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.

They Planted Trees on the Roof

“I got to Kansas City on a Frid’y.  By Sattidy I larned a thing or two.  For up to then I didn’t have an idy, of whut the modren world was comin’ to! 
Everything’s up to date in Kansas City!  They gone about as fer as they can go.  They went an’ built a skyscraper seven stories high–about as high as a buildin’ orta grow.”   
Will Parker singing about his experiences in the big city from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma.

{Submitted by Kirk R. Brown for J.B. approval.  Kansas City, Missouri.  Kauffman Center http://www.kauffmancenter.org/}

National Green Center

The green roof on the new Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts

John, on the way back home, I had to stop at this new center for the arts in the heart of downtown Kansas City.  It was an amazing end to the journey to OZ and back.  There is a roof on the end of the building that is covered with trees and ornamental grass.  Just look at it!  Amazing technology.  Sustainable and beautiful all at the same time!  And GREEN.

National Green Center

The double shells of the exterior mask the opposing rings of the interior spaces.

The roof had several levels visible from the interior spaces.

National Green Center, Kansas City Kansas

Multi-level green roof.

At the core of this building are two fabulous performance spaces that allow artists their full range of musical and dramatic expression.  The close end houses the orchestral space.  The magnificent organ and unique pipe installation has yet to be voiced and played.

National Green Center

The Symphony side of the Arts Center is a flexible concert space.

The interior space is wood clad an offers perfect acoustics.  Beautiful organic surfaces.  Pins would drop noisily.

National Green Center Kansas City Kansas

These arcs of wood oppose the exterior shells of the building.

The upper shell is home to the Kansas City Opera Company and all of the touring shows requiring a fully functional theatrical road house.

National Green Center Kansas City Kansas

The fire curtain was down on the tour.

The interior grand tier is designed to give the audience an impression of being inside a chandelier.  The walls are back-lit crystal panels.  The halls a painted in large fields of color.

National Green Center Kansas City KS

The Circle combines private boxes with grand tier seating.

It was a private tour on a very quick stop.  But I wanted to share with you the amazing sites that are changing the face of the way we look at and treat our landscapes.  This view of nature was supremely artistic.

National Green Center, Kansas City Kansas

The lobby expands out into the space between the performance venues.

And then on my way to the car in the parking garage, I heard strange music coming from a group of pipes glowing with the changing melodic patterns.  Wow.  This was a grand way to finish up an amazing experience.

National Green Center, Kansas City Kansas
The music and tonal coloration joined the spheres of art and performance.

The trip ended at the drive up from the garage.

National Green Center Kansas City Kansas

The end of the Kansas City experience on the way to the airport.

Travels Through a Green Nation

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”  Confucius

“He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk and run and climb and dance;  one cannot fly into flying.”  Friedrich Nietzsche

My amanuensis, Kirk R. Brown, has scheduled some days apart from me in this winter season.  He is attending to his personal business on many fronts relating to the greening of America.  These days and in this particular season they have gatherings of our clans of fellow gardeners across this vast country of ours.  He loves what he does.  His connections are numerous and his ease on meeting strangers makes good friends of potential enemies.  He plays the fool well but does not easily suffer them.

Kansas City National Green Center

This is a trade show rebranded from the original Western Nursery and Landscape Association

These clannish troupings of our tribal green color bring together all manner of possible combinations:  product endorsements, improvements, plants, equipment (a very mannish, clannish thing indeed!), educational opportunities, recognitions, reconnections, and escape from our everyday existence in an office or nursery or garden.  Kirk was farther afield last week than was in my awareness of time and space.

National Green Center Kansas City

Ball Horticultural put out a colorful display of their new selections

He went to Kansas:  a place over the rainbow and a left turn at the North Star.  Great, green fields awaited his arrival.  Fertile oases of alluvial ground watered by a great river in the center of our continent.  In life’s travels we pass many streams but once.  You must make special note of passing a great watershed.  Kirk retells his experience in Kansas last week as the passing of a great watershed.

Western Landscape and Nursery Association

A trade show floor is full of the products from the world of nature. Evergreen!

This clan was rebranded within a twelve-month period.  It was an ancient root out of the west.  Its lands and nurseries were abundant and strong throughout it 125 plus year history.  As with many old things, changes come sometimes planned, sometimes by choice, and most times by need.  Take my own ancient life as an example!  They needed to view life in a new way.

Western Nursery and Landscape Association

The latest in equipment for garden illumination. How I wish it had been available in my youth!

The new clan is known as “The National Green Center!”  Isn’t that wonderful?  What a unique concept.  They believe themselves to be the center of this country’s green movement.  Isn’t that brazen?  My Darby Meeting would hardly approve, but then we know what they felt about my outrageousness.

Western Nursery and Landscape Association

Color abounded in Kansas City

But this group of wise and far-sighted leaders wished to fly into a new dawn.  Realizing that they had need for wings, they first thought to dance.  The analogy fits like a clogger’s shoe.  It is hard and dynamic–dramatic almost–in its use.  They decided to first refashion the style of production:

They renamed.  They refit.  They colorized.  They developed a sense of Fashion!  They thought to enlist the help of other clans.  They recognized strangers and invited fellow travelers.  They opened the doors in preparedness for the day when the feathers would be dry and flight could be achieved.

Western Nursery and Landscape Association

Networking opportunities were abundant. Michael Dirr confers with Reps from Bailey Nurseries and Ball Horticultural.

I heartily applaud the steps they’ve taken to ensure all of our collective and natural futures.  I congratulate them on their need to be sustainable:  in organization, in fiscal responsibility, and in connection.  With this green botanical nature that courses through all of us, we need to hold close and respect deeply those who choose to do battle with the angry gods of commerce and industry. 

“Ah! Sweet Melissa! There was a fashion show!”

“It’s a new era in fashion – there are no rules. It’s all about the individual and personal style, wearing high-end, low-end, classic labels, and up-and-coming designers all together.”  — Alexander McQueen
National Green Center
“One is never over-dressed or underdressed with a Little Black Dress.” Karl Lagerfeld

{Submitted by Kirk R. Brown for J.B. approval.  Kansas City, Kansas.  National Green Center.    http://www.nationalgreencentre.org/index.php }

John!  There was a fashion show.  It’s a natural!  I mean, it’s of nature.  Listen:  the models paraded down a runway with plants.  It was a fashion show of lights, color, and beautiful models–with attitude.  The beautiful people were carrying pots of beautiful new plants.  Why didn’t you ever think of this? 

National Green Center Kansas City KS
“Yes Dorothy, there is a real Miss Kansas!”

It was called “The Sweet Melissa Fashion Show” and it introduced 50–FIFTY–new plants to the trade.  That’s one quarter of all of the plants you introduced in your youth!

The experience was exhilarating.  The crowd was raucous.  The bars were open.  The lights were brilliant.  And the runway stretched a green mile.

John Bartram Kirk R. Brown
The runway was crowded with fashionista.

I was just part of the crowd.  I was making notes in the program just like everyone else as the latest hort-couture designs paraded past.  There was a continuous buzz throughout the room.  Exhibitors, attendees, press, and nursery hybridizers hovered around the corridor of bright lights.

National Green Center, Kansas City Kansas
It was a rainbow collection of new plant introductions. We spent a day in OZ!

Many of the introductions were represented by colorful broadsides illustrating the plant at height of bloom or seasonal color.  Backstage, the fashion collection was lined up waiting for the show to proceed.

National Green Center Kansas City Kansas
This fashion line up was waiting for the runway.

Both before and after the show, the runway became a focus of the trade show’s excitement.  People could meet and sit to discuss their business.  The carpet remained a colorful reminder of the show’s sparkle. 

National Green Center
Maria Zampini and Emily Bibens have plantitude on the runway.

I respectfully submit this news release for the pleasure it may provide and the knowledge of new plants it may tease you to investigate.  http://www.nationalgreencentre.org/2012_FashionShow.vp.html 

Kirk R. Brown

National Green Center
The author, Kirk R. Brown, doft a hat to stay tuned with the fashion harmonies.

A Green Industry Summit Council

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant.”
Robert Louis Stevenson

“A plague [on all] your houses!”    with apologies to Mercutio from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet Act 3, scene 1

My amanuensis has sent field notes back to me of a meeting of leaders in this botanical industry.  The gathering of minds had an intent to define a way through the shoals of troubled water in which we swim.  There were sharp minds at council tables. 

Two statements of purpose were attached to the gathering of horticultural tribes:

1.  Provide a venue for leaders of the industry’s organizations and associations to share insights regarding the future of the industry and the opportunities and challenges that are likely to emerge as they work to support their members and constituents.

2.  Initiate the first phase of an ongoing dialogue among these leaders to support their efforts to address and capitalize on these opportunities as they explore [what?] they may mean for the future of their organizations.

National Green Center Summit for Industry Leadership

The foolscap newsprint was a image from my youth. These elephant folio sized sheets were the same that Ben Franklin would have used in his print shop.

This was a very heady agenda.  A lot of work was initiated by the brief confederation of horticultural colonies.  It was the first trumpet call to become a United Nation of Green. 

Unlike the First and Second Continental Congresses, there were women present at the heart of this discussion.  Wisdom AND beauty.  Age and the enthusiasm of youth.  Brilliance of mind and those still dazed by the glare from the noonday sun.  And there were writers of well-turned phrases.

National Green Center

Sarah Woody Bibens was in a leadership capacity as Executive Director of the Western Landscape and Nursery Association

The reporter on site took special note of the ease with which the discussions were facilitated.  I greatly respect the scientific method and the processes in place to develop a group dynamic.  Dr. David Renz was the professor in charge.  His degree is recognized and promoted by the Midwest Center for Nonprofit Leadership, The Henry W. Bloch School of Management, University of Missouri, Kansas City.

National Green Center Industry Leadership Summit

The good Doctor was praised for his professional and efficient staging of the Association Summit.

In the world of my youth, we could have used such well-studied and eminently qualified professionals.  In my youth, I only had the wits with which I was born.  Now we can rest more easily on the taller shoulders of those who write better sentences…or possess more credentials…or speak with louder voices.

As in my day of Quaker Meetings, this group’s consensus was reached after strenuous exercise and posturing.  There was no argument.  There also was no vote.  The congressional leaders concurred to leave the observations in an unedited form.

Notes were taken, collected, and preserved.  I am told that those in attendance wanted to, “build on this session’s info and take it forward.”

The delegates to this congress were urged:  “DON’T WASTE THIS INPUT.”  In future, it might be brought out and viewed through a darkened lens.  But if it is not to be used immediately, how shall it not be wasted?

What proof can be drawn that this meeting occurred?  What sound does a falling tree make if unheard by a passerby?  When does a natural confederation cease to be a group of individuals and become an individual group?

This congress produced a set of Articles of Confederation.  Analysed in their pieces, they have a disparate and almost desperate need to grasp the roots and promote a horticultural revolution.  Again, Ben Franklin was there before us, “for if we don’t hang together, we shall–most assuredly–all hang separately…” 

Truer words were never spoken.  Or written.  We shall see if they are a call to action.

In the Bleak Midwinter…

In the Bleak Midwinter…

“In the bleak midwinter, frosty winds made moan

Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone.”   

Christina Rossetti  1872

I welcome yet another new year.  It feels good to shed the old skin and attempt to dress with relish in the tighter-fitting garments that holiday feasting have created.  I look about my world and think of the major events that shape it.  Now is a time that reflection should transition to action.

I will tell you that a Moon Garden is one planted with specimens that bloom only in white or have foliage in grey or mottled with creamy variegation.  It is a garden to be enjoyed in the moonlight.  It is the first of my many garden rooms that I see when approaching my house in the evening.  On All Hallow’s Eve this past year, the Moon Garden, the place of my dreamy reverie, was covered with eight inches of heavy wet snow.  Everything was stressed not the least of which was the owner.  These are my children and they were suffering!

The White Garden Orefield PA 18069

The Moon Garden in a better season. The photograph was taken by a grand and glorious photographer, Karen Bussolini. She is a special friend and fellow communicator of sustainability.

Since the disappearance of that early snow and the steady decline of temperatures into our normal winter cycle, I have been impressed to see how quickly my garden has acclimated itself.  It will be restored to full vigor when it surges back into bloom next spring.  Still, because my thoughts are caught on the bare branches of deciduous trees, I wonder why nature would react so positively to such early abuse.  Why does she continue to rebound for us?
In this season, I am actively seeking causes of why our own non-responsive nature doesn’t rebound when confronted with the abuse we heap on the natural world surrounding us.  Do we ever notice when the world cries out for cures to many of its uncurable illnesses?  Our sicknesses range from the common cold to the end of the polar ice caps.  And I think back to those delegates in Philadelphia in the days of my youth when another cantankerous, garrulous independent named John Adams could not hold back his wrath saying, “Piddle, twiddle and resolve.  When will it be done?”

I have been too long away from Philadelphia and its more genteel society to wish any one of them ill, but this should be the season to contemplate change.  Just as John Adams was pushing for the start of a revolution, I am also inclined to encourage revolutionary action.

It is a season to review lists, pay debts, collect outstanding balances that are due, and make resolutions.  These should include attempts to redress oversights and slights, receive inconvenienced or unreconciled relatives, improve one’s personal appearance, manners, station in life, or monetary situation and above all make more time for the things that are most fulfilling.  In short, it should be a time where dreams become reality.

Many of my dreams have come to fruition.  Most often that ripeness and maturity has been at a greater cost than I ever anticipated.  The cost has been in money, lost time, friendships, and pieces of my soul.  As yet another winter is passing, I take stock of my soul and find that it has a strength which for much I my life I thought it lacked.

So it is time to move forward with renewed strength and vigor into the wilds of nature and challenge the prevailing authority with news of change.  Nature will throw off whatever blanket it finds intolerable.  When nature becomes too hot, it will rid itself of even the most clinging garments.

I am on a path of collision with those who would not seek to preserve and protect the environment.  The colors and shades of belief are fast disappearing.  The issues become black and white.  They should be as white and clear as my Moon Garden! 

White Garden John Bartram Kirk R. Brown

Narcissus bloom again in spring in the Moon Garden

Either we choose to welcome a vibrant budding spring or we shall certainly lie exposed in a permanent bleak mid winter.  My choice is to go out and see how my garden is growing!  Blessings on your house and health and prosperity to your person.