtesy Hagley Museum and Library.
“I have lately taken great interest in the new garden that I have laid out in the small ﬁeld immediately in front of the house. It is an oldfashioned plan of straight walks and box boarders [sic] at the edge of the ﬂower beds …. I have set myself and guests to work planting ﬂower seeds….”
Right: Planting plan for Flower Garden Walk drawn by Pierre du Pont, 1906–1907. Longwood Gardens Library & Archives.
Flower Garden Walk circular fountain. From article entitled “Sculpture in the Garden” in The Garden Magazine, September 1919.
conditions were less than ideal. “We have been using the pond a great deal for swimming,” he noted, “having erected a rustic bathhouse on the bank. The water is very muddy owing to the clay washing from the adjoining fields, but it is what we call ‘clean dirt’.” That summer, continued progress was made in tidying up the property and in improving the farm and garden. With typical dry humor, Pierre noted: “I am beginning to appreciate the fact that one of the advantages of my farm is close proximity to the railroad leading to Philadelphia where fresh fruit and vegetables can be had of good quality and much cheaper than they can be raised in the country. So far the products of the garden have not bothered us in the gathering.” Pierre’s plans for additions to the garden were implemented by the summer of 1908. South of the Flower Garden Walk and on
a lower level, arborvitae hedging was used to define a series of garden rooms. In the center section at the lowest level a square pond was constructed, edged with neatly hewn rocks. For its first ten years this pool did not have a fountain jet. Immediately to the south, a tool house was erected, the roof of which served as a scenic overlook and terrace. Quaint stairs to one side provided a rustic ascent. By the summer of 1908, Pierre was pleased: “The garden improvements have come out very well, and are greatly admired. I can say this without an exhibition of self-conceit, as the whole foundation for a fine place was there before I took hold. My work has been only to add some finishing touches and restore the place to its original condition.” The development of Longwood occupied but a small portion of Pierre du Pont’s total career. First and foremost came his
obligations to the DuPont Company, where by 1909 he was not only treasurer but served, on occasion, as acting president. In 1910, Pierre had to go to London and Paris on business. At the last minute he decided to bring along his brother and sister and their spouses, along with his favorite cousin, Alice Belin, to make it a pleasure excursion. From London, they travelled to Paris and spent a rainy day at Versailles, then took a train for Milan, where they hired a car for a side trip to Lake Como and its gardens. Then on to Rome where on Sunday, March 6, they left in two cars for Tivoli where they viewed Hadrian’s Villa, the Cascades, and that greatest of all fountain gardens, the Villa d’Este. It was here that Pierre announced, “It would be nice to have something like this at home.” On the way back to Rome, Alice noted with some impatience that the “smarty chauffeur
Pierre had a rustic bathhouse erected at the Large Lake, 1909. Courtesy Hagley Museum and Library.
In 1908 a square pond, edged with rough hewn rocks, was built on the level below the Flower Garden Walk. Longwood Gardens Library & Archives.
It was at that greatest of all fountain gardens, the Villa d’Este, that Pierre announced, “It would be nice to have something like this at home.”
broke car and we returned 8 in other car.” The group then traveled to Naples, the Amalfi coast, Florence, and Venice before making their way back to Paris, catching the return ship in Cherbourg. Pierre made his fourth trip to Europe in the early months of 1913. He planned business meetings in London and then, as in 1910, a sightseeing excursion across France, traveling by car to Naples. To enliven the journey, two of his other sisters and their husbands and, again, Alice Belin would participate. They visited the gardens of Hampton Court while in England, but it wasn’t until the Riviera that they began to experience horticultural joy. Pierre noted, “At Hyères we found the first flowers in abundance. Many fields of violets in fullest bloom and also narcissus. Roses are seen in many places but are not very perfect this not being the best season. The mimosa [acacia]
trees are in fullest bloom now and as they grow wild everywhere and are used for decorative purposes also the landscape is wonderfully brightened by the yellow flowers. The hotels … make a great deal of pansies, daisies, anemones, cyclamen and cineraria all of which seem at their best. Of course we have not yet come to any private gardens though we all enjoyed those at Versailles very much. We had a fine day there.” The party continued through Genoa to Pisa and Florence, over roads that were most trying. They toured the Boboli gardens in Florence and, except for the magnificent hedges and vistas, were disappointed. Italy, they concluded, was too poor to keep up the royal possessions as England and France could. But they must have been impressed with, as Alice noted, “the Gamberaia villa and garden which is about
Below: The Avenue of a Hundred Fountains at the Villa d’Este was likely Pierre’s inspiration for the south side of the Upper Canal in Longwood’s Main Fountain Garden. Courtesy Hagley Museum and Library.
Flat tires were the result of the rough roads the party encountered between Pisa and Florence, 1913. Courtesy Hagley Museum and Library.
Pierre du Pont’s handwritten list of villas visited in 1913.
the third finest here. It is owned by the sister of the Queen of Serbia and she is fortunately not in residence just now.” It was at Gamberaia that Pierre found his inspiration for Longwood’s 1925 Italian Water Garden. Continuing on to Siena some 45 miles away, Pierre and party visited four villas that afternoon, especially the Villa Gori. They took several photographs and on the back of one picturing Alice wrapped in furs and clowning on the stage, Pierre wrote, “This theatre furnished the incentive for the one at Longwood.” Then on to Rome, stopping first at the exquisite Villa Lante near Viterbo. Outside the Eternal City in Frascati, they visited the important villa gardens of Aldobrandini, Falconieri, Mondragone, Torlonia, and Muti,
then to the Villa d’Este again. From Rome they travelled to the Amalfi coast, sailing for home from Naples. It was Alice Belin who most aptly summed up the effect of the journey. Trying to explain her forgetfulness, she observed, “I cannot remember to whom I wrote my last letter or when I wrote it which shows the state of mind my brain is in from this constant absorbing of new ideas and new impressions.” It had, indeed, been a Grand Tour. Pierre returned from Italy with new enthusiasm. On the site of the old Peirce barn and barnyard, he built Longwood’s Open Air Theatre in 1913, whose complete history is told in Issue 289 of the Longwood Chimes. In 1914 he doubled the size of the Peirce House with a wing to the north and a
connecting conservatory. It was graced with a marble fountain, still there today, that was a wedding present from his sister and her husband to mark Pierre’s marriage to Alice Belin in 1915. Pierre and Alice’s next big trip was in January and February 1917. They rented an entire Pullman railroad car to take them and three other couples on a grand train trip to California and the Grand Canyon. Pierre requested that theirs be the last car on the train as much as possible so they could enjoy the scenery. Arriving in San Francisco, they motored to Santa Cruz and did the garden maze in Monterey’s Del Monte Hotel. Then to Santa Barbara where they toured some grand estates, notably El Fureidis and Arcady;
Villa Torlonia, 2006. The water theater, originally with jets in each arch, bears more resemblance to Longwood’s arched fountain wall than any other and may have inspired Pierre. Photo by Robert Underwood.
Traveling to California in style on a private Pullman railroad car, 1917. Courtesy Hagley Museum and Library.
Alice Belin (closest to camera) in a 1913 photograph of the Villa Gamberaia showing the far end of the water garden. Courtesy Hagley Museum and Library.
visited some nurseries that would supply Longwood’s Conservatory, then in the planning stages; traveled to San Diego and Pasadena, visiting more nurseries; then back home via the Grand Canyon. It was a glorious 6,000-mile adventure. Three years later, there was another opportunity for travel to California and beyond to Hawaii. Pierre and Alice travelled by train to San Francisco and departed for Hawaii by ship with DuPont Company associate Harry G. Haskell and his wife Elizabeth. They landed in Honolulu on February 3 and over the next eight days took scenic drives and a boat trip to the Big Island to see the Kilauea volcano. On February 17 they returned to San Francisco and travelled
to Santa Barbara where Pierre ordered more than 800 large and small plants for his new Conservatory, including citrus, creeping fig, acacias, bougainvillea, agapanthus, and plumbago. On to Los Angeles, where they departed for home by train. Pierre’s travels continued to introduce him to new gardens and new plants. His trips to Italy in 1910 and 1913 let him experience at firsthand the joys of Italian fountains at some of the most celebrated gardens of European landscape history. In California and Hawaii he enjoyed the gentle climate he would soon create in his own greenhouses. He had only built a few fountains, but in the decade and a half to follow, he would fulfill his wildest fountain fantasies.
In the next issue of the Longwood Chimes: Pierre begins planting the future Main Fountain Garden, visits France, builds the Italian Water Garden, and expands the Open Air Theatre.
Left: Postcard owned by Pierre du Pont of the water parterre adjoining the house at El Fureidis. The resemblance to Longwood’s Italian Water Garden is notable. Courtesy Hagley Museum and Library.
Right: View of Arcady’s Terrace. This photo was taken by Frances Benjamin Johnson in 1917, a few months after Pierre’s visit. Courtesy the Library of Congress. Pierre du Pont at a pineapple field on Oahu, February 1920. Courtesy Hagley Museum and Library.
Books to Build Dreams
Pierre du Pont was an avid book and manuscript collector, and his volumes made up The Longwood Library, which in 1961 was moved to Delaware to become the basis for the collection of the Hagley Museum and Library. His horticultural and landscape books remained at Longwood, however, where they are a treasured part of the Longwood Gardens Library & Archives. During the Country Place Era (1890– 1930), the educated public’s interest in historic gardens, particularly from Italy, was encouraged by the publication of beautifully illustrated books, especially by
British and American authors. Folios were also written by the French. Pierre du Pont owned many of these tomes, although how and when he acquired them is usually not known. Perhaps he paid cash at bookstores in Paris, London, New York, and Philadelphia. Perhaps some were gifts. In any event, he had access to outstanding printed resources that provided him with inspiration and detailed plans that he could draw upon when designing his own gardens. Shown here are a selection of books largely from Pierre’s personal collection, now part of the Longwood Gardens Library & Archives.
John Leyland, Gardens Old and New, 1900.
E. March Phillipps and Charles Latham, The Gardens of Italy, 1905.
Photographs by David Ward
Thomas H. Mawson, The Art & Craft of Garden Making, 1907.
Hector Saint-Sauveur (i.e. Charles Massin), Architecture et dĂŠcor des jardins, 1921.
Gertrude Jekyll and Lawrence Weaver, Gardens for Small Country Houses, 1913.
Louis Valcoulon Le Moyne, Country Residences in Europe and America, 1908.
After Hours The night garden is â€Ś a place of wonder and imagination, where the shapes and colors of day take on an otherwordly form once the sun sets. In anticipation of Nightscape, we revisited our archives to unearth some stunning nighttime views of the Gardens as interpreted by some of our favorite photographers.
Early evening view of Chrysanthemum Festival, Exhibition Hall. Photo by Daniel Traub.
“Nothing like a nighttime stroll to give you ideas.” —J.K. Rowling
Conservatory, A Longwood Christmas. Photo by Larry Albee.
Peirce’s Park at dusk. Photo by Corriette Schoenaerts.
“A man is a very small thing, and the night is very large and full of wonders.” —Edward Plunkett
Fireflies in Meadow Garden. Photo by Carlos Alejandro.
Main Fountain Garden at night as seen from Topiary Garden. Photo by Daniel Traub.
Flower Garden Walk. Photo by Corriette Schoenaerts.
“I often think that the night is more alive and more richly colored than the day.” —Vincent van Gogh
Palm House, Conservatory. Photo by Hank Davis.
“We ﬁnd beauty not in the thing itself but in the patterns of shadows, the light and the darkness, that one thing against another creates …Were it not for shadows, there would be no beauty.” —Jun'ichirō Tanizaki
The Night Gardener When the sun sets the night gardener’s job begins. By Patricia Evans
Opposite: Flower Garden Walk. Photo by Corriette Schoenaerts.
Caring for our plants doesn’t stop when the Gardens close. In fact, what happens from 6 pm–6 am is as integral to the well-being of our living collection as the care that happens during the day. At Longwood, that responsibility falls to the Night Gardeners. “Many people don’t realize that there is staff here all the time,” says Guy Swift, who has served as a Night Gardener for 18 years. The position was created in 1955 by Longwood’s first director, Dr. Russell Seibert. At the time, the job was called Night Watchman, and was first held by Roland Christy and Roland Bottomley. In the early 1980s, the position underwent a name change to Night Gardener to better reflect the horticultural responsibility of the job—managing the environmental controls for everything under glass or plastic—specifically the plants in the Conservatory, our Production Greenhouse area, Nursery, and Pierce-du Pont House. “Our job is to make sure the plants are alive in the morning for guests to see,” explains John Johnson, a Night Gardener since 1995. Sometimes, that can be a challenge. To ensure the plants continue to thrive in the overnight, the houses in which they reside must maintain the desired temperature. The biggest challenge to achieving that goal is the weather. Imagine a bitterly cold night and the heat fails in the Orchid House. If undetected, many of those warm-loving orchids would be dead by morning. Or, a summer storm passes through and causes a power outage, silencing the coolers in the Production Greenhouse that house an upcoming display crop. Because the Night Gardeners are on site continually monitoring the houses, disasters such as these are avoided. In addition to their plant savvy, Night Gardeners need to have mechanical knowhow, and an understanding of the many systems throughout the Gardens—from electrical to heating to plumbing.
A typical shift begins in the late afternoon with the Night Gardener reviewing any instructions from the daytime horticulture team—perhaps vents need to be closed in a certain house at a certain time, or watering may be needed. Then, it is a walk through the Conservatory—the first of many that will be made during the shift—checking temperatures, vents, lights, and other systems. The Nursery, Peirce-du Pont House and other perimeter areas are checked as well. “A good night is when nothing happens,” explains Marvin Melendez, a Night Gardener for nine years. But things do happen. “You have to pay attention to the details,” explains Johnson. “You are the last line against a problem.” Often the Night Gardener can quickly remedy an issue, but sometimes a call to a staff member is required. “You can’t be afraid to make a decision or to troubleshoot,” explains Swift. What is Longwood like at night, devoid of guests and much of the staff? The Night Gardeners all speak of the quiet and the solitude compared to the hustle and bustle of the daytime experience. There is also a beauty at night only they see; a full moon illuminating the Conservatory; the Waterlily Pools shimmering in the summer; and the displays they get to experience without crowds. Johnson recalls the duty of having to erect a deer fence each evening in the Forest Walk to protect the 20,000 illuminated glass spheres that were part of the Light: Installations by Bruce Munro exhibit in 2012. “That was pretty cool,” he said with a grin, “having a private show of Light every night.”
“There is no typical night.” —John Johnson, Night Gardener
“In a full moon, you can walk through the gardens without a ﬂashlight.” —Marvin Melendez, Night Gardener
“You can’t be afraid to make a decision and you have to think outside the box.” —Guy Swift, Night Gardener
No. 291 Summer 2015
Front Cover Glass lenses from the Main Fountain Garden, 1931. The more than 730 colored lenses used in the Main Fountain Garden were made of a shockresistant, low-expansion borosilicate glass originally developed in Germany in 1893 and subsequently embraced by Corning, which named it Pyrex in 1915. The red, blue, green, amber, and clear lenses for Longwood’s fountain lights were made in 1931, with some replacements made by Kopp Glass probably in the 1960s. Spare, unused lenses were kept near the Pumphouse in a storage area that was constantly wet due its proximity to the fountains. As demolition of the garden was about to begin in 2014 as part of the fountain revitalization project, the Archives staff carefully retrieved seven lenses of each color. They have been cleaned and cataloged for eventual use in the Pumphouse Museum. Photo by David Ward. Inside Covers Main Fountain Garden, view north towards Conservatory. This photograph documents one of the last nighttime performances to feature the original Pyrex color lenses shown on the front cover. These lenses are to be replaced with new digital technology when the fountains re-open in spring 2017. Photo by Sam Markey.
Editorial Board Aimee Beam Marnie Conley Patricia Evans Steve Fenton Julie Landgrebe Colvin Randall Noël Raufaste David Sleasman James S. Sutton Matt Taylor, Ph.D. Brian W. Trader, Ph.D.
Contributors This Issue Longwood Staff and Volunteer Contributors Kristina Aguilar Plant Records Manager Hank Davis Volunteer Photographer Jim Harbage, Ph.D. Floriculture Leader Maureen McCadden Digital Resource Specialist Abigail Palutis Marketing Communications Coordinator Alan Petravich Research Specialist Sandy Reber Archives and Research Assistant Judy Stevenson Archivist David Ward Volunteer Photographer Pandora Young Senior Gardener Other Contributors Larry Albee Photographer Carlos Alejandro Photographer Rebecca Clarke Illustrator Sam Markey Photographer Kevin Ritchie/Klip Collective Photographer Lynn Schuessler Writer Daniel Traub Photographer
Distribution Longwood Chimes is mailed to Longwood Gardens Staff, Pensioners, Volunteers, and Chimes Tower Level Members and is available electronically to all Longwood Gardens Members via longwoodgardens.org. Longwood Chimes is produced twice annually by and for Longwood Gardens, Inc.
Contact As we went to print, every effort was made to ensure the accuracy of all information contained within this publication. Contact us at email@example.com. © 2015 Longwood Gardens. All rights reserved.
“The illuminated fountains on that estate can safely be called the most spectacular night display on this continent, if not perhaps the entire world.” —20th Annual Convention of the American Association of Port Authorities, 1931 Report
Longwood Gardens is the living legacy of Pierre S. du Pont, inspiring people through excellence in garden design, horticulture, education, and the arts.
Longwood Gardens P.O. Box 501 Kennett Square, PA 19348 longwoodgardens.org
Longwood Gardens and nighttime—both are worlds apart and when combined become otherworldly. This issue of the Chimes shines a light on the a...
Published on Jul 16, 2015
Longwood Gardens and nighttime—both are worlds apart and when combined become otherworldly. This issue of the Chimes shines a light on the a...