It has been a very busy beginning of the year for this gardener. ( I have to laugh when people ask “What do you do in the winter?”) Well, in addition to caring for the plants in the Conservatory range, scouting the greenhouses, carrying out our IPM program, writing and taking pictures for the blog, keeping the website updated, getting a required certification, engraving new labels to replace lost or broken ones, and supervising student employees and volunteers, I have a great new opportunity: to take over responsibility for the “Botany Collection”, a wonderful and fascinating group of plants.
The plants are used in the labs for students in BIO 104 (Principles of Biology-Plants), BIO 311 (Plant Structure and Development), and BIO 321 (Plant Diversity). (There are 375 students in BIO 104 alone this semester…wow!) Plants in the collection have been gathered to represent different features like a certain type of flower or a certain type of root. Cactus and succulents, orchids, conifers, aquatic plants, ferns, plants with brightly pigmented leaves, mosses, fruiting plants, vines, many, many flowering plants, and some plants that are just plain curious, are all representatives of groups of plants being studied in Biology and Botany.
Each week, plants are brought in to demonstrate the objective of the lab, whether it is simply “Primary Growth” or something a bit more advanced such as sporophyte development. Occasionally, germinating seeds and seedlings are requested for dissection and study under the microscope (what fun!) I start those here and then bring them over to the lab. It all looks so interesting that I wish I were in class!
Tomorrow I am off to New England Grows — taking the 6 AM train to Boston. N.E.Grows bills itself as “the Ultimate Horticulture and Green Industry Education and Trade Show” and it is truly gigantic. Immense tree digging machinery and backhoes look like Matchbox cars on the floor of the trade show. My job tomorrow will be to give a very quick slideshow tour of the garden, condensing my usual one hour tour into 5 minutes! Then I am free to attend any educational session, so even though it’s not Biology Lab, I really do get to go to class.