Everyone who appreciates the beauty of nature and gardens — from backyard enthusiasts to art historians — will find something to learn and enjoy at the "Earth Perfect?" symposium, being held June 6-9 at locations at and near the University of Delaware.
"Earth Perfect: Nature, Utopia and the Garden" will combine themed tours of some of the area's most renowned gardens with lectures, panel discussions and academic papers on topics related to the garden. Designed for members of the public who are interested in the importance and meaning of gardens, as well as for professional gardeners and scholars, its expert speakers will focus on such aspects as landscape architecture, history, art, literature, botany, environmental impacts and garden design.
The symposium follows the publication of an essay collection by the same name, co-edited by Annette Giesecke, professor of ancient Greek and Roman studies at UD, and Naomi Jacobs, professor of English at the University of Maine (Black Dog Publishing, 2012), that explores the relationship between humanity and the garden through a variety of disciplinary lenses. A second collection of essays is in development.
"This is not an event designed primarily for scholars," Giesecke says of the symposium. "Just about everyone seems to have some connection to gardens — their own, their grandmother's, a public garden. People really light up when they hear about this event."
Following are a few highlights of the symposium.
- Keynote speakers will include Emma Morris, author of the acclaimed Rambunctious Garden: Saving Nature in a Post-Wild World; Jane Knight, landscape architect of the Eden Project, a new global garden and environmental education charity in Cornwall, England; Rick Darke, widely published author, photographer, lecturer and consultant on regional landscape design and conservation; and Stephen Forbes, executive director of the Botanic Gardens of Adelaide in South Australia.
- Additional keynote talks will be delivered by photographer Margaret Morton, whose work includes four published books; UD's McKay Jenkins, professor and author of What's Gotten Into Us: Staying Healthy in a Toxic World; UD's Doug Tallamy, professor and author of Bringing Nature Home: How Native Plants Sustain Wildlife in Our Gardens; permaculture expert Eric Toensmeier, author of Perennial Vegetables; and landscape architect Marcus de la fleur, whose projects apply sustainable site development principles.
- Tours will be given at Longwood Gardens, site of the June 7 sessions, and at Chanticleer Garden and Winterthur Garden, where the June 8 events will be held. June 9 will feature tours at Mt. Cuba Center and at the Delaware Center for Horticulture, where Wilmington community garden tours will be available.
- In addition to several opening-day lectures on June 6, when all events will be at Clayton Hall Conference Center on UD's Newark campus, a variety of presentation sessions and workshops will be held that day. Topics will include science and the garden, reclamation and reuse, ecosystem designs, literary gardens, sustainability, and gardens and healing.
For a detailed program and registration information, visit the website. The symposium offers attendees 20 American Society of Landscape Architects CEUs.
UD sponsors of the symposium are the Interdisciplinary Humanities Research Center, the Center for Material Culture Studies and the departments of Art, Art Conservation, Art History, English, Fashion and Apparel Studies, History and Philosophy, all in the College of Arts and Sciences; the colleges of Agriculture and Natural Resources and of Earth, Ocean, and Environment; and the Delaware Environmental Institute. Other sponsors and participants include Longwood Gardens, Chanticleer, Winterthur, Mt. Cuba Center, the Delaware Center for Horticulture and the American Public Gardens Association.