I received my certificate in horticulture from Merritt College. While there I found my natural love of plants and the outdoors transformed into knowledge and practical application. I loved that over the course of a few months the green masses of trees and plants suddenly had names. And having names to put to them, I found I was now looking closer at them and discovering aspects of form or color or anatomy I had long overlooked. My studies included plant terminology; arboriculture; tree, shrub, and herbaceous perennial ID, as well as California native plants and weed ID; plant diseases; plant nutrition; and landscape design, among others.
While there I began taking the Aesthetic Pruning lecture series, given by Michael Alliger. I was immediately taken with his talks and demonstrations. He would hold up a large Japanese Maple branch, taken from a recent pruning job, hold it upright like it was a singular tree and proceed to talk about what was good about it, what was bad about it, and what it would take to go about implementing your ideas. I found this work fit in perfectly with my previous education in sculpture. Concepts of form and balance and visual movement are central considerations in both fields of work.
I then spent two semesters in the hands-on Aesthetic Pruning program, taught by Bruce Thompson and assisted by Chris Ingram. It was there that I really learned to implement the ideas Michael had talked about (though I had already been practicing a lot on my own). These were enormously helpful, not only for learning through actually doing, but also because there was time spent discussing estimating the time it will take, how to effectively engage with clients, and the critiques when the class were over helped by both hearing others’ opinions on my work and learning about concepts through talking about them. This class was essential to me in learning not only the skills of Aesthetic Pruning, but how to build a successful business as well.