JWT Field Trips: Philadelphia

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Never Stop Learning

Another season of gardening has come and gone, and despite a global pandemic, it was a great year! Fortunately, gardeners including us at J.W. Townsend could continue working outside while maintaining a safe distance from our peers and wearing masks. We have always considered ourselves to be lucky to work in a daily horticultural paradise, but the added bonus last year was that we didn’t need to use Zoom every day from 9-5!

Every season starts with planning and I have been taking time to reflect upon the field trip we took in the Fall of 2019 to the Delaware Valley in Pennsylvania. Great gardens, gardeners, and gardening companies can always find inspiration from their surroundings. The beauty of central Virginia influences our gardens in so many ways from the abundance of wild flowering perennials to the stately long-lived hardwoods that cover our hillsides and mountains. In addition to these local inspirations, we find it valuable to think outside of the box and venture beyond our geographic area. This is what led us to the many great gardens of the Delaware valley including Longwood Gardens, Chanticleer, Scott Arboretum, and the Annual Perennial Plant Conference.

After a 5 hour journey, we emerged in Chanticleer. In an instant, we all quickly wanted to inspect the unknown plant cultivars, pruning techniques, water features, meadow plantings, and color schemes. It was clear that we were a tribe of plant dorks wandering through our own personal oasis. It was also obvious that we were all inspired by certain aspects of the garden, as notes were being typed on iPhones or scratched on the backs of visitor guides. I personally love to share these experiences with my peers and our wonderful clients when we return to Virginia.

Day 2 was thrilling as well; we spent the day listening to speakers from around the world teach about perennials at the Perennial Plant Conference. This is where we always learn about specific plants, planting techniques, maintenance tips, and the current trends in horticulture. My favorite speaker managed a large garden in Japan whose mission statement was to “tend to beautiful gardens for 1,000 years.” What a great gift to pass down to all future generations.

No trip to the Delaware Valley would be complete without an all-day excursion to Longwood Gardens. In my experience this is the Carnegie Hall of horticulture; the Mt Everest of gardening. Longwood is a place where you simply wonder how the heck did they make a chrysanthemum tree with exactly 1,000 perfectly symmetrical blooms. I was personally inspired by the unique and unconventional boxwood hedges, interesting annual plants that show so much interest in the autumn, and as always, the precision and amount of care that goes into every single plant. Oh yeah—we were also treated to a massive fountain show that coincided with the music of American divas, whoa!

To put it simply, I truly love to explore the seemingly endless horizon of horticulture. J.W. Townsend has allowed me to participate in these field trips year after year and I learn so much about gardening. I can’t wait to incorporate all of the ideas I have compiled over the years in the gardens I currently manage. It keeps work fun and challenging and I would have it no other way. Until the next trip…

Written by Luke Puglia,  J. W. Townsend Team Leader

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