By: Gracie Bartel
My name is Gracie Bartel, and I am the Garden and Arboretum Fellow. I work in conjunction with the Shi Institute and the Biology Department here at Furman University. Did you know Furman is a Level 1 Arboretum, accredited by the Morton Register of Arboreta, and a Tree Campus USA? There are about 90 different species of trees located on Furman’s campus, mostly native to the upstate South Carolina region, but also some exotic species from all around the world. The arboretum portion of my fellowship involves replacing and maintaining the species tags, around 300 total, across campus to keep the arboretum at its fullest potential for anyone who wants to learn about and admire the different trees on campus.
I love this job because I get to spend most of my time outside seeing all the different kinds of trees and plants I might not have noticed otherwise. It is a great opportunity to remove myself from the stress of Furman and put everything in perspective. I was already very interested in learning about trees and plants before working in this position but by being given this opportunity, I am able to learn so much more about them! I have gotten a lot of questions about the old trees on the mall since being in this role as the Garden and Arboretum Fellow, and I have learned that from a sustainability standpoint removal and replacement of the trees is the best choice. While the trees are a vital part of Furman’s campus, because of their age, the old, rotting trees are not able to cleanse the atmosphere like young trees would. Through the replacement of the dying species with a hardier species that will last upwards of 100 years, Furman will not have this problem again for a long time!
The other half of my fellowship, the garden portion, is in the ethnobotany garden outside of Plyler. If you haven’t noticed, it is a bit overgrown and unsightly, but my goal is to completely re-create it and bring it back to its lively and beautiful potential. The new garden will have all native species and pollinator species that will benefit the ecosystem. While a longer task than what may be expected due to the size and state of the garden, I have been weeding and cleaning it out since the fall and hope to have the garden thriving by the end of the semester. Pulling out weeds and getting my hands a little dirty is also a great way to relieve stress!
I hope you have found my blog interesting and informational. If you wish to experience the arboretum for yourself, there is a digital map with all the different species of trees and their locations. Also keep your eye on the ethnobotany garden to watch the progress over the next couple of months. Thank You!