I was asked this question 10 years ago by a woman in the human resources department as I was filling out new hire paperwork for my new job. At first I was taken aback. But, the evidence was irrefutable….I was wearing pink nail polish and I was a horticulturist.
Bougainvillea, Gold Lantana and Purple Lilac Vine adorn a feature area along the golf course.
And so that was my introduction to what turned out to be many years at a very fulfilling job working as a horticulturist for two golf courses, and for the surrounding community areas.
The golf courses were bordered by a national forest, (yes that is a national forest in the background), and an Indian reservation, so much of the surrounding area was untouched and just beautiful.
I set to work right way, designing and planting new landscapes everywhere I could find bare, boring areas…and there were quite a few.
My job was not without it’s challenges…..I was the only woman in a department of 38 men, besides the secretary, which was not always easy. I had to earn their respect before they would do what I asked. Also, sometimes I would have to act braver then I was when the guys would show me snakes they found as well as huge grubs they dug up. I would pretend it was no big deal to me, even though I cringed inside.
I managed all of the landscape areas, but thankfully, not the turf areas on the golf course. I had a crew of 4 men, which included my foreman, who had followed me from my previous job.
Although my favorite part of my job was designing and installing new landscape areas, I also was in charge of the maintenance of 100’s of trees and plants as well.
I did have unfortunate mishaps such as losing a large saguaro in a torrential summer storm and the Palo Verde tree below.
I used to dread going to work the days after a summer storm. I would spend hours deciding what fallen trees could be saved and those that could not. It was always very sad to see some beautiful trees lost.
Riding in my little golf cart around the golf courses and community was always so much fun. I typically spent 1/2 my days in the office and 1/2 outdoors. The weather was usually very nice to be out in. In the winter, the golf courses would be covered in a layer of thick frost at times and golfers would anxiously wait until it melted so they could start golfing.
For the most part, summers were nice too, although an occasional day over 114 would hit. Those were hard, because the crew would have to continue working outside, so I would have the crew work on pruning trees so that they could stay in the shade – I always felt guilty that I had an air-conditioned office to retreat to.
Some landscape areas did not have an irrigation system, so were planted with succulents and hand-watered twice in the summer. Washes lined with river rock ran through many of the areas, like the one above, which would rapidly fill with water after a summer storm.
After placing the plants that were to be planted, I would often join my crew in digging holes and planting. Did I already mention that this was my favorite part of the job?
New Planting of Valentine and Rosemary
I was given the opportunity to present landscaping seminars for the local residents and was absolutely terrified my first time, but soon learned to love speaking to groups. **People who meet me find out very quickly that it is hard to shut me up when I talk about plants ;^)
I left this wonderful place to work for a landscape design firm, where I could focus on what I enjoyed best – designing and installing landscapes. My community was running out of areas for me to create new ones. Sadly, the area above was one I did not get to before I left.
I realize that I have shown this picture in previous posts, but it was my favorite landscape that I worked on. It is a hummingbird garden.
As I looked back on the places I worked as a horticulturist, this was my most favorite job. I loved the people, the landscapes, the beautiful desert setting and I miss the beautiful, large trees that I would drive by each day on the golf course.
Okay, so back to the HR lady’s nail polish comment….I told her that I did wear nail polish, but that I also wore gloves when working with plants, so it wasn’t a problem. I also wore make-up and curled my hair, which I guess was not what her picture of a horticulturist was ;^)consulting services, her online class Desert Gardening 101, and her monthly membership club, Through the Garden Gate. As she likes to tell desert-dwellers, "Gardening in the desert isn't hard, but it is different."