Building A New Display for the Cactus and Succulent House

September 24, 2021 Horticulture Intern

I grew up working in my family’s gardens and volunteering in community gardens. This developed my passion for both people and plants. It was this upbringing that led me to choose a double major of tourism and hospitality as well as public horticulture. Growing up in Tennessee gave me access to a large variety of ornamental and agricultural gardening. However, my plant knowledge and interaction were relatively limited to plants that enjoyed hardiness zones 6 and 7.

My first and only interaction with cacti and succulents was through the greenhouses at my college campus. Because of that, I have truly enjoyed expanding and developing my knowledge as this year’s Cacti and Succulent Collection curation intern.

My intern projects consisted of redesigning and planting the Cacti and Succulent House that is located within the Rock Alpine Garden. I also worked on accessioning and inventorying the Gardens’ Cacti and Succulent Collection.

While completing these projects I not only learned how to plan and plant a display to fit aesthetic and educational goals, but I also became more comfortable with different cacti and succulent species. I enjoyed experimenting with planting design and layout while also learning about how to handle cacti and succulents. This project also taught me how to intrigue and entertain the public through plant displays. I also learned a lot about cross pollination, hybridization, mutation and grafting. Seeing these methods first-hand in different plants helped with my ability to identify and even produce these modifications. 

I feel incredibly lucky, and I am grateful to have been an intern at Denver Botanic Gardens this summer. This opportunity has taught me so much about plants, horticulture and the people who make it possible for the public to enjoy and learn. I can leave saying my passion for public horticulture has been not only strengthened but also more focused.

Julia Adams is from Nashville, TN. She’s currently a senior at University of Tennessee double majoring in tourism and hospitality and plant sciences with a concentration in public horticulture. She hopes to work for a public garden focusing on community outreach to combine her two majors and passions.

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