Delainey Williams – Horticulture Intern 2019

Spending the summer at Betty Ford Alpine Gardens was a great learning experience. The Michigan State horticulture program provided me with knowledge and some hands-on experiences but there is nothing like getting to put all of that to practice in a place as beautiful as Vail, Colorado. I have had the dream of working in a botanical garden since my freshmen year of college, and the summer after my junior year it became a reality. As an intern at Betty Ford, I had the unique opportunity to do some of everything because there is such a small horticultural staff. To list a few of my favorites; irrigation repair, seedling transplanting, water feature troubleshooting, assisting in garden area redesign project, seed collecting, trough planting, tree planting, and more. I also had the chance on multiple occasions to work with a Denver Botanic Garden horticulturalist on an herbarium specimen collection project she was a part of, which was an unexpected added bonus for me! Along with those occasional activities, everyday I was putting my plant care, plating, transplanting, and pruning knowledge to use while learning more by asking coworkers questions about things I didn’t know. Coming from across the country, there were plenty of rare alpine plants I had never heard of that I had the opportunity to work with, which also made this experience even more special. Learning how to identify all of the species I had never seen before was a challenge, but it pushed me out of my comfort zone in a good way. Besides all of the garden work working at a botanical garden provided me with the opportunity to converse with and answer questions from garden visitors that come from all over the world. It was a part of the job I was looking forward to because it allowed me to share my love of plants with so many people! This internship also includes several field trips throughout the season, typically group hikes to identify or collect seeds in the wild. I can’t think of a more beautiful place to live and work for the summer than up in the Rockies – and I am so lucky to have been able to have the chance to intern here!