Sweet Auburn: The Magazine of the Friends A Landscape of Remembrance and Reflection - Page 17
sweet auburn | 2020 volume i
Q&A with Jim Gorman
and Eleanor Gould
By Jennifer Johnston
Media & Communications Director
ongwood Gardens Fellow Eleanor Gould (EG) was
recently hired as Mount Auburn’s Vice President
of Horticulture and Landscape. Arriving at the
Cemetery, Eleanor was delighted to meet an earlier Longwood
alum, Visitor Services Representative Jim Gorman (JG). Media
& Communications Director Jennifer Johnston (JJ) asked each to
recall their time and association with Longwood Gardens (LG),
which is located in Kennett Square, PA.
JJ: Can you recall how you first visited or heard about LG?
JG: In 1985 while working for the Boston Park Rangers within
Emerald Necklace parks, I began volunteering at the Arnold
Arboretum (AA). There I met Gary Koller, a graduate of the
Longwood master’s program, and other Longwood Fellows. I
visited LG four or five years later.
EG: I first heard about LG from my colleagues at Monticello in
Charlottesville, VA. Amy Jeffries, Horticulturist, had been an
intern and Peggy Cornett, Curator of Plants, was a Longwood
Fellow. When I visited, I was blown away by the scale and
diversity of horticultural experiences there: precisely clipped
topiaries, an eighty-seven-acre meadow garden, the four-acre
conservatory showcasing the Roberto Burle Marx Cascade
Garden and the Silver Garden. Peter Hatch, Director Emeritus
of Monticello, aptly describes LG as the “Super Bowl of
JJ: Can you share memories of time spent at LG?
JG: They had outstanding woody plant collections as well
as exuberant displays of flowers, topiary and rose gardens,
vegetable and idea gardens, and giant waterlilies. They had
indoor conservatories dedicated to orchids, Mediterranean
plants, bonsai, children’s garden, and carnivorous plants. I saw
why LG was called an “over the top” botanic garden.
In 1998 I entered the Longwood Graduate Program (LGP).
There were 170 full-time and 145 part-time employees on
the payroll, and 250 volunteers. The FY operating budget
was $22.5 million, 60% generated on-site, with an estimated
930,000 visitors a year. My time there was invaluable.
JJ: How did you first hear about Mount Auburn Cemetery?
JG: In 1985, while I was a new volunteer at the AA, staff would
say, “If you really like trees, have you been to Mount Auburn?”
On my first visit, it was “love at first sight.” I started making
regular visits. In 1986, when the Friends of Mount Auburn was
created, I began attending the horticulture programs.
EG: I visited Mount Auburn Cemetery during a Harvard
Career Discovery summer course in Landscape Architecture.
My professors revered Mount Auburn. We visited the newly
completed section designed by Reed Hilderbrand; they told
us about the project and the nuances of designing for a
cemetery. A few years later, as a Masters student, I interned at
the University of Virginia’s Office of Architecture with Mary
Hughes, assessing the current UVA cemetery on grounds for
expansion. She recommended that I look to Mount Auburn as
a precedent; I was thrilled to have seen the landscape first-hand.
JJ: Now knowing both LG and Mount Auburn, what are the
JG: If you speak to the uninitiated of having a great time at
Mount Auburn, some only hear the word ‘cemetery’. And
‘Longwood Gardens’ as mere words can never convey the
visitor experience. Yet both create immediate converts.
Both are leaders in their fields committed to environmental
stewardship. Both care for historic trees dating to our nation’s
early era but also incorporate contemporary designs. Critically,
both fund to a high degree the maintenance of the physical
plant, while prudently protecting their endowments.
EG: Excellence manifested in many ways: beauty, knockout
horticultural excellence, and leadership. Staff tenure is quite
long in both organizations and you can see this in the care
of the grounds. Both have managed their resources in a way
that considers the long term. I love that both LG and Mount
Auburn have taken inspiration from the innovative spirit
of their founders and that they continue to evolve and stay
relevant to cultural changes.