Morris Arboretum

Morris Arboretum

Connecting people, plants, and place.

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Lectures & Talks

Connections Beyond Our Garden Lecture Series

Stay tuned for information concerning the Fall 2015 series.

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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.


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.


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.