Welcome (Back) Isaac!

Welcome (Back) Isaac!


After being without a full-time horticulturalist for all of the 2022 growing season, we are excited to announce that Isaac Zaman will be filling that position starting in January. Many of you may already know Isaac from his time working at ACG as an intern and apprentice. Or perhaps you’ve met him while he was a student at UW-Madison, majoring in Horticulture and working in the D.C. Smith Greenhouse. Say hi next time you spot him in the Garden. 


In the meantime, Ryan and Isaac organized a Q & A to give everyone a chance to get to know Isaac a bit better.


Q: What was your most important class at UW?

There is no way I could choose just one class. I learned so many things from the Hort program, from biology of plants in botany, seed treatment skills in propagation, and growing plants in greenhouse production. Surely the most important thing I learned was how to care for a variety of new plants in the greenhouse, both from my classes and my time as a student employee at D.C. Smith. 


Q: What garden space are you most looking forward to working on in 2023?

I think the space I am most looking forward to working on in 2023 will certainly be the New American Garden. I have a lot of big plans for that space and I can’t wait to have a huge palette of color surrounding our great lawn! Part of what makes that garden unique is its use of elevated terrain and large booming swathes of flowers and grasses. That being said, I am including some very dynamic plants like Lupines, Love Grass, and Foxgloves!


Q: What are your goals for the garden in 2023?

In 2023, I want to reclaim a lot of the spaces we had just planted with annuals this past growing season and get more perennials into the garden. Getting more color into these spaces that will last year to year will certainly lower the amount of work that the staff and volunteers have to do meticulously at the beginning of the season, and it will make for some pretty fun plant walks! I also plan to get a lot of our greenhouse production rolling so our garden community can get more experience in that sphere of horticulture and so we can always have cool and unique things to plant in our specialty gardens like the new Dye and Clock Gardens that are in the works.


Q: What project was the most fun in 2022?

 In 2022, the project that I think we all had a ton of fun on was our peony transplanting! It is a long term project that will be exciting to watch as it yields us all those familiar blooms we start to crave over the winter. I can remember 3 to 4 of us all working together to heave the individual plants from our Observatory Drive border and I know it will be fulfilling to look back on that when we have these plants established in the spring!


Q: What are some of your steps for garden design and development?

When I am about to tackle a space the first thing I do is take measurements and gather information about the specific information about the space. Things like the moisture, the sunlight, what else is surrounding the space, and the general soil health in that area are all important things that I take into account when I think of things to go into a specific area. As I start to gather plants on a spreadsheet I try to imagine packing the space as well as I can so we get opulent results. I break it down by square foot and adjust orders so I can cover the whole space. Once everything is planted and established that is the time where checking in and editing some of the density or choices of plants is usually a good idea as gardens are living performances that change dynamically. Learning how different plants cohabitate in new situations is always part of the fun!


Q: What weed are you most interested in vanquishing?

Currently, I am having very deep feelings about our patch of Bishop’s Weed that is erupting all underneath and around our garden welcome sign. The last couple student and volunteer work days this past fall definitely did a number on the patch, but I want to go even further and eradicate it in the spring. Tons of people around the Madison area can sympathize with this struggle because Bishop’s Weed was sold in garden centers around Wisconsin before more recently being labeled  invasive. We didn’t plant this, and we certainly don’t want it!


Q: What is your pick for volunteer (plant) of the year in 2022?

If I had to choose a volunteer plant of the year in 2022 it would be the couple of Royal Catchflies (Silene regia) that managed to spring back from the establishment of the prairie a few years ago under Josh! They are certainly a gem in the rough and I don’t think anyone counted on the few that came back, so having them pop up both in the prairie (where they are usually found in the wild) and along the edge of our birch walk was certainly a welcome surprise.