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The Dedicated Horticulturalists at Denver Botanic Gardens


One recent afternoon, as I was walking down to  Offshoots Cafe for a quick lunch,  I was more than a little surprised to see two of our horticulturalists, Blake Burger and Mike Kintgen sitting on the floor of the entranceway with what appeared to be…Q-Tips?!

Being the curious type, I just couldn’t resist going over and asking what the heck they were doing! I mean, I was quite familiar with the “tools of the trade” having been at the Gardens for over a year now, and I did not seem to recall Q-Tips being on that list.

Mike patiently explained to me that this particular plant, the Encephalartos Longifolius, had unfortunately developed a fungus.  In order to save it, he had to clean its delicate (but oh-so-prickly – trust me on this one folks!) leaves with a solution of water, dish soap and a touch of ammonia with, yes, Q-Tips.  Not just some of the leaves – every single one of them…and this was quite a sizable plant!

Fellow horticulturalist  Blake was helping out on this particular occassion, as this was a task that could take up to TWO HOURS!

What stunned me the most, possibly, was when Mike explained for a while he was having to perform this activity at least once a week; because the fungus could spread rapidly, killing the plant.  At one point, he was undertaking this tedious task nearly every other day to rescue this important succulent.

So the next time you are visiting the Gardens and you see one of our amazing horticulture staff, realize there is no job too big or too small for them to take on!


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