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  • Writer's pictureCat Meholic

Professional Show-&-Tell: Part 1

Updated: Jul 12, 2018

On June 30th Ambler Arboretum of Temple University hosted our second annual Professional Show-&-Tell. We had six speakers presenting on a variety of topics, and over 30 attendees! After the presentations, attendees were able to mingle with speakers and discuss in greater detail the topics that were shared. From this discussion and post-event emails, I was able to ask speakers for more information from their talks. Here is Part 1 of a quick summary of the topics presented, and follow up from after the event. Enjoy!

Speaker #1

Our first speaker of the day, Louise Clarke was energetic and excited to share her adventures in Australia with us! She showcased stunning photos, all of which she took herself (she took about 2,000 photos on this trip! She highlighted the many species of Eucaplyptus, scenes from the Kings Park Botanic Garden, and even photos of the otherworldly central Australian natural areas!

After her talk Women in Hort caught up with Louise to find out more!

The laughing kookaburra, was quite the delight to hear more about, and especially to hear its legendary song! Check it out here:

Kings Park Botanic Garden was a prominent part of the presentation. It has a great website you can check out here, and pretend you are actually there:


Louise shared an incredible cultural and horticultural story about the gift of a giant Boab tree. For that full story, go here:


When we asked Louise what the main differences between Australian and U.S. horticulture are, she replied;

"Differences were mainly climate. They have a Mediterranean climate, similar to southern California, with cool rainy winters, and hot, dry summers. They never get freezing weather or snow. Surprisingly, the high end landscapes I saw in Perth used a very limited palette of plants, most that we'd recognize; southern magnolia, Agapanthus, cordylines, bird of paradise.  Sycamore & Tilia were used as street trees. I thought I'd see more native woody plants, but didn't. Another difference was horticultural funding; the KPBG (Kings Park Botanic Garden) staff was larger, and major projects in that garden had been funded by national lottery proceeds.

The native plant focus at Kings Park BG was due to Grady Brand, (photo left) the senior curator, who's been there about 40 years. The garden has been focused on natives about 20 years, so perhaps that parallels the U.S. focus on natives. 


I was surprised at the lack of native plants in residential gardens, although they are available in retail garden centers. I met Mark Tucek who has recently introduced Tucker Bush plants to the retail garden market. Those are plants used by aboriginal people as food and medicine. I didn't recognize any of them when I visited the nursery. 

After my visit, I'm wondering if I'm the person who is supposed to excite Australians to grow their own native plants."

To hear more from Louise, check out her radio interview on Roots & Shoots, or visit her "All The Dirt Podcast."

Interview with Roots & Shoots - ABC Radio Perth, a Gardening Talk Radio



Speaker #2

An excerpt from Laureen's talk:

"Gradually…over the course of a couple or so years…

I fell in love

…with a place, and in this place found a hidden gem – a garden.

A garden, over time, whoWant to add a caption to this image? Click the Settings icon. had become overgrown and in my eyes – seemingly neglected –groomed & cared for only when special visitors were invited into her midst.

I am quite a late blooming garden designer, in my early forties I began caring for gardens other than my own. - And my own gardens were always temporary and donated to the next apartment occupant.

Then, October 2005 my partner and I became caretakers for a Historic House Museum, Stenton, in the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia – We were hired to take care of the resident dogs - mow the lawns, clean up leaves, shovel snow – basic maintenance stuff.

Spring arrived and boom! explosion of flowers."

Want more? Laureen's full talk will be posted on this blog in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!


Speaker #3

The delight at the "explosion of flowers" in spring that Laureen Griffin mentioned is a perfect segue to Eve Mahoney's topic. The take away from Eve's talk seemed to be, plants make people happy, so plant more of them! Eve followed up with us and went in to greater detail about how to create a group that successfully does just that;

"My main take away message is that it takes many people in different roles to make this sort of endeavor successful. At the top you have the founder/presidents/board members all the way to the laborers and volunteers who are doing the physical task. Denise said the most critical component is getting the word out.  She said social media has helped in the communication of the groups goals and is also especially less expensive than traditional forms of advertising and marketing.  She also cautioned that some do not use social media so there does need to be a creative balance."

Buck Beautiful's own Denise Sezack added to this by giving us some history of this organization:

"The origin of Bucks Beautiful started with Robert & Joyce Byers in the late 1980’s. Inspired by a tour through Europe, they wanted to start an initiative to beautify Bucks County’s small town residential communities and it’s rolling landscapes with a wealth of lush public gardens.  The Byers noticed how each European town center would feature beautiful gardens fostering great community pride, creating a wonderful sense of place. Since historic Bucks County is already internationally recognized for its history, the arts, its beautiful surroundings and philanthropic spirit; the Byers knew they could bring others together to emulate this remarkable European tradition in our own local communities and small towns. And in 1990, Betz Laboratories CEO Jack McCaughan (now retired) and his wife Carol joined the Byers in officially founding Bucks Beautiful, a 501c3 non profit community organization.

In 2010, the organization transitioned from not only supporting other community organization’s beautification programs to starting it’s own beautification initiative. The “Bulbs for Bucks” program was the inspiration of Bucks Beautiful’s board member, Chuck Gale. The goal of this program is to beautify Bucks County at key locations with the first splendor of spring blooming Daffodils. To date this community embraced initiative has planted over 1.4 million daffodils far exceeding their goal to plant One Million Daffodil Bulbs in Bucks County. These Daffodils will continue to bloom and multiply each year, bringing beauty to Bucks County roadsides for years to come.

In 2017 Bucks Beautiful’s newest initiative RePlant Bucks, was started by a group of current board members concerned with the accumulated effects of over a decade of disease and invasive insects on the tree canopy in Bucks County. As this has been devastating to witness, through RePlant Bucks they are committed to lead the way in facilitating the reforestation of our local communities. The goal of RePlant Bucks is the planting of 10,000 trees throughout Bucks County. The first planting of 1,000 native red maples was recently completed. The reforestation will ultimately consist of oaks, tulips, poplars, evergreens, sugar maples, shagbark hickories, chestnuts and red maples. These young trees, planted as two to three-year-old trees will be planted in groves by local landscape companies participating in the initiative.

As to the driving force, we are fortunate to still have the original benefactors support for the beautification initiatives that have been the organizations focus over the years. However, the organization’s real driving force is the current Board President Chuck Gale, who’s innovated approach to beautification ensures Bucks County will maintain its rolling landscapes with beautiful town centers, parks and open space areas for generations to come."

Bucks Beautiful website, and all the programs mentioned in Eve's presentation can be found here:

Many thanks to all of the speakers that presented at this event!

Be sure to check out Professional Show-&-Tell: Part 2 for the rest of the speakers!

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