Now that school is over and I'm officially a Landscape/Garden Designer looking for the next step, I've started to look back at the crazy road that brought me to this place.
This post isn't meant to be one of those "garden as a metaphor for life" essays. It's meant as a reflection as someone that doesn't come from a particularly creative, artistic background to one that produces gardens--something I view as collaborative art. I come from a long line of electricians and engineers. My mom really enjoys accounting. I also didn't grow up with many garden-centric memories. In fact, I hated yard work. You got horribly sweaty (remember, I'm from Florida!) and then the dirt would just stick to you. Like, so gross, for real. **Flips 1990s hair***
As a female who excelled at both math and science, I almost felt duty-bound to chose that as a career. Besides, I didn't know anyone that was an artist or graphic designer or anything like that. I didn't really know people did those things as a career. After the first week in my AP Economics class, I was in love. Oh, rational expectation theory! Diminishing marginal returns! Giffin goods! Utility maximization! *This* was what I was meant to do. Or so I thought.
I entered a PhD program for economics. Perhaps it wasn't a good fit at the get-go, but I can't completely regret my time there because I made some amazing friends amongst my classmates. But I was severely unhappy diving into the incredibly murky details of economic theory. I fantasized about going to culinary school. But they hours of a cook are terrible, as is the pay (at least compared to an Economist position). I quit school and hopped off to my first job.
Years past and it became clear that a life spent behind a computer staring at spreadsheets and writing SAS code wasn't my idea of fun. When we bought our house, I had these grand plans of a vegetable garden. I decided to do pots of tomatoes using soil from our backyard. CLAY SOIL. Put into a pot. And then watered repeatedly. (In case you were wondering, this gives you basically cement.) Needless to say, those tomatoes didn't exactly flourish. They didn't die, I should note, though! Not killing them was my first feeling of success as a gardener.
I guess it was a series of happy accidents that happened all in a row that lead me to this place of eagerly awaiting a new gardening magazine or almost causing an accident by paying a little too much attention to the flora I'm driving past. The economist in me still strives for absolute efficiency in my use of space while the graphic designer is captivated by contrasts in texture and form and the plants-woman delights in the latest cultivars or rare species. I sometimes wonder what would have happened if I discovered design--graphic, garden or otherwise--from the very beginning, but I don't regret my choices.
I've found my soul and it's the soul of a garden designer. Even if it doesn't pay much or the hours are terrible, this is what I am meant to do.
This post is dedicated to my husband. Without his wisdom and unwavering support, I'd be still sitting in that chair, hating every minute of it.