But not everyone calling themselves a gardening coach just sprang into action three weeks ago. The coach at GardenMentors.com was featured in the article, and the domain name TheGardenCoach.co.uk takes you to the site of a landscaper in England. There’s also GardenCoach.com,
and if you can find the coach’s name anywhere on that site, let me
know. All sorts of qualifications are revealed, however, including her
employment by DavesGarden.com (not surprisingly listed as her favorite
And since writing about coaching myself I’ve learned that Pam Penick
in Austin and Billy Goodnick in Santa Barbara do a bit of garden
coaching on the side. Billy calls these one-time consults a "brain
dump." Stuart Robinson in Australia – same deal.
So here’s something new on the coaching front: I’ve contacted
everyone I could find working as a gardening coach or mentor and
offered to list them on my site’s new Worldwide Directory of Gardening Coaches.
Not because I’m all that eager to give free web advertising to total
strangers but because I’d really like to see this coaching thing take
off. It’s SO NEEDED.
- Take the first-time homebuyers who’ve acquired a yard with
their new house and doesn’t know a weed from a keeper or anything at
all about taking care of all that alien green stuff out their back door.
- Take the vast majority of homeowners who have no idea how to prune their shrubs and small trees. Evidence of this is rampant.
- Take the actual case of a nongardener who ventured out to the local nursery, bought 50 or so assorted plants (and I do mean assorted), and called me two months later because he
had no idea where to plant them. Or how to plant them. Or how to water them (and it was now mid-summer, of course.)
Gardeners, how long did it take YOU to produce a garden you’re proud
of? It took years of actually gardening, right? We know that
gardening isn’t learned by reading or sitting in classrooms. We know
that HGTV is no help at all. We know that Master Gardener training
just scratches the surface, despite the misleading name. We know that
nurseries don’t offer much help, certainly not enough help for the
newbies who wake up one Saturday in June and decide to go buy
themselves a garden.
So experienced gardeners of the world, help them out! Offer
your services, create not just gardens but gardeners, and make some
extra money while you’re at it. YOU ARE DESPERATELY NEEDED. I’m not
kidding. Use Craig’s List. Get included on my Directory. If you’re
not sure your services are worth anything, start out cheap (I started
at $35 an hour) and raise your rates as you gain experience and
confidence. I think you’ll be surprised how valuable your guidance and
hands-on instruction really are to the clueless public.
And why aren’t nurseries offering these services, or at least
publicizing the availability of independent coaches to help turn
homeowners into regular customers? I’m going to go right over to Open Register,
the blog of the retail nursery industry, and suggest they do just
that. Nurseries are INTIMIDATING places for beginners. Imagine if
there were someone to lead them through the process of not just
choosing plants but going home with them to show these poor folks where
and how to plant them. Then tell them the part they’re always shocked
to hear – that they have to water the damn things or they’ll up and
die. After which, the customer returns to the nursery for their
guaranteed replacement plant, of course. (Man, that’s gotta gall
Now it’s time for the Answer. 1 and 2 are correct because the handful of garden coaches in the world were reported on, and the story created more of them. But how about number 3, pack journalism? For this gardening coach the Times
story has led to an upcoming feature on "CBS Sunday Morning" and a
story by the wire service Agence France-Presse, and I bet the other
coaches in the original story have experienced similar journalistic
pilings-on. And for a story like this it’s a good thing. (When covering people in power, not so much.)
So unless you’d be competing with me in the Washington, D.C. area, drop me a line and get listed – quick, before the next wave of garden-coaching publicity. Let’s ride this wave as far as it’ll take us. Email me.
Photo: Taken just this morning of Kirra Jarratt – an outstanding garden coachee – singing the praises of garden coaching to Agence France-Presse reporter Virginie Montet (who hired me to consult at her own garden tomorrow morning.) I’ll tell the story of Kirra’s garden soon. Hint: A gardener was born!Posted by Susan Harris on July 7, 2007 at 6:18 am, in the category Shut Up and Dig.