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Lauren Fair, Assistant Objects Conservator and Adjunct Faculty in Art Conservation writes:

Each winter, before Delaware gets its first bout of freezing temperatures, the Garden Department teams up with Conservation to ensure several of our more delicate sculptures are covered for the winter months. Enclosures consist of painted plywood boxes with four walls and a slanted roof, with ventilation from the underside and through slatted panels on the upper walls, and an anchoring system securing it to the ground. A data logger is placed inside with the sculpture to monitor temperature and relative humidity levels so that conservators can ensure that the enclosures are serving as adequate buffers to the harsher conditions outside.

Garden team bringing out one of the iron lily enclosures, winter 2013

Garden team bringing out one of the iron lily enclosures, winter 2013

One of the iron lilies with enclosure mid-assembly, winter 2014. Note the data logger secured in place, ready to log environmental data.”

One of the iron lilies with enclosure mid-assembly, winter 2014. Note the data logger secured in place, ready to log environmental data.”

In the Moment

There are numerous benefits to walking through a garden but there is arguably none better than capturing a moment like the setting sun illuminating a tree line, a unique cloud formation or catching a glimpse of wildlife.

Here are some of those moments within the past week, sometimes taken when one might not think of inspiration looming, but it is always there just waiting to be captured and appreciated by a thoughtful eye.  Horticulturist Suzanne French just happened to be at the right place at the right time–and with an iPhone–to immortalize what is otherwise fleeting.  Carpe Diem.

Now you see it--barn from the window

Now you see it–barn from the window

...now you don't--the magic of fog!

…now you don’t–the magic of fog!

ew pattern

Winterthur recently received a $148,262 grant from the prestigious Museums for America program of the Institute of Museum and Library Services to digitally map the award-winning Winterthur garden.  The two-year Collections stewardship grant will enable Winterthur to complete work began in 2014 to map and inventory the thousands of woody plants in the garden, update plant records for woody and perennial plants and to  geo-reference key historic maps.

These funds are being used to hire a full time GIS Mapping Specialist and a full time Plant Records Intern to assist with the project through its completion in September 2017.

We have also received a grant from the Stanley Smith Horticultural Trust.  This grant will cover the purchase cost of a Total Station, an electronic surveying instrument that will make our mapping more efficient and accurate.

More information to come!

 

 

 

Julia Eppes, 2015 garden intern and writer, continues her story as a Winterthur garden intern.

Another significant part of the internship experience is living at the Butler’s House. Living on the estate really solidified the experience of working at Winterthur. While working in a place of unparalleled beauty is surely wonderful, living there truly tuned me in to the minutiae of the changing landscape, the infinite expressions of a seemingly singular place.

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 Minutiae, like when a heavy rain turned this Chamaecyparis tree into a Van Gogh painting.

Six of the eight interns (two were local, but still graced us with their presence on occasion) took residence in the Butler’s House, which one of my peers dubbed ‘The Real World: Winterthur.’  While perhaps not as dramatic as that name would suggest, my anthropological sensibilities were piqued by living with a group of interns from various places- Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Nevada, Delaware- with equally various interests. United by an interest in horticulture, we were alternately obsessed with such disparate things as Hondas, hot sauce, soccer, and art. We ended up a sort of motley crew, dabbling in activities from fishing and trampoline park-ing to copious ice cream consumption- all the while attempting, with whatever futility, to keep the house clean (although I wouldn’t be surprised if there was still a selfie stick lodged between the cushions of the couch or a forlorn, unclaimed plant taking residence in an inconspicuous corner).

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 A lovely group shot, how darling.

Beyond the close-knit circle we developed whilst living together on the estate, the internship also offered us a variety of opportunities to connect with other people and institutions involved in public horticulture. A favorite experience of mine was when the Mount Cuba interns visited Winterthur, and then we, in turn, piled into a van and toured their turf with them. A pseudo-rivalry was thus established between the Winterns and the Cubots that was played out during at least one trivia night on the Riverfront. More soon-to-be familiar faces were encountered during an Intern Day for public horticulture institutions in the area, where we all coalesced at the Awbury Arboretum to undertake a mass project and be inducted into the intimate, friendly community of horticulture in this area.

Working and living at Winterthur was a wonderful experience, where I enjoyed the company of both extraordinary plants and people.

Click on Winterthur Garden Internships  for more information.

 

Julia Eppes, garden intern extraordinaire, shares her experiences working at Winterthur

Upon my graduation from college, like most everyone in that bittersweet limbo, I had no idea what I was to do next. I had a degree in Anthropology with a minor in Landscape Horticulture and worked on an organic farm with equal fervor, and didn’t know whether to apply to graduate school or join the circus. I ended up applying to a Garden and Estate Internship at Winterthur after heeding the suggestion of a professor, hoping to get practical experience in ornamental horticulture, as I had worked primarily with plants that were palatable instead in the culinary sense. Winterthur’s internship program offered an excellent foray into the field of horticulture- especially to me, who was, dare I say- green.

The internship program was organized in a manner quite conducive to an introduction to the field of horticulture, a thorough and instructive crash course (a phrase that gained new meaning when I backed into a planter in front of the Brown Center my first day driving the Gator). Interns circulated around garden areas throughout the summer, partnering with horticulturists to experience how they managed their areas. While the tasks of weeding, mowing, mulching, and pruning were rather universal, each garden area had its own idiosyncrasies, each horticulturist their own style. For instance, a horticulturist working around the Museum might have a quite different set of tasks than someone working deep in Azalea Woods; by working with different horticulturists, we learned the multiplicity of ways that working in horticulture can manifest. Of course, this made the experience of interning at Winterthur even more unique: the diversity of garden areas and opportunities to do various kinds of work was one of the aspects of the internship that I found to be the most valuable.

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 Azalea Woods: So many flowers I can’t tell what is up or down.

Along with gaining proficiency in horticultural techniques and tools including lawn mowers, weed whackers, and leaf blowers, we were expected to become familiarized with over fifty trees, shrubs, perennials, and invasive plants- their identification, Latin and common names, and cultural practices- and were tested on our knowledge. Things can still get rather hairy (or should I say ferny?) when it comes to certain ferns, but this experience has significantly increased my lexicon of landscape plants.

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  Just another day at the workplace.

Interning at Winterthur has really given me an appreciation of everything that goes on behind the scenes at a garden of this caliber- and also a sort of philosophical lesson, that the work that we all do serves and enhances the inherent beauty of the estate, that this place is a dynamic homage to the dream of a man and the collective investment of horticulturists spanning decades, a living rhythm of bloom and sleep, and ever-renewing to the soul as consistently as the first snowdrop might emerge from the equanimity of winter. That, and sometimes slugs the size of a thumbnail are living on moss right in front of your face unbeknownst to all except by happy accident, which means they could be anywhere. Anywhere.

Click here for more details on Winterthur’s  Garden Internships

It has been a long time in the making but the “ruins” path construction is completed in Enchanted Woods. The grass in the Gathering Green was only lush and inviting after consistent reseeding accompanied by little foot traffic; two things easily undone by a school group visit or two. After many failed attempts of keeping the green, green we thought of many possible remedies and finally settled on a design that fit much of the “unfinished” and whimsical look of Enchanted Woods (think Faerie Cottage and you will understand the design inspiration).

Wear patterns in Gathering Green

Wear patterns in Gathering Green

Former wear spots filled with stone patterns

Former wear spots filled with stone patterns

Two earlier blog posts http://gardenblog.winterthur.org/2015/09/03/gathering-green-re-design/ and http://gardenblog.winterthur.org/2015/10/26/the-creation-of-an-old-look/ provide more detailed information on the process.

Many hands were involved in updating this garden feature. Highlights of the work involved include the marking of utilities, hand digging and air-spading of path areas, placement of a base layer of landscape fabric and stone dust, moving tons of stone on location, hand placement and some cutting of the stone, and filling of stone crevices with stone dust. The rain and cold temperatures held off nicely to enable our masons long stretches of workable weather and as they finished up, grass seed was spread just in time for the rain to not only water it in but to also help settle all of the stone and stone dust in place.

The haze of emerging blades of grass!

The haze of emerging blades of grass!

The fencing will remain through the spring  to help establish the grass.  In the spring, purposeful planting of some lawn “weeds” such as violet, bugleweed and creeping jenny will be added to the newly sprouted grass to provide some spring flower color while adding to the palette of foot traffic-tolerant plants.  (If you have violets in your lawn, you know how hard it is to get rid of them.)

In addition to the paths, our masons also placed Belgian block underneath the swinging benches that are attached to the pillars that surround the Gathering Green. This change came about to try and remedy the ditches underneath the swings and consequent piles of mulch that accumulated behind the swings from children dragging their feet while going back and forth.  (Think back to your own swing set from childhood; remember those big, brown, bare dirt streaks underneath the swings? The ones that would puddle after the rain?  That’s what I am talking about.) From a design standpoint, it helps continue the pavement theme outward past the large granite curbing stones.

Stone "landing" underneath swing (swing not present during construction)

Stone “landing” underneath swing (swing not present during construction)

Admire the new look from outside the fence and notice the changes as it progresses throughout the spring.

The Grass is Greener…

It has been a long time in the making but the late season rains and the warmer-than-normal fall temperatures have produced a nice crop of new grass in Sycamore Hill and the Sundial Gardens. (If you missed the earlier blog check out the post from September 16th).

The target of this project was wiregrass; it is a tenacious grass and required 3 sprayings in late summer to assure it was killed. Then our patience had to kick in, waiting for some rain.

And we waited.

And people were curious and questioning.

And we waited some more.

And then it rained.

The contractor we hired to work on this project, Wilcox Landscaping, prepped the area first, using a tractor with an attachment to lightly rough up the wiregrass and soil.

A second piece of equipment went over the already tilled areas and, like a “grass vacuum cleaner” gathered the loosened grass.

Tiller and "Grass Cleaner-Upper" in action prepping the soil

Tiller and “Grass Cleaner-Upper” in action prepping the soil

Truckloads of compost were brought, providing a good medium for grass seed germination. We also used this opportunity to level out the ground for a move even mowing and walking surface.

Truckloads of Compost Delivered on Site

Truckloads of Compost Delivered on Site

The rains were a little slow and sparse in helping to water the seed in but seeing the green now makes that an almost distant memory. Any areas that might need a little over seeding will be done in the spring but the green that is there now is a sight for sore eyes!

Before: browned-out grass and tilling

Before: browned-out grass and tilling

After: Fresh-looking, new lawn!

After: Fresh-looking, new lawn!

The Creation of an Old Look

The work on the Gathering Green in Winterthur’s Enchanted Woods is developing. The blogpost from September 3rd laid the ground work out for this project and this post will highlight the progress thus far.

The initial work entailed the removal of soil. This was done primarily by hand—either through digging with a shovel or through use of an air spade, which with the help of a generator, blows a stream of air through a “wand” (like an “air power washer”) to gently remove soil from around tree roots without disturbing them.

Hand Digging for Path Work

Hand Digging for Path Work

Air Spading in Progress (see all the soil in the air?)

Air Spading in Progress (see all the soil in the air?)

Once the soil was removed, a layer of landscape fabric was placed down and then a base of crushed stone was set. Then came the hard part—the configuration of the stones.  As mentioned in the earlier post, the pattern is achieved by two different stones; Avondale Brown Flagstone and Cobblestone, also called Belgian Block.  The cobblestone was the first layer to be placed.  To make it look more natural in its pattern, much of it had to be hand cut which required a little more time than expected.

Initial Pattern From Cobblestone

Initial Pattern From Cobblestone

Once that was set then the flagstone could be placed on either side. Since the look is meant to emulate a ruin-type appearance, the edges are irregular and pockets were left in which plants will eventually grow.

Flagstone Addition to the Cobblestone

Flagstone Addition to the Cobblestone

A Completed Section of Path

A Completed Section of Path

Watch for More Updates this Fall!

October 28, 2015

Giving your home bit of interest for the fall isn’t that difficult at all.  Lois Lawton will use end-of season plant material from your garden to add unique interest to your autumnal arrangements and displays.

10-28 dried arrangement

Walks last 45–60 minutes. Join us for demonstrations, talks, and guided walks covering a wide range of gardening topics. These events begin at 11:30 am on Wednesdays from April through October (except August). Wednesday at Winterthur is free with all admission tickets. Members are free.

No reservations necessary. Please dress for the weather and wear walking shoes. Walks are generally not handicap accessible due to rough ground and steep garden paths.

October 21, 2015

Join horticulturists Leigh Donnelly and Michele Christiano on a walking tour of four of their favorite fall-blooming shrubs. They will discuss the seasonal interest, maintenance, and plant placements of these seasonally unique plants.

10-21 fall shrubs

Walks last 45–60 minutes. Join us for demonstrations, talks, and guided walks covering a wide range of gardening topics. These events begin at 11:30 am on Wednesdays from April through October (except August). Wednesday at Winterthur is free with all admission tickets. Members are free.

No reservations necessary. Please dress for the weather and wear walking shoes. Walks are generally not handicap accessible due to rough ground and steep garden paths.