Saturday, April 9, 2011

Touring The Herbarium At DE State University...

One of the very best things about being a Master Gardener Training for New Castle County, DE is that you meet some of the most interesting people and get to see some very cool stuff.
Do you know what an Herbarium is?
I pictured it as a greenhouse where they grew herbs…
Ha! Shows what I know (or what I knew rather).
In the photo above is Dr. Susan Yost. She taught our MG training sessions on Botany and Plant Identification. A few of us got together after the class to see if she would show us around the Herbarium one day.
She was kind enough to schedule us in for a tour of the Claude E. Phillips Herbarium, located at the Delaware State University, in Dover, DE in amongst all her other University responsibilities (Thank You Susan!) She is one of the nicest people I think I have ever had the pleasure of meeting in all of my travels and experiences. She is just so laid back and easy to talk to & was happy to be called Susan, and not the formal Dr. Yost. She expresses her knowledge in a way that makes you feel like you can understand it, and that it is not something that is over your head. If you don't quite "get it" she looks for other ways to help you understand (by visual representations - drawings, photos, books, actual plants, etc). In my opinion, that is what makes an educator a great teacher...
 Here are some of the display cases in the front hallway to the Herbarium.
 They showcased plant material, photos, information about the plants…
AND BEADS! Yes - a whole collection of beads and jewelry made from seeds and other natural plant materials. Can you just imagine the smile on my face when I realized they had these!
I've seen beads from seeds at bead shows, but when you sell at bead shows, you rarely get out of the booth to really "look" at other vendor's items other than a quick glance.
 This two photos above and below go together. The tiny skulls were amazing!
The collection of beads & necklaces were donated by Ruth Smith.
I wonder if I have ever met her at a bead show? I believe she lives is in the mid-atlantic region somewhere as do I (and the bead shows I used to sell at). So I wonder if we have crossed paths…
I may try to find her contact information and just let her know that her donated pieces are wonderful!
Here Dr. Yost is showing our group some of the pressed plants from the collection at the Herbarium. The oldest specimen is from 1799 - the year George Washington died (amazing!).
There is also at least one plant in the collection that is believed to be extinct. It has not been seen in 40 or 60 years - I can't remember exactly.
Here she is showing us a very old book from their book collection.
It is called The Ferns of Great Britain and Ireland by Thomas Moore, and is from 1855.
You can order some prints here.
There was also this photocopied explanation of the printing process that they used to make this amazing book. These ferns could have been real (well, they are impressions of the real fern), but were prints of actual ferns.

I highly recommend going to the website to find out more information about the Herbarium. There were other MG trainees with me that had cameras, so I did not take too many photographs with my iPhone. I am happy that I do have these though…
What a wonderful place! I feel more enlightened knowing that a place like this exists!

Oh, and one thing that I loved about this building is that it the air was crisp and dry (no fungus or mold is welcome) and there are no insects welcome either. And it was like an atrium with a huge glass pyramidal roof that let in a ton of daylight. Perfect for a an artist studio space! Which - when you think about the work that they do there, and the collection that they keep - it is perfect. I wish there were spaces like that available to artists around here…

What a wonderful afternoon that was!
Thanks for stopping by and learning a bit about it...

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