People and Gardens

January 2013

Katherine F. Abbott named executive director of Worcester County Horticultural Society and Tower Hill Botanic Garden

The Worcester County Horticultural Society, which owns and operates Tower Hill Botanic Garden, announced the appointment of Kathy Abbott as Executive Director.

Abbott is a recognized leader in conservation at the state and national level, having held posts as Interim President and Executive Vice President of The Trustees of Reservations; Director of the Conservation and Recreation Campaign of The Trust for Public Land; Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation; and President and CEO of the Boston Harbor Island Alliance.

The hiring of Abbott comes at a time when the Worcester County Horticultural Society and Tower Hill Botanic Garden are looking to expand the role of Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Worcester and across the Commonwealth and New England. The nation's third oldest horticultural society, the Worcester County Horticultural Society was established in 1842; nearly 150 years later, the nonprofit organization created Tower Hill Botanic Garden, one of New England's only comprehensive botanic gardens. Designed to accommodate 150,000 visitors a year, Tower Hill Botanic Garden's offerings include numerous programs, classes, events, function facilities and, of course, the year-round beauty of the gardens. For more information, visit


Bickelhaupt Arboretum horticulturalist receives American Conifer Society award

On December 10, 2012, James and Ellen Kelley presented Horticulturalist David Horst of the Bickelhaupt Arboretum with a plaque for the American Conifer Society Garden Reference Award. Mr. Kelley wrote the following:

“As President of the Central Region of the American Conifer Society, I take great pleasure in presenting this plaque affirming the selection of The Bickelhaupt Arboretum as an American Conifer Society Reference Garden. The Bickelhaupt Arboretum is one of only four public gardens in the fifteen-state Central Region of the Society earning this designation.

The American Conifer Society (ACS) is a non-profit organization with over two hundred members whose purpose is to promote the use of and knowledge about conifers in the landscape. …The Bickelhaupt Arboretum has a national reputation and was one of the gardens on the tour provided to the ACS members during the ACS National Meeting held in June 2009 in Dubuque, Iowa.”

James E. Kelley
President, Central Region of the American Conifer Society 


Chicago Botanic Garden selects designers for display gardens 

After an international search, the Chicago Botanic Garden has selected landscape architects Peter Wirtz/Wirtz International and Mikyoung Kim/Mikyoung Kim Design to design two new display gardens at the 385-acre Glencoe campus. Wirtz will design the garden associated with the Greenhouse and Nursery Campus, and Kim has been selected to design the Learning Campus garden. This is the first public botanic garden commission for both and the first United States non-residential assignment for Belgium-based Wirtz.

Wirtz’s preliminary design of the Greenhouse and Nursery Campus garden calls for an intriguing curvilinear scheme of lush plantings, and using trees and structures to create areas for shade-loving plants.

Kim’s preliminary plan calls for the Chicago Botanic Garden Learning Campus garden to be a gateway to nature for children and their families.

Wirtz and Kim will begin working with the Chicago Botanic Garden in January 2013 and will finalize schematic designs for the display gardens over the next year. The Garden is currently fundraising for the two new projects. Read more here


Claryce Asmus retires from Fernwood Botanical Garden

Claryce Asmus referred to Fernwood as her family for the past fifteen years during her retirement reception on December 14. "I am wearing my dad's thirty-year retirement pin today, because he brought me to Fernwood for the first time when I was a kid—before it was Fernwood!," said Claryce. Coincidentally, the company her father worked for in Niles [Michigan], Kawneer Manufacturing, was owned by Lawrence Plym, local philanthropist and friend of Walter and Kay Boydston, Fernwood's founders. Lawrence and Mary Plym were instrumental in opening Fernwood as a public garden nearly fifty years ago. Little did Claryce know that Fernwood would become such a big part of her life. 

Claryce's position has been filled by Benjamin Futa, APGA Member and 2010 recipient of the APGA Student Travel Award. Ben, a graduate of Purdue University, is currently enrolled at Indiana University in South Bend, Indiana.

Fernwood is a favorite of all who love nature—flora and fauna. Fernwood is located near Buchanan, Michigan, at 13988 Range Line Road, Niles.


Cornell Plantations’ Brian C. Nevin Welcome Center awarded LEED Gold

The Brian C. Nevin Welcome Center, located in the botanical gardens of Cornell Plantations, has been awarded LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold status from the US Green Building Council. The building was completed in November 2010 and officially opened to the public on February 1, 2011.

An important part of the modernization and infrastructural improvements made at Plantations over the last decade, The Brian C. Nevin Welcome Center is referred to as the "grand finale" of a decade-long construction cycle that has seen new gardens, the redesign of office space, and multiple other projects. Built in the center of the Botanical Garden, at the confluence of existing walking paths, the building is tucked into the center of the gardens, offering visitors to Cornell Plantations a welcoming experience.

In addition to being a welcome center for Plantations visitors, the building also serves as a teaching tool for many groups interested in learning more about green buildings. Matt Kozlowski, environmental project coordinator at Cornell University, commented: “I direct many of the campus and student groups interested in green buildings to tour the Nevin Welcome Center. Not only does the building have a connection with the natural world in both form and materials, but many of the technological and design aspects of green building are clearly visible and are easily described to and understood by visitors.” 


The New England Wild Flower Society hires Andropogon

New England Wild Flower Society has selected Andropogon Associates, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to develop a comprehensive master plan for Garden in the Woods, its renowned native plant botanic garden in Framingham, Massachusetts.

The project brings together the nation’s oldest plant conservation organization and the acclaimed landscape architecture firm that for nearly four decades has led the profession in ecological and sustainable design. The master plan will chart a future for the forty-five-acre property that will realize the full potential of the beautiful site, strengthen the garden displays, improve visitor services, and meet the challenges of a changing climate.

Garden in the Woods was started in 1931 as the private garden of landscape architect Will Curtiswho designed pioneering naturalistic displays to take advantage of the exceptional features of the site, including high, steep ridges with valleys containing a pond, wooded bog, numerous springs, and a lovely brook. He collected seeds and specimens from across the country, experimented with new methods for growing plants, and developed the largest landscaped collection of native plants in the Northeast. In the decades since he turned his life’s work over to New England Wild Flower Society in 1965, Garden in the Woods has become an accredited living museum with a national reputation as a leader in native plant horticulture, propagation, and education. The first comprehensive master plan for the entire property will honor the historic character of the Garden while expanding the collection, improving the visitor experience, and upgrading facilities to meet the needs of a modern public garden.


APGA Honorary Life Member  Joe Oppe passed on December 31, 2012

Joseph W. Oppe, 80, died peacefully at his home in Parkersburg, West Virginia, on December 31, 2012.

Joe was born on January 11, 1932, in Marietta, Ohio, to Alfred G. and Cornelia J. Oppe. He is preceded in death by his son Steven; two brothers, Jack and James Oppe; and grand niece Julia Oppe. He is survived by his wife Barbara; daughter Mary Champlin abd her husband Tony; 3 grandchildren, Sarah, William and Crystal; and one nephew, 3 nieces and their families.

Joe graduated from Marietta High School with the class of 1949. After proudly serving in the Navy he continued his undergraduate education at Marietta College and received his master's degree in botany from the University of Idaho in 1959. He had fond memories of the years he spent growing up in Marietta and enjoyed rekindling old friendships when he returned to the area in 2004.

His career in public horticulture took him across the United States from Ohio to Colorado, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Kansas, Florida, Iowa, and finally back to the Mid Ohio Valley. He enjoyed the unique opportunities of each place and never left without friendships that would last a lifetime.

As a part of his career he was active in a many related organizations. He served on advisory committees and boards and was proud to be named Honorary Life Member of The American Association of Botanical Gardens and Arboreta (now known as the American Public Gardens Association). 


The Garden Conservancy announced Laura Palmer as interim executive director

The Garden Conservancy announced the appointment of Laura Palmer as interim executive director as of January 1. Laura will serve in this role while the Garden Conservancy’s board of directors continues a search for a new president who will be named sometime in early 2013. Antonia Adezio, current president, left the Garden Conservancy at the end of December.

Laura has been with the Garden Conservancy for twenty years and started its popular Open Days program in 1995. In 2005, she also became deputy director for administration. Prior to joining the Garden Conservancy, Laura worked with several nonprofits, including the Union of Concerned Scientists in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the Brandywine Conservancy in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania.


The New Jersey Turfgrass Association awards Rutgers Gardens with 2012 Environmental Stewardship award

On December 4 at the thirty-seventh annual New Jersey Green Expo, the New Jersey Turf Grass Association presented Bruce Crawford with the Environmental Stewardship award in recognition of the Rutgers Gardens' ongoing environmental preservation and conservation commitments through the act of education.