The garden is open year-round, but Monday marks the official start of the season there. There will be docents in the courtyard and terrace gardens, the tram will be operating and the garden will be open later in the evening. One of my volunteer assignments as a garden guide will be as a docent in the courtyard garden. I will get to hang out there every Saturday afternoon for a few hours, greeting guests, helping them figure out the best way to see the garden and answering questions (hopefully I can!). It is my sincere hope that I won't have to take a group on a tour this year. )Earlier in the week I attended a garden guide kick-off party. One of the guides who has been a volunteer for 12 years has never given a walking tour! I think she drives the tram or is a docent. It can be done!)
In preparation for the opening, I took a tour of the garden with an extremely knowledgeable guide named Andrea. The tour was for garden guides. Several of us were new, so it was nice to know that I wasn't alone in being a bit nervous about the whole guide thing. Andrea is a sweet lady who also happens to be a master gardener. Her knowledge of the plants, from what they are to where they should be planted to the purpose and history of the plants is astounding. There were seven of us on the tour and we peppered Andrea with all kinds of questions and she knew the answers to everything. Of course most of the other guides are avid gardeners and they grow some of the same plants in their own gardens. I have a brown thumb; we don't have a garden at all. Anytime we have had flowers, it's because MT takes care of them. I'm enthusiastic about the garden, though!
We took up a couple of hours of Andrea's time. Most tours would take about an hour. If you had a tour from me, it would probably be even shorter.
When the tour was done, I got a bottle of water and sat in the courtyard garden for a few minutes, then headed up to the Children's Garden. On both of the training tours I have been on, we have not gone through the Children's Garden (let's shorten it to CG). I think that's a pity because to me, the CG is a gem of an area. It's quite varied as far as the plants and the layout. There's an upper part that has a lot of cactus plants. There are also spectacular views of the valley from up there. The lower part features a butterfly walk that is planted with shrubs and flowers that specifically attract butterflies. There is a maze in the shape of a snake. There are little hideaways with tables and chairs for the kids to go into. There's a big sandbox. There are giant salamanders for kids to climb on. There is a dancing fountain (that hasn't been turned on just yet) for kids to play in during the summer. And everything is scaled to child size. It's awesome.
I spend a lot of time in the CG because that is my garden for recording blooms. I walk around with a list of plants and I note when the plant or tree is blooming. With the trees I guess a lot. If I can see a bud or new growth, I write it down. There are professional horticulturists there who record blooms too, so I don't think they will rely solely on my data. I hope not! There are a lot of plants on the list that I've never seen. They must be up there or why would they be on the list? But if a plant doesn't have a sign that I can see, I can't write it down. I look very carefully for signs. If I can't find a sign, I take a photo of the plant and send it to the curation department and ask what it is.
It took me a couple of hours to get through the CG today. There are a lot of plants in bloom right now. Plus I was taking a few photos along the way. I usually keep the photography and the bloom recording separate because the multi-tasking is tricky. I like to focus on one thing. As a result, I did not take many photos today. Since I had already been around the garden once, I didn't do another lap with my camera after the recording was done. I was tired and ready to leave. I won't double up stuff again. When I go to do my docent gig, that's all I'll do. I won't try to record blooms after that. I'll have to go up another day to do blooms.
I should reach my 50 hour goal without any problem, I think!
I warned you that you might get sick of hearing about Red Butte Garden this year.
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