Graduation! 🎓

Yesterday was a BIG day!

Along with six of my classmates, I have completed the Environmental Horticulture Program at Lake Washington Institute of Technology. Woot! Woot!

2015 Graduating Class
2015 Graduating Class

This is an intensive HANDS ON program that covers a multitude of important topics, so many that it is difficult to cover them here. So I won’t. Put it this way… I feel totally prepared to handle whatever comes my way with regard to landscape design and maintenance and so much more – life, I feel prepared to handle life, and whatever comes my way.

Some folks choose to get a Certificate in Environmental Horticulture, I chose to pursue the AAS in Environmental Horticulture… Why not?

I am really going to miss these folks. I just spent the entire last year with them… Four days per week, all day long. They are amazing people!

Each one of us brings special talents and individual goals with us to our learning adventure. We each have gotten what we need from the program. We will each take our learning and apply it in ways that have not even been dreamed of before. It truly is a whole new world.

Our instructors were amazing! Industry experts that shared their wisdom and knowledge with us. Supported us and mentored us, all along the way. The support staff were fantastic. My family has gotten so much bigger.

Our graduating class is leaving behind a new class of folks that are just beginning their own journey, and I must say, they are also an amazing group of people. I’m going to miss them too.

As I lay in bed last night, I marveled at the realization that I had no homework that was due… No assignments to complete… No plants in the green house or beds in the arboretum to maintain. What on earth was I going to do with my “extra time”?  I have spent the past year going to school full-time and working full-time…

Well, that sensation lasted all of about two seconds! I am still working full-time, but I also work in an industry that slows down in the winter months (for some sectors). I have been busy with bid estimates and projects. That alone will keep me plenty occupied, not to mention that fact that Fred and I are moving from this house, very soon, and have a lot (A LOT) of cleaning, sorting, culling and packing to do.

Most of all, I just wanted to say thank you. Thank you to my friends (old and new), my employers, my clients, my classmates and the staff/instructors at LWIT, the donors who contributed to the foundation that awarded me scholarships, which helped in so many ways. I could not have done this without any of them.

Even more importantly I am thanking Fred and my mom… For putting up with my endless hours of study and project work. For making them learn plant ID right along with me…for supporting my dreams.

THANK YOU! Because I really could not have done this without YOU!

~ Molly


Creativity boost…

I love the Fall and Winter seasons. The cool moist air with torrential downpours in contrast with the crisp blue skies and frosty temperatures on any given day here in the Seattle area.

Work (both at the nursery and with my business) has been keeping us very busy. Seems like a never ending opportunity to engage my creative skills.

Working with clients and getting to know them well enough to be able to make appropriate design and plant selections has been a highlight of my work as of late.

A client popped into the nursery this past weekend to show me pictures of the containers they planted based on design suggestions that I had made.  We picked out plant material to meet their needs and preferences and then I laid them out according to how they should be placed in the container… They LOVED it!!! And they did a great job! Their containers look amazing!

When I am at work, I sell A LOT of plant material. My goal is to help folks find the right plant for the right place. I do not even look at the $$$ volume of what I sell. That is not my focus. At all.

Some people get excited by the volume of sales. I get excited by building lasting relationships with people. Helping them find the most cost effective solutions to their landscaping and design needs because I know that happy customers will return again and again if they trust you and know that you have their best interests at heart.

I am not interested in a one time quick sale, I am interested in building long term professional relationships where people seek out my guidance and creative ideas. That, by far, has been the most rewarding part of my work.

I have been fortunate as of late to get to work on some pretty fun projects. Embellishing wreaths at work for the holiday season (all of which have been sold) and creating winter containers for inspiration.

A client actually hugged me on Monday for “making his life so much easier.”  He purchased my container greens…

I am also working on a couple of landscape design projects right now. Getting people excited about their outdoor spaces is super fun! I came home from a consultation today with a whole lot of ideas on how to remake a space for a client… Hopefully her client survey will reveal what she likes, and it may even be the same as what I perceived about her.

We’ll see! I am usually pretty good at reading people…

~ Molly

Thankful …

I am thankful. Very thankful. So very thankful that I am a capable and motivated human being.

Fred and I worked our “other” job today. A long 10 hours of installation of bamboo hardwood floors (Fred) and cleaning, painting, and touching up spots around the house we are working on.


This is the very tall stairwell I was painting today… have I mentioned I don’t care for heights, especially when perched on a ladder balanced on stairs…
Natural stone flooring in the bathroom
New bamboo floors in the bedrooms X 2
I am thankful that Fred and I enjoy working together. Personally, I just really enjoy his company.

Late night meal… too tired to cook

We talked a lot today about our Alaska plans… We may be delayed due to financing issues, but we’ll make it all happen. We are resourceful and hardworking and I trust that everything will fall into place.

Coming Together

It is exciting to see things finally coming together.

With graduation upon me in two very short weeks, I am doing what I have always done… Working, planning and getting things done. Always thinking a few steps ahead of where I need to be in order to stay on track.

Our plans may change, altered by finances and reality, but I know that we will realize our dreams. Sometimes with a “come Hell or high water” attitude.

Fred and I are both working our tails off, seven days a week right now between our jobs. We work everyday together in one form or another. I can and will say this, I like it! We make a great team.

Fred is running the tree lot at the nursery, in addition to being the general handyman/go to guy for just about everything. We had a delivery of nearly 300 Christmas trees today that all needed to be processed. Done and done. It is very physical work and exhausting.

My work today consisted of decorating and embellishing wreaths. Just a continuation of my school work but easier.

It is fun to utilize my knowledge and to be able to apply what I am learning. I look forward to work and have plans and dreams for the future that are bright, and optimistic.

Since changing careers, I have been having consistently great days. What’s not to love. Rain, cold, wind…I’m good working outside. Hot sun? I’m still adjusting. No matter how I look at it though, everyday is a good day working with plants.


Time Flies…

when you are having fun AND working hard!

I cannot believe that I have not posted anything in nearly a year. Where has the time gone?

Well, let me tell you.

This last year has been a whorl wind. It flew by so quickly that I cannot believe that I will be graduating in just a few weeks from a program I started in January. Come December 11, 2015, I will have earned my third academic degree… An AAS in Environmental Horticulture from Lake Washington Institute of Technology.

I am already using my education working in a local nursery and as a small business owner. It is awesome!

The learning opprtunities have been fantastic and I have yet to meet anyone that is not genuinely happy to be alive and working in horticulture. I mean who wouldn’t be? You get to work with plant material, work with people who like doing what they do, work with customers who want to be at your business AND I am able to help solve problems and educate clients. It’s perfect!

Oh, and did I mention the hours are awesome too?

The program that I am in is fantastic. Very hands on, which is how I learn best, and I am applying what I am learning constantly. I learn new things everyday. I get to be creative. I get to explore. I don’t have to get dressed up and best of all I am evaluated on my performance. Wow! What a concept! I get to be me, I mean ME…

So, big things are happening… I am including links below to my social networking sites. If you would be so inclined, please “like” my FaceBook page (the link is in the side bar along with some of my latest posts and pictures), check out my Thumbtack and LinkedIn profiles and if you are in the greater Seattle area please spread the word… I’m accepting new clients and thankfully have been keeping busy.


Michelle (aka Molly)


“You are a prisoner of your own position”

As I was following my morning ritual (catching up on the various “news” of the day) I came across this article:
Thought-Provoking Photographs Of People Living Alone In The Wilderness

This quote pretty much sums up my life over the past 25 years.

Tkachenko’s work raises questions about what identity truly means when we are forced to live how society tells us to: “School, work, family – once in this cycle, you are a prisoner of your own position. You should be pragmatic and strong, or become an outcast or a lunatic. How to remain yourself in the midst of this?”

I became a prisoner of my own position… As I suspect many people have.

I graduated from High School, went on to college. Got my first degree, then my first “real job”, then I got married, I got another degree, started on my chosen career path (the real career, not my starter career), earned certifications, became licensed, hung in all the “right” circles, networked (as expected), gained credibility… And so forth.

Somewhere around my 45th birthday (maybe I had a mid-life crisis) I recognized that “this” was not what I wanted. AT ALL.

Besides the fact I had been in a loveless marriage for far too many years… I had also come to recognize that being trapped in the maze with the other “rats” was not what I wanted long-term. I had no desire to compete with anyone or keep getting things bigger and better than previously obtained.

No need to belabor that part of my life other than to say that while working in my profession a constant complaint heard from others was that they were stuck and had no choices when it came to their work/careers. People felt trapped because of expectations, standard of living and debt.

They stayed in jobs that made them miserable because that job provided them with the income to live at a standard they were accustomed to, or wanted.

Mind you, no one chooses the path for you… you choose your own path and how long you stay on that path is completely up to you.

I have always believed that we have choices. We are not truly “stuck” or “trapped” except by our own expectations.

It is hard to change your lifestyle when you have become accustomed to something.

It comes down to this; how badly do you want “it”… Whatever “it” is.

What are your priorities?

I’m not going to say that transitioning to a lifestyle where I consume less has been easy.  What I make today as compared to what I made just a few short years ago is staggering. Like 100K LESS type staggering.  But guess what, that extra 100K didn’t make my life any more enjoyable.

Sure I could afford things that I can’t afford now but I wouldn’t trade my present circumstances for anything.  I DO NOT want to get back on that treadmill.

I am fortunate that I did not feel trapped.  I saw an issue and I made the changes I needed to in order to change my circumstances.  Mistakes have and will be made but it is all a learning process.

The photos presented in the article mentioned above really resonated with me.  Not that I want to be a hermit. I am just at a point in my life where I am ready to disengage a bit and focus more on what is important to me.

I finally found a person that I can share my life with. Someone with the same goals and dreams. Someone that equally shares the joys and trials of life.


For many years I put on my “happy face” and did what was expected of me… professionally and socially.  I was exhausted.  By nature, I am actually an introvert.  I gain energy from spending time alone and even more energy is gained when I am out in nature and being active.

Before we know it, Fred and I will be back in Alaska.  No doubt we will struggle to make ends meet and learn what we need to learn to survive in a very different mode than what we have been for the past few years.

We are actually enjoying it.  Planning our next moves, making sure we are gaining the skills we need and gathering the resources to make our dream come true.

This isn’t a passing fancy, this is the rest of our lives.  Fred has a huge responsibility to his family and his community. I am there to support him. That is what partners do.

This is what we are looking forward to. This picture was taken from very near where we will be living starting in 2016. We met initially in 2008 on this canoe and became acquainted again in 2010. Cube Cove – Admiralty Island, AK


I am longing for the day when we will be on our own – away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

The only part I am not looking forward to is being away from my mom. I really treasure the time that we have been having with her. It is a blessing for sure.

If you get a chance, take a look at the article and the photos. It is fascinating and the photos are quite stunning.

~ Molly


Another Day Another Dibble…

Today was another good day at school and in the greenhouse.

I’ll be the first to admit the irony of me being in a horticulture program… Me, who up until two weeks ago, hadn’t grown anything in YEARS!

I am learning a whole new vocabulary and thankfully I am learning this in a very safe and non-judgmental environment.

For instance, while there are many new words in my vocabulary, some have been more difficult than others. I asked without fear today what green manure was. No snickering now… I seriously thought it was waste produced by plant-eating animals… (or vegetarians).

Seriously, stop laughing!!! And for those of you who are where I was this morning, here is the definition:

green ma·nure
a fertilizer consisting of growing plants that are plowed back into the soil.

I love my instructor, actually I love both of them. They teach with compassion, respect and a ton of humor. They have made my learning process so much easier and a whole lot less intimidating. Thank You Don and Chris! 👏

Another new vocabulary word I have learned is Dibble. The first time I heard the word I had to chuckle a bit and I was actually afraid my classmates would think I was a total idiot… They didn’t.

gerund or present participle: dibbling
make (a hole) in soil with a dibble.
sow (a seed or plant) with a dibble.

late Middle English: apparently related to dib (also used in this sense in dialect).

A dibble is actually a tool. In class this term is used to mean “transplanting”, in reference to our seedlings.

Top: This weeks Plant ID specimens. Background: Dahlia seedlings awaiting transplanting (dibbling). Bottom: Seedling flat, temperature probe, 1st flat of dibbled seedlings, thirtyfive flats to go. 👀


If you look closely you will see that my seedlings have grown their second set of leaves… The cotyledon’s (see, another new vocabulary word) are the first set of leaves and then the new growth shows a serrated edge. Those are my Dahlia’s!!!

I will be “dibbling” all those seedlings into approximately 35 more flats on Thursday Crazy! I know!

Everything isn’t all roses though. When I got home from school I had to sit down and work at WORK, you know, that thing we have to do to pay the bills. Its going to be a busy few weeks but, I don’t mind. I like getting things done and feeling like I have accomplished something worthwhile.

You all have a great night. My head is finally hitting the pillow and I am fully expecting my electric blanket to get me all nice and toasty…

See you tomorrow!

~ Molly