DAY IN THE LIFE…of Taliesin landscape volunteer Michael Collins

April 3rd

1)  What surprised you most about this volunteer role?

When I volunteered in 2014, I was most surprised at how much needed to be done. Some areas were well tended, yet others had been neglected so there was an enormous amount of deferred care and maintenance involved. For the gardens and plantings adjacent to buildings, less intensive care is now the protocol in order to maintain the beauty of these areas plus improve and expand them annually.

One example is while working on weeding and planting on the path up to Mr. Wright’s terrace, I started scraping at the barely visible stones which serve as steps. Lo and behold, the narrow slits of stone we’re actually lovely half-circles of varying size and substance. Landscape archaeology is alive and well at Taliesin indeed!

 

2) Have you picked up any skills “on the job”??
Gardening is an art in which you are always learning. I know more about native plants, prairie grasses and invasive species. I have collected and sown seed. I have cleared non-native trees (including dreaded ironwood and box elder). I have helped burn prairie, and clear the hillside below Romeo and Juliet. And I have learned ALL about bishop’s weed and poison ivy—much to my distress.

 

3) Describe a fave activity you’ve participated in with the Taliesin crew.
I love, love, love working in the gardens at the main house, Tan-y-Deri, Hillside School, and the entrance gardens at the corner of Highways 23 and C. Weeding, edging, moving plants, digging out bishop’s weed, planting new plants, and giving the gardens a fresh look each year are all wonderful. And my most cherished activity is clearing and cleaning Mr. Wright’s and Mamah’s grave at least once each year. Mr. Wright may not be there physically, but I believe he is still spiritually there in that beautiful, sublime Wisconsin location.

4) Four words which describe your overall experience volunteering at Taliesin: Surprising. Enchanting. Relating. Learning. I am so very privileged. 

Learn more about Taliesin volunteer and intern opportunities at: taliesinpreservation.org/volunteers/

(*Photos courtesy of Michael Collins)