Sunday, November 6, 2016

Unity College Dartmouth Greenhouse Week 1

I just started working at my Unity College Biology Internship with the Dartmouth Life Science Center Greenhouse on Monday the 24th.

Main hallway of the life sciences center greenhouse

Overall the internship has been going well.  My official title is Greenhouse Assistant and will be focusing on Exotic Horticulture and IPM (Integrated Pest Management).   I set up my work schedule so that I work Mon-Thurs at about 8-7hrs per day.

With the exception of my self there are only two other regular employees, my Site Supervisor Kim and senior coworker Terry.  Both of them are really nice and very supportive.  I am learning a lot about what goes into running a research greenhouse.  Greenhouses, especially ones that are as extensive as this one is are much more technically involved than I had initially expected.

My boss Kim (middle), co-worker Terry (right), and myself (left); (photo taken by Terry) 

I got a standard tour of the greenhouse including the rooms reserved for staff such as the sick rooms and the prep room. Each section of the greenhouse is arranged by climate conditions which are maintained via mechanized controllers:
  • Tropical room
  • Sub-Tropical  room
  • Xeric room (i.e. succulents & cactus)
With the orchid rooms separated from the other plants (orchids being more susceptible to pathogens):
  • Warm Orchid room
  • Cool Orchid room
And two quarantine rooms used to separate the sick and infested plants:
  • Sick plant room
  • Sick orchid room
The room we mainly worked in when dealing with individual plants was the prep room. It was kind of set up like a cross between a gardeners tool shed and a veterinarian prep room.  We would use it when re-potting or removing pests like mealybugs (Pseudococcidae) by hand.  It is also where they store the soil mixes and fertilizers.

Prep room

There is a Community botanical illustration class on most Wednesday and I was able to take part in.  The artist was previously a scientific illustrator that found their way into
botanical illustration which is slightly different.  It was all very fascinating and informational. Although I have dabbled in some hyper realistic art style before, the class worked to achieve a level that was much higher than I had expected. 

Through my art apprenticeship I learned the benefits and loosing my style and going large, This is almost counter to what is traditionally involved in botanical illustration. It requires a large amount of technical skills and precision. The illustrations also rarely get larger than ~8.5”×11” so it was a bit of a readjustment.  The way the instructor described what a botanical illustrator is 90% technician and 10% artist.

I don't have enough space to describe all of what I learned over this first week.  I am enjoying learning the vast diversity of the plants and helpful control species.

Flowering orchid from the Warm Orchid Room (can't remember the exact taxonomy)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice photos - what a beautiful orchid! It looks like a wonderful place to get experience. How fortunate you got the added art component to augment your repertoire. I look forward to seeing more about your internship. Enjoy yourself!

- Dawn