Raleigh, North Carolina: Horticultural Hot Spot!

Raleigh, North Carolina: Horticultural Hot Spot!

“The only thing that two gardeners ever agree on is what the third gardener does wrong.”   Tony Avent, Plants Delight Nursery

I love traveling. You might be able to tell from the illustrations on all of these pages. I especially enjoy traveling back to North Carolina. My step-brother lived on a plantation near Wilmington.

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Kirk R. Brown and Tony Avent touring Plants Delight and Juniper Level Botanic Garden.

These days it’s much easier to get to towns and cities more interior to my previous coastal travels. Raleigh is a prime example of a new city rich placed strategically on a confluence of roads and rivers. It is also a horticultural hotbed.

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Hellebores were in season at Plants Delight. Lovely to touch; impossible to leave without purchase.

I recently visited the nursery and botanic garden of one of the country’s premiere horticultural professionals. Plants Delight is just that: a place where horticulture is displayed and priced to entice the most jaded of plant collectors. The attached display grounds are known as Juniper Level Botanic Garden.

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Shipping and receiving at Plant Delights Nursery is very reminiscent of my own shipping operation at Bartram’s Garden. Big difference: corrugated cardboard, Styrofoam peanuts and plastic wrapping material.

These gardens are tended by plantsman extraordinaire, Tony Avent. He is a gentleman and a rabid Hortistician. He was a gracious host to my amanuensis and his traveling wife. If you are in the neighborhood it will be good for your soul to stop and touch the merchandise.

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Around the table: Kirk R. Brown, Brienne Gluvna Arthur, Jared Barnes, Lizzi Lathers, Erin Weston. Enjoying the best barbecue in the south!

While still in Raleigh, I also made contact with a new generation of professional plants people. Dinner with them was both entertaining and educational. I know that I shall reflect on the experience for many a future experience with people younger than 100 years old.

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Dr. Jared Barnes was introduced to his alter ego in the latest edition of Organic Gardening. He was named one of the horticulture’s rising star by Ken Druse.

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Brienne Gluvna Arthur working at Camellia Forest Nursery.

Brienne Gluvna Arthur, Dr. Jared Barnes, Erin L. Weston and Lizzi Lathers are in a group of rising stars of horticulture and should be watched…closely, carefully, and regularly…to see how their rooting is coming.

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Brienne Gluvna Arthur holding Cubby while Sara E. Stine Brown looks on with the envy only a cat person could have.

It’s All About the Plants: Davidson Horticultural Symposium

“Something made me pick up a spade and start digging; and with the smell of newly turned earth, I felt my life returning.” Holly Shimizu, United States Botanic Garden

“A garden requires patient labor and attention. Plants do not grow merely to satisfy ambitions or to fulfill good intentions. They thrive because someone expended effort on them.”  Liberty Hyde Bailey

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John Bartram at the Davidson Horticultural Symposium, 2014. It’s All About the Plants. Celebrating 30 years of educational horticulture.

During the 30th anniversary of this fabled gathering, the committee decided to literally go back to its roots and be all about the plants. Their speaker roster includes a Who’s Who of the most famous horticultural speakers, writers, plant hunters, photographers, growers, scientists, horticulturists, designers and artists known to the industry.

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Paula Gross, Holly Shimizu and David Culp photographing gardens in the rain. True dedication. Beautiful lighting.

For this season’s special program, they returned to the reason that we garden: for the joy and inspiration we feel when observing the subtleties of form, color, touch, fragrance, and history of the plants.

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Holly Shimizu, US Botanic Garden, and Tony Avent, Plant Delights Nursery/Juniper Level Botanic Garden, garden touring in Davidson North Carolina.

And then they asked me to deliver the keynote address. I could not have been more honored, thrilled or astounded to be included. It was an horticultural blessing.

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The house was packed at the Knobloch Campus Center of Davidson College, Davidson North Carolina

The tribes gathered in Davidson North Carolina. It was held in the Knobloch Campus Center of Davidson College. The program was sold out.

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John Bartram was the opening Keynote Speaker at the Davidson Horticultural Symposium: It’s All About the Plants. 2014.

The other speakers chosen for this auspicious day included David Culp on tour with his book The Layered Garden. Holly Shimizu, Executive Director of the US Botanic Garden, spoke of the history of that illustrious institution and the many collections that it houses. Paula Gross, UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens, delivered the design lecture of the day basing her presentation on a Southwestern Plantswoman’s Favorites. The program closer was Tony Avent, owner and raconteur from Plants Delight Nursery and Juniper Level Botanical Gardens in Raleigh, North Carolina.

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The Zimmerman house was an authentic recreation of a Renaissance Florentine Villa. Magnificent dedication to the art of architecture married to landscape.

We five speakers were treated to lunch by the occupants of an Italian Renaissance Florentine villa.

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The Renaissance forecourt gave obvious views to the house but allowed for its defense in times of siege.

For the event we were seemingly transported to the countryside surrounding that ancient and famous city for the sheer delight of the possibility.

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A recreated Renaissance pipe organ. The sound was ethereal.

The lord of the manor pleased our desires and played his authentic 16th Century bellows pipe organ. It was a meal and an occasion that blissfully blended the centuries and the stories. Fiction is never the equal to fact.

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We raised a toast in a recreated southern-style barn. It was the perfect evening before the Davidson Horticultural Symposium.

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John Bartram was joined by Sara E. Stine Brown at lunch during the Davidson Symposium. Kirk Brown was just out of the picture frame.

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There was time between speakers to enjoy networking in a gathering space outside of the hall. Here John Bartram is joined by Marian St Clair from Greenville South Carolina.

On the evening prior to the event, our hosts gathered at a celebratory dinner in a great hall of communal proportions. The networking was outstanding. I was feted, wined and dined in great style and superior harmony.

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I caught Kirk Brown with his wife in this picture from the evening’s gathering in the woodland barn. We all had an amazing time at the Davidson Horticultural Symposium.

On the day of the lectures, the crowds gathered in the lobby during recesses in order to participate in networking opportunities and purchase much-in-demand books. The stellar opportunity also existed to partake in delicious foods and flavors native to the region. And, as always, plants were offered for sale!

Arch Street Friends Meeting House

Quakers should be taught to “…read the Nature, Use and Service of Trees, Birds, Beast, and Serpents …” Thomas Lawson, 1680 “A Mite Into the Treasury”

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John Bartram at Independence Hall, Philadelphia PA.

There are many sites to be visited of an historic nature in downtown Philadelphia. The obvious start of any 21st Century tour is Independence Hall. But a short walk to the north will bring the interested visitor to a hallowed place higher in station to any original immigrant member of the Society of Friends.

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The Arch Street Meeting House at 320 Arch Street, Philadelphia PA, 19106 is constructed on the grounds of an earlier Friends cemetery.

I never set foot inside the doors of this meeting house. In my prime, the land was a burial ground for members of the Society. We don’t believe in markers or burial adornments.

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A diorama of William Penn entering into a peace treaty in 1683 with Tamanene, a chief of the Lenape (Delaware Indians) Turtle Clan. It was to be challenged by the infamous “Walking Purchase” by Penn’s successors.

In later years, the land was enclosed with brick walls to keep out the rowdy boys and wandering cows.

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The rows of original benches in the large meeting room.

By the 1800’s this building was constructed over the graves in order to give a home to the annual gathering of Friends in the greater Philadelphia area. This was ordained by a group of women, who pressed for a building that would be large enough to house separate business meetings for both men and women. This resulting structure thus includes two large spaces of equal size with matching facilities.

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I remember the days on the streets of historic Philadelphia as if they were yesterday. That gentleman in the middle could be my younger self!

It is the largest Friends’ meeting house in the world. In Philadelphia. Of course!

It continues its function today as a conference center for groups of all religious persuasions. It is open daily to the general public and should be included on any respectable tour of the City of Brotherly Love!

121st Annual Court of the Society of Colonial Wars, State of New Jersey, Princeton

“Colonies do not cease to be colonies because they are independent!”  Benjamin Disraeli

“We lost the American colonies because we lacked the statesmanship to know the right time and the manner of yielding what is impossible to keep.”  Queen Elizabeth II

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John Bartram at The Society of Colonial Wars. I feel underdressed for this brilliant occasion.

While not as old as I profess, and younger than many other similar organizations, this association was founded in New York in 1892 for the purpose of furthering the interest in, and study of, America’s colonial history for the period between the settlement of Jamestown, Virginia on May 13, 1607 and the battle of Lexington on April 19, 1775.

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Age was no barrier to membership or acceptance. Obviously. Although not as well dressed, I was certainly the oldest person present.

The members of the Society are male descendants of those in military, naval and civil positions of high trust and responsibility whose acts and counsel assisted in the establishment, defense and growth of the American Colonies.

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Many medals. Much history. Beautiful stories. Society of Colonial Wars.

And they invited me to speak to them. I don’t know that I’d actually qualify for membership. Perhaps as a result of founding the American Philosophical Society with Benjamin Franklin…?

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Friendly faces greeted me. But I didn’t get to discover the meaning of the order around his neck.

It was a brilliant night. After the Call to Order, there was significant toasting to (and in order…) the President of the United States, Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, The Armed Forces of the United States of America and Its Allies, The General Society of Colonial Wars, Absent Friends, and finally: to the Ladies. There were remarks by the Governor General, The Presentation of Awards, and a Ceremony of the Broken Arrow.

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Orders were both religious and military, diplomatic and royal. The symbolism and the heraldry, although a complete mystery to me, were evident and explained by many in the convocation.

I felt underdressed in the crush of white-tied dignitaries, flash of military orders and political bands, and sparkle of the formally gowned wives. The evening was overwhelming.

Exhibiting Bartram’s Boxes

My head runs all upon the works of God in nature. It is through that telescope I see God in his glory.” John Bartram, December 3, 1762

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The exhibition was opened at The Center for Art and Wood in Philadelphia.

It’s only taken 250 plus years. And then only after a devastating storm, to begin the process of regeneration and renewal. I viewed it as a fortuitous and timely sequence of events.

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One artist’s vision included many small and intricate wooden receptacles. Like the seeds of my many shipments!

The Exhibit was entitled Bartram’s Boxes Remix!

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This small wooden ship was set into the midst of a turbulent sea. Like my precious packages leaving the new world for the old.

My work on the introduction and cataloguing of new North American species of plants is celebrated in this unique exhibition. Artists from around the world were solicited for proposals that would use material collected from devastation wrought in my garden by a severe weather event.

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Could have been the title of this brilliant exhibit.

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Roots, like time, can be in a bottle. Cast to the winds and the currents.

These proposals and the juried exhibition that followed were the results of that solicitation. The exhibit was brilliant.

The Center for Art in Wood is the organization responsible for this outstanding display. Its headquarters is just around the corner from Betsy Ross and her exhibit based on the introduction of the colors and construction of the American Flag. They are both worth your interest and time.

West Chester University Tree Campus USA

West Chester University Tree Campus USA

“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.”  John Muir

“What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another.”   Mahatma Gandhi

John Bartram, Kirk R. Brown, Humphrey Marshall, West Chester University, Tree Campus USA, Darlington Herbarium

A gathering of tree tenders.

West Chester University was named Tree Campus USA. A ceremony of dedication was planned by School’s Administration during Earth Week and specifically on Arbor Day. 

John Bartram, Kirk R. Brown, Humphrey Marshall, West Chester University, Tree Campus USA, Darlington Herbarium

Formal dedication of the Tree Campus USA with the great Bartram Oak standing behind.

In order to qualify for Tree Campus USA status, an institution of higher learning must submit an application that demonstrates they have adhered to a set of five standards: 

John Bartram, Kirk R. Brown, Humphrey Marshall, West Chester University, Tree Campus USA, Darlington Herbarium

The office of the President of West Chester University. Mr. and Mrs. Greg Weisenstein with Mr. and Mrs. John Bartram.

Standard 1—Establish a Campus Tree Advisory Committee. This committee must include a representative from the undergraduate or graduate student body, faculty, facility management, and the community at large. 

John Bartram, Kirk R. Brown, Humphrey Marshall, West Chester University, Tree Campus USA, Darlington Herbarium

John and Ann Mendenhall Bartram near the gothic arcade.

Standard 2—Manage a Campus-wide Tree Care Plan. From a clearly stated purpose, goals and objectives will be outlined. Responsibility and accountability will be defined. 

John Bartram, Kirk R. Brown, Humphrey Marshall, West Chester University, Tree Campus USA, Darlington Herbarium

A true photographic opportunity.

Standard 3—Campus Tree Program with Dedicated Annual Expenditures. The hard work of establishing any garden is the money required to plant and maintain it. A suggested budget of $3.00 per student is a base line. In fact, the national average among recognized Tree Campuses is currently $9.00 to $11.00 per student. That is an empowering statement of intent. 

John Bartram, Kirk R. Brown, Humphrey Marshall, West Chester University, Tree Campus USA, Darlington Herbarium

The Earth Day celebration carried over onto the Campus Quadrangle.

Standard 4—Celebrate Arbor Day. I was present to witness the monumental undertakings that the college had put in place.

John Bartram, Kirk R. Brown, Humphrey Marshall, West Chester University, Tree Campus USA, Darlington Herbarium

A War Reinactment and conflict of interesting peoples.

They had a grand military reenactment, a quad-full of earth day student organizations, and the recognition of their Bartram Oak. With John Bartram. Outstanding! 

John Bartram, Kirk R. Brown, Humphrey Marshall, West Chester University, Tree Campus USA, Darlington Herbarium

Schedule 5 has students, faculty and the community planting trees on the West Chester University Campus

Standard 5—Development of a Service Learning Project. At West Chester, the student body was actively involved in a series of tree planting and gardening projects. This was a very life-affirming group of young adults. 

John Bartram, Kirk R. Brown, Humphrey Marshall, West Chester University, Tree Campus USA, Darlington Herbarium

In the wilderness searching for colonies of wild Ginseng.

After the ceremony, I was shown the wilderness preserve. It was the spring season when the forest floor was coming alive. The curator of the wilds directed me to an area fenced off as protection from deer predation. The fencing was protecting wild Ginseng. 

John Bartram, Kirk R. Brown, Humphrey Marshall, West Chester University, Tree Campus USA, Darlington Herbarium

In the Darlington Herbarium, perusing Humphrey Marshall’s collection of Bartram’s Garden Franklinia alatamaha.

Lastly, the director of the herbarium unlocked the door to a room of wonder. Behind locked metal doors on cabinets lining the walls were books filled with hundreds of dried examples of natural botanical history. A book was brought out and placed on the clean steel surface in front of me. It was the collection samples gathered by Humphrey Marshall from Bartram’s Garden. 

Humphrey was my cousin. Our mothers were sisters. He had a collection of native specimens in a botanical garden he created in Marshallton. In 1785, he published Arboretum Americanum: the American Grove, an Alphabetical Catalogue of Forest Trees and Shrubs, Natives of the American United States. 

And there in my hands was the result of his passionate dedication to collecting. From my garden. And possibly a leaf and flower from the first successfully cultivated Franklinia Altamaha.

John Bartram, Kirk R. Brown, Humphrey Marshall, West Chester University, Tree Campus USA, Darlington Herbarium

The surprise of coming up against a Franklinia leaf collected from Bartram’s Garden in the first generation of its discovery.

A Gardener’s Studio

A Gardener’s Studio

“A society grows great when old men plant  trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.”   Greek proverb

“Those who labour in the earth are the chosen people of God.”   Thomas Jefferson

Gardeners Studio, Philadelphia Flower Show, John Bartram, Kirk R. Brown

John had help from the students at Williamson Technical School as well as the staff at PHS.

Staff members from the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society asked me to talk. I agreed. If an opportunity presents itself to share a good word on the cause of botany before an enthusiastic audience, one should always accept it.

John Bartram Lives, Kirk R. Brown, Gardeners Studio, Philadelphia Flower Show, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society

The audience was stilled by the discussion of John’s position in horticultural history.

The presentation was a give and take. Reviewing nearly 300 years of horticultural history can be a daunting proposition if all that’s covered is facts, figures, faces, and fictions.

Gardeners Studio, Philadelphia Flower Show, John Bartram, Kirk R. Brown

After the introduction, I had the audience to myself.

It’s much better if the history takes second place to interest, enthusiasm and contemporary point of reference.

Gardeners Studio, Philadelphia Flower Show, John Bartram, Kirk R. Brown

The amplification device suited my mood and costume.

I was directed to use a device to project my voice over a large area of benched seating. There was a crowd of people collected on the seats while others walked past during and around the events of the hour.

Gardeners Studio, Philadelphia Flower Show, John Bartram, Kirk R. Brown

I had a full house at the first appearance.

Questions were asked and answered. And I was included in the discussion. “Who was I?” “What did I do?” “Are you William Penn?” (That was a popular question posed throughout the day!) “How do you ship plants in wooden ships?”

Gardeners Studio, Philadelphia Flower Show, John Bartram, Kirk R. Brown

The snake on the stick was a great topic of conversation. Throughout my entire appearance on the show floor.

All of the questions were well received and thoroughly dissected.

John Bartram Lives, Kirk R. Brown, Gardeners Studio, Philadelphia Flower Show, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society

Louise Clarke was present to confirm some of the horticultural details.

I must say that it was a pleasurable honor to be asked to speak. It was a momentous occasion to then have a repeat performance on a second night. It allowed me to change my linen and present a much more formal front.

Gardeners Studio, Philadelphia Flower Show, John Bartram, Kirk R. Brown

Large format advertising. The best format there is!

As for my wife, Ann had finally been allowed to come out from the fireside and experience her husband’s rhetoric in the first person.

Gardeners Studio, Philadelphia Flower Show, John Bartram, Kirk R. Brown

“Wait a moment!”

It’s a grand night when family members can come together in public to bask in the reflected glow of the limelight.

John Bartram Lives, Kirk R. Brown, Gardeners Studio, Philadelphia Flower Show, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society

Kirk joins Sara out of context and out of character during the Press Preview of the Philadelphia Flower Show. It’s an awesome experience to see the exhibits being installed!

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