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Lecture Series

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A stone and metal sculpture stands to the side of a colorful, blooming rose garden.
An annual series of lectures held from late fall to early spring that explore a wide variety of fascinating topics. Lectures are supported in part by the Klein Lecture Endowment given in memory of Dr. William M. Klein who served from 1977-1990 as the Arboretum’s first full-time director, the Laura L. Barnes Lecture Endowment of The Philadelphia Foundation, given in memory of Laura Barnes by students and alumni of her school of horticulture, and the Byron Lukens Lecture Endowment, given in memory of educator and Arboretum volunteer, Byron Lukens and his wife Elizabeth.

Endowed Lectures

Tuesday Night Nature: A Virtual Speaker Series (Online)

Tuesday Night Nature, occurring on five consecutive evenings this spring, brings expert voices from afar to the comfort of your own home. Take a virtual tour of England’s gardens; learn from garden experts in Denmark, Quebec, and coastal Maine; and take a dive into the wild world of fungi and explore scientific and theoretical lessons from mycology. Sign up for each class separately or join for the five-part series at a discounted price.

The Morris Arboretum Lecture Series is supported in part by the William Klein Lectureship Endowment, the Laura L. Barnes Horticultural Lecture Fund of The Philadelphia Foundation, and the Byron & Elizabeth Lukens Lecture Endowment.

Series price: Members: $80 | Non-members: $100

Register here for the Virtual Speaker Series at a discounted price OR register below for individual lectures.

Scientific and Theoretical Lessons from Mycology

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A black-and-white photo of a woman with dark, curly hair smiling and crossing her arms across her chest with water in the background.

Dr. Patricia Kaishian, Mycologist, Visiting Professor of Biology at Bard College, NY

This talk approaches the field of mycology through a theoretical framework rooted in queer and feminist theories, as well as philosophy of science and traditional ecological knowledge. The goal of this work is to challenge, push, and explore central tenets of institutional science, and to socially and historically situate current research dilemmas in mycology.

Dr. Patricia Kaishian’s research focuses on fungal taxonomy, diversity, evolution, symbiosis, and ecology, particularly of the less-studied fungal groups, such as the insect-associated Laboulbeniales. She is a co-founder of the International Congress of Armenian Mycologists, which seeks to jointly protect Armenian sovereignty and biodiversity. Patricia also studies philosophy of science, feminist bioscience, and queer theory, exploring how mycology and other scientific disciplines are situated in and informed by our sociopolitical landscape. Her work, The Science Underground: Mycology as a Queer Discipline, appears in Catalyst: Feminism, Theory, Technoscience. Her forthcoming book, Forest Euphoria, will be published by Milkweed Editions.

Tuesday, April 4
7:00–8:30 pm

Members: $20 | Non-members: $25

Register here

Reading the Land: Stories from Glen Villa Art Garden in Quebec, Canada 

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A close-up of a woman with grey hair holding a camera up to her face.

Patterson Webster, Writer, Artist, Photographer, and Gardener, Glen Villa Art Garden, Quebec, CA

Some gardens speak to us, others don’t. But what does this common phrase mean? How do gardens speak? What do they say, and how do we learn to listen?

This talk approaches garden design from a novel perspective, exploring how art and language shape our relationship to the land. Using Glen Villa Art Garden in Quebec, Canada, as a jumping-off point, we explore how language is used in gardens internationally, and how we can use words to expand the stories that our gardens tell. You will discover ideas that can shape your garden and enrich its spirit; learn how using personal memories can enliven the design of your garden; and develop a new appreciation of what a garden is or can be.

Patterson Webster is the author of Autobiography of a Garden , a memoir about the creation and development of Glen Villa Art Garden. In her work, she explores the connections between landscape and history to reveal our collective impact on the land around us. “I believe that representing the history of a site and the people who inhabit it strengthens an emotional response and allows people to look deeper into the beauty that surrounds them. It opens their eyes and makes their hearts sing.” The primary site for her work in sculpture and site-responsive installations is Glen Villa Art Garden, her 750-acre private property, located on the traditional land of the Abenaki First Nation.

Tuesday, April 11
7:00 – 8:30 pm

Members: $20 | Non-members: $25

Register here

Beyond the Traditional Butterfly Garden: Supporting Lepidoptera with Native Plants 

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A man with a short beard smiles next to a tree trunk.

Andrew Brand, Director of Horticulture, Coastal Maine Botanic Gardens

The popularity of native plants has grown leaps and bounds recently and rightfully so. They’re tough and durable, demonstrate good resistance to drought, insects, and disease, provide food and habitat for wildlife, and they’re beautiful. Most landscapes today may be aesthetically pleasing, but they typically do not support the diversity of Lepidoptera that is found in properties made up mostly of native species. Andy will present a selection of native plants describing their attributes, habitat needs and highlight the important roles they each play in supporting a wide variety of Lepidoptera in our yards. Hostplants, those species on which eggs are laid and caterpillars eat, will be emphasized.

Tuesday, April 18
7:00 – 8:30 pm

Members: $20 | Non-members: $25

Register here

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder 

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A man in a blue shirt stands in front of bright green foliage.

Dr. Toby Musgrave, Garden Historian, Designer, Author

The perception of beauty is subjective and what one person may think beautiful, another may not. This is as true for garden art as for any other art form and in this lecture, plants and gardens historian Toby Musgrave will present and explore a selection of garden styles from across the world and down the centuries that have drawn differing opinions as to their beauty … or not, and delve into the whys and wherefores of the differences in opinion.

Dr. Musgrave is a foremost authority on the subjects of garden and plant history and design, about which he has authored or co-authored 18 books. Most recently Wild EdensThe Garden: Elements and Styles and The Multifarious Mr. Banks. He is part-time Faculty Lecturer at the Danish Institute of Studies Abroad in his adopted country, Denmark. Between semesters he works as a gardens tour leader for Botanica and as a submersible pilot for Seabourn Expeditions. For more information about Toby and his work please visit www.TobyMusgrave.com.

This course has been approved to carry 1.5 LA CES professional development hours for registered landscape architects.

Tuesday, April 25
7:00 – 8:30 pm

Members: $20 | Non-members: $25

Register here

Virtual Tours of English Gardens 

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A woman in a blue t-shirt smiles with her hands in a pink rose bush.

Erin Conley, Rosarian, Morris Arboretum

The Arboretum’s rosarian Erin Conley had the incredible opportunity to work at a private garden in England from June to September 2022, thanks to a Chanticleer Scholarship. While abroad, she visited 30 gardens in England. Join her on a virtual tour through some of her favorites, including a few of England’s most famous gardens as well as other notable gardens in the English countryside. Besides providing lush images of double borders and the stately and classic English hedges, Erin will highlight what makes an English garden, the influential characters behind these famous gardens, and exciting plants she encountered along the way.

Tuesday, May 2
7:00 – 8:30 pm

Members: $20 | Non-members: $25

Register here