Nationally Known Plant Experts
One of my great pleasures was to participate in a three-day intensive course taught by Dr. Robert Mohlenbrock on wetland plant identification. He was over seventy at the time, but he out-hiked and out-talked everyone else in the group. We discussed and saw about three hundred plants, growing in natural wetland habitats. Dr. Mohlenbrock, or “Dr. Mohley” as some referred to him, could pontificate about the tiniest differences between spikelets in Juncus or the significance of smooth or hairy stems in identifying Rhexia species, without any hesitation or lack of surety. He was a walking encyclopedia. We were all fortunate to be in the presence of a true wetland identification superstar.
The same feeling was evoked when I took a two-day seminar on native azaleas taught by Fred Galle, also over seventy at the time, the preeminent expert on azaleas and hollies. He was responsible for the garden design and maintenance of Callaway Gardens in the early years when horticulture was a strong focus of the leadership there. The information he provided on the care and maintenance of azaleas was golden! All these people provided me with more facts than I could ever use, and the experience of walking through marshes and forests with them was amazing and delightful.
The main lesson for me was how important experience is to success when dealing with vegetation and landscape design. There is no substitute for the tried and tested methods by people who are passionate about plants. Each expert mentioned something every few minutes I had never read in any book or publication—and never will.