Morris Arboretum

Morris Arboretum

Connecting people, plants, and place.

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Lectures

Lectures & Talks


Connections Beyond Our Garden Lecture Series

Why was Charles Darwin Aboard the HMS Beagle?

Speaker: Keith Thomson, Executive Officer of the American Philosophical Society

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 19 | 2:00pm
Payment and registration required. $15 Members / $20 Non-members; click here to register online or call 215.247.5777, ext 125.

In 1831 was Charles Darwin just an amiable but aimless young man with connections or was he already a serious naturalist? Darwin had gone to Cambridge University to prepare (rather unenthusiastically) for a career as a parson. He came back from the Beagle a serious naturalist and the talk of London. In five years of relative isolation on a small ship circumnavigating the world everything changed. This presentation will investigate the range of influences and ideas, the mentors and rivals, and the formal and informal education that shaped Charles Darwin and prepared him for his remarkable career of scientific achievement. Keith Thomson is currently Executive Officer of the American Philosophical Society, the oldest learned society in the United States, founded in 1743 by Benjamin Franklin. He is also emeritus professor of natural history at the University of Oxford and was President of Philadelphia's Academy of Natural Sciences.

A reception with refreshments will follow the presentation.


Keith Thomson

Keith Thomson
Executive Officer of the American Philosophical Society
Biography


Emily Dickinson & Beatrix Potter: Tale of Two Gardeners

Speaker: Marta McDowell, Author, Teacher, and Lecturer

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 10 | 2:00pm
Payment and registration required. $15 Members / $20 Non-members; click here to register online or call 215.247.5777, ext 125.

Reclusive poet Emily Dickinson, followed a life of obscurity with posthumous celebrity as one of America's greatest writers. In Amherst, she was known as a consummate gardener, exploring the fields around town for wildflowers, studying botany and tending her own conservatory. Author and illustrator Beatrix Potter's children's books are famous for captivating stories about rabbits, ducks and mice. In real life Potter was as much a naturalist and gardener as a writer, eventually owning a series of farms in England's Lake District. She became an early advocate of sustainable agriculture and a pioneering landscape preservationist and conservationist. Author, teacher, and popular lecturer Marta McDowell, whose books include Emily Dickinson's Gardens: A Celebration of a Poet and Gardener (2004) and Beatrix Potter's Gardening Life: The Plants and Places That Inspired the Classic Children's Tales (2013) is particularly interested in the relationship between the "pen and the trowel" - people who, like her, are passionate about both writing and gardening.

A reception with refreshments will follow the presentation.

Register Online Now


Marta McDowell

Marta McDowell,
Author, Teacher, and Lecturer
Biography

Please check back for upcoming lectures and talks.

Don't miss our exciting line-up of Spring special events here


Endowed Lecture Series


Gardens of the Jazz Age (Lukens Endowed Lecture)

Speaker: Jenny Rose Carey, Director of the Ambler Arboretum, Temple University

SUNDAY, JANUARY 18 | 2:00pm
Free; pre-registration required.

In this light-hearted, yet serious lecture, Jenny Rose Carey, Director of the Ambler Arboretum at Temple University, and a member of the Garden Club of Philadelphia, investigates the fascinating gardens of the Jazz Age. Using images from magazines, books and glass lantern slides from the Archives of American Gardens at the Smithsonian, she weaves garden history, design, social history and women’s history into a tale of the times. At its height in the 1920s, the Jazz Age was known for music, dancing, liberation, and fun. Influences from Europe and America’s own garden past combined to produce some of the most creative and opulent gardens in American Garden History. Gardens, like art and music, reflect their time of creation.

Register Online Now


Gardens of the Jazz Age

Jenny Rose Carey
Director of the Ambler Arboretum, Temple University


The Artist's Garden: American Impressionism and the Garden Movement, 1887-1920 (Klein Endowed Lecture)

Speaker: Anna O. Marley, Curator of Historical American

SUNDAY, MARCH 15 | 2:00pm
Free; pre-registration required.

Curator of Historical American Art Anna O. Marley will lecture on Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Art's 2015 exhibition and catalogue The Artist's Garden, which intertwines stories of American artists, Impressionism, and the growing popularity of gardening as a middle-class leisure pursuit at the turn of the 20th century. Diverse fine art and material culture - including paintings, sculpture, books, and gardening ephemera - will be illustrated, revealing how the horticultural and visual arts in this period were manifestations of an emerging national Progressive era middle-class American identity. Represented will be gardens across the United States and Europe, with special emphasis on the importance of the Philadelphia area, which served as the originator of the Colonial Revival Garden movement with the Centennial Exhibition in 1876. Moreover, the Philadelphia area was the center of the publishing industry in the early 20th century, which led to the creation of magazines aimed at middle class suburban gardeners like House and Garden (founded here in 1901). By employing the interdisciplinary perspectives of horticultural history and art history, The Artist's Gardenwill reveal the far-reaching effects of the ideas of Impressionism on not just painting, but American culture at large.

Anna O. Marley is a nationally-recognized authority on American art and material culture from the colonial era to 1945. She and holds a B.A. in Art History from Vassar College, an M.A. in Museum Studies from the University of Southern California and a Ph.D. from the University of Delaware. Since joining PAFA in March 2009, Dr. Marley has curated more than 10 exhibitions. Currently, Dr. Marley is organizing the nationally touring exhibitionThe Artist's Garden, with an accompanying catalog to be published by the University of Pennsylvania Press. She is also working on exhibitions on Thomas Eakins photography and nineteenth-century history painting in the Americas. Prior to PAFA, she worked for the National Gallery of Art and the National Park Service, and held research fellowships at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Winterthur Museum, the Maryland Historical Society, and Colonial Williamsburg. Dr. Marley's professional affiliations include serving as Co-Chair of the Association of Historians of American Art, and as a member of the Association of Art Museum Curators, the College Art Association, and the Society of Early Americanists. She is also a member of the Morris Arboretum and an avid gardener!

Register Online Now


The Artist's Garden

Anna O. Marley
Curator of Historical American


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Keith Thomson

Keith Thomson is professor emeritus of natural history, University of Oxford, and Executive Officer, American Philosophical Society since 2012. He is also the author of more than 200 scientific papers and twelve books. Thomson lives in Philadelphia.

Keith Thomson on The Young Charles Darwin
What sort of person was the young naturalist who developed an evolutionary idea so logical, so dangerous, that it has dominated biological science for a century and a half? How did the quiet and shy Charles Darwin produce his theory of natural selection when many before him had started down the same path but failed? This book is the first to inquire into the range of influences and ideas, the mentors and rivals, and the formal and informal education that shaped Charles Darwin and prepared him for his remarkable career of scientific achievement.

Keith Thomson concentrates on Darwin’s early life as a schoolboy, a medical student at Edinburgh, a theology student at Cambridge, and a naturalist aboard the Beagle on its famous five-year voyage. Closely analyzing Darwin’s Autobiography and scientific notebooks, the author draws a fully human portrait of Darwin for the first time: a vastly erudite and powerfully ambitious individual, self-absorbed but lacking self-confidence, hampered as much as helped by family, and sustained by a passion for philosophy and logic. Thomson’s account of the birth and maturing of Darwin’s brilliant theory is fascinating for the way it reveals both his genius as a scientist and the human foibles and weaknesses with which he mightily struggled.

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Marta McDowell

Marta McDowell lives, writes and gardens in Chatham, New Jersey. She shares her garden with her husband, Kirke Bent, their crested cockatiel, Sydney, and assorted wildlife. Her garden writing has appeared in popular publications such as Woman’s Day, Fine Gardening and The New York Times. Scholars and specialists have read her essays on American authors and their horticultural interests in the journals Hortus and Arnoldia.

Timber Press published Marta’s book, Beatrix Potter's Gardening Life, in 2013. It won the Silver Award from the Garden Writers Association in June 2014. Emily Dickinson’s Gardens, was published by McGraw-Hill in 2005.  Marta was an advisor for the New York Botanical Garden's 2010 exhibit "Emily Dickinson's Gardens: The Poetry of Flowers" and was a featured speaker.

Marta teaches landscape history and horticulture at the New York Botanical Garden. A popular lecturer on topics ranging from design history to plant combinations, she has been a featured speaker at locations ranging from Wave Hill to the Garden Club of Philadelphia to the Beatrix Potter Society's Linder Lecture at the Sloane Club in London. With artist Yolanda Fundora, Marta wrote A Garden Alphabetized (for your viewing pleasure) in 2008.

Her current projects include a book about the history of American gardening as seen through the gardens and grounds of the White House due out from Timber Press in 2016. Marta is on the Board of the NJ Historical Garden Foundation at the Cross Estate in Bernardsville, New Jersey.

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John W. Fitzpatrick

John W. Fitzpatrick became the Louis Agassiz Fuertes Director of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in August 1995. He received his B.A. from Harvard in 1974 and his Ph.D. from Princeton in 1978. An expert on the Florida Scrub-Jay, he is co-author of at least six bird species new to science. His book, Florida Scrub Jay: Demography of a Cooperative-breeding Bird earned him a William Brewster Award, the highest research award given by the American Ornithologists' Union. He also studies systematics and biogeography of South American birds. He co-authored Neotropical Birds: Ecology and Conservation, and was a major contributor to Volume 9 of the Handbook of Birds of the World.

Today, Fitzpatrick works on the ecology, conservation biology, landscape genetics, and regional land management of endangered species, with emphasis on the cooperative-breeding Florida Scrub-Jay. He remains closely involved in an intensive, long-term demographic study (42 years and counting) of the color-marked jay population at the Archbold Biological Station. At the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Fitzpatrick is involved in developing internet-based projects for citizen engagement in monitoring bird populations around the world, and using these data to draw attention to regional and global conservation priorities.

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