Who: Sue Hamilton is director of the UT Gardens. She’s also a professor in the Department of Plant Sciences and teaches three courses: Management and Operations of Public Gardens, Botanical Garden Practicum, and Plant and Garden Photography. The last is a very popular course, she said, because people who go into public garden management tend to do a lot of public speaking, teaching, and writing, and “you’ve got to have great photos.”
About her: “I’ve been at UT for 33 years promoting plants and gardens and the many benefits to society and our well-being,” she said. Hamilton received her bachelor’s degree in horticulture from UT in 1980, completed her master’s degree in horticulture from Ohio State University in 1983, and then returned to UT, where she completed her EdD in adult education in 1995. Outside of work, besides tending plants, she also looks after a household menagerie that includes five dogs, three cats, a guinea pig, a bearded dragon, a blue and gold macaw parrot, two cockatiels, and two large goldfish.
About her office: “My office pretty much reflects that I’m a plant nerd and geek. My hobby is my vocation,” she said. “What I do professionally at UT I also do at home for fun.” Her walls are lined with antique gardening tools, botanical prints, and framed prints of old seed packets. She’s also got a collection of gardening-themed trinkets, including a wooden “horticulturist, plant doctor” sign that her parents had made for her when she graduated and went to work at UT. Her three bookcases are filled with plant books and magazines. And, not surprisingly, she’s got plants everywhere. There are nine pots with various types of houseplants, ferns, and succulents on her desk and three more on bookcases. Five pots filled with African violets line her windowsill,
obscuring the not-so-scenic view of the parking lot and landscaping garage outside.
First things she’ll show you: Hanging on the wall beside her desk is a collection of antique gardening tools. There is garden spade that once belonged to her great-uncle; a pair of pruners that belonged to her grandfather, who grew test roses for Jackson and Perkins rose company; a brass hose nozzle; and an English hand trowel that she bought for pocket change at a flea market in London.