I have spent three years learning about horticulture and landscaping through my High school, Minuteman tech, as a Horticulture and Landscaping major; also a summer as a field team member. However, I have never learned this much information about horticulture, landscaping and history in such concentration as I have over the last few weeks. Even though my memory is definitely not the best at times, I still remember a lot of what my mentor, Scott Hyndman, and supervisor/colleagues, Mona McKinley and the others in the Tri-cite NPS group have taught me, and the experiences we’ve had.
When I first came into the Tri-site headquarters, servicing Fairstead, Longfellow house, and JFK birthplace, in Brighton, I was quite confused. Was I at the right spot? Did they move due to the construction? And when I finally found the signs for it, and got passed all the doors; the headquarters looked like an over-sized garage! And that wasn’t the end of it! I had to meet everyone! Scott Hyndman, Mona McKinley, Scott fletcher, Pete Sepe, Tim, Scott Law, everyone; I still get the Scotts last names confused some times. Then It was: Where do I put my stuff? What should I do? Where are we going? What are we doing? And then meeting more people. To many names, but enough to know who’s who.
I got all my questions answered quickly enough, I’m still working on the names however. Over the following days and weeks I worked with Scott Hyndman and Mona throughout the three sites. Working, setting goals, learning new plants, new techniques and the like. Basic pruning, weeding, time management and talking with ‘customers’ ie tourists, I already knew, but I had to learn a whole new way to do all of that. Necessity is the Mother of invention they say, it is also the Father of having too much to do in so short of a time that you learn how to do it quickly. So I had to learn how to do everything that “necessity” speed; hard pruning, skim weeding, rapid time management and telling tourist that the park is closed on Monday and Tuesday because the park rangers work on Saturday and Sunday and that if they looked the place up on the internet it would have shown the times and yes there are more national parks in the area but they are also closed on Monday and Tuesday but if you have any more questions I will be right over here doing whatever I was doing before you got here. Everything quick, clean and acceptable.
After a while, I started getting into a reliable pattern. Wake up at 5, get dressed and everything ready by 5:50, check my email and be out of my Nana’s in Brookline by 6:10 then bike to Brighton and get there around 6:15-6:35. Say ‘Hi’ to everyone, change my boots, exchange my laptop and books for my tools, put ice made yesterday afternoon in my water bottle, double check my email, and do any small jobs in the shop. Then once that was all done I would go to the Longfellow house/George Washington Headquarters Monday and Tuesday, Wednesday was debatable, Thursday was Fairstead, and every Friday I would skip all of that and go to the Navy Yard. After working all day and getting back to the Shop at around 2:50-3:15, I’d finish up any small projects to do, exchange everything back, check my email, and make new ice for the next day. Then I’d leave around 3:20-3:30 depending on the day. It felt simple going through the motions. Then it was the week we were hosting the Field team. Out went that schedule.
I had met the field team before, briefly. In the ‘retreat’ and in the introductory meeting, but never as a full working group. It was interesting to see how they fared. I of course had known some from last year, but most were quite new to me. A few of them had worked in the landscaping field before and took up minor leadership roles, and many did very good work. Not to mention the full force of them really helped get some of our bigger projects done. I also had a fun time with them and the other groups, the SCIP trio and the SF group.
Now of course, this being my Mid-Term ‘blog’ I have to talk about my goals and how they have changed. But first I have to tell you what my goals were: Survive today, Survive this week, Survive this Month, Survive this Summer, Learn as much as I can about anything that comes up, make friends, use the new information, and be up to date with all projects. Well I survived that day, and that week, pretty close to surviving this month, and halfway through surviving this summer; so that’s three and a half goals done. Now of course I have made some friends, in the field team, Park rangers, SCIP and SF. But I have also made friends in the Trio of students we got from the Mathers High school, but that’s a whole other story. And the information that has been brought forwards can be only described in one word: supercalifragaliciousexpealadosious . I have used a little bit but not all sadly.
I have of course improved on some fields, working alone is sadly one of them. However I have developed very fine eye for spotting invasive species, throughout the Tri-sites. Of course I have also developed my own tatics for speed weeding, watering the sites and overall pruning. With the invasive species, particularly Oriental bittersweet and Blackswallow wart, you look for the light green or dark tan vines that climb up the host plant. However if you are looking for Garlic mustard you look for white flowers similar to Queen Anne’s lace; Ground Ivy you look for its particular leaf, Burning Bush you look for its ‘wings’ and color in the fall. I have also learned to identify more invasive species and weeds in the Tri-site area.
Now as a finish up making my second Chorizo and blueberry preservers sandwich for lunch today; I reread what I have written down and think back to those times, the beginning of summer, meeting the field team. And I just have to see how much I have learned; about the Tri-sites, weeds, invasive/noninvasive, the field team and much much more. I look forward to the rest of the summer and acquiring more knowledge about the park system.