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Archive: Sep 2013

Fall Is Upon Us

Monday, September 30th, 2013
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(photo by Bill Cullina)
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 (photo by Rodney Eason)

As Rodney noted in last week’s blog post, the air has changed, the light has diminished, and summer has faded. Here at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens the plants are beginning their slow march to winter dormancy. But before reaching their destination, they give us one more flush of color and interest. The leaves on the trees and shrubs reveal the pigments hidden by summer’s chlorophyll. The flowers shed their bright petals to show off interesting seed heads. And the grasses, in their autumn splendor, dance gracefully in the breeze. (How’s that for waxing poetic?) Fall is a wonderful time for anyone who loves plants and the outdoors to be at the Gardens.

Those of us on the horticulture staff get to enjoy this time of year as we go about our duties of cutting back, cleaning up, and making ready for next spring. And yes, we are already thinking about next year. This is the time of year when we can evaluate our plantings and think about changes, big and small, to improve the gardens for next year. The real fun will come in a couple months when all the 2014 nursery catalogs arrive and we get to peruse new and exciting plants.

On another note, all the guests that I have spoken with are quite taken with the pumpkin displays. Kids of all ages are taking advantage of photo opportunities with the displays that are scattered around the main campus. This is a far larger fall display than we have done in the past, and we are very interested in our guests’ feedback.

Here’s the bottom line, folks. The gardens are gorgeous. The fall displays are awesome. The weather is perfect. With that combination, you cannot go wrong. You should come visit with us this fall.

 – Will Bridges, Horticulturist (September 30, 2013)

 

   

 

The End

Thursday, September 19th, 2013
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The Pinus densiflora ‘Burke’s
Red Varigated’ I planted my first day,
looking as healthy as ever.

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Part of the team that has made
this such a memorable summer.

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I’m sure to miss the Maine woodlands.
(Photo by Brian Richers)

As many of you may have realized by now, I’m the last Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens horticulture intern left in the department for this year. I’ll admit it has been lonely without my sidekicks around for the past month, but it’s given me time to enjoy everything the beautiful fall season has to offer. Unfortunately, it’s now my time to bid you blog followers all a fond farewell. While I’m very sad to be leaving the Gardens, I’d prefer to look at all of the happiness and satisfaction that this garden has brought me over the summer.

There are so many moments that come to mind when I think about the crazy summer I had: the first time driving the equipment; all of the exciting field trips we took; watching each garden change throughout the seasons; completely revamping planting beds to make them look brand new; countless non-horticulture projects; learning to map the gardens; and even my first cookie from the Kitchen Garden Cafe (trust me, it’s life changing). There were also various challenges mixed in with the fun, such as the infamous “intern B&B pine planting disaster,” detailed in one of the first blogs of the summer. While embarrassing at the time, challenges like this helped me learn to accept my mistakes and ultimately grow as a horticulture professional.

I believe the thing I’ll miss most about working at the Gardens is the horticulture staff. These wacky individuals have truly swept me away with their hardworking, passionate, sometimes silly demeanor. They have always cheered on my success and have inspired me to become a more well-rounded professional. I’ve spent early mornings and late nights with them, and while sometimes it was hard work, we always found time to laugh. 

Sometimes their advice was a little questionable, such as, “You have to eat ice cream after lunch! It’s good for you!” However, those group ice cream sessions created some of the best bonding time for our team. Above all, though, these people have encouraged me to strive to keep learning as long as I can and to never give up on something I believe in. To my fellow horticulturists, who are now my dear friends: Thank you for being everything I could have ever asked for in a team. You’re going to be a tough crowd to beat.

I know I took it for granted while working here this summer, but Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens is truly a magical place. There is always something to see or do here, no matter the season. I wish I had taken advantage of every sight and smell when I had the chance, but it still is a summer that I’ll never forget. I know I will carry this experience with me for years to come.

-Carrington Flatness, Horticulture Intern (September 19, 2013)

A Well-Deserved “Thank You”

Friday, September 13th, 2013
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A group of volunteers hard at work, deadheading
in the Bibby and Harold Alfond Children’s Garden.

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A view of the beautiful sunrise over the
various Echinacea on the Great Lawn.

As if you didn’t already know, the experiences you may encounter here at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens are completely unique and unbeatable. Much like our Lerner Garden of the Five Senses, the entire garden seems to stimulate all of your senses when you come by for a visit. The smell of the cool sea breeze coming off the water, the taste of lettuce from the Burpee Kitchen Garden, listening to the children playing in the Bibby and Harold Alfond Children’s Garden, the sight of a fresh bouquet of flowers either indoors or out, or the cool feeling of water spraying from the whale rocks are just a few examples of what you may experience here. One of the things you may not experience directly in your visit is something completely different: passion.

When it comes to CMBG, you’ll find many supportive faces across the state, whether it be from the Board of Directors or even local citizens. However, I’ve never met a group of people more passionate than the volunteers that spend their time in our garden. Being on the horticulture staff, I mostly deal with the horticulture volunteers and work with them daily in the garden. These people don’t care if it’s raining cats and dogs or if the sun’s beating down on them; they start and finish their work with a smile on their face and continue coming back week after week. This doesn’t just apply to the horticulture volunteers, though; this is true for the garden docents, the shuttle drivers, the tour guides, and everyone in between. I want to thank all of you.

I think I speak for everyone when I say that Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens wouldn’t be as spectacular as it is today without the constant devotion of our volunteers. You have all taught me so much this summer about what it means to be selfless and give back to a cause that is greater than myself, and for that I owe you all. You are what helps this garden keep getting better and continuously helps us to grow. Thank you for all your hard work, your smiles, your stories, and your undeniable love for this garden.

-Carrington Flatness, Horticulture Intern (September 6, 2013)

Design Appreciation

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013
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Director of Horticulture Rodney Eason taking his
class out to explore the garden.

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No photo editing here! What a striking color on
these beautiful hydrangeas!

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A glance at the sweeping meadow in Elsie’s garden.

While working at  Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens this summer, I’ve realized that there are many benefits to being on the horticulture staff. Whether it’s getting to enter the garden early in the morning to soak in the tranquility of the grounds or watching your own plantings grow and be complimented daily, you can’t get these experiences any other way. One of the best benefits to my job, however, was the undeniable encouragement by the entire staff to continue learning. The Gardens holds various educational classes, lectures and workshops that are open to the public; and I was lucky enough to attend a handful of them this summer.

The most recent workshop I attended was entitled “Garden Planting & Design” and was taught by none other than my boss, Director of Horticulture Rodney Eason. Fellow intern Montana and I were very excited to attend this class because we both had a similar predicament: We didn’t take many design courses in our undergraduate studies and wanted to expand our horticultural knowledge even further.

The beginning of the program allowed us to travel through time and get a glimpse of garden design throughout history. We explored different countries’ views on design and examined how garden design progressed drastically through the centuries. It was interesting to see how we have evolved the landscape to where it is today and how many different design elements we combine.

The other half of this class was hands-on: We were to make our own ideas come to life and be the designers. Being the right-brained person I am, I was skeptical about being creative on paper; but it turned out to be easier than I thought. My drawings may have looked a little messy, but the key design concepts were there and I was undeniably proud of it. This class taught me a huge lesson that can be applied to more than just designing: Look at the big picture first and work out the little details later.

In addition to the class that Montana and I attended, we had our final internship field trip this week. This one was a little closer to home; we visited Elsie Freeman’s personal garden at her home on Barter’s Island. To be completely honest with you, I’ve never seen a home garden look quite like this. Some of the sights we encountered were a frog pond, a Japanese garden, a forest trail, and huge planting beds that were filled to the brim with colorful plants. If you looked closely enough, you could find paths leading to secret hideaways within the garden, which allowed for a whole new experience. Overall, being in Elsie’s garden was an awe-inducing experience for all of us. It was perfect timing to have Rodney’s design class the day prior to this field trip, helping us truly appreciate the hard work and thought process behind the spectacular designs we saw in Elsie’s backyard.

-Carrington Flatness, Horticulture Intern (August 30, 2013)