Meet a Gardener
We're proud to be part of an incredible community of gardeners. Our employee-owners, garden testers, customers, and partners are also critical to our story and our success. We'd like to introduce you to some of them!
Appreciating the Science and Mystery of Gardening
From tiny, emerging flower buds to dark, nutrient-rich compost, Suzanne DeJohn witnesses nature’s little miracles every day while she’s gardening at her Williston, Vermont, home. Learn how gardening satisfies Suzanne’s scientific curiosity while also feeding her soul.
Creative Solutions Keep Senior Gardeners Active
Long-time gardener Toni Gattone's back injury helped her discover a new passion and career: adaptive gardening. Learn about how this author and speaker helps seniors get things done in the garden safely, comfortably, and most of all, joyfully, through adaptive gardening.
From Self-Taught Gardener to Online Inspiration
In just nine years, Kevin Espiritu has gone from an absolute beginner gardener, trying his hand at cucumbers and basil, to a top online voice on growing everything from houseplants to edibles. Read about how Kevin experiments with plants and techniques in a limited gardening space, and inspires gardeners around the world via his Epic Gardening education platform.
Kerry Ann Mendez
Discovering a Love, Designing a Career
Kerry Ann Mendez started gardening on weekends when her full-time, office-job paycheck wasn't making ends meet. As a part-timer at a field-grown perennial garden center, she quickly discovered she loved gardening... so much that she created her own successful business, Perennially Yours. Meet Kerry and learn how she got started, how she gets big impact in small spaces, and why she's committed to environmentally conscious garden design.
Her Passion for Plants Grew into a Profession
From a teenage bedroom brimming with houseplants, to a city house with a garden as its front yard, to her current 6-acre gardens at her rural Wisconsin home, horticulturalist, national gardening media personality, and author Melinda Myers has always surrounded herself with plants. Learn how Melinda turned her passion for gardening into her profession, and why being in the garden brings her such satisfaction.
The Garden: A Place Where Everybody Can Meet
Surrounded by food and family, Charlie Nardozzi grew up on his Italian grandparents' multi-generational farm, where he developed a lifelong love of plants, animals, and the natural world. Today he shares his energy, knowledge, and enthusiasm for gardening as an in-demand writer, speaker, TV and radio personality, and garden tour leader. Read more to get Charlie's friendly take on how gardening connects us to nature and one another.
Elevated Beds Bring Maine Garden to New Heights
We got a kick out of the "Big Box of Fun!" headline in Patricia Zinkowski's review of our Eco-Stained Elevated Cedar Planter Box, and we were fortunate to have the chance to visit her in Maine. Patricia has a small farm with one alpaca, one horse, four goats, and a chicken. She grows vegetables, flowers, and medicinals in raised beds as well as four elevated planter boxes.
Social Media's Most-Watched Garden Personality
Laura LeBoutillier and her videographer/husband, Aaron, are the faces behind Garden Answer. With hundreds of engaging and informative gardening videos to their credit, Laura's internet following has surpassed 6 million. She reveals how she got her start along with her number one piece of advice to newbie gardeners in this interview.
Youth Gardener Grows Food for the Hungry
When Ian McKenna learned that some of his Austin classmates were missing meals, he jumped into action. He expanded his garden, began donating all his veggies, and spearheaded giving gardens in local schools. Learn more about his efforts and why we're partnering with him in feeding our neighbors.
Avid Gardener was Inspired by Her Mother
When her mom moved to a home that didn't have an outdoor space, Moon was prompted to start a garden of her own. Now one of our garden testers, she primarily grows veggies and herbs in raised beds. Take a tour of Moon's Westchester, NY, garden and get inspired!
GSC Rain Barrels Solve Firefighter's Water Problem
An avid and most excellent cook, Mike Nava is a customer who started growing potted herbs for his signature sauces and chilis. He's since expanded to vegetables of all sorts and is committed to earth-friendly practices and devices. Here, Mike shares plenty of tips as he guides us through his California garden.
Meet Our Garden Testers
Compact/small space gardener
Adaptable Aba says she does “whatever type of gardening fits the house I am living in.” For the past few years, that has meant gardening in a small space, choosing plants that can withstand Florida’s sun and heat, and taking advantage of self-watering planters to maintain optimal soil moisture. She counts kale among her favorite crops due to its versatility. “It can be used in so many dishes, and in so many ways,” Aba says. “I have also had decent luck growing it here in Florida, even though it is more of a cool-weather crop.”
In addition to nurturing tall, bushy tomatoes in Gardener’s Honeycomb Tomato Planters, Aba likes making her own mixes of sprouts and microgreens. She considers the rare, fragrant, yellow- and reddish-striped Tiger Melon, or Tigger Melon, the most unusual plant she’s ever grown.
Aba enjoys travel, exploring the great outdoors, and sampling the newest microbrews from around the country. She’s also interested in the benefits of essential oils.
Los Angeles, CA
Small space, urban gardener
Amber’s gardening style focuses on growing edibles in an ornamental fashion, but over the past two years has expanded to include flowers. Since her space is limited, she often chooses dwarf varieties of more commonly known flowers and vegetables. “There are so many varieties to choose from,” Amber explains.
When asked to pick her favorite plant, she can’t quite decide. “My favorite plant to grow changes with each season, but it’s a tie between zucchini squash and carrots,” she says. “I gravitate toward root vegetables because I love the mystery of what’s happening beneath the soil, and the anticipation of the harvest! Harvesting a root vegetable is such a gratifying feeling.”
Amber also likes to experiment in the kitchen, creating healthy alternatives to decadent, classic favorites and developing new, gluten-free recipes. She loves to make her own kimchi from scratch, using ingredients from her garden that she ferments in traditional Korean earthenware crocks.
Anne aka Lady Human
Gardening using a mix of permaculture, biodynamic and regenerative principles
Anne considers urban homesteading a large part of her life. She tries to live as sustainably as possible, growing edible plants that many people tell her are unusual. “I suppose I tend to gravitate toward rare and heirloom types, or things one can’t buy at a grocery store,” she says. Her yard features edibles, medicinals, and California natives, as well as several grafted “Frankenstein” fruit trees that came courtesy of her dad, who is an enthusiastic gardener. Anne’s property is also a registered Monarch Waystation, providing habitat for migrating Monarch butterflies.
A self-described “crazy chicken lady,” Anne keeps a large flock of spoiled, happy backyard chickens that inspired her to write a book about raising these “uneggspectedly funny” birds. She also cooks, bakes, and preserves using ingredients grown in her garden. Anne is a Master Food Preserver, a certification awarded through a university extension service program that’s similar to the Master Gardener program.
San Gabriel Valley, CA
Earth Systems Sciences-centric gardener incorporating other practices
Passionate gardener and nature enthusiast Brian says there’s “never enough dirt” for all the plants he’d like to grow! His favorite crops include citrus. “Citrus has a deep history, not only for my state of California, but globally, as well,” he explains.
Always intrigued by an unusual challenge, Brian once successfully harvested K’uyu Chuspi, a rare, speckled corn native to Peru that is difficult to grow outside of its original geographic area. Brian was able to grow it in his Los Angeles climate from fall through winter.
Brian’s lush, front yard and backyard gardens provide him with delicious fruits and vegetables while simultaneously serving as places to indulge his interests in photography, videography, and cooking. “I have a general interest in many subjects, and many of them intersect with gardening,” he says. Brian documents his gardening process, and the progress of his plants’ growth, through still and video photography. He enjoys sharing educational videos about plants, gardening techniques, and his experiences cooking with his own, home-grown ingredients.
Los Angeles, CA
Small-space, urban gardener
Carrie’s house once had an ordinary, urban lawn. But in just one day, using Gardener’s Raised Beds and Victory Planters, she transformed her limited outdoor space into a lush, small-space garden. Her favorite plants are edible ones, and she uses 95 percent of her garden to grow things she considers practical. “Since my space is limited, I try to make choices that support feeding my family or encouraging helpful pollinators,” she says. “I always have loads of greens for creative salads.”
Carrie does leave room to experiment with something unknown every season. “I’ve grown unusual herbs, orange okra, cucamelons, and off-season cucumbers,” she says.
Most of Carrie’s planting choices are influenced by what she wants to use in her kitchen: She also loves cooking and preserving the produce she grows. Her non-gardening interests include nutrition and fitness, especially running on LA’s streets and paths. She says, “You’ll know me because I’m the slow one!”
GSC test gardener
Deborah, as part of the Product Design and Development Team, not only tests and vets our products but also coordinates the entire Nationwide Testing Program itself. Whether she's in the test gardens on our main campus, or in her own garden at home, Deborah grows new things every year. Some of her favorites have been chickpeas, sesame, and Jobe's Tears (seeds from which she made into necklaces and bracelets), and luffa — for natural sponges.
Deborah is also driven to inspire people to grow their own healthy food and show them how rewarding it is to get their kids involved. "When my kids were little, they'd snack on spinach leaves right out of the ground — the same spinach they'd refuse to eat at the dinner table," she recalls. Now instead of asking her, 'Where does corn come from?' or 'How do chocolate chips grow?' they're helping her plant seeds and maintain their own veggie patches. "Eating well and eating fresh are key ingredients in my family's Italian food heritage, and having a vegetable garden in the backyard helps us keep that tradition going."
Deborah also enjoys being part of our @gardeners Instagram gardening community. "I love that we can help people connect with nature and help them grow, from city rooftop gardens to rural homesteads."
Sun City, AZ
‘Victory Garden’ vegetable gardener
When he made the move to Arizona from Iowa (via Nebraska), long-time vegetable gardener Dwight was worried. “I didn’t think I’d ever taste a real tomato again,” he recalls. But once he established a plot in his community garden and put his mind to it, he’s finally “coming up with some that are close!”
Dwight grows his own vegetables in the spirit of World War II Victory Gardens: During the war, the U.S. Government urged families on the Home Front to grow, eat, and can their own produce to prevent food shortages. Tomatoes and green beans are among Dwight’s favorite crops, but so far he hasn’t had too much luck growing celery that doesn’t taste bitter.
To stay fit, Dwight works out in his weight room and rides his bike. He also continues a 15-year habit of attending twice-weekly yoga classes. Dwight teaches silver crafting and likes to search for hidden outdoor treasures while geocaching. He jokes that enjoys a beer “now and then … more now than then!”
Edible gardening for pollinators and people
A retired chef, Holly likes to grow hard-to-find and novelty plants—like gourmet and heirloom vegetables—that produce food for pollinators or people. She relies on her two composters and Gardener’s soilless potting mixes for success in her garden and window boxes, and extends her growing season with a tabletop grow light. “Starting indoors is the only way to start from seed here,” Holly explains. “Our spring (and summer and fall) weather is incredibly unstable.”
Holly’s favorite new, easy-care plant discovery is the marimo moss ball. “They're bright green, tidy orbs that rise and set with the sun, and all you do is make sure they're in a jar of clean water,” she says.
Holly is also a beekeeper who is passionate about honey and native bees. After a sting allergy forced her to take a hiatus and seek venom therapy, she hopes to return to beekeeping soon. In the meantime, she volunteers for a medically underserved community.
Edible gardening for families facing hunger and food insecurity
A passionate gardener and hunger advocate, Ian began volunteering in his community when he was only 8 years old. He grows a variety of healthy edibles for hungry and food-insecure families. Some of his favorite plants include the many varieties of tomatoes, and onions. “I enjoy the surprise of seeing how big the [onion] bulbs end up,” he explains. “Plus, they help keep the squirrels away.”
He also grows cucumbers, peppers, eggplants, and squash, plus one unusual plant each year. “Typically it’s an insanely hot pepper variety,” Ian says. “But last year, I grew Giant Bullet Head Wax Melons that weighed about 30 or 40 pounds!”
Ian serves as a No Kid Hungry Advocate and is a member of the Youth Advisory Board for Katie's Krops and Harvard University's Making Caring Common Project. He also plays on his school soccer team (Go Jags!), enjoys going to movies with his Big Brothers Big Sisters mentor, and likes to swim, bike, read, and cook.
Container/patio gardener for small-space, city living
As a volunteer at city patches and local botanical gardens, Jackie works in amazing locations with rare and beautiful plants. In her own garden, she grows basil and tomatoes, munching along as they ripen. Jackie’s favorite flowering plants include Chrysanthemums, a long-time love because of their sturdiness and many colors and shapes. She once grew the strange and mysterious Night Blooming Cereus, a cactus with large, white flowers that bloom for only one night in midsummer. “It was so strange to see this open on a full moon at midnight. I babied it until it flowered,” Jackie remembers.
During her activities, you may find Jackie wearing GSC-designed overalls, which she wears for beekeeping, harvesting olives, painting, and planning her next garden. She also hikes, kayaks, plays sports, reads, and volunteers for interesting causes. Jackie was bitten by the travel bug long ago and loves seeing the world … by bicycle!
Vegetable, fruit, and flower gardener
Indoor-outdoor gardener, Josette, loves to grow succulents—including flowering cacti—inside her Columbia, SC, home … and a little bit of everything else outside!
Josette grows vegetables, fruits, and flowers in her yard’s in-ground and raised beds. (She’s been growing fruits and vegetables organically for 45 years.) She says her absolute favorite plant is the tomato, because “there are so many new varieties to choose from,” and the most unusual plant she’s grown is the yard-long bean.
When selecting plants, Josette needs to consider challenging conditions that can include intense sun, temperatures that climb above 100 degrees, and even frost. Gardener’s Shade Net once helped her garden survive a week of 100-degree temperatures—with no watering—while Josette was out of town! She also relies on GardenQuilt Floating Row Cover for just enough frost protection on cool evenings.
You might find also Josette cozying up with a book, strolling on the beach, or relaxing on a cruise ship, which she does once a year. She also enjoys roaming through greenhouses and lately, going to musicals.
Raised bed and container vegetable gardening
Kristin considers herself a beginner gardener and so far has stuck to tried-and-true vegetables like tomatoes, green beans, and peppers. “I love growing peppers,” she says. “They’re easy to grow from seed and produce a fair amount. One of my family's favorite meals is fajitas, so we eat a lot of peppers!”
Kristin tested the Gardener’s Revolution® Honeycomb Tomato Planter by planting … peppers. “It kept my plant healthy and producing throughout the whole growing season,” she said. “It also supported my plant very well!”
When she’s not in the garden, Kristin spends a lot of time outdoors while running, playing tennis, and biking. She also volunteers at a local food pantry, and is learning to play the piano.
Kristin and her husband love teaching their children about nature, gardening, and food. The entire family can often be found in the kitchen, experimenting with new recipes and learning how to cook.
Marah relies completely on artificial lights to grow an array of succulents indoors. Her obsession with indoor growing began with a Three-Tier SunLite® Garden. “It was my starter shelf,” she says. “I loved the adjustable bulbs and modern look, and I upgraded the original fluorescents to retrofitted LEDs.”
Rosette-shaped Echeveria, pleasingly plump succulents with leaves ranging in color from greens, to purples, to pinks, are among Marah’s favorite plants. “I love their shape and colors, and their blooms are outstanding,” she says. She also enjoys growing Tillandsia, commonly known as “air plants” because they require no soil to grow. Marah explains, “It’s amazing they live without being planted. The roots are mainly for hanging onto branches.”
Despite her love of indoor growing, Marah doesn’t spend all her time indoors. When she’s not at home relaxing with her blooming tea pot—a gift that she finds both beautiful and useful—she stays active by kayaking, exploring downtown Madison with her boyfriend, and longboarding.
South Orange, NJ
Gardener specializing in edibles including herbs, medicinal plants, and perennials
For 10 years, artist, runner, and gardener Rossana relied on self-watering containers like the Patio, Revolution, Victory, and Lima to grow edible plants on her rooftop in downtown Brooklyn, NY. At her new home in historic South Orange, NJ, her expanded, backyard garden is fast becoming an inspiration for art, exercise, and more. “I intend to make the garden a focal point that merges all my interests: food as medicine, food history, anatomy, movement, and so on,” Rossana explains. It will continue to feature her favorite plants, including heavenly-smelling herbs, pollinator-friendly perennials, and small tomatoes, “because watching children eating real food from a plant fills the heart.”
Whether she’s volunteering in her son’s school garden or working with clients as a newly certified personal trainer, Rossana always has art on her mind. “The garden has become my art studio, and a place to exercise,” she says. It also provides her with materials for her other creative outlets, including weaving and making natural dyes.
Container gardener at home, raised-bed gardener at a local school
Master Gardener, busy mom of three, and all-female rock-band songwriter/guitarist Suzanne doesn’t have a veggie garden of her own—she grows cucumbers and other crops in self-watering containers on her deck—but she’s in charge of 23 raised beds as the volunteer gardening coordinator at a local, K-3 elementary school. In that role, Suzanne introduces children to the joys of growing and eating fresh food. “It's really fun to see them eat pea shoots or dig up a potato or learn how great worms and insects can be,” she says.
“I love planting any kind of leafy vegetable because it’s easy, you can get them for most of the year, and there are so many flavors and textures to choose from,” she says. For “kid food,” Suzanne loves to grow “Tom Thumb” popcorn, which produces miniatures ears of corn that can be popped immediately if harvested at the right time. Mexican sour gherkins are also a big hit with her budding young gardeners.
Fort Collins, CO
Cut flower and vegetable gardener, small-scale
Over time, flower and vegetable gardener Zoe has graduated from gardening in containers to raised beds. She currently has two small-scale gardens: one for cut flowers, and one for vegetables. “I love growing flowers,” she says, adding that after biking through a field of poppies in Italy last summer, she was inspired to grow them at home. “I also find it very rewarding growing my own food.” Shishito peppers are among Zoe’s favorite vegetables.
Zoe loves to get outdoors in the mountain west region, hiking and fishing with her partner and their two dogs. She also enjoys a good book, and traveling … when she can find a trustworthy person to look after her garden! Zoe will be moving to New Mexico in the spring and is excited to learn about the growing season a little further south.
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