Rhododendron Garden near Crum Woods. Photo by Julia Gayner.

t's hard to work for plant records and not like crawling on the ground under a tree or getting leaves stuck in your hair. People like us find twigs in our jacket pockets at the end of the day and take home bright dogwood shrub branches to decorate our rooms. More than anything, working in plant records has given me the opportunity to more fully appreciate the flora around campus. I've had the good fortune to say that I spent the afternoon getting paid to stroll along the cherry border or in the amphitheater.

"Much of the Arboretum includes highly ordered gardens where plants are carefully arranged in containers or seasonally transplanted. The borders of the campus, however, where ordered gardens transition into the native flora of the woods, often go unnoticed. Planted, accessioned plants sit side by side with wild ones. It's scenes like this that really highlight for me what makes our arboretum unique: instead of showcasing exotic and unusual plants, our arboretum brings out the beauty in a plant you could find even in the woods or in a home garden. Here, cultivated and wild plants can coexist. Learning to appreciate the plants around campus means learning to appreciate the plants already growing in your woods, around your home, and on your way to class."

Uma Nagendra '09
Comparative literature
Field work assistant
New Orleans, La.