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Garden Glory

Becky Robert once planted 400 allium, crocus, and lily bulbs in a single day. In fact, the Scott Arboretum’s PR and volunteer programs coordinator loves gardening—and protecting her flowers—so much that she put “deer-resistant fence” at the top of her Christmas list.

Robert is thrilled to be the spokesperson for what she calls the crown jewel of Pennsylvania’s botanical gardens.

“Our emphasis,” she says, “is intimate and approachable gardening on a residential scale to inspire.”

Are your duties at the Arboretum as varied as its plant life?

I’m the public face, so my job is to brag. I also manage the digital presence, overseeing all social media. The other arm of my role is training and managing volunteers. From March through November, we can get anywhere from 120 to 300 volunteers, and we couldn’t do this without them. At Swarthmore, we encourage interaction by building community and a sense of belonging.

How does color come into play?

It’s the foundation of what I do. Outside my window right now is a native magnolia tree with yellow/green coloration. Below that, in vibrant yellow with touches of red, is the native Fothergilla x intermedia. The resilient green foliage is Mahonia. The frosted evergreen is Juniperus virginiana. Because I work in a very visual medium and make decisions about what pictures to take, it’s given me a whole new perspective on how decisions are made as far as planting. I want the Arboretum website to look full and vibrant with color.

Where do you get your best ideas?

I’m inspired by the beauty that my co-workers create in the Arboretum. They build stunning gardens throughout campus that impress in every season. I love to promote and discuss their art and humbly attempt to imitate their master creations in my home garden.

What are your must-have tools?

A glass of water (because I have to talk to so many people), a camera, and a computer.

Where will we find you relaxing?

I like working in the garden, hiking, and creek-splashing with my kids. I try to expose my Girl Scout troop to the wonders of nature whenever the weather is warm.

What’s the best part of your job?

Getting to know people—our volunteers include lawyers, doctors, and artists—and then cultivating those relationships. Plant people are very friendly!

Who influenced your worldview?

My father and grandmother taught me to celebrate the diversity, unique skills, and perspectives of all people. These simple, valuable life lessons were most often taught while on our truck route selling fruits and vegetables grown on our farm as well as by the way they interacted with the people we met.