|Dachell McSween, Publicity Coordinator, spent a morning with School of Professional Horticulture student Songsuk Kim to find out what it’s like to attend “plant school” at NYBG.
Songsuk Kim took a break from grooming, watering, and inventorying plants to talk about her experience as a student at the Botanical Garden and now as an intern in the Garden’s Enid A. Haupt Conservatory. She assists staff with maintaining a variety of plant displays and preparing major blockbuster exhibits such as The Orchid Show and Caribbean Gardens.
“It makes me feel good to see the public enjoying our exhibits. As a student, it is a great accomplishment.”
Two years ago, Songsuk Kim (pictured at left), then 26, was working at a nursery but wanted to enhance her horticulture skills, so she enrolled in NYBG’s School of Professional Horticulture (SOPH). Although Songsuk, who has a Bachelor of Science degree in landscape architecture from her native country, South Korea, she wanted to increase her knowledge about botany and soil sciences. She felt that SOPH was the best place to study because she would be able to use NYBG’s 250-acre landmark site as a classroom and be trained by leading experts in the horticultural field, including SOPH alumni.
“As a student in the program, I have learned so much about horticulture. I enjoy all of the hands-on experience that I receive at NYBG,” she says.
Each day brings a new set of opportunities to learn from Garden staff. Recently, she began working with NYBG Gardener Yukie Kurashina on Kiku: The Art of the Japanese Chrysanthemum exhibit, which entails painstaking propagation techniques. During lunch hour you’ll find Songsuk viewing the “colorful plant combinations” in the Jane Watson Irwin Perennial Garden. She loves native plants as well and enjoys perusing the Native Plant Garden.
When Songsuk graduates from the School of Professional Horticulture next year she plans to use her new skills to design public gardens. But she says she will miss NYBG staff, fellow classmates (who “feel like a family”), and wandering around the Garden.
“The School of Professional Horticulture has an international reputation, known throughout the horticultural community, and this, together with my hard work, will help me to continue to develop my horticultural skills.”
SOPH is now accepting applications (due August 15) for the class of 2011.