2020 Season Wrap Up: Horticulture Interns

29, Sep, 2020

Written by Adam Banks & Makenna Palzkill, 2020 Conservancy Horticulture Interns 

Hi, my name is Adam Banks and I’m thrilled to have been back at the Greenway Conservancy as one of the Horticulture Interns for the 2020 Summer season! I’m a rising senior at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine majoring in Environmental Studies. I’ve lived in Jamaica Plain all my life and I’ve always loved coming downtown to The Greenway. I was lucky enough to get to work at the Greenway Conservancy last summer as a Horticulture Intern and learned a lot of the skills which I am building on this year. In addition to The Greenway, my gardening experience lies in gardening at Bates and recreationally at home in JP. As this was my second year in public horticulture, it was really exciting to continue learning about how much behind-the-scenes work goes into keeping The Greenway looking so green.

I worked with the Conservancy’s Horticulture Department all summer, learning about multiple facets of organic landscape maintenance. Every day I learned general horticultural knowledge, from plant identification, to pruning, to watering methods. My regular daily routine consisted of assisting the horticulture staff, working with volunteers who lend their time to the Conservancy, and disinfecting equipment we use in the field.

While Makenna, the other intern, and I were not able to help prepare for the usual summer events on The Greenway much this year, we were able to pitch in on some exciting projects such as maintaining the lawn around the new public art installation created by Yinka Shonibare, Wind Sculpture (SG) V. We also were able to work on big planting projects in areas such as Auntie Kay and Uncle Frank Chin Park, where we planted new bamboo and revamped the serpentine bed, and the Carolyn Lynch Garden where we planted new grasses and perennials. These were just some of the biggest projects, but we planted in a number of other locations up and down the park! Take a look when you get a chance!

The best part of the job was working with the horticulture staff themselves. It was super fun to work with staff who are so knowledgeable about plants and landscapes and truly want to provide a safe and relaxing environment for visitors. I learned new things on a day to day basis just by working with the staff and it’s great to feel like my questions were really welcome!  Additionally, each member of the team is driven to make a daily positive impact on the resident communities, so much so that they come to work every day in the midst of a pandemic with a positive attitude. It’s been inspiring to work with people who are courageous enough to put themselves in the midst of one of the densest parts of the city to create a beautiful space for visitors.

Additionally, this summer was impactful for me in seeing how vital The Greenway is as an urban green space. Last year it was great to see how many people from around the world would use the park. It was always vivacious and busy, full of noise and movement. This year however, the park seems to have a slightly different feeling. Crowds have thinned, people are quieter, and there are no longer so many visitors from outside the city. For many residents, it seems like this is the time when people most need this quiet environment. People are spending a lot of time in their houses and apartments and The Greenway has naturally shifted to offer an atmosphere where they can relax in a more placid setting.

I have been lucky enough to shadow and meet with members of staff to learn about particular aspects of organic park care. This included shadowing and assisting in compost tea brewing and distribution with Tori Hiney, Ecological Health Care Horticulturist at the Conservancy. I’ve also been able to work with members of the horticulture department to investigate solutions to the Volutella Buxi, a boxwood disease, which is affecting the performance and appearance of boxwoods in the North End section of the park. My project revolved around identifying either an organic solution to the disease or different cultivars or species of plants which could be used in lieu of the current ones. Having a personal project for the park has been really fun and I was excited to share my findings with the department.

Getting to be part of the team this year was amazing!I’ve had a really great experience working at the Greenway Conservancy. Working alongside the amazing horticulture team, learning more about horticulture, and interacting with visitors has made this a really memorable summer for me!

Hi, my name is Makenna Palzkill and I am one of the Greenway Conservancy’s Horticulture Interns for the summer of 2020. I’m a senior at the University of Massachusetts Amherst studying Landscape Architecture. During the academic year I used The Greenway as a case study for a school project and by the end of the assignment I had submitted a summer internship application.

My experience at The Greenway started in Chinatown, where I got to take part in replanting the bamboo and the new planting of the serpentine beds. Working to replant over 10 ft tall bamboo in a public park proved to be a unique challenge. Throughout the summer I was often tasked with watering the newly planted beds and it was great to watch these plants get established. The work done in Chinatown this summer has been a huge transformation and was a very rewarding project to be able to be involved with. 

Everyday was a little different this summer, working to keep up with a park in its peak season. I’ve definitely been introduced to a number of new horticultural practices and had the opportunity to try these new applications. Notably, I had the opportunity to work with the Conservancy’s compost tea program, learning about the brewing process and even having the chance to brew and apply our formulas. The Greenway prides itself on being a 100% organically maintained park and it was really interesting to see what that means for day to day maintenance. 

This summer also marked a new art installation on The Greenway. I got to watch the massive 22ft tall Wind Sculpture (SG) V by Yinka Shonibare get installed in the park and learned a little bit about the challenges of getting it there. I also got to spend time working in the meadow on Parcel 12, planting new plugs to help further develop the color sequence and meadow diversity.

In addition to working in the park I also was able to work on a research project looking into lawn alternatives for the park. Exploring different techniques to enhance the health, aesthetics, and the potential for further biodiversity in the park. I was able to target areas with potential for redevelopment and compiling my findings to present to the staff. This proved to be a constructive and interesting exercise and led to some great conversations about the potential for continued park development. 

All in all my summer at The Greenway gave me such great insight into how a public urban park space functions. Working with such a passionate staff was truly inspiring and a highlight of my summer, and certainly makes it hard to say goodbye and head back up to school. Thank you Greenway!

The 2020 Greenway Conservancy Horticultural Internship Program was made possible thanks to a grant from the Stanley Smith Horticultural Trust.