Be Inspired | Do Good:
Heather O’Bryan – The Fanatical Botanical, That Garden Girl, Executive Director of RCGA, and a previous roller derby girl, says, “I grew up in the country right by the Dixie Caverns exit off I-81 during the carefree decades of the 70’s and 80’s. My brother and I roamed the countryside, playing with neighbors and our parents not caring where we were as long as we were home for supper. My parents were hippies that found their way in life by way of entrepreneurship. They owned a wallpaper installation company which lasted until just last year, when they both retired.”
Their entrepreneurial spirit and love of gardening caught on with Heather too. She said, that just a couple of weeks ago, while eating with her parents, they got to eat last year’s green bean crop perfectly preserved by her momma. Growing and eating from “the garden” continues to play a vital role in Heather’s life to this day.
Heather, tells us, that without a doubt, that what her parents what my parents taught her as a kid, eventually shaped her as an adult. Becoming a horticulturist brings her personal and professional satisfaction. She consults with clients on their vegetable gardens and landscapes. Helping them with what to plant and where and is especially helpful to the do-it-yourselfer.
On top of those individual clients, Heather is also a freelance garden writer (Roanoke Times and other publications) and is now the Executive Director of the Roanoke Community Garden Association as their program director.
When asked about a recent “WOW moment” – you know those moments where you are are really making a difference in other’s lives. Heather said, “Working with RCGA is what gives me those “wow” moments. I am actually helping people learn to grow food. Some of these people have no idea what to do. Some people think once you pick a tomato, the whole plant is pulled up. Others can’t tell the difference between a weed and what they planted by seed. Many of our families gardening for the first time live 100-300% below the poverty line. I am helping them SURVIVE. It is an amazing feeling to go visit one of our 6 gardens and see someone, who had no idea how to grow a thing, and see their plot flourish and be packed with vegetables. You just know you’re really making a difference in the community and re-teaching them something our ancestors did really well.”
Heather says to temper your expectations when you plant a vegetable garden and to understand they are always a learning experience. Ultimately, Vegetable Gardens need 4 basic things: 1) Soil, 2) Sun, 3) Water, and 4) Air.
The correct steps of planning and then starting your garden begins with a soil test. While you are waiting on your soil test results, “map” the sun in your yard to determine the spot that will provide sufficient sun for your veggies. Next, make sure your garden plot is near a water source. And, lastly, and often overlooked, is make sure your garden has plenty of air above and within the soil. A nice fluffy soil has air pockets that will let roots spread and anchor themselves to make the plant healthier.
More From That Garden Girl website:
Heather is a dedicated horticulturist with a plethora of experience. Growing up with an extreme gardener of a Father, she helped tend 3 giant veggie gardens every Summer. That garden filled childhood cultivated a love of plants and vegetables that is still fresh with her today.
After graduating summa cum laude from the VWCC horticulture program in 2013, she went on to work at nurseries for several years, gaining more knowledge and love of the landscape feild, with concentration in plant knowledge,ornamentals in particular.
In 2015 she began writing for The Roanoke Times as the Fanatical Botanical, garden columnist and blogger. This combined two of Heather’s passions, gardening and writing.
Just recently Heather began working for the Roanoke Community Garden Association. She will be helping residents all over Roanoke in growing their own food.
All of this experience adds up to a consultant with well rounded knowledge. Contact Heather today for a landscape or vegetable garden consultation today!
What happens during a Consultation?
During a consultation you will walk the property with Heather and discuss problem areas in the landscape. Whether it be a shady area that needs new plant suggestions, a foundation that needs new pizazz, or even guidance on amendments to feed existing plants, all issues can be discussed.
Vegetable garden consultations include finding the correct spot for a garden, recommendations on the best way to garden for your situation, and planting suggestions.
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