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Teacher as Gardener

 

Tom Ward,
Greenhouse Manager/Propagator

The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University
Boston, MA

"As a gardener and horticulturist here, my main concern is the well being of the plant materials … And because of the diversity of plants that we grow, we have to have a wide range of niches to put those plants into. Some need it to be a little cooler. Some want it a little warmer. Some want to be drier. Some want to be wetter. Our job here is to work with Mother Nature and to try to provide the conditions optimal for growth.

"This material will probably take 5-7 years before it gets large enough before it's ready to go out on to the grounds. So in many ways, I feel as if I'm shepherding it through the processes of its growth. And preparing it for planting out. Each day is different. When you walk into work, you have to be flexible enough to adapt. If you try to force the situation, oftentime the best results don't occur."

"The plants themselves let us know an awful lot about how they're doing. If they're lagging behind, if they're not having good color, then we try to augment what we do to benefit them either by changing the fertilizer or moving them from sun to shade or trying to put them into the best positions."

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"you spend a lot of time digging, planting, watering, nurturing — enjoying the fruits of our products and their products."

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