I love every aspect of gardening and lawn work, from the creative to the physical, from planting to nurturing to weeding to mowing. What I love most is that there is always more to learn.
I am a passionate, organic, Master gardener with 13 years of experience, in my own yard and gardens as well as those of friends, family and clients. Whether taking a walk in Centennial Gardens or traveling to Palm Desert, Boston or Paris, I absorb gardening in all its aspects. I began gardening because I grew up with grandparents and parents that gardened. Then, my first daughter insisted on always being outside. It became a fun activity for the whole family.
I have built my children their own raised beds within my garden, and last year they grew corn with green beans growing up the stalks and little pumpkins below to keep the roots cool. I have also taught my children how to collect seeds, and they always want to pot up plants.
I have been passionately gardening since we bought our first home in 1998. I inherited a garden and expanded it when we moved to Madison in 1999. In August 2004, we moved to a house with only a few ferns. I re-landscaped the entire yard, which has some shade but is mostly in full sun. I have learned through these gardening experiences and also from other gardeners such as my grandma, mother, father and neighbors. I have also helped many friends and family members with their gardens, mapping out plans and spending many days in others’ gardens, creating whole new gardens. This has been beneficial to my learning process because I encounter problems I don’t have myself, such as shade and pesky deer.
My planting resume includes: Trees and Shrubs — Arborvitae; Boxwoods; Crab Apple Tree; Gingko Tree; Holly; Annabelle, Blue Billow and Limelight Hydrangeas; Pine Tree; Rhododendron Perennials and Hardy Bulbs — Allium, Globemaster; Anemone; Aster; Astilbe; Bleeding Heart, white and pink; Clematis; Crocus; Daffodils; Delphinium; Echinacea; Echinops; Ferns; Frittelaria; Heuchera; Hosta; Iris; Lamb’s ear; Lamium; Liatris; Ligulara; Casa Blanca, Stargazer, and (from White Flower Farm) Strawberries and Cream Lilies; Monarda; Nepeta (catmint); Peonies; Poppies; Siberian Iris; Sedum; Tulips; Viola; William Baffin Climbing Rose Tropicals — Agapanthus; Banana; Canna; Clivia; Colocasia (Elephant’s Ear); Cordyline; Calla Lily; Mandevilla, red and pink; Grasses; King Tut; Micanthus Annuals and Edibles — Basil; Carrots; Cleome; Coleus; Cosmos; Dahlia; Dusty Miller; Geranium; Gladiola; Grandpa Ott’s Morning Glory; Nasturtium; Old-Fashioned Vining Petunias; Pansies; Persian Shield; Pumpkins; Rosemary; Snapdragon; Sweet-Potato Vine; Tithonia; Tradescantia; Sunflowers; Zinnias
Magazines I read and reference: Organic Gardening, Garden Gate, Horticulture, Garden Design, Fine Gardening, Cottage Living, Domino, Better Homes and Gardens, White Flower Farm Catalog, Elle Decor, The Urban Farm, Sunset, Chicagoland Gardening Magazine
Gardening books I read and reference: Michael Weishan’s The Victory Garden; Liz Primeau and Andrew Layerle’s Front Yard Gardens: Growing More Than Grass; Julie Moir Messervy and Sarah Susanka’s Outside the Not So Big House: Creating the Landscape of Home; Martha’s Stewart’s Gardening,The Best of Martha Stewart Living and Gardening 101; Ruth Shaw Ernst’s The Movable Garden; Richard Bisgrove’s The Gardens of Gertrude Jekyll; Derek Fell’s Perennial Gardening; Allen Rokach and Anne Millman’s The Field Guide to Photographing Gardens; Teri Dunn and Melinda Myers’ Selecting, Growing, and Combining Outstanding Perennials; Melinda Myers’ The Garden Book for Wisconsin; Barbara Pleasant’s The Complete Houseplant Survival Manual; Montague Free’s All About the Perennial Garden; F. F. Rockwell and Esther C. Grayson’s The Complete Book of Annuals; P. Allen Smith’s Container Gardens, Living in the Garden Home, Colors for the Garden
Garden Home Shows I watch: “P. Allen Smith Garden Home,” “P. Allen Smith Gardens,” “Victory Gardens,” “Wisconsin Gardener,” “Garden Smart,”“Gardening by the Yard,” “Urban Outsiders” and “Rebecca’s Gardener”, “The Outdoor Room with Jamie Durie”
Favorite places to shop for my Garden: Whole Foods, Almost There Farms at the Farmer’s Market at Hilldale, Johannsen’s, Jung’s, Brennan’s, White Flower Farm, Seed Savers Exchange, Bruce Company, Felly’s Flowers, Home Depot, Shopko, Smith & Hawken, Target (they have outstanding copper pots and a Smith & Hawken section), Logee’s, Seasonal Splendors, Winterland Nursery, Klein’s Greenhouse, Garden to Be
Education and Background: I have a degree in Economics from Indiana University. My work experience includes clerking at the Chicago Board Options Exchange, managing the accessories department at Parisian, and working at Talbots Headquarters as a distributor and assistant buyer. My background in creating and shopping helps me find the right plant for the right price. I am good at narrowing down the choices and figuring out which plant can be started from seed, which can be rooted, which one must come from the finest garden store, and which plant can be purchased at a big-box store. Customer Service is my number one priority, I had the joy working for companies who believed the customer was always right and it is a joy to continue that philosophy with Mel’s Green Garden. Member of Wisconsin Hardy Plant Society and MAGMA, Madison Area Master Gardeners Association.