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  • Writer's pictureCat Meholic

Jenny Rose Carey

This month's featured horticulturist hails from PHS Meadowbrook Farm

Our Featured Horticulturist this week, Jenny Rose Carey supports Women in Horticulture. She has hosted events for Women in Horticulture at Meadowbrook Farm, and is an avid historian on women in horticulture! She shared some photos from her garden, and some wisdom with Women in Horticulture.

WinH: What is your current job position?

JRC: Senior Director of Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s garden at Meadowbrook Farm in Jenkintown, PA

WinH: How did you get interested in horticulture?

JRC: I was lucky enough to be brought up in England – where there is a very strong cultural attachment to gardening. My father is a botanist and my mother and grandparents were gardeners. A great deal of my early life was spent outside in the fields, woods and footpaths of rural Kent. We picked flowers, picked apples, and helped in the allotment (like a community garden in the village- not my favorite job weeding between the vegetables as it always seemed hot and it felt like a long way to walk up hill – in reality England is never really hot and the hill is small!).

My mum taught me to take Geranium (Pelargonium) cuttings when I was about seven and I always loved planting seeds. Later on I received a Biology degree at Southampton University and went on to teach in both England and later Pennsylvania. All the time I was making gardens. My husband and I moved a lot of times in rented and owned houses and the plants came along too. Finally, after the birth of daughter number three I had a chance to go back to Temple University to study horticulture. My main goal was that I wanted to know the Latin names of the American plants that I was growing – I am a botanist’s daughter!

The reasons I am still working in the horticultural world – I really credit my upbringing, a continuing love of gardens and plants from childhood and my need to share what I have learned with other people.

WinH: What inspired you to write your latest book?

JRC: I was actually approached by Timber Press to see if I would write a book on shade gardening. "Glorious Shade" came out of that request. I have always loved shaded spaces and the plants that are found there so it was a wonderful opportunity to help people to think more positively about these areas of their gardens and give them some practical ideas and plant ideas for their own shade garden. I am currently working on an outline for another gardening book.

WinH: As an advocate of the Women in Horticulture group, what are some issues that women in the green industry are still working on improving?

JRC: Because women have been traditionally undervalued in our profession we need to be our own self-promoters and to show our worth. We need to help each other and give others a leg-up as you get up in your career – we need more women in upper level jobs.

I also think that we really need to encourage the next generation of young women to think about careers in horticulture as there are opportunities that they probably don’t know about.

WinH: Any advice for women wishing to advance their careers in the green industry?

JRC: Persevere! Keep pushing. Don’t hold back. Use your networks and create new networks like our wonderful Women in Horticulture Group. You may not realize your true worth to the industry. Don’t be shy. Call anyone up and say can I come and visit – can you show me around – can I ask you some questions – nobody minds and most people are glad to help – what is the worst that can happen they can say no. So much of getting your next job is who you know and networking. Go to every industry meeting and conference that you can. They are sometimes expensive so find out if there are scholarships – for example to the Perennial Plant Conference – apply. Use social media to advance and promote your work. Go to plant society meetings. Volunteer at public gardens or the Flower Show. Meet more horticulture professionals. Continue to educate yourself about the latest trends and new plants so that you can speak knowledgeably about these ideas to clients or to present papers or lectures/workshops. Just do it!

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