Assistant Curator at Ganna Walska Lotusland, Santa Barbara, CA
Anna Bower cannot remember a time when she didn’t love gardening. Throughout her childhood, she maintained her own garden beds at her family’s home, participated in a gardening summer camp, and completed gardening service projects through the Girl Scouts. As a teenager, she won a gold medal for her entry into a local garden competition in her home town, Edmonds, Washington. During summer breaks from college, Anna was employed by the City of Edmonds Park Department to assist with their flower program. After graduating from Willamette University with a degree in environmental science, she relocated to the east coast for Longwood Garden’s Nursery Management Internship. Her Longwood internship was her first introduction to curation. Anna says she chose curation because: “I’ve always enjoyed collecting things and I like maintaining a sense of order. It is fun to watch and inventory plants through the seasons to see how they change. There is always something new to learn…”
After gaining more experience at Kruckeberg Botanic Garden in Shoreline, WA, University of Washington Botanic Gardens, and Morris Arboretum, Anna applied to UDBG’s Curatorial Assistantship program. Anna found the assistantship’s practical training, well-rounded education, and teaching experience to be extremely valuable. She gained experience with BG-BASE, BG-Map, GPS mapping, and label engravers, providing her with skills she uses in her current job. For her thesis research, Anna assessed living collections organization trends and examined how public gardens determine which plants are the most important in their collection. Documenting which plants are extremely valuable helps with both disaster planning and funding prioritization. Anna was able to see the importance of this decision-making process a few months in to her new job after a fire and mudslides threatened to destroy the gardens.
As Assistant Curator of Lotusland in Santa Barbara, California, Anna enjoys her diverse responsibilities that make every day different. Anna updates the living collection map and database, creates plant labels, and is working on a full inventory of the living collection. She also plans to implement knowledge gained from her thesis work to revise the collections policy. Besides her curation work, she maintains the nursery, assists with the Exceptional Plant Auction, and travels to private gardens to inspect plants for donation. Anna has discovered a passion for the flora of Santa Barbara, and is constantly seeking to learn more about the plants that make up the local gardens and landscapes in southern California.