Jenkins Arboretum & Gardens Partners with Botanical Artists for Florilegium Project

December 3, 2018 – Three talented botanical artists, Carol Ashton-Hergenhan, Deborah Keyser Dion, and Susan Mintun (Jenkins Board Member), have partnered with Jenkins Arboretum & Gardens to complete a florilegium comprised of approximately 36 artworks. Over the next two or three years, the artists will individually create paintings or drawings from the flora in Jenkins’ plant collection. The Florilegium will have many benefits: it will document the history of the garden, can serve as reference material for education purposes, and can even help to raise funds through the sale of reproductions. We will celebrate the completion of the project with a gallery exhibition in the John J. Willaman Education Center.

A florilegium is a collection of paintings or illustrations that serve as a permanent record of plants in a specific garden or geographic area. It doesn’t include each specimen growing in an area, but should include some of the key plants that are representative of the plant community. A florilegium depicts plants that make up the unique botanical significance, or the “essence”, of the garden. The Jenkins Florilegium Project will feature plants that make up the “essence” of Jenkins Arboretum & Gardens.

Be sure to follow along on social media for progress updates during the project and for the announcement of a date for a gallery exhibition at the completion of the project.

Harold Sweetman Announces Plan to Retire as Executive Director

August 8, 2018  – There has always been a Director with the Sweetman name at Jenkins Arboretum since 1974 until 2019. Leonard Sweetman was hired by the trustee at that time to begin the initial plantings even before opening to the public in 1976. As the only full-time gardening director, Leonard worked tirelessly for the last 12 years of his life in growing a public garden for the future yet one he would never have the opportunity to enjoy in his retirement.  Leonard dedicated the last months of his life to helping his son, Harold Sweetman, transition as the next garden director.  Leonard died suddenly from a stroke the week following his full retirement in 1986. Harold, like his father, was the only full-time staff/gardener until 1999.

Harold Sweetman, over the past 32 years, continued planting with each growing season.  In addition to growing the gardens, he grew a staff of dedicated horticulturists. Maggie Knapp was the very first full-time gardener in 1999, followed by remarkable Hamilton Educational Fellows, including Steve Wright, Director of Horticulture and Maddison Paule, current Head Horticulturist. With the gardens flourishing and the resulting increased visitation, the John J. Willaman Education Center opened in 2009. Behind the scenes, Janice Legg, Administrator, and Janet Bauman, Development Director, also became full-time staff in 2009. Also behind the scenes for 25 years has been a governing Board of Directors composed of talented community leaders, professionals, and horticultural enthusiasts.

With the Forever Jenkins – Endow an Acre Endowment Campaign well underway and approaching the $20 million goal, hopefully by 2020, it seemed time to make way for a new director. Undoubtedly the new Executive Director and passionate gardeners, staff, and community members all dedicated to the special mission of Jenkins Arboretum & Gardens will ensure that Jenkins will continue to flourish and be a vibrant public garden “Forever”.

Help honor the retirement of the Executive Director with a special endowment gift to the Fund in Honor of Harold and Christine Sweetman

The permanent endowment has many named funds that are recognized in all Newsletter/Annual Report publications. Past president of the Jenkins board, Karla Herr, and her late husband Phil, have been generous supporters for many years and it was their desire to establish the Fund in Honor of Harold and Christine Sweetman. Funds in the endowment will ensure Jenkins Arboretum & Gardens will be a public garden for many generations to come. Forever Jenkins – Endow an Acre Campaign is currently 67% ($13.4 million) toward the goal of $20 million by the year 2020. Help us honor Harold by contributing to the fund. Reaching the endowment goal of $20 million by 2020 will fulfill his vision.

Many people are unaware that Mr. and Mrs. Jenkins left in trust a modest $600,000 and there were no gardens – only undisturbed woodlands. The gardens and the endowment have grown dramatically over the years thanks to the wonderful generosity individuals and foundations that truly recognize the importance of preserving Jenkins will into the future.

Please help Jenkins reach our goal by contributing to the Fund in Honor of Harold and Christine Sweetman or by creating another named fund in someone else’s honor. If financially supporting this campaign at this time is not possible, please consider making a pledge or planned gift in the future by including Jenkins in your will. Thank you for your thoughtful consideration.



Harold Sweetman Receives National Award from the American Public Gardens Association

June 6, 2018  – At the 2018 Annual Conference of the American Public Gardens Association, Harold Sweetman was awarded one of the Association’s most prestigious honors. The Award of Merit recognizes an American Public Gardens Association member who has performed with distinction in the field of public horticulture and has excelled as a public garden professional at one or more institutions. The recipient’s accomplishments encompass some combination of botany, horticulture, conservation, gardening, research, extension, education, development, or administration. It could be considered a lifetime achievement award, as it is intended to be given to an individual during the mid-to-latter part of an illustrious career.

This is an incredible achievement and recognizes more than 30 years of hard work, perseverance and dedication to the field of horticulture. For Harold to have done it all at one garden makes it even more impressive.


Children’s Garden Opens Spring 2018

March 13, 2018  – Jenkins Arboretum & Gardens is comprised of many different kinds of gardens with a new one soon to be added. A new Children’s Garden will open this spring near the John J. Willaman Education Center. A committee of Board members, Staff, and Volunteers have been carefully planning all winter to create a unique space designed to engage children in nature through creative play. The garden space is an ideal scale for children; however, adults are also welcome. Not a playground in any traditional sense, this garden has a unique ecologic basis and aesthetics. Special active education programs will also take place in the Children’s Garden.

In addition to bringing young children into a natural environment under a towering tree canopy, one of the goals of the garden is to encourage whimsical and creative play. Using all natural materials found at Jenkins, children of all ages will be able to construct miniature fairy houses, hobbit homes, toad abodes and forest forts. Building materials may be recycled again and again but never to leave the garden. Otherwise, where would the fairies, toads, hobbits and other forest creatures live?

Steve Wright Awarded Chanticleer Scholarship

December 6, 2017  – In December 2017, Steve Wright, Jenkins Arboretum & Gardens Director of Horticulture and Curator of Plant Collections, received one of the two prestigious Chanticleer Scholarships. Since 2008, The Chanticleer Scholarship in Professional Development has promoted creativity and leadership by providing public garden professionals across the country with financial support for academic training to improve their leadership skills. Specifically, the scholarship supports an educational experience and travel expenses to meet with other leaders in the field of public horticulture.

With this support, Steve’s primary goal was to meet with the curators and garden managers at other gardens who are managing nationally accredited collections of rhododendrons. In addition to simply seeing their gardens, Steve was interested in sharing plant lists, learning how those organizations curate and manage their collections, and generally “talking shop”. In addition, he used the opportunity to visit nurseries and individuals who have made significant contributions in the world of native azalea conservation and propagation. The experience took him all over the east coast with stops in Auburn, AL, Marietta, GA, Sevierville, TN, Asheville, NC, Aiken, SC, Richmond, VA, and New London, CT.

The Scholarship is aimed at public garden employees who are in, or hope to move into, leadership positions and feel they need more training and exposure. With such a small staff at Jenkins, these travel opportunities are rare, and taking significant time away from the Arboretum during the busiest time of the year makes things a bit complicated. Regardless, the experience proved to be very valuable for Steve, and the connections made will be valuable well into the future at Jenkins. Many thanks go to the Chanticleer Foundation for providing this wonderful opportunity.