2018 Shirley Meneice Conference

Longwood Gardens “Deep Roots in the Brandywine Valley”

The Shirley Meneice Conference at Longwood Gardens was a resounding success.  The Brandywine Valley region of southern Pennsylvania and northern Delaware is home to one of the largest concentrations of public gardens and arboreta in the country.  Delegates visited Mt. Cuba Center, a 630-acre woodland and native flora collection; Winterthur Museum and Garden, a 982-acre estate built by Henry du Pont to showcase flora from around the world to provide beauty throughout the year; Chanticleer, a “pleasure garden” with a wide variety of natives and other flora; and Longwood Gardens where the vision of Pierre S. du Pont to create one of the preeminent public gardens, conservation, research  and educational institution in the US has been realized.
Nina Sisk, Leslie Liedtke and I participated in a wide variety of programs and workshops on topics including: bonsai care, all about mushrooms, show-stopping dahlias, care of orchids, water gardens, garden design, winter landscapes, and many behind-the-scenes views of some of Longwood’s nearly 1,100 acres.


Nancy Schotters, Leslie Liedtke and Nina Sisk with the infamous Shirley Meneice cardboard replica…

One inspirational aspect of the weekend concerned the centerpieces on dinner tables that were made by women from the Baylor Women’s Correctional Institution in Delaware. The Garden Club of Wilmington partnered with Baylor to cultivate a bare tract of land and develop a curriculum to teach inmates about  “the full food cycle” of selecting, planting and growing vegetables and learn all aspects of floral design to create beautiful arrangements with flowers they grow.   Click here for the link to this program.
The post trip included a visit to two nearby gardens.  WynEden is a beautiful woodland garden that has the largest collection of hosta in the US, as well as thousands of native azalea, rhododendron and other spring flowering bulbs and plants that make the hillsides erupt in color.  The Townsend garden evokes the beauty of meadows and natives complementing an 18th-century farmhouse.  David Culp, plantsman and designer, created five distinct areas to provide year around interest with minimal maintenance and water use.

We have returned with many new ideas for programs and workshops as well as great insight into developing next year’s Conference that our club will host.