People and Gardens

August 1, 2012


The Texas Discovery Gardens hires new executive director

Texas Discovery Gardens Board of Directors welcomed Dick Davis as the new executive director, effective June 4, 2012. Davis comes to Texas Discovery Gardens after serving as the Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation’s executive director for the past seven years. Prior to that, he served as the director of the Texas-Oklahoma Region of the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation for five years.

"We are fortunate and honored to have Dick Davis as our new executive director," Michael Bosco, chairman of the board, said. "His years of experience will serve Texas Discovery Gardens well. Davis' love of the outdoors and teaching goes hand in hand with our mission."

With years of experience in the outdoor and environmental fields, Davis looks forward to making an even greater impact on a more local level.

"Texas Discovery Gardens has a long, successful history and is prime for an even greater future," Davis said. "This is not just another garden; this one features native and adapted plants found in few public places, as well as what is arguably the nation's best butterfly house. It's also one of the most beautiful venues for events in north Texas, and it's a unique classroom for young and old alike.”

Texas Discovery Gardens staff members are planning several new projects and goals over the next year to better serve their mission of teaching effective ways to restore, conserve, and preserve nature in an urban setting, with a focus on gardening organically and sustainably. Offsite in the fall, a community garden will be placed at S. S. Connor Elementary School as part of an ongoing collaboration made possible by the Woodall Foundation. Another garden will be placed at J. W. Ray Elementary School thanks to the Founders Garden Club. Texas Discovery Gardens’ educators will also continue working with Jubilee Community Center to lead an intensive three-day ‘Global Bugs’ program to keep kids tuned into outdoor education in the summer, made possible by the Junior League of Dallas Garden Club Committee. Onsite, Texas Discovery Gardens staff members will continue to maintain sustainable and native/adapted gardens and serve the public through family festivals, educational classes for kids, summer camps, and more.

"We have an outstanding board of directors and a great staff to lead us and many excellent reasons for people to come see us,” Davis said. “We invite long-time friends and new explorers to come re-discover these gardens."



Texas Discovery Gardens welcomes new director of horticulture

Texas Discovery Gardens is excited to announce the hiring of Roger Sanderson as the director of horticulture. Sanderson brings years of horticulture-related experience to the Gardens. For the past eleven years he has been the director of botanical gardens/wildlife biologist at the Heard Natural Science Museum.

Described by peers in the industry as a “constant learner” who uses a “discovery approach to education,” Sanderson joins Texas Discovery Gardens at a time when showcasing native, drought-tolerant landscaping and sustainable gardening techniques are paramount.



One of the world's rarest plants can be found at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens

Birmingham Botanical Gardens continues to work in conjunction with the Alabama Plant Conservation Alliance (APCA) to increase numbers of Tutwiler’s spleenwort, a fern so rare that the Hale County location of its discovery, less than five acres of land, holds the only known population of its kind in the world.  Here the plant grows on a distinctive type of conglomerate rock called pudding stone; at last count, just 180 plants were found. It is one of 24 plants endemic to the state of Alabama, and conservation efforts are underway in the greenhouses at The Gardens.

Botanically, the plant is known as Asplenium tutwilerae. It is named for Julia Strudwick Tutwiler, an amateur naturalist who discovered the fern in the nineteenth century. It was initially believed to be a sterile hybrid of ebony spleenwort and walking fern, but a recent discovery using newly developed technology determined that it is a fertile hybrid that evolved through a process known as reticulate evolution.

Through the efforts of naturalists Richard and Nancy Cobb, this fern has been closely monitored for the last several years in its natural habitat. Field counts there have indicated that the population is not stable. Recently, spores were collected and germinated by botanist Wayne Barger of Forever Wild, and several tiny ferns were given to Birmingham Botanical Gardens. Now, these thrive in The Gardens’ greenhouse and are being prepared for planting outside. Kaul Wildflower Garden Curator John Manion leads the APCA task force monitoring the fern’s population and exploring the purchase of the property where it naturally grows. In addition to protecting that environment, the group hopes to return specimens to the site and increase the population.


The University of Guelph Arboretum announced director's retirement

On June 30, Professor Alan Watson stepped down as director of the University of Guelph Arboretum after serving for twenty years as director. Prior to that he was the Arboretum's interpretive biologist and education co-ordinator. 

Dr. Jonathan Newman, director of the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of Guelph Arboretum, will be serving as interim director.


The United States Botanic Garden announces new Public Programs Manager

The United States Botanic Garden announces the arrival of Dr. Ari Novy as Public Programs Manager. Ari is a plant biologist who brings a wide range of expertise in plant science and education to the Botanic Garden. He started his career in student support services working for New York University, worked as an estate gardener in Italy, researched sustainable agriculture in the Philippines, and served as an environmental consultant on infrastructure projects in the northeastern U.S. In 2006, he began working as a Graduate Research Fellow at Rutgers University in New Jersey, where he conducted research on plant population genetics, invasive species, plant conservation, horticultural improvement, agronomic risk assessment, beekeeping management, plant evolution and agricultural economics and policy. He completed a BA at New York University in 2000 and a PhD at Rutgers University in 2012. As Public Programs Manager Ari will oversee programing, education, volunteers, visitor services, interpretation, exhibits and events.


Rare Cycad Sets Cones in NAPCC Collection 

One of University of California Botanical Garden's rarest cycads, Encephalartos middelburgensis, is developing cones for the first time. Recently declared extinct in the wild, the middelburg cycad is kept alive through ex situ holdings like this NAPCC Cycad Collection. Specialized pollination capturing and propagation techniques are necessary to maintain these rare cycads which have male and female plants, and to build conservation populations for possible reintroduction in the future.