Born and raised in Minnesota, I started gardening with my dad in his vegetable garden and tending to the hybrid tea roses with my mom. In high school, I had the opportunity to work with a couple of women who had their own landscape business. This was my first real taste of gardening and I found myself really enjoying getting up early and working in the dirt and smelly compost despite the long days and humid summers!

While a student at Vassar  College in Poughkeepsie, New York, I spent my summers in Roxbury , CT.  I worked for a garden designer who was a very colorful character. He had clients all over New England, and we frequently drove to New York City or western Massachusetts for work. This is where I paid my dues; I worked long hours for $45 a day.  Back then, what might have seemed inane or mind numbing was tolerable and even enjoyable  because I was outdoors, working with plants and learning a lot.

After college I moved to Boston and enrolled in various design programs at Radcliffe and Harvard in Cambridge; I gained design skills and was a sponge for botanical information. It was at this juncture that I realized I wanted to be a horticulturalist and a landscape designer — not a Landscape Architect– the main distinction being that I was happier working outside with plants, not in an office. I wanted to be designing gardens for homeowners, not planning plazas in urban settings.

I decided I needed to leave the city environment and find work in a garden setting. I moved to the US Virgin Islands and found a job on St. John working for a nurseryman / designer who ran a property maintenance company for residential  and rental properties on the island. I was given a lot of responsibility; I maintained beautiful properties, I learned about working with clients and I began doing designs. I gained a lot of practical gardening skills– I learned how to prune Bougainvilla so that it bloomed continuously, I grew Hibiscus from cuttings and I figured out how to work around massive Agave and not get poked by its many barbs and skewers!

Truly a gardeners paradise, St John offered tremendous learning opportunities to me and I had no shortage of fruits for my labor. Often, I would come home with a bunch of  bananas or an armful of papayas from a job site. Daily, I would be able to graze on genips, suck on tamarind pulp and slurp passion fruit all as I worked at these stunning gardens with breathtakingly beautiful views of the Caribbean. Sometimes I would find a watermelon or guavas, which were a real treat!

Alas, all good things must come to an end. After 2 years working in ‘Paradise’ I decided I was ready to get back to the ‘real world’  and do something with my life. I moved to Seattle. I continued my education in botany and business and got a job at a nursery in Bellevue.


I became very active with a non profit group called Plant Amnesty. I worked with many interesting, fun, talented and knowledgeable gardeners. Together we taught pruning workshops where we educated homeowners about the hazards of topping trees and how to properly renovate their landscape. I coordinated many successful  ‘Plant Rummage Sales’,  an annual fundraising event,  and served as Board President  for 3 years.

Around this time in 1994 I started Exteriorscapes, LLC width my friend Cameron Scott. We had met in the Caribbean and shared a passion for working with plants and designing landscapes with natural stone.

For six years we designed, built and maintained many beautiful residential gardens throughout the greater Seattle area, grew the company and had a lot of fun!

In 2000 I decided to move tod Bow in Skagit County and astart a family. I  had met a very talented arborist in Seattle and we decided we were ready to leave the ‘Big City’ and start a new life in a more rural setting in the Pacific Northwest.

I started a new design  and consulting business called Lowell Garden Design, (using my middle name, which I always liked and is a family name).  I work with local contractors to implement the designs and projects for my clients. I continue to design interesting and functional landscapes and enjoy empowering my clients by teaching them how to manage the plant material in their yard or Garden Coaching’ . I prefer to support local suppliers and growers whenever possible for my designs and projects.

I strive to provide creative yet practical solutions to my clients needs, whether it be a garden renovation or a new design for a critical slope (see photos of the  ‘Living Wall’ in the Gallery).  I regard myself as a horticultural enabler, in that I listen to clients needs and use my resources to support their lifestyle in the landscape.

As a professional gardening mom I have been led in new directions that have been an educational experience and interesting to explore. In particular, among other things, I have lately found myself engrossed in an exciting project at my children’s preschool in Skagit County. I have been developing their outdoor spaces to support the idea of Outdoor Classrooms. This concept is becoming very popular among educators around the globe and I was inspired locally by some very innovative and passionate individuals. Designing outdoor educational spaces for toddlers and preschoolers is quite different from designing outdoor spaces for adults in their homes, so I am learning quite a lot from  this journey with my kids.

In the twenty- plus years I have been gardening professionally, I have been fortunate to work with my hands,  to work outside with plants and rocks,  to work with wonderful kids and adults.  I have enjoyed every bit of it! I look forward to the next twenty years…