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  • Author or Editor: Garry V. McDonald x
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The University of Arkansas Horticulture Department was charged in 2016 by university administration to develop and implement a student learning outcome (SLO)-based assessment plan. The Horticulture Department curriculum committee was tasked to develop such a plan. Various models were considered, but ultimately a modified plan based on the work of M.P. Pritts and T. Park was adopted. Adjustments were based on student population size and particular requirements that had to be integrated with the university-mandated SLO goals and objectives. Two phases of a student’s academic career were chosen to access: an incoming freshman or transfer phase and a late-term or degree completion phase. Specific learning outcomes and goals were identified as well as courses and activities that would reasonably be measured while meeting university requirements. Data collection on entering freshmen and transfer students started in Fall 2018. The full impact of the implemented plan will not be known until 2020, when the first full cohort of incoming freshmen reaches the terminal stage of the degree program.

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An emerging niche in landscape design is the creation of exotic venues in commercial and residential settings using unusual plant materials. For instance, the creation of a tropical looking pool area at a hotel, a southwestern desert look for a Mexican restaurant or an oasis for the consumer at a shopping venue can all be in part achieved by the addition of specific plants. Palms (Arecaceae) can be an important component of this effort, even in temperate landscapes. This article focuses on issues related to the incorporation of palms in temperate landscapes. Although palms are signature plants of tropical regions, a surprising number of species can be grown in U.S. Department of Agriculture cold hardiness zones 8, 7, or colder via a combination of appropriate genotype selection, attention to microclimates in design specifications, and/or special cultural practices to mitigate the impact of cold temperatures. Cold-tolerant palms can be a critical design element, especially when paired with other lush tropical-appearing plants, to achieve the goal of creating the illusion of an exotic tropical locale in temperate-climate landscapes. Genotypic and site specification, careful attention to establishment requirements, and modified maintenance practices are critical determinants for success that will be addressed.

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