Caring For Nature During The Coronavirus

picture of Horticulturist Rob Dzurec pruning a weeping flowering cherry [Holden Forests & Gardens]
Horticulturist Rob Dzurec pruning a weeping flowering cherry [Holden Forests & Gardens]
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The health of people is the first priority during the coronavirus pandemic, but there are other living things in need of care, too, including the plants and animals at Holden Arboretum and Cleveland Botanical Garden.

Caroline Tate came from the United Kingdom three months ago to become the vice president of horticulture for Holden Forests & Gardens. She said one of her earliest tasks when she assumed her new role has proven to be timely.

“One of the first jobs I had when I started this post when I arrived in Cleveland was to review the emergency protocols we had in place. We were actually looking at all of this kind of information when the pandemic became apparent, and albeit that hadn't been a main focus of our review, it certainly became it. We were in that mindset, which I think helped us. There has just been an incredible amount of planning for it,” Tate said.

The Holden staff is still proceeding with their responsibilities to make sure that the grounds are being maintained.

picture of horticulturist Deyampert Giles pruning a rose bush [Holden Forests & Gardens]

Horticulturist Deyampert Giles pruning a rose bush [Holden Forests & Gardens]

“From the garden point of view, nature doesn't wait for anyone. The plants are still growing. The sun comes up. The days are getting longer. The temperature is warming up and the plants respond. So in many ways, our day-to-day responsibilities are the same as they were,” Tate said.

The horticulture and collection teams are continuing their work while maintaining social distance, which means jobs that require multiple people, like heavy lifting or the use ladders, are being delayed. Holden has also delayed bringing on seasonal part-time staff, Tate said.

By continuing to prepare the gardens as usual, visitors will have something to enjoy when the restrictions on gatherings are lifted.

“We are absolutely focusing on seeing our guests again and preparing the gardens for them. Spring is this wonderful time of year when everything is growing and you have to do these jobs at this time of year, so we will. Horticulture and gardening is one of those hobbies where you invest now and the payoff comes a little bit later. We do have to carry on tending and caring so that the payoff and the display and the spectacle for our guests is there when we hopefully welcome them back in the summer,” Tate said.

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