Friday, July 9, 2010

Duke Gardens summer intern report

One of my favorite waterlilies in the Virtue Peace Pond. You can vote for your favorite online in IWGS's international waterlily competition.

A Rotation in the Life of a Duke Gardens Summer Intern:
Rotation Two

Article & photos by Amanda Wilkins

Since I didn’t answer any of the questions I’d asked the other two interns last time, I am taking a moment in today’s post to share my thoughts and internship experiences.

Like I said before, I am a horticulture student at N.C. State University. I just finished my first year there, so I am the greenest intern this summer (no pun intended). However, I have lived around Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden most of my life, so I fell in love with botanical gardens.

When I was thinking about a career, horticulture made the most sense. I wanted to get more experience in a public garden setting, and Duke Gardens had a good reputation and was recommended to me by a friend at State. I was so excited to apply, and I couldn’t wait to get to work and learn more about plants. I couldn’t help myself when I considered I would be working in a garden every day and learning so much.

My first rotation at Duke Gardens was in the Doris Duke Center area. On my first day of work I was by myself, but it was complete heaven. I had never been more content weeding and watering in my life. Those were the majority of my duties, but I also checked the containers in the front and back every day, pruned, and moved plants around.

It hardly rained the entire time I was in the area, so I watered a lot. I really enjoyed working with horticulturist Tamara Kilbane in the water garden and learning about the aquatics. I worked with some great volunteers as well. The only negative experience the entire rotation was my battle with poison ivy that left me with rashes on both of my arms for a week. The poison ivy may have won the battle, but I won the war.

Tamara shows the interns Carolina fanwort (Cabomba caroliniana) in the greenhouses during an aquatic plant ID class.

This is our last week in our second rotation and I am finishing up at the Blomquist Garden of Native Plants. Working with Blomquist curator Stefan Bloodworth and horticulturist Katherine Wright has been great, and seeing the biodiversity of the Blomquist was refreshing. I really enjoyed working with the unique and endangered plants. I learned a lot. I have done a lot of different things this time around. I started out by sanding cedar branches, then I moved on to grooming paths and making labels. Some of my favorite activities were repotting plants and watering in the nursery. Yet again, my least favorite part of the whole experience was the second round with poison ivy. This time I ended up having to see a doctor because the rash began to make my arm swell. However, in my opinion, the poison ivy still lost.

I miss both areas already, but my next rotation will bring me to the Culberson Asiatic Arboretum. Sadly, I haven’t been able to walk around the Arboretum as much as I would like, but I do look forward to helping in the area. There are so many things going on in that area of the Gardens that I know I will always be busy. I especially look forward to learning about Asian design. Paul Jones, the arboretum’s curator, is very knowledgeable and has a passion for the Arboretum and its goals.

Finally, like all of the other interns, I have an internship project as well: writing some articles and blog posts about the Gardens. I hope you have enjoyed my posts. Look forward to more in the future!

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