The house where I grew up had a yard with a vegetable garden that my parents planted and tended. They also surrounded our home with trees, shrubs, and perennials, flowers that spurred endless outdoor hours of play-acting with my girlfriends.
We picked lilacs for bouquets when we were brides. We made flower-and-leaf dresses for our dolls. Even at the age of five, I knew that plants made our yard beautiful, special—and fun.
When I grew up, I tried various careers: modeling, department store buyer, airline reservationist.
They were good jobs, but nothing I felt called to.
Then one night in 1995, I attended Parents Night at my son Max’s school. The teacher asked the parents to write about our most memorable childhood experiences and share them with our children.
Warm, vivid memories came to mind: Picking violets at recess for my teacher. Hiking for blackberries with Aunt Evelyn. Foraging for mushrooms with my dad. Arranging a bouquet of wild mint for a family cabin. All that playing in my backyard. I realized with surprise that my fondest memories all had to do with plants and nature.
I immediately enrolled in a landscape design/horticultural program—and within two years started my own landscape design business. Twenty exciting years later, my projects promote sustainable landscapes.
That night a second-grade teacher changed my life—by reminding me of the seeds my parents planted. Seeds that, after a long dormancy, blossomed into an inspired career.
Let’s each of us sow future generations of gardeners, as well.
—By Phyllis Gricus, owner of Landscape Design Studio, Pittsburgh, PA.