Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Settling In

Since moving back to Florida from California in the summer of 2012, I have felt like a newly transplanted seedling on oolitic limestone; my roots have been creeping along looking for a space to reach down and anchor into. I waited patiently for an opportunity to continue my botanical career in south Florida, networking and meeting all the right players, taking on temporary part-time jobs while biding my time, but never finding a permanent position. That space in the limestone was eluding me. I knew I wanted a new challenge, something that combined my love of plants with education. Just as I was about to throw in the proverbial towel and reassess my mission, I finally found my space at The Botanic Gardens at Kona Kai Resort!

There are many different activities I enjoy that are now part of my job: working with my team to plant new specimens in the garden, planning different tour routes throughout the garden as the flowers come and go, presenting information to the local schools, learning new information about plants every day, networking with fellow botanists and horticulturists, and working with a great group of people who share my passion and enthusiasm for plants and botanical education. I am thoroughly enjoying my new position and getting to know everyone I work with. 

Enthusiastically describing light sensing in plants on a TYUP tour
Veronika breaking up the roots of old Hibiscus plants to make room for new poolside additions

Myristica fragrans, nutmeg and mace, by Pauline A. Goldsmith
One of my first "field trips" outside the garden was to see the Tropical Botanic Artists Bizarre Botany exhibit at the Coral Gables Museum. Our Executive Director, Joe Harris, Director of Education, Ronnie Harris, and I made our way up to the mainland to preview the exhibit from the Miami-based group before it came to our gallery at the resort. We also wanted to see author Michael Largo speak about his new book, The Big Bad Book of Botany. It is an A-to-Z encyclopedia of ordinary to bizarre plants and their interesting culinary, medicinal, ecological, and agricultural histories. The book is a great primer for budding plant enthusiasts and seasoned botanists alike! And the botanical artwork is beautiful! We are fortunate to have this exhibit at The Gallery at Kona Kai Resort for the next few months. All the drawings are either pen and ink or graphite and some of them rival the best scientific botanical illustrations I have seen. I have my eye on the Myristica fragrans (nutmeg) drawing and several others. Between the artwork in the gallery and the plantings in the garden, I am not sure which is more beautiful!
Artemisia absinthium, absinthe, by Silvia Bota
I am happily settling into life in the Keys and at The Botanic Gardens at Kona Kai Resort. Soon I will likely be that "Keysie" tour guide with all the flowers and seeds adorning my sun hat, telling everyone how amazing coonties are...wait you don't know what a coontie is? Well, you need to come down and take my tour!

Emily B. Magnaghi - Associate Director