Labor Day brings with it the unofficial end of summer and also the close of our Summer Internship Program. Molly Hendry will be one of the interns who’s last day is Friday (some have already returned to college) but she still managed to put together one more blog post. Thanks to Molly and the other interns this year for all of your contributions to the Winterthur Garden and Estate!
Each week the Winterthur Horticulture Interns are given the opportunity to participate in extra educational activities. This summer we have visited nearby gardens such as Mt. Cuba and Longwood Gardens for special behind-the-scenes tours from the staff. We have been trained in skills such as weed identification, pruning techniques, and large equipment operation. We have also had several plant ID talks, learned about plant records for the estate, and tried our hand at GPS mapping. But this year we had the unique opportunity of being the first group of Horticulture Interns to participate in an overnight trip. We loaded up two vans and headed toward northern Pennsylvania to explore Penn State and some of the surrounding area.
We started the trip with a tour of Penn State Arboretum’s new Children’s Garden with Linda Duerr, Director of Children’s Educational Programs. We learned about the commitment of the staff and the design team to help children understand more about the richness of the regional ecology and environment. There were large rocks that lead to caves and creeks similar to those found near Penn State. The garden takes you on a journey from a bird’s eye view of the region’s mountains and watersheds to feeling as small as an ant next to huge replications of trees and bugs near the back of the garden.
After lunch, we finished our tour of the arboretum with Patrick Williams, Director of Development at the PSU Arboretum. We learned more about the other existing gardens, such as the tropical and rose gardens, and future plans for new buildings and garden expansions such as the extensive pollinator garden.
After lunch we met up with Jeff Dice who showed us how the PSU horticulture team grows, installs, and manages all of the campus grounds. We walked around the greenhouses where all the annuals are grown to supply the 420 containers around campus.
We also ventured onto campus and saw the Secret Garden near the alumni center and learned about the rigid management program the staff uses to protect the American Elms from disease. To top off the day, we grabbed some ice cream at the campus creamery.
The next day we packed up and headed to Garden Genetics, located outside of PSU in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. We were given a tour by Mike Owen, a Research Grower at Garden Genetics. We saw firsthand all the greenhouses where extensive research is happening to create new cultivars of anything from petunias to peppers.
We also took a stroll outside to see the research plots where the new cultivars are tested and analyzed by the staff. We all walked out of our tour amazed at the dedication, precision, and persistency of the staff to creating newer and better plant breeds.
Finally, we stopped at Hershey Gardens where Barb Witcraft, Director of Horticulture, gave us a tour of the gardens. We learned about the history of the rose garden, saw annual beds that encompassed every color of the rainbow, and took a stroll through the Kid’s Garden, complete with a butterfly house!
The first overnight venture for the Winterthur Horticulture Interns was a resounding success. We each took away valuable educational experiences for our careers, while also getting to bond with fellow interns and staff! We are all very grateful that Winterthur is committed to giving interns valuable experiences both inside and outside of the garden.