Friday, August 15, 2014

A Fun Finish

Hello again,

Today was the last day of my internship here at Moore Farms Botanical Garden. It was bittersweet to say the least, walking through the garden for the last time made me really appreciate and cherish my summer here. As you all have been following along with my experience, you have seen most of everything I've done, all I've learned and the places I've visited. This internship went beyond any expectations I could have had and this incredible summer will not be forgotten.

Even though majority of the summer has been internship-oriented, there was still time for a little fun! In this last blog I'll give you guys a brief overview of my last week's activities and then share with you all the exciting places I was able to visit throughout my three months here in South Carolina!


As I mentioned earlier in my previous blog, the first half of my week was dedicated to database work. All the daylily research and pictures I collected throughout the summer was input into the database. I was happy to learn how to use their filemaker system and share the work I had completed in the past three months. 

To finalize my daylily work here at the garden, I spent a day with the GIS intern GPS-mapping the daylily collection. What that means is, we recorded the GPS coordinates of each individual daylily. Those coordinates can then be entered into the garden's database per each daylily to create maps and accurate location for plant records. To better explain the process, in the picture to the right you can see a tall yellow GPS Unit on the right and a red Rangefinder on the left. The GPS Unit is connected to a satellite, which records the coordinates of the location of the unit. The Rangerfinder is an easier way of collecting multiple coordinate points without having to move the larger GPS unit each time. The Rangefinder syncs to the GPS unit and uses it as a reference point, determining it's GPS coordinates from the relative distance to the unit. So the Rangefinder is able to move from plant to plant recording each plant's individual coordinates. It wasn't a short process but it was interesting to be involved in and fun to complete as a finishing touch on my daylilies. 

Another feature to the farm I don't think I've mentioned is, bees! One of the horticulturists is the bee keeper to a hand full of hives she started at the garden. Starting about a month ago, she was able to harvest honey and in doing so she also obtained a lot of bees wax. We took this molded wax and melted it down to liquid form to then poured it into mason jars with wicks to create our candles. The process was way easier than I expected. However knowing I made it and that it came from a true bee hive was really cool!

Moore Farms has a signature fire tower on the garden property which serves as the official entrance into the garden, as everyone must pass through/under at the beginning of their tour. A weeping form of a Bald Cypress tree, Taxodium 'Cascade Falls', was planted at each of the four metal base posts. Over the past year they have been training it to grow up the fire tower and subtly drape down and across the harsh metal beams to create a softer more feathery texture better fitting to the garden. I spent a while cleaning up and training some of the wild new growth, tying and pruning the branches into their desired locations. It was a very fun job and one I took pride in as it was something everyone would see upon entering the garden. The picture here is a small portion of the tower and where I began my work on it. 


--> Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
I went to the beach a few times over the summer, once with the other interns, once with my family, when they came to visit, and another time with a friend of mine who also came to visit. Each time was a lot of fun in the sun!

--> Charleston, South Carolina
I visited Charleston twice, once on a work trip and the second time on a day trip with one of the other interns and my friend who came to visit. With each trip I saw a different side of the city. During our work trip I saw some of downtown but mainly the beautiful small home gardens all throughout the city, with their formal unique style. On our day trip one weekend, we saw more of the touristy side of Charleston. We took a boat tour and walked along the main streets. It is such a beautiful city.

--> Savannah, Goergia
The week my parents came to visit I spent the weekend with them in Savannah. Two days was definitely not enough to capture all the city has to offer, but we tried to experience as much as we could! We walked down the main streets, took a fun ghost tour, saw Forest Gump's bench and even made our way out to Tybee Island.

-->Blacksburg, Virginia
This trip was a little bit of a stretch but totally worth it! I had never been to Virginia and when one of the interns (who attends Virginia Tech University) heard that, she made me go visit with her. It was a blast! We toured around the beautiful campus of VT, hiked Cascade Falls, and swam at a river within the mountains.

Thank you guys for following along with me on this wonderful adventure. I hope you've enjoyed hearing about my experiences just as much as I enjoyed doing them. The learning was abundant and the joy overflowing! 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Harvesting the Experience

Hello again,

This blog will encompass my last two weeks here as I only have eight days left in South Carolina. It's hard to believe I began my internship here back in May, that feels like yesterday! However, I know a lot of time has passed when I remind myself that it's August already! The time is also evident when I look back through this blog; the amount of experience and learning is incredible for three short months and it won't stop until my very last day here. I am so thankful that Moore Farms kept learning as their top priority throughout my entire internship experience.


     The week started out very exciting with a trip to upstate South Carolina to visit a few gardens there. We left early Monday morning and returned on Tuesday, late afternoon.
  •  Hatcher Garden, Spartanburg, South Carolina: This was our first stop and we received a tour by one of their Horticulturists. The garden is a public botanical garden and woodland preserve tucked away in a little neighborhood right off the highway. It began as just the yard of the retired Harold and Josephine Hatcher. Over the span of thirty years they acquired ten acres of property and it eventually became what it is today; a nonprofit organization, free to the public and open all daylight hours everyday. It survives today by donors and volunteers determined to preserve this beautiful garden and the joy it brings to the community through programs and events. Below are some of the pictures I took while we were there. 

  • Spartanburg Community College Arboretum, Spartanburg, South Carolina: Our next stop was visiting SCCA where a professor Jay Moore toured us around the campus gardens and Kevin Parris showed us around their production area and Magnolia trial gardens. SCC is a small, two year college yet very based in horticulture. Seeing their campus gardens and how interactive their students were able to be there was wonderful.
    Here are a few pictures of their campus gardens below.

           I mentioned Kevin Parris briefly above, but more thoroughly, he is a major Magnolia expert and researcher. He works a lot with the hybridization of particular genuses and works to preserve almost extinct magnolia types in order keep their genes present in the future of Magnolias. This picture (below) is a rare Magnolia he is trailing at SCCA. 

  • The Figlar's, Pickens, South Carolina: Our third and final stop of the day was Dick and Anita Figlar's residence. Dick Figlar is one of the world's greatest plantsmen in regards to Magnolia and is probably the most renown Magnolia expert of North America. After spending the evening and morning touring his private study arboretum and talking with him, we knew those to be true. He has a decent area of land surrounding his house in the mountains of upstate South Carolina. There he created an arboretum/grove of Magnolias amidst the native South Carolina terrain. Also, closer around his house he has numerous cultivars and genuses from all over the world to observe, preserve and showcase. He allows researchers and guests to tour each upon request. Showing us these rare specimens and sharing his knowledge of Magnolias with us was simply unbelievable.  

  •  South Carolina Botanical Garden, Clemson, South Carolina: Tuesday morning we headed to Clemson to see the state's botanical garden. There a grad student of Clemson University, who also works as one of the horticulturists at the botanical garden gave us a tour. He showed us the Children's Garden, the Butterfly Garden, the Native Meadow, and the Desert Garden. Within the desert garden is my favorite  zeric plant (the first picture below). He also walked us through some future areas of garden that are under construction and experimentation at the moment. It was really cool to see things in the beginning phases. The second picture below is a pond area they are wanting to showcase lowerland and coastal regions of the state through.

Rachel and I did a lot of work in the vegetable garden this week. We harvested, as normal, mainly beans and a few eggplant. But mostly we pulled out spent spring and summer vegetables and planted new fall ones! We sowed numerous carrots, beets, bush beans, okra, and cucumbers.

As both horticulture internships were ending quickly, (Rachel this past Friday and mine this coming Friday) our garden director scheduled a garden walk with us. It was really just us walking through the garden with him talking and reflecting on our internship here. It was really nice though. It was a cool full circle type experience thinking back on our first weeks here to now, months later. 

As for our intern presentations this week, they all went great! We all elaborated on the topics assigned to us and were evaluated by the staff throughout the presentation. I put together a powerpoint including some data I found throughout the summer observing the trial daylily collection. Here is a link to the powerpoint:
Daylily Presentation
The presentation experience and evaluations from the staff were very helpful. It was a lot more nerve-racking presenting in front of twenty (almost) co-workers all evaluating you than to one professor evaluating you while twenty other students are just watching. However, we all did well and will take the criticism with us to future jobs. 


Majority of next week will be all database work. It will be my last week so all the information I have recorded on the daylily collection thus far (May-Aug) must be entered into the garden's database. I have been keeping my own records in an excel spreadsheet I created at the start of the project, but the information will be a lot more beneficial to the farm if it is within their own database. This task will take a long time I predict, as there are roughly three hundred and fifty cultivars of daylilies and I have information and pictures for each one. Yet, this will be a great learning process for me on how to use, enter records and navigate through the garden's online database. I am also greatly looking forward to sharing and putting to use all the information I have gathered throughout my time here. 

Next week I will post about all the places I was able to visit in the area throughout the past three months, so keep following to see the exciting and fun places of South Carolina!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Spreading Roots

Howdy guys,

As the internship is nearing it's close, we have been undergoing a little less garden work and a little more professional development as well as attending meetings and such to help us see all areas of this profession. As I go through last week's agenda and talk about the plans ahead you'll see how important the garden feels this kind of experience is. I am so glad I landed an internship that included a professional development section to their program, as it's extremely important to gain the kind of knowledge that isn't always taught in the classroom. 
Follow along to read more about the specifics of this past week!
The week began first thing with some flower arranging. Every week the horticulturist who runs the cut flower garden goes out and harvests enough flowers to create around eight arrangements that are placed in buildings all throughout the garden for that week. Rachel and I expressed a desire to learn more about design and flower arranging so we were able to join her this past Monday morning through the whole process. It was really fun and such a learning experience! Both Rachel and I have taken a floral design class and created all sorts of designs for that class but these arrangements and this kind of arranging was a bit different. For one we had never picked our own flowers for a design. This seems small but there is a lot more to it than you think. When harvesting your own flowers you have to come up with a unifying theme, colors and how many blooms per arrangement etc, from what you have available. Also, we were using different shaped and sized vases to hold the free arrangements, versus an oasis type design. All in all they turned out great! They allowed us to learn flexibility in design and how to design as we went while using what we had. 

     Throughout the week the other interns and I have attended a few meetings to see more of the business side of the garden. One pertained to an event the garden is hosting at the end of August, MFBG Beer Fest. A committee containing a small number of selected staff members, plus us interns, met to discuss preparations such as food, music, and marketing techniques. This event has been undergoing planning for a while now and had a previous meeting at the beginning of summer. Seeing the amount of time and decisions dedicated to one event was great to see, as I wouldn't believe the abundance of planning necessary right off the bat.
     Another meeting we were able to attend was the senior staff meeting. This meeting was a collection of the garden supervisors. The main topic discussed was a new Leave Policy for the garden's staff. Voting and opinions were voiced on this as well as other topics, and updates from the supervisors were given to their fellow supervisors. Attending this meeting was very neat, as we saw how decisions were made and how the garden is able to stay fully in tune with all it's areas. 

One afternoon was spent retrieving Magnolia leaf samples from seventeen Magnolia trees located throughout the garden. We took them later that afternoon to the Clemson Extension where they would be tested for particular pests and diseases. Once the results are given the garden can better determine how to treat their Magnolia trees for infestations. 

The garden had been awaiting a new large load of mulch for almost a month now and it finally came in last week. So we spent a good bit of time re-mulching a number of the beds in the garden, mainly the cut flower garden. I had never mulched in large quantities or areas before so doing so was interesting and seeing the aesthetic difference after was very impressive. 

     To incorporate professional development into our experience, the garden is doing a number of things. One major part was evaluating our resume, cover letter, and interviews completed and turned in for this position. They created a panel of three, the Garden Director, Operations Manager and Education and Events Coordinator, who each critiqued our items. We individually sat with the panel and discussed their changes and alterations. It was wonderful to hear their professional opinions and the do's and don't's of the application process. 
     Another major part of our professional development experience here is a staff presentation. This past week we were each assigned a topic that we were fairly familiar with this summer to present at the next all staff meeting, which is next week. They expressed that giving a business presentation to fellow employees, and employers was much different than giving a presentation in a classroom setting to fellow students. They are giving us a way to learn and grow as a professional versus a student and I know myself and the other interns are grateful for this opportunity. My topic is over the daylily collection since that has been a project I've been observing from start of my internship. Basically I will be updating the staff on what I have been doing and my findings throughout this summer. I am excited to share my work with the rest of the staff and gain experience presenting professionally to others. 

There are numerous Crape Myrtles within the garden, but a few lining a particular pathway were becoming a little unruly. Because of their dense outer canopy, a lot of the time the inner portion of the tree dies. To avoid having such a twiggy messy look on the inside and within the branching of the Crape Myrtle, a lot of dead wooding should be done. Another habit common to Crape Myrtles is drooping branches during bloom. Their blooms are typically pretty heavy and can weigh the branch down lower than the desired or aesthetic height so pruning a bit off the ends can relieve the weight and raise them back to an appropriate height. Rachel and I spent awhile cleaning up a handful of Crape Myrtles this way one afternoon. 

      One day was spent entirely at Pearl Fryar's Topiary Garden, quickly after arriving I knew it was going to be one of my favorite experiences of this internship. Pearl Fryar is a self-taught topiary master. He began creating topiaries in the garden at his house with the small goal of winning garden of the month in his neighborhood. His unique talent didn't go un-noticed for long. After five years, he gained national recognition through numerous garden clubs, articles, television shows and even released a documentary in later years (2006). While we were there for our visit, he was telling us about preparing his garden for a feature in National Geographic!
     He showcases his garden to visitors of all kinds almost everyday and loves sharing his work with the public. When we came to visit his garden we met a family from Turkey that had also stopped by to look around! 
It was the neatest thing. The picture above and to the right has Pearl in the dark blue shirt in the middle, the Turkish family on the left and myself and the other interns on the right. 
     Pearl was truly inspiring repeating valuable words of wisdom to us many times throughout our tour, "It is not just education. Education is the foundation; it's what you do with your education that makes you successful. Take your education and combine it with something you do well and that's when you become a master at what you do." These are mottos Pearl lived it and are evident in his garden. He took his education and a talent of his and became one of the only people in the world able to create topiaries the way he does. Meeting Pearl and seeing his work up close was phenomenal! Below are some of the many pictures I took.

Next week we have a trip to upstate South Carolina for two days and we have our scheduled presentations among other tasks. Keep following to see how those go!