You may not believe it, but there are actually college degree programs which focus on managing public gardens. One of the most valuable takeaways I received while attending the Longwood Fellows Program at the University of Delaware came from the director of Longwood Gardens at the time, Fred Roberts. “Gardens”, he told us students, “are like cakes; they are multi-layered, with plants being the icing.” The meat and potatoes, the nuts and bolts, the heart of any public garden is the infrastructure supporting all that is seen. Never skimp here, make it as much a priority as plant care.
This is something I keep in mind as the Horticulture and Facilities Manager at Wellfield. We have been blessed from our inception with a core group of visionaries, planners and installers who are passionate about building a world class public garden, and that first means world class material choices and construction methods. We are backed by a wonderful group of advisors and doers who do not know a thing about botany or plants, but know the building trades. This collaborative group made up of board members, contractors, staff and volunteers is doing the very necessary task of building and maintaining Wellfield Botanic Gardens’ guts and skeletal framework (buildings, plumbing, electrical), the stuff pretty plants hang on. I think the results speak for themselves. So, the next time you see someone swinging a hammer or waving a paint brush, tell them thank you.
Josh Steffen, Horticulture and Facilities Manager