How I Got Started On The Path To Being A Master Gardener

gardening shovel

Today, you know me as a master gardener. You also know me as someone who consults people on their gardens and helps them choose the best style, the best layout, the best plants and the best methods to use. I’m a gardening consultant and I am very good at what I do. More than that, I absolutely love what I do. It is the best job in the world and I would never want to do anything else. But how did I get here? Did I always want to be a gardener?

gardening shovelThe answer to that last question is no. When I was young, I wanted to be a princess. Because, of course I did. I also wanted to be a ballerina and a singer and dancer and basically any other typical job the little girls aspire to.

Once I got a little bit older, I really wanted to be a banker. Specifically, I wanted to be a bank teller. Yes, I know. Aiming high, right? But whenever I went to the bank with my mom and I saw the teller, I just thought it looked like such a cool job. I’m really glad I changed my mind on that one. I would’ve been extremely bored with that.

When I was in junior high, we moved to a new location and to a new house that my parents bought on a fairly large piece of property. I guess it wasn’t that large, but it was larger than anywhere we live before and that meant that my mom could garden.

She always enjoyed gardening, since she grew up on a farm. Farming was simply in her blood and whenever we visited her family, I got a small taste of that. I always enjoyed it, but never considered it beyond that. However, now that my mom started gardening at our new home, I occasionally helped her out. And I really loved it.

hand full of plant soilI love the you’re actually helping life grow. You plant the seed and many years later you have a tree that gives you apples. It’s just an amazing feeling and so much fun to do. It does take a long time, which is a little bit frustrating at times, but you can also just buy trees that are already grown. During this time, my mom became a master gardener. She did more as a hobby than anything else. She loved doing it to relax.

For me, though, watching her get her master gardener certificate and watching her garden and, more than that, helping her in her garden, left a lasting impression on me. It was then that I decided that I want to do something in the field of gardening. When I was in high school, I got a summer job at a gardening store. I continued this throughout college to help pay for school.

In college I studied botany, figuring it was the closest degree to gardening. It was far more scientific than I wanted, though. I enjoyed working in the garden using my hands. I do not care too much about studying plants. I just want to grow them. Nevertheless, that degree allowed me to get jobs that eventually led to me becoming a consultant. Once I was a consultant, I also got my master gardener certificate. As mentioned before, that helped me in that I could now charge a lot more for my services. It also meant that I was finally where I wanted to be in life.

What Is A Master Gardener?

masterful garden

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.

masterful garden

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.