| The Eastern United States and Eastern Asia share many
common genera of plants, and the forests of these regions often seem to be mirror images of each other. This has led biologists, biogeographers, and paleobotanists to postulate that these two regions once shared a common flora, and that shift in continental positions led to the evolution of two separate but similar floras. The Five Colleges have long had a connections with Asia. William Clark of UMass (then the Massachusetts Agricultural College) was one of the first Western agricultural experts to visit and teach in Sapporo in the newly accessible Japan in 1877. Exceptionally old trees of Japanese origin dot the UMass campus and the Pioneer Valley, a living legacy of his travels.
Smith botanists continue this Asian collecting tradition, having in this decade done field work in Taiwan, the Philippines, the People's Republic
of China, and South Korea. Hardier material from these collecting trips will join other plants of Asian origin that thrive so well on the Smith campus.
|This fall, the Botanic Garden is digging around its Asian roots and will feature a number of events that highlight the superb Asian flora and its usage by Asian peoples. We will continue to hold our annual Chrysanthemum Show, featuring mums trained in the Japanese style, but are planning to add a few new twists. The newly refurbished Japanese Garden and Tea House and surrounding garden will be the site of some special events, and our speakers will delve into floral subjects of the Far East. Check the calendar of events on page 15 to make sure you don't miss anything.
Smith students have been working hard to make significant contributions to many aspects of Botanic Garden-related work and projects. In addition to renovation of the Japanese Garden and Tea Hut, students developed interpretive materials and publications. Jennifer Woo '98 worked as an interdisciplinary Special Studies student. Using her knowledge and ideas in both computer graphics and biology, Jennifer created an engaging color-illustrated guide to the Fern House and fern collections. Ask for a copy on your next visit to the Conservatory. Brita Dempsey '00, Student Intern, developed interpretive signage for the conservatory, rock garden, and herbaceous garden. The signs are designed to provide information for visitors who are not part of a tour, and further enhance the educational aspect of the gardens and conservatory. They cover a wide range of topics from ethnobotany to the functions of xerophytic plants and include diagrams and photographs. The Fern House sign, which has been in place since February, has attracted many positive comments. Be sure to look for these new signs. Mary Hopkins '98 spent the spring semester as a Special Studies student investigating research into nitrogen cycling in orchard and other sylvan environments. This is an important area of work for managed landscapes of all sorts, both ornamental and agricultural, and will be even more critical as we face compounding water management issues in the next few decades. Mary's work was extremely interesting, and she has been accepted at Cornell University to pursue a Masters of Science degree with one of the top scientists in this field.
Lissa Harris '98 joined the staff of the Botanic Garden last fall as a curatorial intern and has brought all the records of new accessions up to date. Filling in on a temporary basis while the garden is without an Assistant Director/Curator, she has
updated inventories of various collections and developed computerized maps of the President's gardens. Lissa has discovered, in her year at the Botanic Garden, that curation is a never-ending process, since the living landscape of a garden or arboretum (and even a glasshouse) is always shifting.
Emalu-Hina Dancil '01 of Hawaii was the summer assistant at the Lyman Conservatory. She quickly earned the respect of the staff for her industrious work habits and sunny demeanor. Emalu assisted staff with the production of chrysanthemums for the Fall Mum Show and rapidly learned the intricacies of plant propagation, producing seedlings and rooted cuttings for the Spring Plant Sale.
The Smith College summer internship program at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew continues successfully and energetically. This past May, Penelope Stranc '99 and Hannah Thornton '99 traveled to Kew to spend the summer working in conservation genetics research. This program allows the students to learn cutting edge techniques and make real contributions to breaking work in plant conservation genetics under the expert tutelage of Drs. Mark Chase and Michael Fay in the Jodrell Laboratory. We will look forward to their report to the Friends Committee on their individual projects.
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