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Home > Conference Archive > Honey & Pollen Photos

Honey & Pollen Photos featured at EAS

by Dewey M. Caron

At EAS 2007, participants will have an opportunity to view a selection of some great images of honey/pollen plants of Delaware. The prize-winning photos will include extreme close-ups of pollen grains. Peter Lindtner, head horticulturist of the world-renouned E.I. DuPont Garden at Hagley Museum will be on hand to discuss his photos, which can be viewed both as framed photos and in a photo essay.

Peter continues the specialty garden established by E.I DuPont 1803-1834. It is a French-style potager (kitchen) garden, approximately 2 acre in size. The garden consists of formal planting beds, crisscrossed by gravel paths and bordered by the largest collection of espaliered (trained to flat form) fruit trees in the entire U.S. Flower and vegetables fill the neat, orderly rows during the growing season, with cooler season daffodils, strawberries and spinach early replaced by beans and summer then fall blooming plants and warmer season vegetables. Old fashioned roses and herbs are also featured. EAS members may wish to view the gardens themselves as a side trip during the EAS conference.

Peter cultivates the distinctive, horizontally stretched fruit trees of apple, pear and peach. Peter started many of the 150 + trees he now tends with mostly volunteer gardener help. Central leaders of apple arch gracefully at ankle-length to produce living fences around the garden. Visitors marvel at pear trees shaped into Christmas tree form and peach trees massed into fan-shaped forms.

The cultivation of espaliered trees date back to E.I. DuPont himself who studied cultivation at the Jardin des Plantes in Paris. Drawings and records from the original gardens of the early 1800’s reveal the planting is patterned after the world’s largest collection of espaliered fruit at Versailles, outside Paris. To achieve the distinctive forms, Peter prunes from Thanksgiving to March and works to control fruiting and forms branches into the distinctive shapes. Although espaliered plantings are frequently grown along a wall to take advantage of reflected heat, at Hagley, Peter has mastered their cultivation in the open.

Peach Blossoms

Peter emigrated to Canada in 1968 from his native Czechoslovakia as eastern Europe was occupied by Russia. He worked initially at an Ag Canada Experiment Station. He moved to the US as a student at Purdue University in the Horticulture Department. While working on his thesis studying breaking peach seed dormancy he heard of a possibility of a position at Hagley for someone skilled in the European practice of espalier. Having learned espalier gardening from his grandfather and during his horticulture training in his native Czechoslovakia, he thought, as did the Museum, that it was the “perfect” fit. He moved to Delaware before he could complete his thesis – 34 years later he remains at Hagley.

Peter resumed his graduate studies and received a MS degree at University of Delaware in 1982. Dr Charles Mason helped supervise his studies and it was one of the first thesis completions I participated in as Department Chair. For his thesis, entitled “Identification of honey bee pollen loads of Hagley” he “borrowed” four University of Delaware colonies in 1978 to study pollen foraging. He identified pollen for 93 plant species by color and their pollen grain size, shape and surface morphology using front mounted pollen traps (then available from W.T. Kelley Co). He compared collected pollen with an atlas of pollen collected directly from plants, mounted using water and fuchsin stain, viewed and photographed under a light microscope with up to 400X.

Following his thesis, Peter established his own apiary on the Hagley museum grounds to pollinate his growing garden restoration efforts. He lost those colonies in 1993 to varroa mites; since he has assisted Nick DuPont with his colonies, immediately adjacent to the gardens. Unfortunately those bees recently perished this past winter so for the first time in 30 years the Museum is without bees to pollinate the extensive fruit trees.

Apple Bloom

Apple Pollen Grain

Peter first took a beekeeping course during his Pomology (fruit culture) studies at University of Brno in the Chech Republic under professor Tomšík. His professor wrote the beekeeping text Včelařství, a copy of which Peter still refers to. Peter’s interest in bees began at age 13 when he started building hives. By the time he started horticulture studies at the University, he had increased to 19 hives; they helped support his studies.

Peter is a prize-winning photographer with the Wilmington Photography club. His exhibit will include a selection of his outstanding bee flower photographs and light and electron microscopic photos of their pollens. He hopes to expand to a book on plants and pollen using his photos taken over the years at Hagley, Winterthur and Longwood Gardens, three former DuPont estates, now all public gardens within 30 minutes of the EAS 2007 meeting site at Clayton Hall, U of Delaware. EAS visitors are encouraged to visit one or more of these outstanding museums before/after EAS 2007.

Posted June 2007