The Beginning of My Summer at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens!
My name is Kristin Neill. I’m originally from Greensboro, North Carolina, and just completed my freshman year at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, where I’m double majoring in plant biology and horticulture. I’m very excited to have the opportunity to work at the Gardens this summer; it’s going to help me greatly in my continuing horticulture studies.
I’m an avid horse person, and until college was very competitive in the eventing discipline. I’ve ridden horses for 10 years and love it immensely. Now, in college, I have taken up a new sport: I’m on the sailing club at NC State and am very involved with the team. Living in Maine this summer is going to be perfect, and I am super excited to be here.
Monday, May 20: My very first day started by going to Hammond Lumber and getting a rain suit, which came in handy, as I spent the rest of the day planting in the Rose & Perennial Garden. It took me a little while to become used to the bright yellow rain attire, but as with anything else I adapted: I tried to cover the suit in mud!
After getting my rain suit and gas with Justin Nichols [a staff horticulturist], I helped him lay out plants for the cottage garden, all while he was gushing information about the plants. He put in cardinal flowers and Meconopsis. After that we joined Rodney Eason [Director of Horticulture] in the Rose & Perennial Garden, where I planted a whole bed of lupin plugs using the “staggering” method. I was reminded to stagger the plants and meticulously spread out the root system of a poorly rooted plant. I was most proud of placing and planting Polemonium ‘heavens scent’, or Jacob’s ladder, by the post of the rose arbor. Being able to place and plant meant a lot to me. I can’t wait for the plants to grow and smell wonderful. Then I can tell everyone that I planted those! Overall, my first day was amazing, I have learned so much already in this internship.
Tuesday, May 21: Today started off with rain again! Instead of going out and planting in the rain, I helped horticulturist Dick Zieg plant his “lobster-trap” wire planters in the greenhouse. We worked on a 3-D version, which he had never done before. For the “Thyme Warp” box, we planted a dark thyme and a variegated thyme as well as begonia plugs on one side. I really enjoyed working on the wire planters because the combination of artistry and gardening really appeals to me. I love the ability to create art trhough not only planters, but also plants themselves. I did eventually buy my own “Garden in a Cube” planter, and I love how it turned out after I planted it! After that I worked with Justin and a volunteer on planting a rush in the ditch by the entrance to the gardens.
Wednesday, May 22: I worked with gardener Megan Deveau and planted a couple of trees in the Rose & Perennial Garden. One, a weeping Katsura, also called Cercidiphyllum, was really quite interesting! This tree is unique because in the fall its leaves will turn a pinkish color and smell like cotton candy. That’s so neat – I can’t wait to see it happen! When we planted the Katsura, it was the first time I learned how to plant a tree. Since The lesson Rodney gave us was invaluable. We also planted a bunch of tropical plants in the garden. I really like the idea of a classic, calm rose garden being transformed into a unique garden of misfit plants.
Tuesday, May 28: In the beginning of the day, I worked with Justin, planting and weeding in the Children’s Garden. We had to pull out tulips in the Rainbow Terrace to make room for new annuals. That was loads of fun! Normally tulips are simple to pull up, but these tulips had been planted six inches into the ground and would break anytime you tried to yank them up! All of the volunteers were a little agitated by Justin’s bulb planting techniques. Although it was annoying, I think that planting them that low served its purpose because the tulips were gorgeous and very few died or were eaten over the winter.
I was then asked to pull out seven peach cobbler Buddleia. Boy was that fun! These butterfly bushes had been in there for a while and had definitely established a good root system. It took me an hour to pull them out, and I was exhausted by the end of it.
Wednesday, May 29: The day was cloudy and raining again! I started by helping Rodney fill in a spreadsheet for the Bigelow Project. Apparently the spreadsheet was very helpful, so I was very happy to have helped out. After that, I got my first lesson on the Dingo. I was terrified! All went well, though. I tested it first around the hort. building, and then we put two junipers on it. I drove the junipers to the Rose & Perennial Garden and dropped them off so I could go get the third one. I spent some of the day in my awesome yellow rain pants planting veronica in the Children’s Garden. Its always fun to work with the hort crew; there’s always a stream of jokes that accompany our conversations!
Next we had to move junipers into the area where I had ripped out the Buddleia. Although it didn’t take long, it took a lot of muscle to get them into the correct area. Rodney and I then dug a hole that would be the same depth as the root ball and a little larger across. We moved the juniper into the hole and cut off the twine and the top part of the metal cage, and then cut back the burlap. Rodney showed me how to look for the girdling root and knock down the shoulders of the root ball to the first sign of roots. We planted one tree and staked it using three stakes. The other two were left out for me to complete in the morning.
Thursday, May 30: The day started off hot and ended just as hot. Normally that wouldn’t be a problem, but since the day before was cold and rainy the dramatic weather change shocked my system. I spent the day with Justin and Megan planting the entrance of the Children’s Garden with Lobularia and other annuals and then planted several beds inside. At the end of the day, I finished planting the junipers with Dick’s help.