Return to Longwood: Mums, Archives, and HEAT

 

 

10 days back in the States after a lovely English summer, and I think I’ve mostly settled myself in. The jet lag has finally subsided and my stomach has mostly caught up to being hungry at the proper times, but I’m not convinced I will acclimate to the heat (as I write this, the heat index is hovering around 98 degrees). There were only a handful of days in England this summer that got above 86, and even when it did, the humidity was nowhere near the oppressive mugginess of the Mid Atlantic. People keep telling me “at least it’s not as hot as it was a few weeks ago”. But somehow, that isn’t helping. Part of me has been wondering what the first colonists must have thought when they arrived. At least we have air conditioning!

Weather aside, it is so good to be back! For the first two months I will be splitting my time between working on the specialty mums and helping The Archives and Digital Gallery with a project.

This will be my third year assisting Yoko, Longwood’s specialty mum grower. Along with her small team, she is responsible for growing and training Longwood’s Thousand Bloom Chrysanthemum, the largest mum outside of Asia! On top of that enormous feat, there is also a slew of smaller (but still large) intensively trained mums that need constant attention.

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Yoko misting one of the Thousand Bloom Chrysanthemums to help keep it cool.

 

Much of the mum work right now involves bending and tying down the stems which will make them easier to move around for the final placement. Next week, we will begin disbudding the side flower buds so that all of the plant’s energy goes into each center bud.

 

 

The other half of my week will be spent working in the perfectly air conditioned archives. Through my various experiences working at gardens of many different sizes and structures, I have come to appreciate just how important good archiving, record keeping, and collections management is to any garden. I wanted to focus part of my return experience at Longwood on developing these skills with The Archives and Digital Gallery team.

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A look into the vault where film and slides are kept in cold storage for preservation.

 

Over the next two months, I will be learning about the Digital Gallery and collections management by working on a project processing slides donated to Longwood by Eugene L. DiOrio. Already, I have taken inventory of 4285 color slides, with many more to follow before the scanning and uploading process begins.

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A few of Eugene DiOrio’s color slides.

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