We’re so committed to the success and empowerment of women working in horticulture! We’ve experienced the loneliness of working in our male-dominated industry and battled against the stereotypes that try to tell us we can’t succeed here. Our mission is to inspire, educate, and empower women to get outside and get their hands dirty – this may mean working in your own yard for the casual plant lady but this might also mean pursuing a career in horticulture or turfgrass!
We are all for it and use our Industry Spotlight Series to celebrate women who are pushing the limits, changing the game, and taking our industry by storm!
Today’s featured plant lady is Brie Arthur. Brie is a bestselling author, horticulturist, life-long home gardener, and is on a mission to teach people how to grow food! Originally from southeastern Michigan, Brie studied Landscape Design and Horticulture at Purdue University. With more than two decades of experience as a grower and propagator, she shares practical gardening advice with audiences across the world from her home foodscape in Fuquay-Varina, NC. From traditional veggies like tomatoes and peppers to starches and grains, Brie aims to inspire a real-life Foodscape Revolution!
We asked her to share her inspiration for joining the green industry and how she came to do the writing, speaking, and gardening work that she does today!
As a child growing up in southeastern Michigan, I was an active 4-H’er. It was the hard-working extension agents that inspired me to study horticulture at Purdue and pursue a career in the green industry.
I have been blessed with many exceptional mentors over the past 20 years, including former bosses Nancy Goodwin of Montrose Gardens, Tony Avent owner of Plant Delights Nursery, and Kai Mei Parks founder of Camellia Forest Nursery. Each of these individuals helped me discover my strengths and weaknesses and encouraged me to share my passion for plants with others.
In 2014 Joe Lamp’l, producer and host of the PBS television show Growing a Greener World, offered me a career changing opportunity to join his team and focus my time on communications. This led me to write two books and spend the past 4 years touring across the US sharing my gardening knowledge.
I am incredibly grateful for the support of the green industry as my career has evolved from plant propagation, to design, and now communications. Industry leaders like Dr. Allan Armitage, Dr. Michael Dirr, and Dr. David Creech have played an important role in my development, and I hope to offer this support to others.
Wow! Brie is a seriously successful plant lady. We’re are extra proud to have her right here in our home state of North Carolina. We asked Brie to share a little more info with us and she had some priceless tips to share on working in the horticulture industry.
Q: What would you give as advice to another woman who would like to join the horticulture industry?
A: My best recommendation for anyone entering the green industry is to join professional associations. There are a lot to choose from, so depending on your area of interest you can find a group that is the right fit. So much of my professional success is the result of twenty years of networking, and the friendships that have formed from the organizations I am active in are the most meaningful part of my career development.
I am currently serving a second year as president of the International Plant Propagators’ Society and it is a very enriching experience. I have learned so much through this leadership role and am grateful for the opportunity to be connected to a global network through this society.
Q: What do you love most about what you do?
A: I really enjoy sharing practical gardening advice to help people of any skill level grow with confidence. I have made a million mistakes in my lifetime as a home gardener, so it is great to be able to share the good, the bad, and the ugly to de-mystify the gardening experience for others.
Q: What is the greatest challenge you have had in your career and how have you grown from dealing with that challenge?
A: The sudden changes due to the Covid-19 pandemic have been my biggest challenge to date. I imagine most people would echo this sentiment. Life changed abruptly on March 14 when all travel was cancelled, including the extensive book tour I had planned. Adjusting to a new virtual reality has been difficult. I have learned a lot about myself, like the reality that I am an extrovert and NEED people to feel energized. I miss meeting gardeners and talking face to face. For me Zoom will never replace live and in person, and I look forward to the day when it is safe to gather again. Until then, you can find me talking to my cell phone on YouTube 😉
Q: Do you have a favorite plant to share with our plant ladies?
A: OMG that is the hardest question ever! You know the saying, “my favorite plant is the one I am standing in front of!” I am an avid food grower, and love cultivating out of the ordinary plants, like grains (I did write a book about them!) I guess if I really must narrow it down, I’ll say barley for winter and rice for summer!
We have a copy of Brie’s book The Foodscape Revolution: Finding a Better Way to Make Space for Food and Beauty in Your Garden and have been inspired to find ways to incorporate food producing plants into our own landscapes! If this is something that interests you, Brie’s book is a no-brainer. You have to get it. Every page is filled with applicable information and Brie’s own experiences to help you succeed with your edible landscapes! If you want next level knowledge on grains, specifically, check out her latest book Gardening with Grains: Bring the Versatile Beauty of Grains to Your Edible Landscape, released in 2019!
If you’re interested in being featured in our Industry Spotlight Series, we’d love to connect with you! Get all the details here.