Smithsonian Gardens 2017 Highlights

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hallenges arising from a series of short-term spending bills that caused budgeting delays, a Presidential inauguration, and a major protest

march that damaged our gardens made operations anything but routine in 2017. Thanks to the quality of Smithsonian Gardens’ staff and pride of purpose, however, we restored and improved the gardens. We created a bright new entrance garden for the bright new Freer│Sackler Galleries. Terraces at the National Museum

of American History were re-invented to thematically align with a new exhibition there. And, of course, we welcomed the National Museum of African American History and Culture into our portfolio, a landscape that saw over 2.5 million visitors in its first year. We created our second 5-year strategic plan to shape our organization into a broadly recognized public garden with global impact. As we consider exhibits for our upcoming

Exhibition Series initiative, we’re delving into theories of exhibit-making and visitor experience to foster a rich and dynamic experience. Our goal is to create a comprehensive pan-Institutional garden exhibition titled HABITAT. This ambitious project will embody Smithsonian Gardens’ mission to engage, inform, and inspire. We also welcomed a number of new staffers to our team. This shot of enthusiasm was met with sadness, though, as we said farewell to three staff members who have been with Smithsonian Gardens for a combined 87 years. We truly saw many transformations in 2017!

Barbara Faust Director, Smithsonian Gardens





Orchids: A Moment, the 22nd annual orchid exhibition presented by Smithsonian Gardens and the United States Botanic Garden, opened to the public on January 14, 2017. Hundreds of fragrant orchids were showcased against the backdrop of the Hirshhorn Museum’s unique architecture. Selected from the collections of both Smithsonian Gardens and the U.S. Botanic Garden, the flowers were presented as objects of art and beauty in a colorful installation that featured time-lapse videos of orchids stretching into full blossom. Visitors were encouraged to enjoy the exotic assemblage as a whole as well as each orchid as it stood in the moment. Eight educational programs and two companion videos were available to those visitors wanting a more indepth experience. To celebrate the opening of the exhibition a reception was held on January 13th for 250 guests. Smithsonian Gardens began planning this exhibit in 2015! A significant chunk of time was devoted to fabricating and installing the massive display case. This custom-built structure

was brought into the museum in sections and completed onsite; this set-up took a week. The exhibit required weekly rotations of 50-75 orchids during its 18-week run to ensure that each orchid was at its peak bloom.

Orchids: A Moment was the first time interpretive labels were not utilized, required docents to develop ways in which to directly engage with visitors. This exhibition was also the first time Smithsonian Gardens provided a link to an online ‘map’

of the exhibit with the name and background of each featured orchid. These innovations translated to a wildly successful exhibition: visitor counts increased by 20%!!




Smithsonian Gardens staff members were on hand during the

2017 Presidential inauguration to assist with visitor experience to the Smithsonian and monitor the garden areas. Over $60,000 was spent on protective fencing for this event. The following day, the Million Women March attracted crowds reported at between a half a million and 800,000 people. Smithsonian Gardens sustained an estimated $180,000 in damage to its gardens due to the sheer numbers of people at this event. Because of its proximity to the event stage, the landscape at the National Museum of the American Indian sustained the most damage. 287 donations were made by individuals to assist with garden restoration efforts. The one silver lining was that these donations aided recovery efforts by SG staff to restore the Croplands display at the American Indian Museum


This season, innovative plantings were installed at the

Joseph Henry statue in front of the Smithsonian Castle. Gold thread cypress (Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Filifera Aurea’) and powdery blue succulent plants called blue chalk sticks (Senecio mandraliscae) were used to recreate the Smithsonian sunburst logo. The plant choices provided a striking display and greatly reduced watering needs and maintenance requirements. The planting display is one of the most photographed sites in Washington, D.C. The final component of the reimagined Kathrine Dulin Folger Rose Garden was installed, a giant sculptural element which mirrors the window detail of the newly revitalized Arts and Industries Building and inspired by the Renwick Gates. This sculpture is the culmination of a project made possible by a generous donation of the Folger Family, longtime supporters of Smithsonian Gardens.




Each year, Smithsonian Gardens Greenhouse Facility

produces over 75,000 bedding plants and specialty crops for interior and exterior garden displays. This year’s crop included over 1,000 Lantana ‘Bandana White’ for the parterre diamond pattern in the Enid A. Haupt Garden. In addition to being a stunning display, the prolific flowers served as a late season nectar source for the fall migration of Monarch butterflies. In September, a prairie-inspired meadow was installed at the

eastern edge of the National Museum of American History. The goal was to help demonstrate the historical importance the prairie played and continues to play in the prosperity of America’s economic success and biodiversity. Nearly 2,000 grasses and companion perennials were planted in newly amended soil. With the addition of this water-wise planting, significant reductions in irrigation requirements and other inputs are anticipated.

Also, during the fall of 2017, a grand entrance garden was designed and installed in harmony with the completion of the massive multi-year renovation of the Freer│Sacker Galleries.




2017’s Winter In-Service Training program began on January

25th in the beautiful Rasmuson Auditorium at the National Museum of the American Indian with over 250 attendees. The five-week program featured lectures ranging from climate change and sustainable gardening to advances in pest management and garden exhibit design. The Let’s Talk Gardens program continued with 20 weekly summer lunchtime sessions covering everything from orchid care, to tool maintenance, hops, and even mulch! Nearly

400 people attended these half-hour talks held in the Enid A. Haupt Garden. More than 600 elementary school children participated in the Smithsonian Gardens’ Green Team’s Garbage to

Gardens program on April 27 & 28. Ideal weather made for an excellent garden program for all involved. SG hosted seven summer interns from five universities. All gained practical skills in the fields of horticulture, landscape

design, or collections management. Released on iTunes on April 1st, the Community of Gardens app is the mobile companion to the Community of Gardens website, a digital archive featuring stories of everyday gardens contributed by the public.






Located on the south terrace of the National Museum of American History, Common Ground: Our American Garden is an outdoor exhibit created and installed by Smithsonian Gardens in the spring of 2017. Over the past two years, SG collaborated with NMAH curators to develop an exhibit that highlights themes found in the museum’s newest exhibition, Many Voices, One Nation. The exhibition showcases how Americans have shaped the nation and its communities, from its earliest beginnings to the present. Common Ground: Our American Garden shares the stories of plants and how they have formed gardens in America through the perspectives of Memory, Healing, Discovery and Ingenuity. Common Ground is Smithsonian Gardens’ second major collaboration with the National Museum of American History to extend the Smithsonian experience into the landscape. Each thematic garden helps immerse our visitors in American history and culture as soon as they step onto the grounds, even before they enter the museum. On May 4, 2017, Smithsonian Libraries, Smithsonian Gardens and the Archives of American Gardens opened a new exhibition at the National Museum of American History’s Dibner Library, titled Cultivating America’s Gardens. American garden-making has evolved over time, shaped by history, social attitudes, the environment, and new ideas. Illustrating this history with books and other materials from their vast holdings, Smithsonian Libraries and Smithsonian Gardens takes visitors on a special kind of garden tour. Cultivating America's Gardens was made possible through the generous support of The Burpee Foundation, Inc.




On August 21, 2017, the sun and moon aligned, giving

Smithsonian visitors a front row seat to a rare celestial event—a partial solar eclipse, In collaboration with the National Air and Space Museum, a thousand special solar eclipse glasses were given out in the Enid A. Haupt Garden’s Moongate Garden during the event. SG staff also demonstrated pinhole projection devices and other objects to view the eclipse safely. In August, SG hosted the Shakespeare Theatre Company in

the Victory Garden for a lively morning with the Bard. Prior to the outdoor performance, children created natureinspired masks to wear during the garden-friendly miniclassic.




In conjunction with the Smithsonian’s Earth Optimism

summit at the National Museum of Natural History, SG’s Pollinator Garden hosted a pollinator open house and tour for attendees and visitors to the garden on April 21st. During the run of the musical, The Secret Garden, the Shakespeare Theatre Company highlighted D.C.’s most beloved gardens, including Smithsonian Gardens, on a website devoted to Real Secret Gardens. In addition to being featured on the Secret Garden map, in-depth interviews with

SG horticulturists were showcased in a related blog series, and a workshop was held on how to build and maintain your own miniature secret garden. The workshop was designed to draw children into the worlds of theater and gardening. Aspiring green thumbs were instructed on how to create miniature gardens using pint-sized greenery.



Dr. Lonnie G. Bunch III, Founding Director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture on our turf throwing a few practice balls in preparation for the October 1st opening pitch at the Nationals Baseball game. 20

Food in the Garden was held on two consecutive Thursday evenings, August 10 & 17. It was the fourth year for this joint program with the National Museum of American History’s Food History Program. This very successful sold-out program was held on the newly renovated west terrace to help celebrate the opening of Liberty Square, the museum’s new exhibit gallery. Themes for the two programs, Flavoring America and Fermentation Nation, both highlighted the flavors and traditions of America’s rich immigration history. The National Museum of African American History and Culture celebrated its 1-year anniversary in September. Smithsonian Gardens participated in the weekend-long celebration by hosting garden tours and an information table. Smithsonian Gardens participated in the National Museum of American History’s Food History Festival on October 29th. The festival featured hands-on learning, live demonstrations, talks, and stories exploring the past, present and future of food and

community in America. Smithsonian Gardens Greenhouse supported the National Portrait Gallery by producing 150 rice plants for performance artist, Sheldon Scott’s production of Precious in Da Wadah, A

Portrait of the Geechee. This program took place in November in the Kogod Courtyard.





Operations and Maintenance


Collections Care




Contracted Support


Supplies and Materials







$ 305,206

Smithsonian Collections Care and

$ 103,900

Preservation Fund grant Donations and Honorariums



Smithsonian Collections Care Initiative



Funding from The Garden Club of America to host one intern



License royalties




$450,330 22

Funds About two-thirds of the Smithsonian Institution’s budget is federally appropriated by the U.S. Congress. Smithsonian Gardens receives much of its operating funds from its parent organization, Smithsonian Facilities, which in turn submits an annual budgetary request to the Secretary of the Smithsonian. Each year, the Secretary appears before Congress to request a federal appropriation for the entire Institution. A small portion of SG’s annual operating budget comes from trust funds that includes interest from

endowments, donations, royalties, and licensing. Here is a quick look at SG’s financial picture in fiscal year 2017. SG’s FY2017 fundraising efforts included pledges of five planned gifts totaling over $600,000. Through estate plans or life income gifts these donors have invested in a strong future for Smithsonian Gardens. SG also received 287 individual donations in FY2017, many of which were prompted by the Women's March that occurred in January. Attendees of the march wanted to assist SG with its restoration of gardens along Independence Avenue that sustained significant damage due to overwhelming crowds. This "grassroots" effort resulted in individual gifts of $5 to $100. Two endowment funds provided payouts amounting to $305,206. These funds provided vital support for the maintenance of the Enid A. Haupt Garden and the Mary Livingston Ripley Garden. Smithsonian Gardens also received grants for collections management initiatives in the amount of $119,900. This grant funding made possible the digitization of historic nitrate and glass plate negatives in the Archives of American Gardens, a collections inventory for part of SG's Garden Furnishings & Horticultural Artifacts Collection, and digitization and Collection Information System customization for the Smithsonian Gardens Tree Collection. Royalties from collaborations with Smithsonian Enterprises resulted in revenues of $3,378. Revenue was derived from projects as varied as books, drinkware and fine garden accent reproductions. 23

Special thanks to each and every one of Smithsonian

Gardens’ volunteers for the valuable work they do. SG volunteers donated 5,119 hours of service to the Smithsonian in FY2017! Smithsonian Gardens volunteers participated in the 23rd annual Volunteers Appreciation Day, Blooms & Butterflies, held at Brookside Gardens on September 19th. Garden volunteers from around the Metropolitan Washington area were treated to engaging talks and workshops, tours and a lovely lunch in the garden.



Kim Alston

Lorraine Fishback

Casey Kneipp

Terry Anderson

Lynn Furrow

Eva Lanyi

Ann Balch

Thomas Garnett

Rebecca Lavash

Sandra Blake

Lynda Garnett

Judith Lesser

Laszlo Bockh

Donice Gilliland

Jeanne Maloney

Nancy Bort

Linda Greensfelder

Barbara Marin

Prentice Bowsher

Eva Griffeth

Norman Marks

Paulina Donna Brandes

Shyama Haniffa

Merril Mille

Susan Bruns

Anne Hardman

Elizabeth Miller

Shahla Butler

Heather Hare

Patricia Mink

Sandra Chacko

Joan Havens

Serenity Montano

Toby Christensen

Kathy Hennes

Audrey Morris

Eric Cohen

Jamie Ann Hester

Yvonne Orkin

Emily Cook

Lynne Hirschfeld

William Peters

Eugene Cross

Charlene Huggins

Carol Pihlstrom

Loretta d'Eustachio

Maureen Jais-Mick

Bruce Pihlstrom

Stephanie Erdmann

Heidi Johnson

Nina Pitkin

Karen Ewalt

Peter Karvellas

Nancy Rachman

Denise Fayne

Joan Keenan

Ralph Rack


Annette RamĂ?rez de Arellano Bryan Ramsay Christine Rose Linda Rosenfeld Renee Ross Nicole Rousmaniere Nancy Sahli Jane Simpson Martha Smith Daniya Tamendarova Pat Taylor Candace Thompson Elizabeth Trangsrud Marcy Wasilewski Laurel Wessman Clarke Whitehead Marca Woodhams


Smithsonian Gardens is proud of the many staff accomplishments in 2017. Cindy Brown and Mike Guetig graduated from the Smithsonian’s Palmer Leadership Development Program and Emerging Leaders Development Program, respectively. Brett McNish, became the 168th Certified Grounds Manager through the Professional Grounds Management Society. Matt Burch was recognized with a Smithsonian Facilities Peer Award. Joseph Brice and Joseph Brunetti received SF Director’s Awards for Excellence. Janet Draper was named president of the Perennial Plant Association at its annual conference in Denver, Colorado. Sarah Tietbohl and Mike Allen were promoted to Horticulturists. Over the winter, Eric Calhoun, Sylvia Schmeichel, and Sarah Dickert were brought on-board as our newest lead horticulturists. 26

Jacob Hendee was welcomed as SG’s new Arborist. Joining us from the White House, was irrigation technician, Nick Guy. Three new gardeners, Matt Millage, Matt Huber, and Kevin Duncan quickly proved themselves as enthusiastic teammates. We celebrated our new Integrated Pest Management specialist Holly Walker receiving her PhD in Entomology from the University of Delaware. We also said farewell to three long-time staff members- Tom Mirenda, Joel Lemp and Tom Brown. After 15 years, Tom left to pursue a new opportunity in the horticulture field. Joel and Brown retired after 34 years and 38 years of service to Smithsonian Gardens, respectively. Thank you for your many years of service. You will be missed, and good luck on your next adventure! 27


Daniel, Darlene, Vanessa, & Sherri

Ed Marisa


2017 Staff

Mike Allen

Barbara Faust

Tom Mirenda

Debra Austin

Matthew Fleming

Darlene Price

Joseph Brice

James Gagliardi

Christine Price-Abelow

Cynthia Brown

Vanessa Garner

Melanie Pyle

Thomas Brown

Shelley Gaskins

Michael Riordan

Joe Brunetti

Jill Gonzalez

Daniel Russell

Matthew Burch

Michael Guetig

Marisa Scalera

Eric Calhoun

Nicholas Guy

Sylvia Schmeichel

Charles Cate

Tom Hattaway

Jeff Schneider

Erin Clark

Paula Healy

Rick Shilling

Joyce Connolly

Sarah Hedean

Alex Thompson

Francis Cooper

Jacob Hendee

Sarah Tietbohl

Kelly Crawford

Kevin Hill

Holly Walker

Joe Curley

Shannon Hill


Alexander Dencker

Monty Holmes


Victoria Dibella

Matthew Huber


Sarah Dickert

Cheyenne Kim

Laura Bell, Indiana Univ.

Allison Dineen

Ed Kunickis

Darcy Blye, Salisbury Univ.

Kurt Donaldson

Joel Lemp

Tyler Pokoski, Univ. of Iowa

William Donnelly

Sherri Manning

Austin Virdin, Univ. Of Delaware

Janet Draper

Brett McNish

Sarah Knight, Univ. Of Missouri

Randy Dudley

Matthew Millage

Courtney Connolly, Humboldt State

Kevin Duncan

Jonathan Miranda

Puka Javalagi, Univ. of Houston


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