Embarking on a new journey

praying mantis 2 09-06 The gardening bug bit me years ago, and ever since I’ve tried to absorb as much gardening-related knowledge as my brain can hold. Gardening helps channel my appreciation for painting from a pallet of beautiful colors. It fills my need to soak up outside air, sounds, and sun. It allows me to decorate my home with the freshest bouquets of blossoms, branches and leaves, and load my family’s plates with delicious, home-grown produce.

I buried my nose into as many gardening books and magazines as my limited budget and time could accommodate. During the three decades while my family, community, and job responsibilities grew, I taught myself how to grow annuals, perennials, vegetables, and herbs. I refurbished trees, shrubs, and gardens once horribly overgrown and neglected into a beautiful, family-friendly home landscape. I survived life-changing loss and welcomed life-altering joy. I became a Master Gardener, then an Advanced Master Gardener, and took other garden-related courses. I started new gardening challenges in a new un-landscaped home, and channeled energy into building and running a small garden consultation, coaching, and maintenance business. But none of these gardening efforts – though incredibly valuable and rewarding – quenched my thirst for more intensive and extensive landscape design training.front border 9-2009

Well, I’m not getting any younger – I’ve reached the now or never point. At this summer’s end, my husband and I launched the last of four off to college. This freed up some time but didn’t cut the distance to, or expense of, brick and mortar landscape design degree or certificate schools. So I took the plunge into a distance learning certificate program listed on the Association of Professional Landscape Designers website (thanks for the lead, Debbie).

Those of you rolling your eyes about now, thinking ‘Oh, great, she’s taking a distance learning course,’ might consider keeping an open mind. Distance learning fits the needs of those with talent and desire to learn, but not the advantage of location, finances, or time to attend the educational institutions that teach their particular area of interest. Yes, there are fly-by-night operations, but there are also less-than-desirable brick and mortar institutions. Many great talents in various fields of study had minimal formal education, but a deep hunger for learning that led to their success. At the same time in most fields, people with tons of education lack the common sense and drive they need to really shine.

I have a burning desire learn; I like to think I have some talent; and I know I will hold myself to a high standard. So I’m forging ahead. I upgraded my electronics and, in October, enrolled in the two-year, 25 module Anna Gresham Landscape Design School. I’m working my way through the computer aided drafting (CAD) instruction, and have completed the first two course modules (more on one of these later).

Follow my progress here as I work my aging brain through the technical aspects of computer aided design, and as I fulfill a long desired goal. If you like the idea of learning landscape design via a distance course, tell me why; if you despise it, share that too. It’s going to be a long, challenging journey; either way you’re welcome to come along for the ride.

27 comments for “Embarking on a new journey

  1. November 28, 2009 at 5:16 pm

    What a joy gardening is. And, your passion comes through – Congratulations on your plans – Gloria

  2. joenesgarden
    November 28, 2009 at 6:01 pm

    Thanks, Gloria.

  3. November 28, 2009 at 6:04 pm

    I applaud you for signing up for this course! It is never too late. I started a green B&B at 58.

    I loved the first paragraph of this post because it describes so well how I feel about my own garden.

  4. joenesgarden
    November 28, 2009 at 10:45 pm

    Thanks, Alexandra. I plan to look up your B&B on one of our Cape visits. I always feel as if I’ve come home once I cross the canal.

  5. November 29, 2009 at 2:09 am

    I love the way you have taken a passion and a mere hobby so much further – obviously gardening doesn’t just keep your body fit but also your mind. Well done on doing all these courses – the garden looks stunning for it!

  6. joenesgarden
    November 29, 2009 at 8:12 am

    Thank you, Ulrike.

  7. November 29, 2009 at 9:20 am

    I applaud your efforts! You sound like me, for I did all those things you list as well. I would be interest in this training, as I have great difficulty with the CAD still. Also, I don’t think I will ever know enough to satisfy myself. I need to learn.

    For the record, I am one of those who had a successful landscaping business for many years without the formal education. I fell into it, did a good job, and the business flourished, all by word of mouth. I never paid for one word of advertising, and I never went looking for a job.

    I still do design and consulting work. This course you are taking sounds like something I would really enjoy. I think I will look into it.

  8. joenesgarden
    November 29, 2009 at 9:49 am


    The course includes comprehensive CAD instruction – step-by-step lessons for those of us who need such training, and the suggested CAD program is sufficient for landscape design. It is not one my civil engineer son would use, though.

    Thanks to you and everyone else for the encouraging words.

  9. November 30, 2009 at 6:49 pm


    I’m looking forward to following along with your journey. It’s always so exciting to start a new path in life. I applaud how you’ve let your passion for gardening lead you to a new goal.

    Good luck.

  10. joenesgarden
    November 30, 2009 at 8:19 pm

    Thanks, Debbie. Right now my mind is spinning with end points and snaps.

  11. November 30, 2009 at 9:00 pm

    Joene, I really enjoyed your blog. Welcome to Blotanical! And I wish you the best with the landscaping school. The photo of the landscape with the lamb’s ear border is beautiful. You do have real talent. I look forward to reading your future posts.

  12. joenesgarden
    November 30, 2009 at 9:29 pm

    Thanks, Deborah. When it comes to lamb’s ear, sometimes the magic works and sometimes it doesn’t. For some reason this past summer’s magic was good.

  13. December 2, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    Gardening is such an amazing hobby. I discovered it several years ago, but have been neglecting it the past couple years for a variety of reasons. I’m inspired by your blog, not to mention your beautiful pictures, and look forward to reading more. Keep up the great work!

  14. joenesgarden
    December 2, 2009 at 4:58 pm

    Thanks Sarah. I’m glad you enjoy reading here and hope your’ stop back often while you get back into gardening.

  15. rainbowpetals
    April 8, 2010 at 2:08 am

    I came across your blog by chance lol. I was looking for a online course to study landscape design which lead me to anna griesham program. I have never been able to study design or gardening,what i have been able to do is to just play around in my own lil flower bed and to see what works and what does not. My question for you is this , how do you think the program would work for some with just a very little knowlege on plants and gardening in general. it is a program more suited for some with a strong base in landscape and gardening.
    thanks for your response

    • joenesgarden
      April 10, 2010 at 10:52 pm

      Anyone can learn anything as long they have an interest and strong desire to understand the ins and outs of the subject at hand. It certainly helps to have some knowledge of gardening and landscape design in general, but the course is very comprehensive. Hope this helps.

  16. Kristin
    November 26, 2010 at 10:58 am


    I came across your blog today as I was researching inspiration for my LAST module in the Anna Gresham School of Landscape design. It has been a long road to this last module. I have had to extend the program a year because of the birth of my third child, which set me back in my lessons. I was just wondering how you are getting along and your impressions of the program. It have felt a bit isolated in trying to complete this program online without support from fellow students or collegues.
    Best of luck to you!
    Columbus, OH

    • joenesgarden
      November 26, 2010 at 12:09 pm

      Hi Kristin,
      I’m not moving along as quickly as I had hoped, mostly because other obligations required my attention. I recently lightened my schedule a bit to allow more focus on the landscape design lessons. I think the program is informative and demanding, and I really enjoy working through the lessons. It is always somewhat isolating to take a distance course, it’s just the nature of the format.

      Congratulation on getting to your last module. I’d love to hear more … feel free to email me so we can compare notes.

  17. Tropix
    October 19, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    Aloha joenesgarden! I am at a point in my life also where I need a change — bored stiff with my job, but economy being what it is, can’t find another one. So I’m looking for alternative careers (at 62 yrs old?!) I love plants and have alway loved gardening, but never had a yard big enough to indulge my passion. Searching “landscaping careers” on Google, I came across the Anna Gresham course and am strongly considering enrolling. My second Google search was for comments from anybody who knows anything about the course – that’s how I found you. I would be very interested in following your progress as you go through the course.

    • joenesgarden
      October 21, 2011 at 1:49 pm

      Glad you found my posts and I’m happy to have you follow along with subsequent posts concerning the lessons. The course is quite comprehensive. Make sure you have the time to commit to the lessons.

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