Posts tagged ‘Archives of American Gardens’
Did you know Smithsonian Gardens does a lot more than just plant and maintain all the beautiful gardens around the Smithsonian properties? I know I didn’t! That is until I became an Archives of American Gardens intern at Smithsonian Gardens. My name is Jessica Brode, and I am a graduate student at George Washington University beginning my final year in the Masters in Museum Studies program.
Before coming to Smithsonian Gardens, I interned with various institutions across the country and abroad. After moving to D.C. I began to specialize in collections management work within museums, mainly assisting in digitization efforts with museums like the Smithsonian’s American History and Natural History Museums. I applied to Smithsonian Gardens after a chance encounter demonstrated that there were opportunities to use my skills there.
Coming in as an Archives of American Gardens intern, I was able to really put my skills to use for Smithsonian Gardens while learning new skills along the way. The Archives of American Gardens (AAG) currently documents over 8,500 gardens throughout the United States, with images ranging from the 1870s to the present. AAG maintains records on historic and contemporary gardens and gardening trends and contains over 150,000 images.
I learned the Horizon cataloging system utilized by the AAG and cataloged often throughout my internship. I was given the opportunity to research and write several exciting blog posts about gardening topics I would have never even thought of, including the Hershey Rose Garden, World Fairs’ gardens, and floral clocks.
The best part of my internship was the ability to take a project further than I ever thought I could. Smithsonian Gardens uses a system called a Digital Asset Management System (or DAMS) in order to track digital images of its gardens and events. I was given the opportunity to rename and reorganize the Smithsonian Gardens folder structure so that images could be filed by garden and year, making it more intuitive for a user to search numerous images. The new re-organization of images will enable staff to easily create slideshows of the best garden images for each of its gardens to make them readily available to the public through the Collections Search Center and SIRIS. It was really exciting to see how my skills could be used to help share garden history with the public!
I am really excited that I had the opportunity to spend the summer with Smithsonian Gardens, and even more excited to see what else is ahead. My internship has been extended so that I can continue my work at the Archives of American Gardens this coming fall and spring, and I am really looking forward to continuing some of the work I began, and starting new projects as well.
-Jessica Brode, Archives of American Gardens intern
Smithsonian Gardens is pleased to announce the recent acquisition of the Ken Druse Garden Photography Collection. Druse, a prolific garden writer and photographer, donated his extensive photographic collection of garden and plant images to the Archives of American Gardens. The collection includes several thousand transparencies and slides documenting over 300 gardens across the United States. Druse took the images to illustrate many of his books as well as newspaper and magazine articles for publications like House & Garden and The New York Times and postings published on his own blog, Ken Druse Real Dirt. Among his books are go-to references like Making More Plants: The Science, Art, and Joy of Propagation; The Collector’s Garden; and The Natural Shade Garden.
Given its huge scale and exceptional quality, the Ken Druse Garden Photography Collection is a wonderful and important addition to the Archives of American Gardens. A multi-year project to make the collection available for research use will involve steps such as rehousing and cataloging the images as well as digitizing select images for inclusion on the Smithsonian’s online catalog at www.siris.si.edu. Please join Smithsonian Gardens and the Archives of American Gardens in celebrating this fantastic acquisition!
-Joyce Connolly, Museum Specialist
Garden trends seem to be forever changing. Some develop because even gardeners who stick with a roster of proven reliable plants like a change now and then. There are, however, numerous trends that last. For example, Penjing, or the art of depicting landscapes in miniature, is an ancient pastime that developed in China and is still seen by the use today of bonsai plants. One interesting trend currently emerging out of these gardens in miniature is what’s known as a “fairy garden.”
Lemon Hill’s fairy garden is composed of young plants, diminutive trees and bonsai that are in scale with its miniature castle and houses, fountain, stone walls, gates and furniture, and fairy figurines. The Fairy Garden takes its name from the Meyer lemon trees grown in the vicinity. Its design was inspired by miniature gardens found in Ireland and in books. It is visited often by school and scout groups.
Though gardens can reflect many things, such as taste and style, they can also reflect function, such as creating a special place for children and grandchildren. Just look at the Fairy Garden on Lemon Hill. Lemon Hill was a special project for the owner and her grandchildren. Her own daughter helped her build the garden and she implemented suggestions from her other three daughters as well as her 13 granddaughters. She created the garden with all her girls in mind.
Building a fairy garden can be a project that you enjoy with your children or grandchildren that can get them excited and participating in the art and act of gardening. They can be found in any number of small spaces, such as bird baths, pots, or large plant saucers.
Images from the Garden Club of America Collection at the Archives of American Gardens.
By Jessica Short
Archives of American Gardens Intern
As part of the American Archives Month celebration, the Archives of American Gardens is encouraging the public to ‘tag’ their online records in the Smithsonian’s Collections Search Center. A little over a year ago, the Smithsonian’s Collections Search Center quietly turned on the tagging feature for records of participating Smithsonian archives, libraries and museums and now the Archives of American Gardens is hoping to use American Archives Month to promote this feature. The Archives is reaching out to Facebook followers of Smithsonian Gardens, universities with library and information science programs as well as horticulture programs to to contribute descriptive terms, keywords, or short phrases, to an item’s record to enhance searching on its records. If a user describes an item in the same way that they would search for it, the presumption is that these new terms will help with the retrievability of the records. For each tag that is added, that item has another access point – another way for other users to discover that item.
Although public tagging is not perfect and many questions remain about how folksonomy might function in the museum, a summary in a 2009 report by the Steve Project finds that, “Tags offer another layer that supplements and complements the documentation provided by professional museum cataloguers.” So while tagging is not meant to be a replacement for established cataloging methods, it may complement the catalog with a helpful element of user engagement and interaction.
Get Tagging! Visit the Archives of American Gardens Virtual Volunteer page to get started on tagging images.
Jessica Short, Intern
Archives of American Gardens
Blogs across the Smithsonian will give an inside look at the Institution’s archival collections and practices during a month long blogathon in celebration of October’s American Archives Month. See additional posts from our other participating blogs, as well as related events and resources, on the Smithsonian’s Archives Month website.
This summer Smithsonian Gardens (SG) joined the National Museum of Natural History and the National Zoo in an outreach program designed for high school students. Youth Engagement through Science (YES!) connected students to Smithsonian collections, experts, and training in an effort to provide them with practical experience, inspiration and encouragement to pursue science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers. The program also equipped the students with resources to help them in their next step of attending college to pursue their career interests.
Students who participated in YES! worked side by side with SG horticulturists and educators in the Smithsonian Gardens’ Greenhouse, Victory Garden and Heirloom Garden. The mentors, Tom Mirenda, Joe Brunetti and Erin Clark, worked with three students, Damani Eubanks, Kumar Madhav and Dion Anderson, from various high schools in the D.C. metropolitan area. Each mentor designed a project highlighting subjects in their area of expertise. The students worked with the mentors to complete the projects, keep a field journal and produce a poster for a special open-session presentation at National Museum of Natural History.
A special tour of the SG Greenhouse gave SG YES! students, Kumar and Damani, a chance to share their project with all 25 YES! students. Kumar and Damani demonstrated their newly gained knowledge when they explained how they measured and recorded various parts of blooming orchids.
This fall, when the students return to school, they are required to take a leadership role among their peers and promote the YES! program in a community outreach project. The students will be ombudsmen for Smithsonian Gardens!
YES! was a positive experience for both the mentors and the students. Smithsonian Gardens is looking forward to participating in next year’s programs with the new projects for new students.
The Smithsonian Institution’s Archive of American Gardens Wins the 2012 American Public Garden Association Program Award!
Every year, the American Public Garden Association Program recognizes the work of a truly innovative garden program. The winning public garden program is chosen based upon pioneering one or more of the following areas: education, conservation, development, botany, gardening, horticulture, research, extension or administration. The Archive of American Gardens fosters garden education through its garden tours (hosted by resident horticulturalists), its special garden activities and events, its garden interpreters program (which trains volunteers to meet and educate visitors on our gardens’ grounds), and its social media, which details local and national garden news and other interesting finds. As an archive, we are a repository devoted to preserving America’s garden heritage. We hold over 10,000 images of gardens from all over the country, documenting over 7,000 gardens! A treasure trove for garden enthusiasts and professional scholars alike, the Archive of American Gardens has digitized over 30,000 of its images, which are available at the Smithsonian’s online catalog at www.siris.si.edu. As a program devoted to education and research, we are pleased to accept the American Public Garden Association Program Award.
For more info on the award, or to nominate a garden program for next year’s award, see http://ow.ly/brMfe
Kristina Borrman, Katzenberger Art History Intern
While gardens have long been used for medicinal and culinary purposes, the first documented physic garden, and perhaps the most widely known, was the Chelsea Physic Garden in London, founded in 1673. Physic gardens were closely related to botanical gardens, as both garden types encouraged the collection, documentation and study of different plant species as well as promoting horticultural education to the public. The primary difference between the two garden types was that physic gardens were principally concerned with growing herbs for their medicinal qualities; the Chelsea Garden began as an apothecary’s garden used to train apprentices in identifying plants. Today the garden still exists and has a major role in public education, with a focus on natural medicine.
Physic gardens can be credited with influencing not only botanical gardens, but also the modern herb garden. The Archives of American Gardens Garden Club of America Collection includes many examples of both public and private herb gardens. Exemplifying the contemporary role of herb gardens in education, the University of Cincinnati’s College of Medicine hosts an herb garden, with a variety of medicinal plants (including marigolds and aloe) lining the college’s walkways. Compared to the University of Cincinatti, the herb garden within the private Sheffield Garden of Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania appears much more whimsical. Accompanied by statuary and a flowering border, it demonstrates how the herb garden can be valued both for its aesthetic and utilitarian appeal.
Jessica Dame, Archive of American Gardens, Garden Club of America History and Design Intern