Landscape design


Save the Shad at the 2014 Philadelphia Flower Show

University of Delaware’s Jules Bruck, Jon Cox and Tony Middlebrooks worked with undergraduate students to put together an exhibit that highlighted the plight of the American Shad in our local rivers. With the help of the Brandywine Conservancy,UD students discovered more information about the native species in the waters of the Brandywine River. The students learned that pollution from agricultural practices, animals upstream, and increased runoff from urbanization threaten the quality of water in the river -- contributing to the decline of many major species of fish and wildlife. In addition, the many dams along the river make it impossible for the Shad to return upstream to spawn.

The UD students created a huge fish ladder for the exhibit, and surrounded it with native riparian plants that would be blooming early in the spring as the Shad run upstream to spawn.  The exhibit was ‘topped off’ by an enormous Shad sculpture hanging from the Convention Center ceiling. Ben Gallegos, UD undergraduate in fine arts designed the sculpture.  The students were rewarded for their hard work and for educating the public about the various elements that threaten the prized local species with an award for Achievement in Social Change Messaging.

Follow the UD Flower Show Facebook page and click here to learn more about the 2014 exhibit.

University of Delaware's ISE Speaker Series

This spring semester, the University of Delaware's Interdisciplinary Science & Engineering (ISE) Learning Labs introduced a TEDTalk-style speaker series. This free speaker series titled "Earth Equity Environment," features environmental projects from UD faculty, staff, and students.

UD senior, Paige Gugerty spoke about student involvement in creating UD's PHS Flower Show exhibit this year and Jules Bruck spoke about the waterfront revitalization project she is working on in Laurel, Delaware and designing to enhance community engagement.

Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve Land Ethics Awards

University of Delaware professors, Jules Bruck and Susan Barton received the Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve Land Ethics award in the residential category this spring at the 15th Annual Land Ethics Symposium hosted by Delaware Valley College in Doylestown, PA. Bruck and Barton were recognized for their work on a sustainable landscape design installation in the suburban community of Applecross, located in New Castle County Delaware.

The project at Applecross demonstrates sustainable practices in landscape design and maintenance. The project reduced the amount of lawn area, features native plant species, and even a meadow with mowed paths. A team of staff and students designed, maintained, and monitored the site for three years. The Land Ethics Awards jury stated that the project "clearly demonstrated what can happen when several partners collaborate to change a sterile home landscape into one of environmental value. One can only think that the neighbors will be queuing up themselves to upgrade their own properties with similar projects.

For more on Applecross and the Land Ethics Awards, click here.

Wednesdays at Winterthur: Ecosystem Services in Natural & Designed Delaware Landscapes

On October 15th Wednesdays at Winterthur lecture by Jules Bruck, Susan Barton and Doug Tallamy, titled Ecosystem Services from Landscape Best Management Practices in an Urban Watershed, highlighted the results of 3 years of studies conducted by the three researchers along with their UD College of Agriculture colleagues, Shree Inamdar and Josh Duke. The research was funded by a USDA grant awarded to the multi-disciplinary team to study what can be done in our landscapes to improve water quality. The study sites, all at Winterthur, looked at different landscapes including forest, meadow and lawn.

The results indicate the benefit of biodiversity to enhance ecosystem services. Ecosystem services are the goods and services received from natural resources contributing directly and indirectly to human welfare. Jules Bruck and Sue Barton elaborated on various services during the talk including: clean water, fresh air, wildlife and pollination, and human wellness.

Doug, an entomologist and author of Bringing Nature Home, led the discussion with an explanation of biodiversity stating that it creates ecosystem services. In his part of the study, his team looked at insect abundance - specifically caterpillar abundance - in the three landscapes. He found that adult caterpillars, as well as their eggs and pupae, were most abundant in the forest landscape and least abundant in turf. There was moderate abundance of caterpillars in the meadow landscape. These insects are basically “bird food” and a good overall indicator of biodiversity.Similarly, he looked at plant species richness and carbon sequestration, and in both cases found the forest was the best environment for richness of plant species and the ability of the plants to pull carbon out of the environment and hold it in long-term storage. 

Other indicators within the study, such as avian richness, abundance of natural enemies (parasitoids), and availability of nesting sites for pollinators, also point toward the forest landscape as having the best potential as a local landscape solution within the deciduous forest biome for enhanced ecosystem services.

Sue and Jules then explained how alternative landscape solutions, like a meadow or a forest, are possible in a residential scale landscape if the square footage of lawn in those landscapes is reduced to make way for more plants. To showcase these services, they talked about the installation a demonstration garden that was part of this grant. For three years a team of students and staff monitored and maintained a 1.8 acre demonstration landscape, located in a typical suburban development.

This talk highlighted successes and challenges from the demonstration landscape, and shared the results of a public opinion survey. Successes include a general increase in biodiversity by the addition of 30 distinct woody species, and over 40 different herbaceous species, which was accomplished by reducing the 44,000 SQFT lawn by half. The addition of plants like Cephalanthus occidentalis 'Sputnik', Aesculus parviflora, and Carex amphibola in wet areas of the site helped to slow water, allowing it to infiltrate rather than puddle on the surface. In another wet area, Itea virginiana 'Little Henry, and cultivars of Ilex verticilla in combination with Iris versicolor, make a great showing through the seasons, while solving a serious water issue.

They detailed the establishment and the maintenance of the 6000 SQFT meadow that is planted predominantly with a Pennsylvania Ecotype of Indiangrass, Sorgastrum nutans. They also discussed the establishment of the ‘forest,’ which we accomplished by planting a variety of native tree, shrub, and herbaceous species in a variety of sizes utilizing typical forest spacing.

For more information please see UD's Livable Ecosystems website.

Forest to Pharmacy at the 2015 Philadelphia Flower Show

Preparations for the University of Delaware’s exhibit at the 2015 Philadelphia Flower Show are under way and this year members of the new registered student organization (RSO), Design and Articulture (DART), are putting their efforts into educating about the tropical rain forests.  Last spring, a group of multi-disciplinary students in the collaborative course Design Process Practicum teamed up with the Association for Cross Cultural Experimental Economic Research (ACCER) to come up with a plan to exhibit rain forest conservation at the show. This summer, students spent time gearing up for the show by solidifying key aspects of the design.

In September, two University of Delaware students visited 6 Florida nurseries and gardens with the show director, Sam Lemheny.  They were part of a team who spent two days in Florida on a scouting mission looking for plants that are indigenous to the rain forests of Brazil and Peru. Once they returned to UD, they shared the information with the rest of the students in their RSO and the plant order was finalized. The group will have gorgeous tropical plants to exhibit, but more importantly, they will highlight the conservation work of ACCER and showcase medicinal and useful tropical plants. The 2015 Flower Show opens on Saturday, February 28 and will close on Sunday, March 8. For more see, Philadelphia Flower Show, Show Info.

Upcoming Course: Landscape Design 1 at Longwood Gardens

Design a landscape from start to finish. Learn the steps in the Design Process and how to use design tools, such as a scale, triangle, circle template, and T-square to create landscape graphics and accurately depict a garden space. Using the skills you've learned, finalize a conceptual design and planting plan.

Instructor: Jules Bruck

Fridays, February 7th - March 28th, 2015

Section 1: 9 AM - 12 PM

Section 2: 1-4 PM

For more information, please click here to view Longwood's Continuing Education website. A complete description of the course will be posted shortly and the course will open for registration on November 10th, 2014 at 10 AM.


Upcoming Course: Environmental Landscape Design at Mt. Cuba Center

Design a basic plan for a garden that requires less maintenance, fewer inputs, and is well adapted to your local conditions. Change your perspective, and increase the life in your landscape by decreasing space dedicated to lawn. Learn how to measure, inventory, and analyze your site, then make a conceptual design and planting plan.

Instructor: Jules Bruck

Thursdays, January 22nd- February 26th (Snow date: March 5th), 2015

Section A: 3-5 PM

Section B: 6-8 PM

Click here for more information on programming and courses offered by Mt. Cuba.

Upcoming Engagement: Delaware Ornamental and Turf Workshop

Jules Bruck will lead a discussion on helping clients increase their property value by creating outdoor rooms in the landscape and boosting curb appeal. The Delaware Ornamental and Turf Workshop is co-sponsored by the Delaware Nursery & Landscape Association and Delaware Cooperative Extension and will be held:

Wednesday, November 19th, 2-3 PM

Hockessin Memorial Hall

1225 Old Lancaster Pike

Hockessin, Delaware 19707


Be Creative, Make a Difference

For several years, Tony Middlebrooks hosted a social innovation contest sponsored by the Delaware Design Institute for students interested in pursuing an innovative idea. This year, the contest took a big step as it combined with UD’s College of Health Sciences and the Horn Program in Entrepreneurship. Now the contest, called First Step, has multiple tracts and Tony is the First Step Social Innovation track leader.  For more information, see the UDaily article here.

Prague Global Leadership Program

July 2014 was an exciting month for Tony Middlebrooks, and his wife Jules Bruck, as they took off on a month-long adventure! Tony was invited to teach social entrepreneurship in the Prague Global Leadership Program (GLP). The Prague Program is a 4-week comprehensive academic leadership program that brings university students together from all around the globe to engage in courses, cultural activities, and community service.

Tony created a unique course called Creativity and Design for Social Entrepreneurship that was full of engaging activities and hands-on lessons. This was Tony’s first year teaching for the GLP, and while he is accustom to teaching students abroad, this was unique because the students had traveled to Prague from many different backgrounds. While the University of Delaware study abroad programs take students from different majors on a month-long study program, the GLP draws from many different universities. It would be rare for two of the students to know each other prior to meeting at the GLP. The diversity of students makes the GLP an excellent opportunity for personal growth -- allowing young students to learn from each other’s very different knowledge base and perspective. “It was great to see the students learn about each other’s culture and grow to be fast friends and future collaborators,” said Tony. Additionally, “This program is a great opportunity for leaders of the future to connect with others from around the world -- to learn more about making a difference and being creative problem-solvers.”

He is looking forward to returning to Prague in July, 2015 to meet a whole new group of GLP students and to reconnect with the other faculty and administrators of the GLP. For more information on GLP, please click here.


Who's Downstream? - Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts

As part of the imPERFECT City exhibition at the Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts, University of Delaware faculty, Jules Bruck, Jon Cox, and Tony Middlebrooks worked with students enrolled in a course called Design Process Practicum to create an exhibition, Who's Downstream? that focused on water quality issues along the Brandywine River. Students developed a video that includes interviews as well as footage from air and river! The idea was to educate, engage and inspire to action by asking the community to pledge to do more to protect water resources. Fertilize Less, Plant a Tree, and Spread the Word are a few of the messages. In addition, we asked the public to sign a petition for the Water Bill of Rights:

The Water Bill of Rights is a declaration that all Americans deserve access to safe, clean drinking water.

As depicted in Participant Media's documentary, Last Call at the Oasis, the United States faces a significant crisis in terms of water quality and quantity. Our aging infrastructure, overuse of chemical pollutants, and inefficient practices are wasting our most precious resource, and we must take action now. In the coming months, we'll be delivering this declaration to members of Congress and state governors and asking them to make water issues an ongoing priority.

Sign the Bill of Rights now to add your voice to this critical discussion.

After you sign the Water Bill of Rights, share it on Twitter and Facebook and ask your friends and family to join you in signing and invite them to learn more about the critical issues surrounding our water crisis. Read more here...


Flower Show 2013

This year’s Philadelphia Flower Show, which ran from March 2-10 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, had a British theme titled “Brilliant.” Led by University of Delaware professors, an interdisciplinary group of 17 UD students in plant science, leadership and art worked on the University’s project, designed to tie in to the overall theme and titled “You Are Brilliant.” The class was aimed at teaching the students about the design process and showing them how to work together to design a garden suited to a client’s needs.

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Partners and Contributors


Wow! Hats off to the Landscape Design Students, Professor Jules Bruck, and photographer Jon Cox of the University of Delaware for a garden design far beyond my imagination! The Legacy Garden design really captured my personality and family. We were all bursting with pride saying to anyone who would listen, “This is our garden in Virginia!”

Joshua Taylor
Joshua Taylor Photography

Hi Jules! Steve and I went to see the show as usual and when I saw UD's display.... Fantastic! Wow you guys really did a great job! Loved it, loved it, loved it. Really.

Well I was just compelled to send you an email with my totally unbiased (mostly, lol) opinion. You know I go every year so I'm not blowing smoke. I hope to see UD in it again next year! Perhaps Steve and I could even be minor sponsors/monetary donators? Great job!

A.S. UD, LHD Alumni

I’m participating in the flower show to have a good time and apply my major to something in the real world!

Lindsay Yeager
Visual Communications

I’m participating to learn more about plants and develop a network of agriculture professionals.

Weber Stibolt
Food Science

Leadership By Design

Leadership by Design a month long University of Delaware study abroad program allowed Jules Bruck and Tony Middlebrooks to take undergraduate students on a journey of past design, present creativity, and future innovation, to instill a new conceptualization of leadership.

Two hotspots of design served as our destination for this exploration: Stockholm, Sweden - where design is not a socially or politically neutral activity, but rather creates an aesthetic to enhance community and organization; and Barcelona, Spain - a city bursting with art and culture that offers an inspiring array of innovative approaches modeling design thinking.

This program provided students with the theoretical bases and practical experience of design, leadership, creativity = three key foundational elements of innovation. Successful organizations depend on an individual’s ability to creatively see beyond the obvious, collaboratively problem-solve, and create conditions that encourage innovation. Students engaged in a variety of experiences during this program, including building a team of innovators and participating in real design projects. Our journey examined the cutting edge of leadership, where creativity and design inform how leaders create cultures and conditions for success.

Sweden has been a long recognized leader in design, with Ikea as a most recognizable brand. We discovered how organizational leaders encourage innovation, and how design is not a socially or politically neutral activity, but rather creates an aesthetic to enhance community and organization through visits to Thule, Bjorn Borg, Smart Design and Volvo as well as the Interactive Institute. We focused on the history of design and design processes across various mediums and fields from landscape and garden to city planning and formal art and discussed how these environs influenced innovation and leadership through history, and what can we learn from current practices in other fields to inform leadership?

We then made our way to another capital of design, Barcelona, Spain. A city bursting with art and culture, Barcelona has an inspiring array of unique design thinkers and approaches as evidenced by the work of modernist architect and naturalist Antonio Gaudí. Students visited and critiqued his work as well as studied the art, architecture and landscape of this remarkable city. We also explored some of the most current design ideas and practices, and the significant implications it holds for effective visual communications and leadership.

Please click on any image below to view larger.

As Seen on TedTalk

Dr. Jules Bruck and Dr. Tony Middlebrook discuss “Educating for Innovation”.