Be the inspiration

Departments - Outlook

July 3, 2018

2018 marks our second year recognizing incredible industry leaders through our Horticultural Industry Leadership Awards (HILA), which has become one of my favorite projects of the year. After whittling down the nominees to six outstanding greenhouse and nursery growers, we sit down with the winners to learn how they rose to their leadership positions, and who inspired them along the way.

One of the commonalities among the greenhouse winners this year was having one or two mentors or a specific person who came into the HILA winners’ lives and motivated them to go into horticulture. And, interestingly, all three of these winners said that they had originally anticipated moving into a different field — fashion, photography or even professional golf. That is, until that person came along and helped them to realize that they belonged in horticulture.

It got me thinking about how much difference one person can make, whether they intend to or not, and how simply sharing a love of plants can impact someone’s life. Some of you may remember my column last July, when I was thrilled to have inspired my tenant to create her own little garden, and happy to support her new hobby. While I certainly am not claiming to be a mentor or of a similar caliber to the horticulture industry greats our HILA winners mentioned, I am excited to have been a part of what sparked her inner green thumb. She’ll be moving to her newly purchased home soon, and is already telling everyone that she’s going to have “the best-looking yard on the street.” I shared some annuals, perennials and shrubs to get her started, and she tends to them with great care as she prepares to move, even going out in the middle of a late-night storm to check on them.

Perhaps one day, she’ll have the same opportunity to share her love of plants with someone and inspire the next gardener in the neighborhood. All it takes is one person to make the difference.

And if you’re looking for some inspiration, don’t forget to read the profiles of our HILA winners at — I guarantee you won’t be able to read their stories without stopping to reminisce about your own path into horticulture.

Happy summer!

Karen E. Varga,

216-393-0290 | Twitter: @Karen_GIE