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  • Writer's pictureCat Meholic

Yes, she is THAT good: Peggy Anne Montgomery

Updated: Dec 2, 2018

As you read this Q&A with Peggy Anne, I want you to know that she truly is the definition of a "can-do attitude" and that she is one of the most honest people I have met. This honesty comes with a gentleness that leaves you thinking, not stinging. Peggy Anne is magical. She has a contagious smile, and I always feel wrapped in warmth and knowledge when I am with her. I hope you all feel that with this Q&A, and that you will one day get to meet the great Peggy Anne Montgomery. I guarantee you'll have a great time! -Cat

WinH: What is your current position in horticulture and what drew you to it?

P.A.M.: I recently joined the Garden Media Group (GMG) as an account executive. I was pulled into the marketing department at Bailey Nurseries, a large wholesale nursery, many years ago. We launched the Endless Summer brand of hydrangeas, still the largest woody plant brand launch in U.S. history. That’s when I met Suzi McCoy from the Garden Media Group. Her firm helped us with the launch. I’d always loved writing and I love plants so, it felt natural to share that love and excitement with the media. Over the years, I built up a solid relationship with garden editors and writers based on a can-do spirit and honesty.

What lead me to the Garden Media Group was a desire to stay on top of trends and technology. I am a horticulturist that did some marketing. The staff at GMG are pure marketing professionals. The learning curve is high and they are teaching me so much it sometimes makes my head spin. But, it’s totally worth the challenge. Armed with these new tools, I’m better prepared to help clients I believe in. Hopefully, my 35 years of horticulture experience can enhance their work as well.

WinH: How did you first get into horticulture? What has kept you in the green industry?

P.A.M.: Growing up in Minnesota, surrounded by clean lakes and undisturbed forests gave me a deep love of nature. By the time, I was 5 years old, I had firmly decided I would become a forest ranger in Alaska. I have no idea why. My mother and grandfather were avid gardeners and their artistry left a big impression on me. I won my first garden contest at age 10. About that time, someone told me that studying botany would be too hard for me with all that chemistry. No one had ever told me I couldn’t do something before. I believed him. Words can be dangerous.

So, I went to the University of Minnesota and studied Nutrition and Early Childhood Development. After that, I moved to Germany and a year later, to Holland. I immediately fell in love with the Netherlands and shortly thereafter a Dutchman. After going to a school to learn Dutch, I started studying horticulture. My passion for nature had never left me. I studied and apprenticed for 4 years. After that and while raising a family, I started my own landscape design business based on sustainable practices which I ran for 10 years before returning to this country. Thus began a long, varied and fulfilling career.

"I graduated top of my class in chainsaw school" -P.A.M.

Why have I stayed in the industry?

The number one reason I’ve stayed in the industry is because of the people. The vast majority of people in our industry are amazing human beings. They share knowledge freely and always offer support. The horticulture community here in the Brandywine Valley is especially strong and nurturing. Being surrounded by intelligent, passionate people that love the same things that you do, makes for a beautiful life. And, speaking of life, isn’t that what we are all trying to share with others? Plant life, wildlife, human life…

Rare Plant Auction Crew
"I love volunteering with this amazing crew! Rare Plant Auction Plant Selection Committee." -P.A.M.

WinH: As someone that has worked a diverse array of jobs in the green industry, what are a few things that help make a work place an enjoyable place to be?

P.A.M.: One of the things I love most about horticulture is how diverse it is. You can go into a hundred different directions and no matter how hard you try, you’ll never know it all. Isn’t that exciting? Over the years I’ve done installation, maintenance, arbor culture, grafting specialist, landscape designer, production grower, trial gardening, speaker, garden writer and fellow of the Garden Writers Association, sales and customer service, event planner, charitable giving coordinator, garden center management, marketing and public relations, spokesperson, managed national brands, and volunteered with children as often as possible.

"American Beauties built a pollinator garden for these young adults with autism in Chicago. They have a vegetable garden and are learning skills to enter the work force. Amazing students and staff, they truly inspired me." -P.A.M.

It’s the people that make a work place enjoyable. Work so hard that there is time for pure fun! Appreciate the different skill sets each person brings to the table and build a strong team based on that. Spend time teaching so, people feel empowered and eager to learn. Encourage your coworkers. Embrace your differences. Working with a strong, supportive, creative team is one of the most rewarding things in the world. No one can do it alone.

WinH: Have you had any mentors over the course of your career? If so, how did you connect with them? How did they assist you?

P.A.M.: I’ve had countless mentors whether they knew it or not. Almost everyone you work with can teach you something. Even if it’s how not to do something. Watch how your mentor handles difficult situations. Emulate their positive actions and perspectives. Work hard so, they can see your dedication. Ask questions. Express gratitude. Pay it forward.

WinH: What suggestions do you have for women in horticulture to make their careers more fulfilling or to move up to the next level in their work?

P.A.M.: Grow and nurture the inner strength you know is inside you. Be strong, not over powering. Believe the sky’s the limit. Don’t allow anyone to tell you differently. Surround yourself with positive people. Ask for help. Approach your work with integrity. Be honorable. Always take the high road. Be honest and kind. Help others as often as you can. It always ends up helping you more. Understand that change is inevitable and its ok to be afraid. It’s even OK to say, I’m afraid. Know that reinventing yourself is a necessary part of your growth. Never stop learning. Get dirty. Explore more. Travel. Remember that no one ever promised you a rose garden. You’ll need to build it and tend it yourself.

"Dan and I" -P.A.M.

“You’ve always had the power my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself.”

Glinda, the Good Witch

Thank you, Peggy Anne Montgomery for sharing your thoughts and photos with us!

Photos: Peggy Anne Montgomery

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Lucy Dinsmore
Lucy Dinsmore
Dec 02, 2018

What an inspirational read! Peggy Anne really is a heroine and her words are truly heartfelt. Thank you for this interview.

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