Intern Profile: Hillary Ethe | February 2021

By Clare McLean

Meet our new garden intern, Hillary Ethe, a horticulture student at Edmonds College. Her work for us is enriched by her background as a birder, volunteer forest steward and science educator.

Q: What are you working on in the garden right now?

Building beautiful and ecologically functional new beds with Joe. So far, we’ve trenched out borders for naturalistic edging with downed diseased trees from the property and are delineating bed space with stumps. Ecologically, the wood will retain soil and water, provide habitat and serve as avian perches.

Q: Have you found a favorite spot or plant yet?

I absolutely love Vancouveria hexandra for its duck-foot leaves on delicate wiry stems and its upside-down, recurved flowers. I enjoy working across the path from a mama Anna’s hummingbird who is busily building her nest in one of Dr. Kruckeberg’s oaks.

Q: How will your KBG experience contribute to your future career? 

I was drawn here to learn more about how public gardens can be used to build community and ecological resilience. I want to work in the non-profit or public sector to enhance public understanding about how gardening for wildlife is a key component of sustainable growth.

Q:  What sparked your interest in horticulture and green spaces?

I’m from Los Angeles and grew up spending summers in the woods at my grandparents’ house and in Maine. Whether digging up worms in the yard, hiking, birding, or spending hours exploring the woods, I’ve always felt happiest outside.

My family recently relocated to Washington from Los Angeles so we could raise our kids amongst woods, spend more regular time hiking/camping, and live outside of a much smaller city.

I have degrees in Environmental Studies from Bates College, Elementary Education from Loyola Marymount University, and am working on degrees in Sustainable Landscape Management and Nursery/Greenhouse from Edmonds College.

Q: What role do you see horticulture and public gardens playing in our region’s future?

With unprecedented and sustained urban/suburban growth in the Puget Sound, a systematic approach to landscaping for multiple purposes and multiple users can make a huge impact on our region’s preparation for the effects of climate change and for the conservation of bird and insect species.

Q: What makes KGB special to you?

Joe’s continuation of Dr. and Mrs. Krukeberg’s legacy of conservation (especially of PNW native species via propagation and collection) and horticultural education–in addition to Joe’s efforts to build exciting programs and invite more community into the garden–are inspiring to me.