People and Gardens

September 2012


PHS Welcomes Chris Woods to PHS Meadowbrook Farm

Chris Woods joins Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) as director of Meadowbrook Farm. A longtime friend and consultant on Flower Show exhibits, Chris will focus on making Meadowbrook a showcase of excellent design and sustainable gardening and a destination for the best plants and products.

He began his horticultural career in England at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and is best known in this region as former executive director and chief garden designer at Chanticleer.


South Coast Botanic Garden Hires Oasis Design Group to Develop a 25-year Visionary Plan

South Coast Botanic Garden in Palos Verdes Peninsula, California, has hired Oasis Design Group, a landscape architecture, urban design, and master planning firm in Baltimore, to develop a 25-year visionary plan for the Garden that will provide a framework for future facility projects, programs, and other garden improvements.

“South Coast Botanic Garden is eager to embark on a visionary and sustainability plan with the Oasis Design Group team and the Garden’s local community,” said Adrienne L. Nakashima, chief executive officer at South Coast Botanic Garden Foundation. “The work will benefit not only the Garden and its friends, visitors, staff, and greater Los Angeles area but also the overall environment.”

Located in one of the most favored growing areas in the world, South Coast Botanic Garden has 87 acres and is a jewel of the Palos Verdes Peninsula. The Garden has more than 2,500 different species of plants from as far away as Australia, the Mediterranean, and southern Africa and offers extensive educational programming. The Garden’s mission is to provide a diverse horticulture and wildlife experience and be an example of land reclamation and sustainability.

Oasis will work with the Garden and its stakeholders to develop the visionary plan that will suggest improvements to the overall design of the Garden including ways to enhance educational opportunities, improve the visitor experience, increase sustainability in horticultural practices and plant collections, and address ongoing land reclamation issues. Oasis will oversee and work collaboratively on the project with its subconsultant, Environmental Resources Management, an engineering firm with offices in 40 countries.

“Oasis Design Group looks forward to engaging the Garden’s stakeholders and Foundation project committee to identify issues relevant to the Garden and to better understand the needs of the various groups before Oasis begins to explore design-related issues,” Scott C. Scarfone, ASLA, principal at and founder of Oasis Design Group, said. “This sharing of information will be crucial in guiding how recommendations for improvements to the physical garden will take shape.”

Oasis Design Group was selected following a nationwide search by a committee representing the Garden’s members, volunteers, Board of Trustees and Foundation, along with Parks and Recreation staff from the County of Los Angeles, which owns and operates the Garden. The committee started with a referral list of 40 recommended firms and asked 15 firms for Statements of Qualifications. Nine firms responded and were sent a Request for Proposal. Prior to the final proposal submission, the firms were required to attend on-site tours of the Garden and eight firms participated. Oasis’ team and two other consultant teams were interviewed in person, the final step of the selection process.


Phipps Production Greenhouses Become First Ever to Earn LEED® Platinum Certification

Adding to a growing list of advancements on its Schenley Park campus, including the new net-zero energy and net-zero water Center for Sustainable Landscapes (CSL), Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens has now earned Platinum certification for its production greenhouses under the LEED® for Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance (LEED-EB: O&M) program of the US Green Building Council. With this achievement, the public garden has become the first greenhouse/ conservatory/botanical garden/glasshouse in the world to receive the certification, as well as the operator of one of approximately 20 buildings (of all types) nationwide to reach the Platinum level.

Built in 2006 as part of a three-phase master plan for expansion at Phipps that includes the first LEED-certified visitor center in a public garden; the most energy-efficient tropical forest conservatory in the world; and the Center for Sustainable Landscapes (CSL) – one of Earth’s greenest buildings; the public garden’s production greenhouses are similarly innovative, offering 36,000 square feet of state-of-the-art, energy-efficient growing space for plants. Earning 69 out of 92 possible points to achieve the highest Platinum standard based on sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, and innovations in operations, facility highlights include: 

• Operates 33 percent more efficiently than similar greenhouses
• Auditing, monitoring, and automatic controls ensure greenhouses are optimally heated and cooled while taking advantage of natural ventilation
• Water usage is closely monitored and adjusted to minimize impacts during dry spells
• Integrated Pest Management best practices are enacted to eliminate harmful chemical use

“At Phipps, sustainability is a core part of our mission and we are committed to incorporating environmental responsibility into everything we do – including the way that we grow and maintain plants that become part of our renowned collections and horticultural displays,” says Phipps Executive Director Richard V. Piacentini. “I couldn’t be more proud of our Phipps team and the local partners who helped us achieve yet another ‘green building first’ for the good of the Earth.”

Making the LEED-EB: O&M Platinum Certification possible along with Phipps (responsible for facilities management and implementation) were evolveEA (LEED project management, benchmarking, and organizational greening); Pitchford Diversified (energy auditing and commissioning); Pennsylvania Resources Council (waste auditing); and Hanlon Electric and Scalise Industries (energy monitoring equipment installation). To learn more about Phipps’ green evolution, visit


Phipps Executive Director Richard V. Piacentini Receives Living Building Challenge Hero Award

As the visionary behind Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens’ newly debuted Center for Sustainable Landscapes (CSL), Executive Director Richard V. Piacentini has now been named one of twelve Living Building Challenge Heroes worldwide by the International Living Future Institute (ILFI), a nonprofit comprised of green building experts and thought leaders dedicated to creating socially just, culturally rich, and ecologically restorative communities. For five-plus years, this Challenge has inspired change in the way that buildings are designed, built, and operated, and the award Piacentini received honors the efforts of those who have adopted the standard and nurtured the movement as a whole.

Since his tenure began in 1994, Piacentini has not only made great strides to revitalize Phipps, but he has also taken the lead on its transformation into one of the world’s greenest public gardens with the building of the first LEED®-certified visitor center in a public garden and the most energy-efficient topical forest conservatory in the world when it opened in 2006. Phipps’ latest accomplishment under his leadership is the CSL, an ultra-sustainable education, research, and administration building that will generate its own energy, and treat and reuse all water captured on site, meeting or exceeding the three highest green building and landscape standards, including the progressive Living Building Challenge.

“From the moment I first heard about the Living Building Challenge and met its creator, ILIF CEO Jason McLennan, in 2006, I was inspired by the revolutionary principles behind it and eager to be among the first to pursue it with construction of the CSL,” says Piacentini, who now travels extensively to speak about green design and operations, sharing his innovative spirit and expertise to help professionals around the globe operate more sustainably. “It is a tremendous honor to have received this award and I am truly humbled by the nomination from my colleagues. Equally rewarding has been the opportunity to share our accomplishments and lessons with others, offering a glimpse at the brighter future within our reach — one where our communities are healthier, safer, and more supportive of all life.”

The other international Living Building Challenge Hero Award recipients for 2012 are: Skip Bakus of the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York; Bob Berkebile of BNIM Architects in Kansas City, Missouri; Eden Brukman of the International Living Future Institute based in Portland, Oregon; Mary Davidge of Mary Davidge Associates in Los Gatos, California; Carolyn Aguilar Dubose of the Department of Architecture at Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City, DF, Mexico; Ben Gates of Central City Concern in Portland, Oregon; Chris Hellstern and Stacy Smedley of KMD Architects in Seattle, Washington; Brian O'Brien of Solearth Ecological Architecture in Dublin, Ireland; Warren Overton of VIRIDIS E3 in Canberra, Australia; and Adam Robb of Jasper High School in Alberta, Canada.


Norfolk Botanical Garden Employee Amanda Wells Named Tour Guide of the Year by the City of Norfolk VisitNorfolk Convention Bureau

Norfolk Botanical Garden (NBG) is honored to announce that Garden Tour Guide Amanda Wells was selected as Tour Guide of the Year by the City of Norfolk Visit Norfolk Convention Bureau.  Amanda, from Virginia Beach, has been employed with the Garden since 2006 and is well deserving of this prestigious award. She provides educational tours for Garden guests, supervises and schedules other tour guides both for tram and boat tours, and is responsible for writing guide scripts with detailed information about the Garden and the plants and animals that call NBG home. 

“I believe if guests are educated about the plants and animals then they can excite their families about the environment and encourage environmental stewardship for future generations,” she said.

In addition to her tour duties, Amanda has also been a key member of the special events team at the Gardens, assisting in all stages from planning through providing great customer service during the events. Also, she is responsible for merchandise sales orders.

Amanda plans to further her knowledge of environmental issues, share with others around her, and make learning about nature fun and exciting. Visit for more information about Norfolk Botanical Garden’s guided tour activities.


Small Historic Site in Germantown Receives $148,643 National Grant

Wyck Historic House, Garden and Farm, at 6026 Germantown Avenue in the Germantown section of Philadelphia, has received a two-year, $148,643 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to support the growth of its Home Farm, Farmers Market, and Youth Education programs, as well as to pilot its new Second Saturday Festival series.

IMLS is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums, and the agency’s Museums for America grant program promotes museums as important institutions in the establishment of livable communities. For five years, Wyck has been engaging its immediate and extended community through innovative programs that address neighborhood needs – hosting a weekly on-site Farmers Market, providing outdoor and history education for local schoolchildren, and presenting educational opportunities for local and regional visitors interested in broadening their knowledge of history, horticulture, preservation, and urban agriculture. Wyck is a place where history intersects, and influences, contemporary life.

As a way to further connect historical and modern-day ideas of place, food, family, and community, Wyck is using the IMLS grant funding to expand its already successful Home Farm programs and to pilot a new series of public education programs in 2012 and 2013 taking place on the second Saturday of each month during the peak growing season (July to October).

Second Saturday Festivals utilize the full Wyck site – including the historic house, collections, rose garden and production farm – and feature hands-on activities, tours, lectures, exhibits, and more, for children and adults. The festivals present varied ways for the public to engage with the site, encouraging participation and stimulating imagination. They celebrate Wyck as a destination for the unexpected and thought-provoking while maintaining the site’s rare intimate feel.

Eileen Rojas, Executive Director of the Wyck Association, said, “We want to attract people who may or may not typically be attracted to an historic site with different levels of experience at the festivals. They can enjoy live music in a surprisingly pastoral setting, buy produce grown right on site, see the chickens, or relax in the rose garden, but then they can stay to do a workshop on food preservation, learn about bees, chat about the development of Southern cuisine with a culinary historian, or take a special tour of our museum collections storage.”

“We are thrilled and honored to receive this national recognition of our work," Rojas continued. "It will not only be transformative for our organization but will also make a real impact on our community by increasing what we’re able to offer. This grant marks a significant investment in Wyck and will help us leverage the remaining funds that we need for these programs.”

Since 1973, the Wyck Association has preserved Wyck, a National Historic Landmark house, garden and farm, as a place in which to experience the relevance of Philadelphia history in contemporary life. Wyck was home to nine generations of the same Quaker family, the Wistars and the Haineses, from 1690 to 1973, and today stands as a unique survival in a densely urban neighborhood. The site consists of a colonial house with innovative 1824 alterations by architect William Strickland; the oldest rose garden in original plan in America; a production farm and outbuildings built from the late 18th to early 20th century; and a collection of over 10,000 family objects, furniture pieces, and historical curiosities; and 100,000 family papers. The legacies of Wyck's prior owners, who represented the city's leadership in business, natural history and science, education reform, and philanthropy, are the values of innovation, social responsibility, and environmental sustainability, and the Wyck Association perpetuates these values through experiential programs utilizing the site and collections.

For more information, please call Kristin Hagar at 215-848-1690 or visit


Longwood Gardens Received One-millionth Visitor of the Year on August 17, 2012

Melissa Laurentius of Bel Air, Maryland got more than she bargained for when she and her two children went to Longwood Gardens on August 17. She became the one-millionth visitor to the gardens during the 2011-2012 fiscal year.

Laurentius received a bouquet of flowers, a $300 gift certificate for Longwood’s gift shop, and a lifetime membership for herself, husband, and kids. She was also greeted by more than a hundred employees who cheered and applauded when Laurentius was told of the happenstance.

“I’m overjoyed,” she said, adding that her husband would join the rest of the family at the gardens later in the day. “It’s thrilling, very nice.”

Reaching one million visitors was also thrilling for Longwood’s Executive Director Paul Redman who said it was the first time such a thing has happened there. “This is a major milestone for us all,” he said, adding that it’s not just about Longwood. “It’s very exciting. This is about having as many people experience the beauty and wonder of Longwood. I hope that what comes out of this is that there’s a greater awareness of all public gardens in the country and the role they play in our communities.”

He attributed the high attendance during this fiscal year — from October 1-September 30 — to “dynamic programming and the experience of our ever-changing nature here at Longwood.”

The current exhibition drawing attention, he said, is the Bruce Munro light exhibit. Redman said it’s made a “dramatic change” to this summer’s attendance.

Longwood released the following statement in an email after the event: “This millionth guest is a celebration on many levels. To see a million people come to a garden fulfills our mission and brings to life the legacy of Pierre S. du Pont, enriching people, finding value in gardens as premier arts and cultural offerings. This type of growth was purposeful and it began with the creation of a shared vision and multiple, impactful planning efforts over four years; we believe that planning never ends and is embedded into our culture.”