Weekly overview of my Internship

Trip Start May 12, 2009
Trip End Aug 12, 2009

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Where I stayed
Smithsonian Gardens

Flag of United States  , District of Columbia
Tuesday, June 23, 2009

May 18-22

This week I was with Diana Bramble. She is the Intern coordinator and also in charge of the Hirshhorn Sculpture garden. Our first day was boring orientation and lots of signing papers. We also went on a tour of the gardens we would be working in. The rest of the week was spent pulling weeds, planting flowers, and pruning hedges around the Hirshhorn garden. Overall it was alot of fun and Diana kept us working, which is what I like.

May 25-June 5

For two weeks I was with Joe and Megan in the Heirloom and Victory Gardens. This has been my favorite so far. It could have been the people I worked with, but working in the Victory Garden was a great learning experience. While I was in the Victory garden we planted beans and peppers, layed down bark and straw for mulch, and tied up tomatoes. We also did a lot of weeding. I found that heirloom variety plants are somewhat different, but most are a lot more attractive then their hybridized types. Megan and I spent a few rainy days working on Photoshop and changing seed packets to match the veggies. We got pretty good at it and are now pros. I was really sad to leave them.

June 8-12

This week was kind of all over the place. I started the week off with the Landscape Architects, which was Paul, Bill, and Luke. We basically spent the whole two days on the computers, which usually leaves me pretty bored. Luke and I took pictures of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and then had to photoshop out some trees to see what they might look like. We also spent Tuesday walking around with contractors and looking at sink holes. When your working outside you get used to the heat and humidity, but when you just go out to walk around its miserable.

On Wednesday Josh and I spent the day with Shelley in the Rose Garden. The roses need to be dead headed and weeds needed to be pulled. The first half of the day I pruned dead flowers off while Josh weeded. About half way through we switched and I spent the rest of the day pulling weeds. Besides the annoying Merry-Go-Round Music it was a good day.

Saturday was the yearly Garden Fest; therefore, Thursday and Friday were spent helping anyone who needed it. Luke, Josh, and I spent Thursday putting sticky paper on big poster boards. This is harder then it sounds because they wrinkle and cause bubbles. It usually took us all to do one very slowly. Friday was spent placing plants where they needed to go and putting signs in front of them. We stayed a little late and helped finish all the odds and ends we could do before Saturday morning.

June 15-19

This weeks has been alot of fun and I have actually worked the whole week. I worked with Micheal and Shelley in the Haupt Garden. I loved it because its the most public garden of the Smithsonian Gardens. People would walk by and compliment what I was doing and it made you feel good. I spent Monday planting flowers a border. On Tuesday I had to prune up the English Ivy that was creeping down into our storage area. I thought it would be harder then it actually was.

On Wednesday all the Interns went on a field trip to some of the gardens around the mall. For the most part it was interesting, but the USDA vegetable garden is crap compared to the Victory Garden. The guy was also a Land. Architect and didn't know anything about the actual garden. I was also disappointed that we didn't get to go inside the botanical garden.

Thursday was spent cutting off the water suckers from Saucer Magnolias. After lunch all the interns had to go to a safety meeting, which was a complete waste of time. After words I continued cutting suckers until it started to rain.

June 22-26

So far this week has been pretty slow. I'm with Jackie in the Butterfly Garden, which is part of the Natural History Museum. Jackie got in late Monday morning so I helped Bret for awhile. After I met up with Jackie and we pulled weeds and cleaned up a little until 3. On Tuesday we got an earlier start and planted some left over plants in the Garden. We ended the day cleaning and pruning.

Its Thursday now and I've grown attached to this garden. I have learned alot of new plants, some that I've known are actually weeds I learned. If I were to do this all over again I would apply to the Victory/Heirloom or the Butterfly garden. Water seems to be a problem here though. The River Birch has very fiberous roots and forms a net. Water just runs off onto the walkway. It also makes it extremely difficult to plant because you have to break through a ton of roots. Tomorrow is my last day here, sometimes it gets annoying when you have to leave when your starting to get to know a garden or supervisor. Two weeks would have been nice here.

Last day of work today. We spent the morning fertilizing all the plants and also giving them some needed water. Jackie was leaving early after lunch so we spent the rest of the morning going through all the shrubs and tree to cut out the dead and to prune it up a little. The rest of the day I spent with Diana. We basically did nothing. We sat in the Cushman for well over an hour talking to a fellow employee, and then finished the last hour by sweeping and cleaning the piles. By the time we did that it was 3 and it was time to go home. It wasn't really an exhausting week, but I was tired and really glad it was friday.

June 29-July 3
Its already Wednesday on my week at American Indian Museum. This week has been pretty short. On Tuesday all of the interns had to go to a security meeting, seems kind of point less more than half way through our program. Afterwords there was a big Smithsonian employee picnic out on the mall. We didn't get any work done that day. Monday was a full day though. I harvested some tomatoes and peppers to make salsa with and we stringed some squash. On Wednesday we suited up and went into the pond to trim up and thin out some over growing plants. I thought I would be a mess after, but I didn't even get a little wet and surprisingly i came out clean. After lunch on Wednesday we walked around the edges and thinned out the "green wall" that was taking over everything. It was a good work day. Thursday will be another goof off day because we have another picnic for the horticulture department. We will only be able to get work done until 10. Friday is a holiday because of the 4th on Saturday. Pretty uneventful week, but it went by fast.

July 6-July 10
Monday morning after an uneventful week and a long weekend! Turned out not so bad actually. I started in the greenhouses today working with Tom with the orchids. I wasn't particularly looking forward to these two weeks, but after today I can see myself getting obsessed with orchids and learning more about them. Tom spent the morning teaching us the varieties and how each might be pollinated. I learned that "orchid" comes from the word testicle. Their root bunches look like testicles and it was said that a macho Greek god tried to rape a goddess and every body part was torn off him. Where his testicles landed an orchid grew. Pretty crazy. Also many look much like female genitalia. Researchers think this is one reason animals are so attracted to the orchid, psychologically of course. Orchids also use mating to decieve and attract their pollinators. Some have adapted to look like the female of certain insects. The insect will go down to mate with it, thinking its a female, and in the mean time pollen will stick to the insect. The evolution of the orchid is amazing. Some have made it so only a single type of pollinator can get to the pollen, they are this way to prevent cross pollination. Also some are so adaptive to their environment they will only grow in a single area, which is why so many are endagered or extinct now. We spent the rest of the day learning how to take them out of their pots and clean the dead off or repot them in bigger containers. The medium used to plant orchids is alot different then I would have thought. It consists of bark, sponge rock, and charcol. This is because in the wild they grow on the outside of trees, know as a epicormic plant. The roots grow on the surface of trees. Today was the first day I feel like I've learned something new other than new plants. Im excited for the rest of the week.
    It's already Friday and I finished with Orchids. I really loved it and was very fasinated by the species. I found a book at a used book store about orchids so I could read up on them and even buy one for myself to raise. Throughout the week we mostly did repotting, and also mounting orchids on cork boards to be hung. Today was trimmed up ones with old leaves and also split them apart to form new plants and to make them look better overall. Tom took Josh and I to lunch, which was really good. After wards we tested some orchids for viruses. You get a little packet with a liquid that disolves a piece of leave. You then put a test strip in and basically its like a pregnancy test. One bar is no virus, two bars means it has one virus, and three bars is two viruses. I need to look up what the viruses are because I don't remember at this moment. Im excited to read my book, and learn more. More than a week would have been nice with Tom, I could get obsessed with orchids. Maybe I will.

July 13-17
Monday started very well and very interesting. I worked with Melanie, Alex, and Shanna doing interior plantscapes. We started the morning by going downtown to water American History, Hirshhorn, and the Portrait Gallery. There is a whole different set of rules when dealing with indoor plants. They take less water of course and you cant just clip off dead leaves, they have to still look nice when you cut them. On Tuesday Melanie and I went downtown again and changed out the orchids in the castle. I got to see all the offices behind closed doors, and see the parts of the castle you don't usually get to see. The rest of the day was spent taking pots down of dusty shelves and putting them back in some sort of order. We threw away a bunch of pretty pots that I wish I had the room to take home. 
    Wednesday through Friday I was with Sarah. She does the collection side of orchids, but is also in charge of a greenhouse as well. She introduced me to their database called BG-Base. They are in the process of transfering old barcode numbers into new ones. This is pretty much what I did for 3 days straight. I had a break on Thursday when I got to help one of her volunteers take photos for the database, but after we loaded them on the computer I had to transfer them all into their files. On Friday, we released some benificial bugs into her greenhouse to eat the thrips and aphids. Lots of computer work this week, I will be glad to get back on the mall Monday morning. Graham should be alot of fun.

July 20-24
Monday morning again, the weeks are flying by so fast. This week I am with Graham doing IPM. Today we went around the mall and looked at all the elm trees that the Smithsonian takes care of. We still have two museums to go and there are already 109 trees. Basically were looking for any sign of Dutch Elm disease or any other common problems associated with Elms. Only American Elms get dutch elm, and the mall is slowly replacing them with Jefferson Elms along with a few other varieties. All the elms also get a scale that starts to brown the leaves slowly, looks pretty bad if its throughout the tree. What spreads these diseases is the Chinese Beatle that burrows into wounds. The dutch elm is deposited on the beatle and when it moves to another tree it is spread. Tuesday and Wednesday consisted of the same thing. We sprayed some Horticulture oil on scale that some Junipers had in the Freer gallery. We also had to keep an eye on the landscaping crew that was laying sod. They cruised through it really fast, it was really impressive. On Thursday I went to a seminar about applying to a job at the Smithsonian. I don't want to apply, but I thought I could learn some tips to getting a job in general. I took Friday and Monday off to hang out with Calvin so Ill write again on Tuesday.

July 28-31
Today is Tuesday and Im back at work after a long weekend. Im with irrigation for two days and then another two days next week. Sean and Ray are fun to work with and cool to talk to. We had a short staff field trip today to the Nationals Stadium. It was pretty cool even though I didn't pay attention to what the guy was saying. After we went out to Anacasia which is where all the buildings are that they keep artifacts in. I got to go through the air and space one. They were restoring some planes and a hellicopter. It was pretty cool, it would be interesting to spend some time out there. They needed to fix a pump out there with another guy who I think was a plumber. It took along time, almost all day and they still didn't get it fixed. I was starving by the time we got back to the office around 2. I spent the rest of the day working on my powerpoint and applying for a city job in Logan.
Wednesday was extremely pointless and boring. The morning started out good, Sean and I went around looking for problem areas. We also fixed a valve box at the Hirshhorn. We found some standing water on the west side of Natural History and found a broken pipe. It took some time to fix. Around 11 it started to sprinkle so we went to the office. I didn't think we'd spend the rest of the day there, but we did. It went by really slow. Atleast I had Luke to talk to.
Its finally Friday, and Im ready for it to be next week so I can be done. Yesterday was pretty cool though. Diana and Erin took us to the zoo for a behind the scenes tour. We got really close the the cheetahs, sloth bears, and gazelle. I really liked being by the big cats, besides giraffes, their usually my favorite in a zoo. The rest of the day was pretty boring. Josh and I went through surveys, and I was actually falling asleep. I feel like its the last 2 weeks of school. You don't ever do anything and its a waste. I haven't really "worked" for a few weeks. Today Im giving my presentation and the rest of the day is up in the air. Probably work in the sculpture garden or doing more surveys. Blah...

Aug 3-7
My last week has started! Im with Irrigation Monday and Wednesday. Tuesday we have a field trip to Baltimore. Thursday and Friday Im going to be working with Megan because she doesn't want to work alone in the Victory and Heirloom garden with Joe being gone. 

On Tuesday all the interns went on a field trip to the Baltimore area. Our first stop was Kurt Bluemel Inc. which was a big nursery. Kurt (owner) gave us a tour of the greenhouses and also his yard. The guy was pretty full of himself though, and pretty proud of his stuff. Janet, who works in the Ripley Garden, used to work there and she had told Leselie stories. They were very obvious just by watching him. He flies Chinese girls over to help work in the greenhouses, it seems to me that there is more going on there though. He was a nice guy though, and he fed us pizza. After words we went to Ladew Topiary Gardens, which was pretty cool. The guy who owned it turned it into public gardens and he has since died. There were crazy topiary though, and ones that have probably been around for 50 years. Our last stop was a private residence of the Lowrys. He made his money in the green industry and has showed it in his yard. The guy had so many different types of plants and had a beautiful yard. It was almost to much though because nothing stood out. The day was pretty hot and by 3 we were all ready to go home.

Wednesday was very slow. I was with Sean most of the morning until lunch. I taged along while he fixed some valve boxes and a few sprinkler heads. Around 11:30 we came back to the office though, and Ill probably be here the rest of the day until I go pick up Sam.

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