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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)