Questions, questions… and a few suggestions

One of the things I enjoy the most about working in my business, is the variety of folks that I get to meet.

Unlike my previous career, people come to my place of business or contact me for services because they want assistance or need guidance. They actually WANT to be there.

Just as you are knowledgeable in your field, I am knowledgeable in mine. I am not an expert and would never claim to be. I believe that we all have something to learn and that we learn best by sharing knowledge. NO ONE KNOWS EVERYTHING.

I live and breathe horticulture and landscape design. I am an observer of the natural cycles. I pay attention to the seasons and the cycles of life. Pests and diseases, environmental and cultural factors, seasonal variations… Everything that impacts the health and wellbeing of the plant material that I work with, and our environment.

I’ll be honest, I do not know everything and sometimes I forget (for a moment) what I have learned. Fortunately I know where to find the information I need and I have hands on experience doing what I do. I shock myself some days with just how much information I am able to retain and apply. It is a great feeling when I confer with a colleague with many more years of experience than me, to find that I am spot on with a diagnosis or suggestion. Or, when I learn new things based on that same number of years experience. Real learning takes experience and time, observation and application. Nature is funny that way, not everything is exactly like it is outlined in a text or reference book.

One reason I love working in the nursery environment is the amount of questions I get and the number of things I get to see. Issues or problems that I would not necessarily encounter in my own business.

What is this (plant, pest, flower, etc.)? What can I grow in my yard? Why did this plant die? Can you help me figure out what to plant here (shows me a picture)?

I love it when people come into the nursery to browse. I mean who wouldn’t want to just walk around and look at all of the pretty and interesting things… Hundreds of trees, shrubs, plants… It is like a candy store filled with sights, sounds, textures and smells.

Contact in 3…2…1

The usual response when I ask if I may help someone is “I’m just browsing” to which I respond – “Great! I won’t hover then. If you need anything I will be right over here…(watering, I am always watering)”

Then, almost immediately comes the “Well… Actually, I do have a question” or “I could use some help with…”, and then we start the process of determining what the person needs.

Just like when I seek out professional advice, I recognize that while I may have some knowledge of a topic, I trust the person that I am working with. Trusting that they know what they are doing and will guide me in the right direction. I trust that they will speak to me in a language that I will understand and treat me with respect even though I may not have any clue as to what they are talking about.

I also recognize that they cannot know everything about my particular situation or every detail about my lifestyle and habits. It is my responsibility to give them the information that they need in order to assist and guide me in the best way possible.

Teasing out the issues…

It is important to know what you are trying to accomplish. You have arrived at the nursery for a purpose. You have an idea in mind. Maybe you are an avid gardener and you know exactly what you are looking for. More likely, you are a home owner that has very little experience with landscaping and are looking to freshen things up or fill things in.

We are here for YOU! Whatever your level of experience, we will help you find what you need.

I ask a lot of questions. 

What is the exposure of the area you are working on? Full sun? Part sun? Shade?

How big of an area are you looking to fill?

What are you trying to accomplish (screen out your neighbor who walks around nude every morning, or keep your neighbor from seeing you walk around nude every morning)?

What type of plant material are you looking for? Tree, shrub, perennial, deciduous, evergreen?

It isn’t about selling you things you don’t need.

I am a horrible sales person. Seriously, I have talked people out of more things than I care to admit.

Sure, it would be awesome to sell you a whole bunch of things, but quite frankly I would rather see you more frequently because you know you can trust me to help you pick out just the thing you need.

Building relationships and having regular customers is important to me.

There is nothing more satisfying to me than going home at the end of the day knowing I have helped someone pick out the perfect plant material for their outdoor space.

The best thing you can do is stop by your local nursery and get to know your professional horticulturists. I am always referring people to resources that will help them with their landscaping questions and needs. I don’t have all of the answers, but I usually know where to find them.

There is no greater joy for me than seeing people happy and feeling like they have learned something.

~ Molly

Helping People Learn

I am a teacher at heart… I really enjoy helping people learn new things.

Actually, I enjoy helping people learn how to DO things. For themselves.

I believe this approach was something I learned from my dad. He never told us what to do. He always asked us “what do you think you should do?” and “what is the worst thing that could happen if you decide to do ‘that thing’?”

This approach fostered a curiosity and a level of confidence that has helped me accomplish many things. I was taught to think critically and formulate a number of scenarios that would help me figure out what to do in any given situation.

Have I made mistakes? Absolutely! Have I learned from my experiences? NO DOUBT!

When I am interested in a topic, I learn everything I can about it. Once I have a background knowledge in place, I work to apply that knowledge, usually through trial and error, so that I have a practical application and actual experience “doing” whatever it is I am trying to do.

I spent over 20 years in the healthcare industry. I had so many initials after my name with my various degrees, licensure and certifications that I needed two business cards to hold them all. My resume was 12 pages long and listed many accomplishments and awards… Yet I felt hollow. In the beginning it was exciting, I felt like I had a purpose. But, the industry changed and it came down to tasks and numbers and objectives that I could no longer buy into. I could literally feel the life being sucked out of me.

That knowledge and experience helped me start a new career as a college professor. Teaching all aspects of business administration. It was awesome seeing students develop their skills and to see them apply what they were learning. I did not see myself as the “all-knowing” professor imparting knowledge upon my students. I viewed myself as a partner and guide on their journey.

The main lesson I learned from those experiences is that I am not suited to the corporate life. It was depressing and oppressive. All of those things that were once important and critical for career advancement no longer matter to me.

I am creative and fluid and perform at a higher level when I am able to define my work and work space.

Now I am taking all of that experience and applying it to my new life, in horticulture. I am a sponge. Fortunately, everything that I am learning, I am able to apply every day in my position in the retail nursery and also with our business.

Going from management to worker bee has been the easiest transition I have ever made. Yes, I manage things in my own business, but I do not manage people…

People have asked why I still work for someone else when I have my own business. Quite frankly, I enjoy the connection to people whom I have been privileged to meet by working for someone else. It keeps me up to date with the industry and trends. I have other professionals to bounce ideas off of and none of us are threatened by each others skills and dreams.

We have been very busy with our business, Every Bit Handcrafted. So much so that we are actually booked up a few weeks to a month in advance. We are now getting referrals and repeat customers.

I am certain that if I devoted myself full-time to our business that it would grow enough to support us completely… I just don’t want to lose the connections and interactions that I have right now.

My next goal is to create and offer monthly “gardening tips” and to expand out the blog to answer landscaping and gardening questions via blog posts on specific topics. Those will be featured on the “In The Garden” section of the blog.

My hope is to engage our readers and to help you learn about horticulture and creating your outdoor space. Of course I will continue with my own lessons that I am learning with regard to permaculture and cooking, DIY, crafting and any other things that I find interesting.

The Blog continues to evolve and hopefully the new menu on the page will help you find what you are looking for.

Welcome! We hope you enjoy what we are working on… If you haven’t subscribed already, it would be great to have you do so…

Please visit our FaceBook page and follow us there too… Sharing with your friends would be awesome.

Thank you in advance for your time.

~Molly & Fred

It’s no secret…

We are very open about the fact that we are moving back to Alaska. The original plan was to leave by May of 2016. Not gonna happen. 😕

Things happen. Sometimes they happen and aren’t what you were planning. In my case, I lost my high paying job (which was a blessing) and took a detour to get a degree that will help me reach our long term goals.

My new career pays a whole lot less than my old career but it is much more satisfying.  It also tends to be seasonal in nature… So, me being me, I ramped up a business I started in 2014 and took a huge leap into being “official”. This is no longer a “craft/hobby” business, we are now a full blown, serious, professional services provider.

We are licensed, bonded and insured as general contractors. Good golly Miss Molly! What have I gotten myself into now?!

When I was meeting with the insurance broker he made the comment “you sure have your fingers in a lot of things”, my response was “gotta make sure I stay employed”. I’ve got bills to pay and a future to fund.

Here is what we are doing;

* Landscape design and maintenance

* Pruning and weeding services

* Plant material selection and placement/installation

* Container design and maintenance

* Client Education & Garden Coaching

* General contracting

Why are we moving to the village? Why are we changing our entire way of life?

Now more than ever I am feeling called to make a difference. To help with a long-term solution to an increasing problem facing our small villages in Alaska.

Why? This is why… Angoon, Kake and Tenekee face ferry shut down

Even if this is a short-term issue, I foresee that it will continue in various ways and force people away from their homes and culture. It will force people to live in the larger communities in order to meet their basic needs.

When a community is only accessible by boat or plane, not having access is a huge deal.

I get it that people make choices, and that living in remote communities means that a person will not have the same access to services as they would in a larger community. I totally get that. I lived in Juneau for 11 years. A very different way of life than living here in Seattle, or even in Anchorage.

Fred and I both believe that people should not have to move away from their homes in order to survive. The subsistence culture is alive and well in these places. We aim to expand on that in a way that will allow people to access additional resources in order to stay where they are.

Our native communities/villages are shrinking. Children are seeking life away from the villages and the elders are having to leave in order to seek or receive needed medical care. With that exodus, culture is fading away. Fortunately there are efforts to revitalize the language and the culture… But is that enough?



We will keep plugging away at our goals. We will get back to Alaska. We will achieve our dreams.

Here is another view of our future home –

We are stuck here for the foreseeable future, but not for forever. Where there is a will, there is a way… We have the will and we will find a way.

Angoon or bust!

~ Molly & Fred


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