Garden Series Class Instructor Bios


Albert Ayeni
Albert is an Ethnic Crop Specialist at Rutgers' School of Environmental and Biological Sciences (SEBS). He teaches Plant Science/Horticulture and leads the Entrepreneurship Ag Program and the Exotic Pepper Project at SEBS. He and his colleagues in the Department of Plant Biology at SEBS have been working on exotic peppers since 2009.
Patrick Belardo
Patrick is a lifelong Middlesex county resident and has been actively involved in the NJ birding community since 1999. He is a volunteer Associate Naturalist for NJ Audubon Society and has led beginner walks for NJ Audubon for more than 10 years. He is a past vice president of the Urner Ornithological Society and is the local eBird sightings editor for Middlesex County.
Bruce Crawford
Bruce is the Director of Rutgers Gardens and an adjunct professor in Landscape Architecture Department at Rutgers University. In addition to managing, designing and developing the 180 acres of the Rutgers Gardens, he teaches and shares his love of fun and unusual plants with students, garden clubs, Master Gardeners, community groups and Gardens visitors. Much to his dismay, he has rarely met a plant that he doesn't’t like!
Roy DeBoer
Mr. DeBoer has been practicing in the field of Land Use Planning, Zoning and Landscape Architecture for over 38 years.  A master of the “sketch on a napkin” school of design, his freehand graphic skills are a hallmark of his design work.  Over the past 38 years Roy has lectured and taught studio classes at the Rutgers Landscape Architecture program in areas of design, plan graphics, sketching and perspective drawing.   His favorite mediums for work are pen & ink, pencil, markers, and watercolor.
Mike Deo
Michael Deo is the president and founder of NatureScape Lighting and an award winning lighting designer. Since he is also formally trained in landscape design, his lighting projects reflect a deep knowledge of horticulture. He is keenly aware of how plants change not only with the seasons but over time and how each will react to light. His signature style is evident anywhere there is texture – beautiful millwork, exfoliating bark, the transparent leaves of a Japanese maple.  Michael has taught residential garden design classes at both Rutgers and the County College of Morris, and is an active member of the Association of Outdoor Lighting Professionals.
Randi Eckel
Dr. Randi Eckel is the owner and founder of Toadshade Wildflower Farm, an all-native mail order nursery.  A life-long naturalist, Randi has studied plant, disease, and insect interactions for over 30 years starting at the University of Delaware, University of Maryland and North Carolina State University and continuing through her work at the USDA and now as owner of Toadshade Wildflower Farm.  When she’s not up to her elbows in plants and dirt or off hiking and studying plants and insects, she frequently lectures on native plants, native plant propagation and the complex issues facing native plants and native plant communities.
Jane Guillard
Jane Guillard has been growing daylilies for about 20 years in the small rural community of Southampton, New Jersey. Her garden, locally known as Falcon Turn Daylily Garden holds a collection of over 1500 different daylily cultivars with a focus on New Jersey hybridizers.  Falcon Turn Daylilies is also an official American Hemerocallis Society (AHS) Display garden, one of only two in the state of NJ and is a state certified nursery by the NJ Dept. of Agriculture. Her annual Open Garden event draws hundreds of visitors from the tri-state area. Jane is also the President of the Garden State Daylily Growers in NJ and a member of the Delaware Valley Daylily Society. She loves to share her daylily garden, photographs from her garden visits and her passion and knowledge of daylilies!
Neil Hendrickson
Dr. Hendrickson has been a practicing arborist and technical specialist at the R.A. Bartlett Tree Research Laboratory since 2000. Neil conducts research, provides technical support, and does numerous lectures and workshops. He is a Certified Arborist, NJ Certified Tree Expert, and a member of the Society of American Foresters. Dr. Hendrickson received his BS from Cook College/Rutgers University and his PhD from Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

Toby Horton
Tobiah Horton’s work in the landscape began with stone masonry design/build, installing dry laid stone walls and bluestone patios with Pete Wilson Stoneworks in Portland, Oregon. He holds a B.A. in Studio Art and Spanish Literature from Oberlin College and a Masters in Landscape Architecture from SUNY–ESF Syracuse. Toby’s academic research and design/build work focuses on the reuse of materials and places in the redevelopment process. Professional projects such as the Willow Patch (w/ Matt Potteiger/SUNY-ESF), and NJ Urban Parks Trenton, Queens Plaza/Dutch Kills Green (with Margie Ruddick/WRT Design), Bethlehem Steel Stacks and Womrath Park (with WRT Design) demonstrate Toby’s fascination with how people and places interact through materials. As Rutgers Cooperative Extension Specialist, Toby provides research, service and educational programs to NJ citizens through projects such as the Rahway Residential Rain Gardens, Springfield Next-Generation Rain Gardens, Green Infrastructure and Environmental Justice for Newark, and the collaborative 4H program; Explorations: See the World through Writing, Drawing and Sculpting.
Andrew Koehn
Andrew Koehn is the Garden Manager at Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, NY. Andrew (aka Gartenmeister) has been avidly growing plants for 45 years. He has a particular interest in Orchids, Tuberous Begonias and Delphiniums, but also enjoys sharing his passion for plants with all "chlorophiles" (his name for people who love plants). He brings a sense of humor to any botanical discussion along with a broad base of horticultural knowledge.
Clayton Leadbetter
Clayton is the Plant Breeding Coordinator at Rutgers Gardens. Foregoing his past experiences as an editor and adjunct professor, Clayton returned to his farming "roots," to pursue an advanced degree and career in Plant Biology and Ornamental Breeding at Rutgers. In addition to overseeing breeding work and evaluation trials, he maintains plant records for the Gardens and works closely with students in the Public Garden Management Internship summer program.
Arianna Lindberg
Arianna Lindberg is an instructor in the Department of Landscape Architecture in the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences at Rutgers University. Prior to completing a masters in landscape architecture at Rutgers University, Arianna received undergraduate degrees in ceramics and art history, and then nurtured her passion for small-scale agriculture while managing a two-acre organic farm in central New Jersey. This proclivity for growing food has directly influenced both her research and her work. Arianna recognizes the distinctive opportunity and ability that the field of landscape architecture has to utilize design in order to problem solve in matters of environmental stewardship, social justice and land planning, and understands it to be a field in which one can both create and give back. As such, she envisions a partnership between landscape architecture and agriculture that inherently speaks to these components in a direct and powerful manner.  In addition to teaching courses in landscape architecture, she is currently working with the Office of Agriculture and Urban Programs to establish a new student farm at Rutgers Gardens and will be teaching a summer course on the principles and practices of small-scale organic agriculture
Monica McLaughlin
As horticulturist at the Rutgers Gardens, Monica manages all greenhouse facilities, does all the growing for our Spring Flower Fair, and designs, installs and maintains the annual display gardens, the All American Selections Garden and the Succulent Garden each year. She is also in charge of all the 70+ annual containers, and any in-ground annual displays such as the Log Cabin/Pavilion area, front office and the Otken’s garden. Monica returned to school later in life after being inspired by volunteering here at the Rutgers Gardens about 18 years ago. At Rutgers she earned a BS in Environmental Planning and Design, with a minor in Plant Science. She works with the student staff year round, and is caretaker for all the resident felines. She has taught classes on a variety of topics, such as container gardening, terrariums, succulents, and over-wintering tropicals.
Barbara Melera               
Barbara Melera is advisor to Harvesting History, a new horticultural company founded in 2016 to provide its customers with the finest quality horticultural and agricultural products available today.  Its horticultural and agricultural products are largely heirloom varieties that can be reliably offered to customers year after year or designs that have proven invaluable to gardeners for many, many generations.  Wherever possible, Harvesting Hisotry offers products Made in the USA.
For 13 years, Ms. Melera was president and CEO of The D. Landreth Seed Company, the oldest seedhouse in America, established in 1784, and the fourth oldest US corporation
Thomas Molnar               
A research professor at Rutgers University, Tom's  research program concentrates on the genetic improvement and study of hazelnut, walnut, dogwood, holly, and several other woody ornamental species. He presently teaches an undergraduate course on plant propagation, which focuses on the technical and physiological aspects of propagating plants. 
Jim Murphy
Jim Murphy is the Extension Specialist in Turfgrass Management at Rutgers University in New Jersey, since 1991. He received his M.S. and Ph.D. from Michigan State University. He conducts extension and research programs on identifying best management practices for turf.  His work focuses on understanding the adaptation of turfgrasses to abiotic and biotic related stresses.
Shyamala Sharma
Shyamala has been a Master Gardener since 2007 with the Rutgers Cooperative Extension services of Middlesex County. She volunteers in various gardening and speaking projects, and enjoys sharing her love of gardening and meeting people by doing Garden tours for school children at the Earth Center or in the summer being a docent for the Rutgers Garden’s Walk and Talks. She is also the Speaker Request Coordinator for talks/Tours and events for Middlesex County Extension. In October 2014, she had her most gratifying and fulfilling experience when she joined 14 other gardeners from all over USA for a 1 week Volunteer Garden vacation to Otavalo, Ecuador thru the Tandana Foundation. She worked with the indigenous community of the Inca Indians, helped the farmers in weeding, planting trees, cooked with the families, and taught composting to Inca school children.  A truly life changing experience.
Wes Sherman
Artist Wes Sherman has been painting since 1992, in that time he has had nearly 40 solo shows and included in numerous group shows across the county. He received his MFA from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University in 2003. He is an adjunct professor of studio arts and the chair of exhibitions at The Center for Contemporary Art in Bedminster, New Jersey. Sherman has also been a visiting artist at many universities among them Temple, Rutgers, and Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. In 2011 he also received a fellowship for painting from New Jersey Council of the Arts.
Vincent Simeone
Vincent has worked in the horticultural field for over 27 years and studied under well-known professors Dr. Michael Dirr and Dr. Allan Armitage. He has specialized expertise in woody plant id, culture, use and selection of superior varieties. Vincent is also the author of five books: Grow More With Less: Sustainable Garden Methods, Great Flowering Landscape Shrubs, Great Flowering Landscape Trees, Great Landscape Evergreens and The Wonders of the Winter Landscape.

Dr. Lena Struwe
Lena is the Director of the Chrysler Herbarium and an Associate Professor at Rutgers University and is the founder of the Personal Bioblitz project that encourages people to explore the wild species they meet in their everyday life.  She also runs the Flora and Fauna of Rutgers University project on iNaturalist, and has won several prizes for her teaching.

Caren White
Caren White is a Master Gardener and longtime volunteer at Rutgers Gardens where she is the Garden Steward for the herb garden.  She also grows the herbs sold at the popular Spring Flower Fair, an annual fundraiser for Rutgers Gardens.  Caren has taught herb workshops at the EARTH Center (Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Middlesex County), Home Gardeners School and Rutgers Gardens.