My favorite tree on the property,
|The posse posing with a truly exceptional man,
our Director of Horticulture, Rodney Eason.
|Our awkward family photo
(Photo by Rodney Eason)
As I prepare myself for yet another transition, I turn to one of my favorite quotes by garden designer Lauren Springer Ogden for inspiration: “Gardenmaking, in its finest form, is a celebration of life and of love.” I absolutely adore this quote because it reminds me that my innate love of plants must come from my mother and grandmother. By strolling through either of their gardens one can understand who these women are as individuals. Each plant, hardscape and garden’s design echoes their unique personalities, much like our gardens at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens reflect the character of each person fundamental to their conception and development. I now love CMBG as much as the gardens of my youth because I can see my influence throughout the grounds; I have left as much of an impression on the garden as it has left on me.
For someone like me who craves order and understanding, the garden can be a maddening place. Plants often seem to do what they will regardless of your efforts to control and manipulate them. Perhaps this is why I love horticulture so much – because the science of plants is insatiable and humbling, capable of bringing me to my knees in frustration, but also in wonder. In her book, The Undaunted Garden, Lauren Springer Ogden describes the varied personalities of gardeners. In particular, she mentions one type who “are fascinated by the intricacies of the natural world and observe the garden as a marvelous microcosm thereof.” I identify deeply with this type of gardener, but I would include that my perception of what constitutes a garden includes the people who cultivate it.
I’m sure many of you readers are already aware that our gardens are in the process of transitioning to a new master plan. After spending the past week meeting some of our board members and listening to the goals of our new landscape architects I was reminded of renowned plantsman David Culp, who wrote, “When dealing with plants, it is best to consider a garden as living sculpture – always in flux and, if we learn to pay attention, always teaching us what it wants to become.” Because I’ve spent most of my fleeting stay here in Boothbay working these gardens, I can promise you they’re ready to evolve into something even greater than they’ve already become. I have great faith that our board members will listen to the garden and capture the essence of the northern tempestuous coast that is so quintessential to Maine.
Our more detail-oriented readers may have noticed the title of my position here at CMBG is different than that of my peers. My internship – Pearson Horticulture Internship- is named after a lovely family from Naples, Florida, who donated a generous gift enabling CMBG to hire me on for the summer free of charge (meaning my income comes from this donation and not from our operating budget). I think it’s important that I communicate how amazing this specific type of donation was because instead of financing the installation of a beautiful bench or a new building (which are both wonderful contributions), this family decided to invest not only in the Gardens, but in my future as well. Though all donations are honorable in nature, this specific form of sponsorship is even more selfless, because the skills I was able to acquire while interning here will benefit many other organizations and communities I work for in the future, not just CMBG; and for this opportunity, I am incredibly grateful.
I mentioned earlier that for me a garden includes the people who help cultivate it. And even though the intrinsic beauty of nature is something we may never fully capture in our landscapes, gardens can provide a sense of stability and security that nature cannot. I believe this sense of security comes from a subconscious understanding that another human being created and cares for the space – we can appreciate the garden as an art form. The public did not rate our gardens number one because we have meticulously maintained flowerbeds or exotic species found nowhere else, they rated us so highly because of the undaunted spirits of the staff and volunteers who have poured their lives into this place. I will always cherish the memories I’ve made here and I have no doubt the gardens will continue to capture the hearts of everyone who walk its grounds.
-Montana Williams, Pearson Horticulture Intern (published August 26, 2013)