College of Agriculture & Natural Resources
Landscape Architecture

UMD's H. Edward Reiley Garden - Azaleas & Rhododedrons

Reprinted from UMD Arboretum and Botanical Garden's blog
Photo Credit: 
Autumn Dorsey

Check out Autumn Dorsey's, 4th year BLA, experience this summer during an internship at the UMD Arboretum and Botanical Gardens.  

"Summers in Maryland have always been hot, but my 2016 summer experience took the heat to a new level. This year, I interned on campus at the UMD Arboretum and Botanical Gardens with the hard workers of Facilities Management. I have gained a deeper appreciation and respect for the work that they do to keep our campus beautiful. Some tasks that I helped with included planting, clearing, watering, installing fences and weeding. Pulling weeds was the most performed task, but as my supervisor told me, "it is a necessary evil". It may be difficult at times, but it is satisfying to see the results of your labor.

Personally, the biggest difference I made this summer was on the H. Edward Reiley Rhododendron and Azalea Garden. It was the first space I was introduced to, and it was covered in weeds. The paths were impassable and the shrubs were taken over with vines such as poison ivy (Toxidendron radicans), which popped up beneath the benches.

Tall and short weeds cover the back of the Riley Garden.
Tall and short weeds cover the back of the Reiley Garden

This woodland garden is densely shaded, so even on a hot and humid day the space could provide some relief. Pulling weeds became meditative. After spending most of my summer in the garden, I feel attached to it and the work I have done. It was important not to feel overwhelmed by the task. With the help of an additional intern, and by taking the garden one section at a time, we were able to clear it in about a month!

First pile of many weeds this summer
First pile of many weeds this summer

A freshly cleared path
A freshly cleared path

Repeatedly seeing and interacting with certain plants allowed me to learn about them and how to identify them. For example, blackberries, wineberries, and poison ivy all have similar leaves to the untrained eye. Subtle differences such as thorns, hairs, leaf margins, and size make identification easier.

Blackberry - Rubus fruticosus
Blackberry - Rubus fruticosus

Wineberry - Rubus phoenicolasius
Wineberry - Rubus phoenicolasius

Poison Ivy - Toxidendron radicans
Poison ivy - Toxidendron radicans

After we cleared the weeds it was time to give the garden a fresh look. One morning we were faced with a four foot pile of Leyland cypress (Cupressus leylandii) wood chips. Winds lifted the fragrance of the wood through the garden as we spent the next few weeks dumping and spreading wheelbarrows of chips.

4' pile of Leyland cypress wood chips
4' pile of Leyland cypress wood chips

I truly enjoyed working in this garden. Returning it to an enjoyable and usable space makes me appreciate the privileges I have on this campus. I will certainly return to the garden during the school year. "

-Autumn Dorsey

Original post can be found: at

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