I have decided to write a quick little post to clear up a question I get asked all the time. That question is: what is a master gardener? Many people think it is someone who has gotten a Masters degree in gardening. This is sort of true, but not quite.
A master gardener has studied the subject of gardening extensively and has received a certificate qualifying him or her as a master gardener. But this is not the same as a Masters degree for other subjects. The certificate does state that the holder has extensive in-depth knowledge on all things gardening. It is often required for a lot of commercial gardening jobs. It is also a good thing to have if you do freelance work, which is what I do.
Ever since I’ve gotten my master gardening certificate, I have been able to charge much more for my consulting work. This is work where I help people plan their gardens and then execute those plans. I consult with them on what exactly they want to grow, how much work they want to put in, what the situation is with the local climate, etc. Basically, I help them plan every aspect of their garden. Then I usually help them execute that plan. I do this for indoor gardens as well.
I introduced them to contractors who can do everything for them or I show them what they need to do themselves. Usually for small gardens, people like to do the work themselves, but for larger commercial gardens, they obviously don’t. Companies and the like usually hire a landscaping firm. I know a lot of these and I can always give them good deals. This is another way I help.
I do get a lot of friends who always want me to help them with their gardens and I never know what to do. I know other professionals have the same issue. Doctors get asked a lot of medical advice, but if you spend all day giving people advice, you don’t want to do in your free time as well. Especially not without getting paid.
The same goes for me. I hate giving out gardening advice or helping my friends and family with their gardens. That sounds selfish, but think about it. I spend so much time doing this all day long that I don’t want to do more of it. Plus people pay me a lot of money. I could take more jobs in my free time and make much more money, but I choose not to, because I want to do other things with my free time. So, when people asked me to help them with their gardens, they are basically asking to steal my time. It is kind of rude.
So if you have a master gardener in your family, please don’t do this to them. Acknowledge that they worked hard to get their certificate and that they work hard to make money with it. They do not want to dispense free advice all day long, no matter how close your relationship. They wouldn’t do that to you with your job, would they? Okay, if the answer to that is yes, then you are fully justified in doing the same to them. But in my case the answer is no, so please stop asking me, friends and family. I would like to remain friends, after all.