Oak Spring’s upcoming horticultural interns from the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) joined us this week for a brief orientation to our gardens and grounds. The internship will begin in April 2017 and span the spring and summer to September – when Oak Spring's gardens are the most vibrant and verdant. Carly Amarant and Ralph Portillano are currently students at NYBG's School of Professional Horticulture (SoPH), where they have been receiving both academic and hands-on training in the art and science of gardening.
Carly has spent the past few years building a portfolio of experiences around the theory and practice of medicinal plants, permaculture farming, and urban farming. She started at SoPH in 2016, where her studies have included botany, soil science, plant identification, greenhouse techniques and herbarium collection.
Ralph also began his studies at SoPH in 2016, where he has since designed, installed and maintained a mixed vegetable and ornamental student garden plot. He came to SoPH after working in Brooklyn on a large-scale public green space development project, which combined traditional agriculture practices with innovative urban landscaping.
During their visit, Carly and Ralph had the opportunity to meet with OSGF staff and to take their first tour of the grounds and gardens on which they will soon be living and working. The interns will put their studies to practice by maintaining Oak Spring's current gardens through planting, weeding and pruning, while also supporting the many new garden projects being undertaken at OSGF. These projects may include planting in a brand new 2700-square-foot greenhouse and adjacent vegetable and cutting garden, developing a new composting system, and landscaping around the new Broodmare Barn renovations.
In addition to working in the gardens, the interns will also begin documenting the garden practices that Rachel Lambert Mellon left behind only in the minds of her well-trained garden staff and on the shelves of her library. With access to this staff and to the library for resources and inspiration, the interns will be able to create a record of Bunny Mellon's meticulous gardening preferences. This will be the first time such an endeavor has been undertaken at OSGF and it will leave behind a rich resource for generations to come.
Our horticultural intern program is an important piece of OSGF's mission to use the gifts of Bunny Mellon to foster gardening knowledge among young leaders. We couldn't be more excited to have Carly and Ralph here next spring!