I come from a long line of gardeners. My great grandparents on my mothers side ran a green grocers shop, and every part of my bloodline includes gardeners and farmers. An appreciation of all things green and growing is obvious all through.
From the time I was really young I can remember being surrounded by geraniums and other seasonal plants, as well as an early memory of hiding inside a giant Rhododendron - it must have been 'Vulcan' as I can recall being fascinated with the amazing clusters of vivid red flowers.
Trees were always fascinating to me too - from the line of enormous 'muscular' beeches in that same garden, to apple trees where the fruit was only reachable with a construction scaffold, they were part of the landscape of my childhood.
Twigs have always fascinated me to make garden art with, including arbors and trellises. This picture is of my Grandmother, Annie Elizabeth, flanked by her two daughters, my Auntie Meg and Auntie Nancy, posed in front of a twig trellis - so I come by it honestly.
As I grew up I didn't get a chance to grow much more than African violets on a windowsill, but I knew that as soon as I could, I would have a farm in the country. As my children grew into youngsters, the farm on acreage came into being.
There were already established trees, and within a year or two, I would pack up the youngest daughter in the car, pack a shovel and some garbage bags to line the trunk and drive to the place designated as an industrial park.
No buildings had been built, it was just a cleared area, with lots of seedling oak and Douglas fir trees growing on it.
I lined the fence line of the farm with the fir trees, in a staggered row to diffuse the aroma of the chicken hatchery, and lined the driveway with young oaks.
I dabbled in bonsai, and taught myself how to prune the shrubs and trees in the garden, some of them so overgrown and covered in lichen that they needed severe rejuvenation pruning.
That was in the mid 1980s. In 1988, I saw an ad for the first term of an Ornamental Horticulture program at Fraser Valley College in Chilliwack, British Columbia, and knew I had to apply. I was thrilled to get the letter of acceptance.
The course is still being offered, thirty years later.
Here's the run down on it from Fraser Valley University (when I went, it was Fraser Valley College).
The Chilliwack B.C. Campus is still the same, all this time later.
The course ran from January to October 1989, giving the opportunity of a practicum to be served during the summer.
I didn't know what to expect, but plunged in eagerly, drinking in the smell of peat moss and potting soil in the extensive greenhouse, learning propagation techniques, landscaping, and going on field trips to various nurseries and gardens.
In June, I received word that my application to work for the summer on a practicum had been accepted. I was to start at Adamson's Heritage Nursery in Langley, B.C., about twenty minutes drive from home.
After meeting the boss, Dave Adamson, and getting some guidelines, I started working under the current Head Propagator, Jane. She taught me the routines of cutting preparation, sticking, propagation house maintenance and other aspects of the month to month routines.
At the end of the summer, Dave asked me to come back full time once the course was over, which I agreed to do.
Finishing the course marked the end of my long term relationship with my daughters father and the beginning of my career as a Certified Horticulturist.
In the three years I was at Adamson's, I honed my skills as a propagator, moving seamlessly into the role as Head Propagator in Janes footsteps.
I created a new system of rooting Daphne cneorum cuttings, a notoriously finicky plant, using straight pumice for its excellent drainage.
In my second winter, I developed a rooting system for the junipers and other conifers using the entire heated bench, instead of flats. This made an incredible jump in success from around 49% to 100%. The savings in the amount of time the rooting took improved too.
I learned so much about disease control, grafting, and other aspects of horticulture that stay with me to this day.
When the time came to move on, I did it in a big way in 1992. The Chilcotin, an arid plateau between Williams Lake and Bella Coola in the middle of B.C. became my new home.
There was no horticulture industry to speak of there, so I started one with a small seasonal greenhouse to provide bedding plants to the local market - Zone 3 gardening is a lot different than anything I had previously attempted.
After a few years of that, in 1997 I moved to Dawson Creek - still Zone 3, but there is the potential for a frost any night of the year.
The long days, around 20 hours of daylight, meant I could grow many vegetables.
Providing cover in case of frost, and a fence to keep out hungry deer were crucial for getting a crop to harvesting size.
While I was there, I worked for a small greenhouse/garden center run by an older couple.
The typical crops were Wave petunia baskets, bedding plants, and many baskets and other containers planted with flourishing plants - my job was to keep them flourishing.
Their other claim to fame was Epiphyllum - the Orchid Cactus. They had greenhouses full of their own seed grown hybrids.
After another run at Tatla Lake for the millennium, the winters were too much for me, and as you might guess, a horticulturist needs to be around plants 24/7/365, so a move to a slightly warmer climate was in order.
I drew a line across the province at Kamloops, and ended up in Grand Forks with a job at a local wholesale nursery, Bron and Sons.
Office work was not my forte, so after a few years there in 2005, I quit and started my own nursery and online plant business.
This ended up being the most satisfying and significant part of my career. The knowledge of all the other places I was fortunate to work in all came together.
I got in to the wedding favors market at exactly the right time, and provided many happy brides with little Sempervivum plants to gift to their attendees.
Eventually, being a solopreneur and doing everything myself got too much for me, and a health crisis loomed.
I sold the online nursery in 2012 and now seem to have morphed the business into one where I make and sell planters made from Hypertufa, junk or old fence boards, planted with my all time favorite plants, Sempervivum.
I've used my knowledge of growing plants to create a specially designed and exclusive e-course to help others start their own plant business and get the same joy and satisfaction that I have.
Join in the fun!