Plant Talk

For the Love of It!

Child at Heather Garden

At last! After several years of experience in the “field,” I am finally launching my website. This blog, Plant-Talk, will focus primarily on plants and design. I’ll share with you my own experiences, challenges, and rewards in the world of urban horticulture, gardening, and design, and also hope to provide a forum where all of us plant lovers can discuss topics of mutual interest. Upcoming posts will cover hot topics in planting design: “Tree Pit Challenges and Successes,” “Favorite Plant Combinations,” “The Importance of Foliage Contrast,” “Planting Under Maple Trees,” “Transitioning from the Winter Garden into Spring,” “Saying ‘Welcome’ with Plants,” “Public Spaces: Balancing Horticulture with Show,” “Tips for Effective Spring Bulb Displays,” and the list goes on! Please sign up for my mailing list–you’ll hear from me no more than once a month–and be sure to let me know of other topics you would like to see addressed.

In this inaugural post, though, I want to offer something more personal: a bit about why and how I found my way from offices and boardrooms to a life in the garden, here in the urban jungle.

The following is an excerpt from my application essay to the New York Botanical Garden’s School of Professional Horticulture–the two-year intensive program of which I am a proud alumna:

I am, like many of the horticulture school’s students, making a career shift in mid-life. While I have enjoyed many aspects of arts administration over the past twenty years, I would like to better align my work life with my passion.

Olmsted maintained that beautiful landscapes provide moral and spiritual sustenance. I believe that this sustenance in turn can support tangible positive change in people’s behavior, particularly in urban environments where there is much in the landscape that drains people’s energy and goodwill. I am interested in studying how the aesthetics of our surroundings and connection with nature affect our daily lives in this very real way, and I want to have a part in that, to make a difference in that way for individuals and for our community.

While I would like to explore various potential career paths possible in this field, I am particularly interested in urban, public spaces—in the ways landscape use can impact the livability of our cities from environmental, aesthetic, and human behavioral perspectives.

Well…how amazing to look back and see that I was able to follow that path into the world of urban garden design and horticulture. The words above give you some idea of where my interests and passions lie, and why every day I feel the urgency and importance of beautifying my city’s green spaces, from my own little co-op courtyard to the bustling streets of Broadway.

I became a gardener when I had my own small plots in western New York and in Boston, became hooked on landscape design while studying at the Landscape Institute in Boston, and greatly increased my knowledge of plants and horticulture at NYBG. But the people I’ve met on this journey have been my greatest source of inspiration and knowledge: close friends who encouraged and supported me as I took that leap into the great unknown; the many gurus of gardening at NYBG and at The Conservatory Garden, at whose feet I sat to learn what no books can teach; my fellow classmates at the School of Professional Horticulture, an awesome group of multi-talented people; the invaluable mentoring of renowned public garden designer Lynden B. Miller, who helped launch my career in this field; and the hort colleagues, landscaping contractors, and passionate gardeners whom I’ve met through Metro Hort, Plant-o-Rama, and garden design jobs big and small. Enthusiastic clients keep me going, and I learn on the job every day.

My heartfelt thanks to each and every one of you, with anticipation of all that lies ahead for us on the garden path.

Thanks for reading, and again, please feel free to leave a comment about a topic you would like to see addressed in future posts.

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