Introducing Landis Arboretum’s New Website – Landis Live

This was a pretty good year at Landis. We had a vibrant variety of well-attended programs, classes and events, capped off by the successful debut of the ‘Live at Landis’ series of music concerts. Our volunteers renovated the Meeting House as an intimate venue for events and performances. The Native Plant Trail is now interactive with strategically-placed QR codes that stream Ed Miller’s knowledgeable commentary to your phone. Finally, we hosted two fantastic Plant Sales, bringing in visitors from near and afar.

With so much going on and much more to come in 2014, we wanted our website to be our focal point online. With timeless botanical collections, a rich annual calendar, nature education and expert advice, Landis Arboretum has so much to offer to a wide variety of people. Now all this and more is available online 24/7.

We are excited to announce ‘Landis Live’, our new interactive, feature-rich website. Loaded with stunning images of the Arb, notes about our collections & history and regularly updated articles from the editorial committee, Landis Live is a one-stop-shop for the Arboretum. Some of the highlights are;

The Visit section of the website has short introductory write-ups to our botanical collections. Here, you can read about the unique lilac collection at Landis, including Lape’s own beautiful late blooming white lilac ‘Summer White” or delve into research being done on Tough Trees for Tough Sites. Visitors can listen to audio guides narrated by our Trail Curator, Ed Miller, covering the highlights of the Native Plant trail, a special treat! You can also download and print detailed trail guides before a visit by accessing our guide library.

We have reworked the events calendar to make it as easy to use as possible. By splitting our annual calendar into four types of Activities – Live Performances, Arts & Classes, Nature Education & Gardening, Fundraising Events – members can find events that interest them quickly without having to scroll through a long list. If you prefer a chronological list, activities are also categorized month-by-month.

Our most exciting features are to be found in the Interact section. Landis volunteers regularly post articles, news and other announcements on our new blog, News & Notes. Fred Breglia, our Director, is moderating a members-only Ask Fred Forum, where our supporters can ask for horticulture advice any time of the year. Have questions about preparing your garden for winter or caring for a fussy indoor plant? Don’t hesitate to join in!

Finally, we have made it simple to Support us in a number of ways. A Membership Form is now online, you are just a couple of clicks away from enjoying VIP privileges at the Arb. If you would like to contribute your skills and time to helping Landis, consider signing up online under the Volunteer section. We also very grateful for your monetary support, more information can be found under Donations, Memorials and Sponsorships, with the ability to make a Paypal contribution with ease.

To access the website, go to and ‘click to enter’. We invite all our members to visit the new website and send us your comments or suggestions. Please write to us by filling in the online Contact form. Coming soon – a fully online Acorn Shop and a dedicated Weddings & Rentals section. Stay tuned!


Sharing the Magic of Landis Through Pictures – Quick Guide to Flickr

Landis Arboretum Summer Newsletter, 2013


Our beloved Arb is many things to many people, but to a poetic few, she is a thing of beauty, waiting to be frozen on film for posterity. Over the years, visitors have captured her many moods and secrets and lovingly stored away those memories in photo albums and more recently, on their hard drive. What if these pictures could be freely shared with the rest of community? What if these memories could be preserved for future generations? We could create a beautiful, visual record of the Arboretum that can be freely accessed online for years to come. To do this, we would need a website that allows individuals to pool their images, creating a photo-gallery that can be seen by anyone around the world.

This is where Flickr comes in. Flickr is, at heart, a photo-sharing service. Instead of sending digital photographs to friends and family by email, photo-sharing sites allow people to upload their images online and send a link across that allows others to view the album. A number of sites have the ability to share pictures; Shutterfly, Picasa and Facebook are some examples. What sets Flickr apart is the ability to share beautiful images with a global community of amateur photographers. While Flickr can be used to send the family snaps from Grandma’s 80th birthday, it offers much more to those who want to showcase their photographs as art.

Flickr has, arguably, one of the largest and most fascinating visual record of our world today. Try the Explore function as a start. This section of Flickr showcases some of the best images brought together in one place. The Commons, of example, is a collection of historic images from museums, universities and public libraries. The Getty Collection is a jaw-dropping album of stock photography and Flickr users can submit their work for consideration. Galleries are publicly curated images of fellow Flickr photographers, an endlessly entertaining section. My personal favorite is the World Map – search for any place on Earth and you will be greeted by clusters of pink dots. Clicking on each dot feels something like unwrapping up a tiny picture present.

Flickr’s outstanding feature is its community, one that shares tips and tricks, offers feedback and helps novices perfect their technique. Most amateur photographers try to categorize their work based on camera, style or subject and share them through the various Groups on the site. These range from the expected (Birds of the World) to the esoteric (Lonely Chairs). Our own Arb has an open Flickr Group and we invite photographers of all skill levels to contribute images online.

So, how do you get started with Flickr? Go to and sign up using your Yahoo, Facebook or Google ID. The first screen you see is your home screen, similar to Facebook’s newsfeed. This is where you would see updates and recommendations from friends. The menu on the top of the page has five parts – You, Contacts, Groups, Explore and Upload. Start with the Upload function by choosing a photograph you would like to share with the world. Flickr automatically pulls up the ‘EXIF’ data, information such as the date you snapped the image and make and model of camera. Once the picture in on Flickr, you will be directed to an Edit page that allows you to add tags, assign the image to a ‘Set’ within your collection or to a larger, public ‘Group’ that you are a part of. The default license indicates that you have reserved all rights, however, you can choose to allow others to use your work through a Creative Commons license. The photograph is also, by default, visible to the public. You can modify this if you would like to share this with only friends and family. You are now ready to show your art to the world!

Please visit to see some stunning images of Landis shared by current members of the Group.

5 Things To Do Before Starting A “Buy Local” Campaign

A Farmer's Market at Saline, MI (cc Dwight Burdette, 2010)

A Farmer’s Market at Saline, MI (cc Dwight Burdette, 2010)

As the holiday season draws to a close and the New Year looms on the horizon, it seems like a good moment to sit back, draw a deep breath and reflect on the months past. And time to start sorting out those receipts. Let’s face it. The year-end festivities have become one-long shopping extravaganza. The National Retail Federation estimates that the average shopper will part with $740.57, adding up to a whopping $586.1 billion nationwide. Family gifts will make up the biggest share of the budget, a good $420. Shoppers are likely to shell out over $100 on candy and food, $45+ on cards and flowers and $50+ on decor. (Yes, that is right, all that holiday decor adds up to a $6.9 billion industry!) Continue reading

On Being Brave On Twitter (And Doing Good On Facebook)

“We are living in a new world, Facebook World” – Kony 2012, Invisible Children Inc.

It is difficult not to get excited about the power of social media. Companies trying to sell products can potentially reach millions of new customers in a hop, skip and a tweet. Cause marketers can co-ordinate a huge fundraising drive by asking “1 million to donate $1”. Activists can get swarms of American teenagers to share a controversial video on a Central African militia leader. And they can do this instantly, easily and without paying a dime. Marketing 2.0 in a brave, new world. And if the pundits are to be believed, they haven’t even scratched the surface yet. At SXSW’s Eco Conference this year, the enthusiasm for social media to drive sustainable change was palpable. In a Guardian report on the event, social media is seen as the foundation to establishing a new-age, responsible company. The author talks about how social networks would oversee ethical sourcing, manage responsible supply chains, make the board accountable to all stakeholders and give employees a platform to design new sustainable business models. If that were not enough, a former aide to G W Bush, Mark Pfeifle, went on record to say that Twitter should be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for its role in the Iranian protests a few years ago.

Two words: Slow down. Continue reading

A Love Story Can Save Our Planet

Lonesome George, last of the Pinta Island Tortoises. (CC putneymark, 2007)

“100 critically endangered species at the brink of extinction”

“Only 3000 tigers left in wild”

“36 football fields deforested each minute”

Grim, isn’t it? The world we manage seems to get worse every day and all we can do is shake our heads in helplessness. We want to do something, anything, but all we feel is a pervasive sense of gloom and a slow-spreading paralysis. We are fast losing most of our natural wealth and we seem unable to reverse the situation. Why do we not jump up and save the world? If anything, these frightening messages of “irreparable loss” have the opposite effect on most of us. We end up pulling a warm, fuzzy blanket over our heads and try to bury ourselves in a little bit deeper. Continue reading

Seeding Change

Winter Squash Harvest (CC 2006 Californiacondor)

Every time I walk through the supermarket produce section, I feel like I have entered a child’s picture book. Take the bright yellow, flawless, waxy fruits for instance, they would be under ‘B’ for Bananas. And the greenish-red, sour, tennis ball would be ‘M’ for Mango. For a growing number of fruits, vegetables and herbs, there is one perfectly shaped, blemish-free variety that appears miraculously on store shelves all through the year. The picture-perfect Mango, with a capital M, cuts deepest. I can close my eyes and conjure up memories of having eaten countless different types, each with a distinct shape, flavor, texture, juiciness and color. You had to peel and cube some varieties and eat them delicately, while others were sucked on till the juice dribbled down your chin. Who replaced all that pulpy goodness with the Mango? Continue reading

“Made In USA” Claims: A Quick And Dirty Guide

“Made in USA”, Lupor Metal Products, NY (CC Joe M., 2007)

Have you ever bought a product because it said “Made in USA”? I have, because I believe in buying local. Because I hoped that my money would go towards creating jobs and help businesses grow, creating local economies that are largely self-supporting. I looked at the label that boldly stated that it was manufactured in this country and I trusted the company. Ah, the innocence! Little did I know that claiming to be “Made in USA” is a territory marked with loopholes, misinformation, ambiguous labeling and outright lies. “All-American” goods like Converse sneakers and Levi’s jeans are made overseas. Good old American cars are from Mexico. Coors is equal part Canadian, Brazilian and South African as it is American. New Balance is in hot water with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the advertising watchdog, for making “American Made” claims, as was Craftsman. The list is long and saddening. Continue reading

Holding Marketers Responsible For The 7 “Sins” of Greenwashing

FIJI Water sued in California for "greenwashing" (CC 2010 M Sundstrom)

Something very interesting is happening in Californian courts. In a class action suit filed in a District Court in Santa Ana, a group of individuals claim that the bottled water maker, FIJI Water Company, has been misleading customers by making false carbon offset claims. Their cause for complaint is that FIJI Water’s assertion that it makes a “carbon negative” product is blatantly untrue. “Carbon negative” would mean that FIJI removes more carbon from the atmosphere than they generate, which is based more on clever accounting than reality. In another case, SC Johnson, the household chemicals giant, was sued for placing a non-verified eco-label on their cleaning fluid, Windex. The label, Greenlist, created a false impression of being third-party approved when it was only meant for internal use. What links the two cases is that companies are being held accountable for false “green” claims, “eco” exaggerations and deceptive advertisements , otherwise known as “greenwashing”. Continue reading

Talking To The Post-Recession Consumer

P L Chadwick [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Shopping will never be the same. (CC P L Chadwick)

We would like to believe that the worst of the recession is behind us. Although we are cautiously optimistic about the future, deep down we know that things will never be the same. The downturn scared us good. Goodbye mindless consumption and hello budgets. In a study by Ogilvy of 1200 American respondents, 73% said they would rather have fewer, high quality things. A full 92% say they are using coupons, 91% are shopping at cheaper/discount stores and 90% are buying more store brands. Those who spent recklessly in the good old days are starting to enjoy a more thrifty lifestyle. The post-recession consumer is here to stay. Continue reading