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By Tim Jennings, on April 3, 2009

Students, Staff and Volunteers helping with pool clean-up Students, Staff and Volunteers helping with pool clean-up.

This work is compounded by the fact that the display is not readily accessible to heavy equipment, leaving a good portion of the work to be done by hand.  Over the years, one question inevitably comes to everyone’s mind--why do we go to all the trouble of removing the soil, wouldn't it be easier to leave the soil and just replant?  Yes, it would be easier to leave this soil, but by removing a portion of the old soil and replacing it with new soil, we are insuring that our plants get off to a great start.  The water lily family (Nymphaceae) is notorious for being heavy feeders and we know from previous soil tests that our soil is likely low in many nutrients.  This is the primary reason we remove a portion of the soil each year.

Interns and international students displaying the underside of a Victoria leaf Interns and international students displaying the underside of a Victoria leaf.

This brings to my mind another interesting question from our guests, and that is "how do we get it all done?"  The answer is: we are very fortunate to have both students and volunteers as part of our staff! Our students clearly represent the future of our industry--their enthusiasm, youthful vigor and inquisitiveness help keep the Gardens moving in a positive direction.  I have worked at other gardens without a student program and can tell you they are an asset to all that we do.  Here are just a few in action:

Recently, I had a discussion with one of our students about what Gardening is really all about.  Kerry Ann, one of our
Professional Gardener students, defined gardening as:

Clearing mud out of the Waterlily pools. Clearing mud out of the Waterlily pools.

A profession or hobby of LOTS:

  • Lots of dreaming
  • Lots of thinking
  • Lots of planning
  • Lots of spontaneity
  • Lots of back-breaking work
  • Lots of disappointment
  • Lots of astonishment and pleasure
  • Lots of satisfaction
  • "Lots" also as the best combination of destiny and chance together.

Another definition of gardening that I heard once and have never forgotten is, "the annual repetition of mundane tasks." While I think all professions have a certain amount of mundane tasks, if we focus solely on these tasks, the majority of what we enjoy about our work would be lost. For me, gardening is an expression of creativity that is focused on the present while actively engaged in the future.  As Gardeners we must constantly be thinking ahead, and in many ways gardening is more about the process than the end result.

Tropical cultivar named 'Lone Star' Tropical cultivar named 'Lone Star'.

As you can see, gardening can mean different things to all of us. Finding out what really makes you want to garden will only bring you more enjoyment.

Happy Gardening

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