|The Blomquist Pavilion. Photo by Sue Lannon.|
Visitor Services Coordinator
This post marks the first in a series highlighting the curators and plant collections of Duke Gardens. It is thanks to them that we are a world class botanic garden!
|Curator Stefan Bloodworth. Photo by Cecelia Xie.|
The Blomquist Garden is one of four unique gardens in Duke Gardens. Its curator, Stefan Bloodworth, is glad that people feel like they are in the middle of the woods rather than the middle of the city of Durham. As with each distinct area within Duke Gardens, this garden has a unique history and mission.
The Blomquist Garden was dedicated in 1968 in memory of professor Hugo L. Blomquist, the first chair of Duke University’s Department of Botany. At that time, the garden was an extensive fern collection to honor professor Blomquist’s extensive knowledge of native ferns. The collection was about one-quarter of the size of the present-day garden.
Bloodworth’s tenure as curator of the Blomquist began in 2002. By that time, the garden had expanded beyond ferns to include other types of plants native to the southeastern United States. The collections were well established, but Bloodworth was excited to put his spin on things. His background was in forest ecology, landscape design and carpentry.
|McNabb Family Bridge and Stream. Photo by Rick Fisher.|
One recent project is the McNabb Family Bridge and Stream. The integration of the wood and metal in the bridge serves both a functional and aesthetic purpose, tying together nature and man-made materials. The wood was locally sourced southern reclaimed sinker cypress, and the metalwork, integrating sculptural accents inspired by native species, was created by a local artisan.
|Close-up of metalwork on the McNabb Family Bridge. Photo by Bob Ayers.|
“Everything has a purpose. There are stories everywhere, in every element of the design,” Bloodworth says.
This same philosophy encompasses the horticultural goals that Bloodworth has for the Blomquist. “Just like every landscape architecture design decision you make has a story behind it, so does every planting decision that you make.”
Bloodworth wants the garden to communicate the idea of “conservation horticulture” to its visitors. He takes into account ecosystem science and wildlife habitat design when creating new spaces. His aim is to create a “museum in the woods” to help visitors understand that they are in a botanical garden with unique and special collections, and he uses educational signs to interpret the space and help people appreciate what they are seeing and experiencing.
|A male red-bellied woodpecker in the Blomquist. Photo by Stefan Bloodworth.|
Bloodworth believes that with its more than 300,000 visitors each year, Duke Gardens has a unique opportunity to teach people about the importance of plant conservation and connect visitors with the organizations working to protect these disappearing species. More information about plant conservation and sponsoring organizations can be found on the Center for Plant Conservation website.
|Starry rosinweed. Photo by Sue Lannon.|