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by Caitlin Puffenberger, PR & Marketing Intern, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

I’m a Public Relations & Marketing Intern at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden this summer. I’ve been here for three weeks so far, and I’ve had an amazing time and learned so many things. There is so much to see and do!  Here are just a few of the lessons I’ve picked up.

1. The inside of a flower might be cooler than you think.

'Southern Magnolia,' Magnolia grandiflora

‘Southern Magnolia,’ Magnolia grandiflora

Everyone knows magnolias are beautiful, and they’re a particularly romantic flower for Southerners. But earlier this week, when I saw a magnolia bloom up close for the first time, my first thought was hardly sentimental. It was, “Hey, the inside looks like Ramen noodles!” (You can see what I mean, right?) Of course, after I’d marveled at its similarity to my poor-college-student’s-weekly-fallback-meals, I looked at the rest of the flower. But now, every time I shoot a flower photo, I make sure to look inside too.

2. Grown-ups need snacks, too.

Mulberry

Mulberry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mulberry trees invite exploration and provide a handy snack for kids and birds alike. The 100-year-old mulberry tree that grows in the Children’s Garden is the one exception to the no-picking, no-eating rule in the Gardens at Lewis Ginter, so take full advantage! (Just be sure to that you know what mulberries look like, and that you’ve found the right tree).  And be sure you rinse your mouth off, or you’ll end up looking like a vampire and terrify everyone in the Garden (hint: I know this from personal experience).

3. Challenging yourself is worth it.

Dragonfly

Dragonfly

I’m not a photographer. Sure, I have an Instagram account, and it’s fun to choose a snazzy filter ( is this a Hudson-y photo? or is it more Nashville? frame or no frame?). But in my first three weeks at Lewis Ginter, I’ve had a lot of bonding time with a Nikon and here’s what I’ve discovered — you can do incredible things with a zoom lens. In fact, you can spend 20 minutes wading through mud along the edge of Sydnor Lake in your best sandals trying to get a picture of an erratic dragonfly. But it’s totally worth it when you upload the photos and realize you captured every detail of its beautiful, gauzy wings.

4. Plants still get rowdy in a botanical garden.

Allium

Allium

I went camping a lot as a kid, so I’ll admit I had some assumptions about the predetermined nature of a botanical garden like Lewis Ginter. I  was worried they might be too tame, too structured, too far from nature. But I couldn’t have been more wrong. Take this allium plant, for example. It may look a little silly pulling its contortionist act next to all of its straight-laced siblings, but that’s how it grew and that’s how it stayed. And I think that’s pretty cool.

5. There is no more beautiful place to work.

View from the Tree House

View from the CWD Kids Tree House

After three weeks, I can definitely say I could not be working in a more beautiful, amazing place. There’s a fairy tale Rose Garden, coy dragonflies and a tree house I would have sold all my stuffed animals for as a kid. It’s all inspiring, and I feel privileged to spend my summer here.

 

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