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Susan L. Hamilton

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Susan L. Hamilton

Many new plants and varieties are introduced into the market every year. Little information is generally available about the landscape performance of these plants. To take the guesswork out of their landscape performance in the Tennessee region, the Univ. of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture (UTIA) Gardens were established. Started in 1983 as an All-America Selections (AAS) Test Garden, on less than a quarter of an acre, the UTIA Gardens have grown to 5 acres and now include plant introductions from 25 commercial seed and plant companies. An average of 550 summer and winter annuals are evaluated annually in addition to an assortment of bulbs, perennials, herbs, groundcovers, ornamental grasses, aquatics, trees, and shrubs. Because of the volume of plants, evaluation criteria are in conjunction with industry requests and are not always replicated. In addition to university support, the gardens receive revenues from the sponsoring commercial seed and plant companies, the Tennessee green industry trade associations, a “Friends of the Gardens” support group, and gifts. As a result of the herbaceous plant evaluation program, the UTIA Gardens have grown to be a significant resource for the university, community, and green industry. A variety of university departments use the gardens in their teaching; community groups, including schools, tour and use the gardens; and open houses and field days assist commercial growers and landscapers in remaining current on new plant introductions and their performance.

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Susan L. Hamilton

The University of Tennessee's undergraduate and graduate public horticulture concentrations are new programs designed to prepare individuals for careers in public horticulture that emphasize people and their education and enjoyment of plants. These new programs could not exist without the educational resources of the university's gardens. The gardens play a variety of roles in supporting faculty, undergraduate, and graduate students in these programs. The gardens serve as an outdoor laboratory and classroom and provide on-campus opportunities for the following teaching and learning activities: plant identification; plant photography; garden design; plant use; garden maintenance internships; special problem topics (e.g., production of annual variety trials, planting and labeling trials, writing garden literature, and creating interpretive displays); mapping and cataloging plants; and garden writing. Only through a university-based garden could opportunities to engage students in such meaningful learning experiences occur providing them with the competitive edge for entering the public horticulture field.

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Susan L. Hamilton and Kathleen DeMarrais

This study examined how avid gardeners experience a public garden. Phenomenological interviewing was used to collect data from six avid gardeners who frequently visited a public garden. Data about the gardeners' beliefs and actions regarding gardening history, gardening practices, and involvement with public gardens were gathered. From inductive analysis, a model of a gardener's world composed of four conceptual themes: 1) personal history, 2) social connections, 3) human well-being, and 4) learning experiences was delineated. The conceptual themes of a gardener's world are the personal learning constructs through which gardeners experience the plant world. Each of the four conceptual themes influenced how participants in this study experienced a public garden. Participants used a public garden to socially interact with others, enhance their human well-being, strengthen their gardening background, and extend their gardening knowledge and skill. Several subthemes emerged within the four conceptual themes of an avid gardener's world to inform us how gardening plays an integral role in gardeners' lives.

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Susan L. Hamilton and Mary L. Albrecht

Students wanting to prepare for a career in public horticulture can now enroll in a new undergraduate and graduate curriculum at the Univ. of Tennessee. Beginning fall semester, 1999, students enrolled in the Dept. of Ornamental Horticulture and Landscape Design (OHLD) can opt to follow the new Public Horticulture concentration in the ornamental horticulture and landscape design major. The Public Horticulture concentration was the result of a year-long curriculum revision that reflects growth in career options in horticulture. The goal of the Public Horticulture concentration is to prepare students for careers that promote horticulture and emphasize people and their education and enjoyment of plants. Such careers include director of a botanical garden, arboretum, or park; city or urban horticulturist; extension agent, teacher, educational director, or program coordinator; professional garden writer/editor or publication manager; horticulture therapist; public garden curator; and plant collections manager. The Public Horticulture concentration allows students to take a breadth of ornamental horticulture courses, five of which are specific to public horticulture, along with supporting course work in soils, entomology, plant pathology, and botany, while providing the opportunity for students to take electives in education, extension, public administration, grant writing, museology, psychology, information sciences, journalism, and management. Students also complete an internship for graduation and have the opportunity to work in the Univ. of Tennessee Inst. of Agriculture Gardens.

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Susan L. Conlon and S. L. Hamilton

Project Green Reach (PGR) is a part of the Children's Gardening Program at Brooklyn Botanic Garden (BBG), a public garden regarded as a model program for garden-based youth education. PGR utilizes the indoor classroom and outdoor laboratory to engage K-8 students and teachers at Brooklyn's Title I schools in informal science learning. Every year, PGR instructors accept a group of students into the summer program where they work in teams on garden projects at BBG. Students who participate in this program often come from challenging home and school environments. Anecdotal evidence reveals that after participating in the summer program, these students quickly develop improved confidence and academic skills, evolving into scientists and gardeners. The purpose of this study is to investigate the effects of a gardening program on inner city youth and to document the PGR summer program as a potential model for informal science youth education in the public garden forum. Field observations of PGR summer program participants and program document collection were conducted during the 2004 Summer Program. This was followed by interviews of adult PGR Summer Program alumni and former staff who discussed their experiences while participating in the program and described the meaning of PGR in their lives. Preliminary results have revealed the positive impact PGR has had on participants' lives, indicating that PGR affected their childhood development, relationships with family members and friends, and their views on BBG, gardening, and science. Findings from the in-depth analysis of the interviews, observations and document review will be presented.

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Terri W. Starman and Susan L. Hamilton

Many new vegetative annuals are available in the floriculture market today. Their growth habits may be trailing or vigorous and more conducive to hanging basket or container garden culture. Today's gardeners are living busy lives and housing is sometimes confined, with little land on which to garden. These factors all contribute to the popularity of hanging baskets and container gardens. Whereas container garden trials are more common in industry, few universities have added container gardens and hanging baskets to their trial gardens. The objective of the hanging basket and container garden trials at Univ. of Tennessee (UT) initiated in Summer 1999 was to demonstrate and promote this timely trend to commercial growers, landscapers, and the public. An attractive brick walkway and wooden arbor were built by a UT landscape construction class to display the containers and hanging baskets. Several challenges had to be met: funding the purchase of expensive containers; planting and placing the heavy containers in the garden; combining plants within the containers; grouping containers together; labeling plants within the containers; displaying the hanging baskets; maintenance and pruning; and most of all, keeping the containers watered throughout the summer. The color wheel proved to be a useful tool for grouping plants and containers. A handout was developed to guide visitors through the container garden. Despite the challenges, the container garden and hanging basket trials proved to be a successful demonstration and were popular among visitors.