Spotlight on a Member: Meg Geary

Hi! My name is Meg, and I’m a passionate plant nerd. I’ve been involved in the horticultural industry for around 30 years. I’m currently working as a Landscape Designer, in my own business, MG Gardens, as well as doing some casual work back at Gills Nursery, after a 15-year break. So how did I get here? 

It started with a passion for wildflowers and the outdoors growing up in country Victoria. Later, I was keen on a career that could capitalise on my love of biology, art, and my love of the outdoors. This led me to the Horticultural Degree at VCAH Burnley.

There’s a lot to be said for a gap year. I ‘chose’ to take mine, mid degree. My enthusiasm for study had waned and it showed in my results, so I put my studies on hold, and headed on a road trip which took me to Alice Springs where I worked in a nursery for 18 months, taking every opportunity to get out in the amazing landscape, before finally returning to Melbourne to complete my degree with renewed passion. While my degree took about 7 years to complete, it was worth it.

I headed into the wide and exciting field of horticulture. I really wanted to be a Landscape Designer, but I lacked confidence and had no idea how and where to start, the industry being pretty much in its infancy, so I found myself working in various retail nurseries while I saved up to go backpacking through Europe. 

While travelling I tried to get to as many gardens as I could. The Lonely Planet wasn’t big on horticultural content, but I did get to as many botanical gardens and private gardens as I could. I even worked in a garden centre in Ireland for just over a year, where I developed a dislike for peat based potting mixes, honed my flower arranging skills, and planted up a number of those amazing hanging baskets which we just can’t re-create here in Australia. 

On returning to Melbourne, Irish fiancé in tow, I returned to working in retail nurseries. I’ve always loved sharing my passion and knowledge for plants, and helping people with their gardens. I decided to go back to learn AutoCAD, with a view to doing landscape design, either through a nursery or for myself. I loved being back in the classroom, so carried on completing Cert IV in Landscape Design at NMIT. 

Eventually the weekend hours of retail became harder after kids came along. I was fortunate enough to land a part time weekday job, sourcing plants for Paul Bangay. What an amazing experience to work on a number of his projects, some now immortalised in his various publications.

Meg sets up her MIFGS displayI was still studying landscape design, with two pre-school kids at home and working part time with Paul. Thank goodness for a supportive husband. To test the marriage further, in my final year at NMIT I submitted a design for the Flemings Student Design Competition at MIFGS, going on to win with my garden ‘Out of the Ashes’. This gave me a huge boost of confidence, and also some great contacts. Since then I’ve been involved in a number of show gardens, as well as judging both the Boutique Gardens and Achievable Gardens. Around this time I also became a member of Landscaping Victoria, as well AILDM (now Landscape Design Institute), where I was also on the board. 

Eventually I moved on from working with Paul, taking on a role with Ian Barker carrying out plant sourcing and planting design. However, my private work was starting to creep into my available time, so in 2016 I bit the bullet and went out on my own, starting MG Gardens, with no real plan.

Having my own business has been a blessing and a curse. I’ve loved the flexibility it’s offered, as well as the opportunity to help people create beautiful gardens. I’ve mostly loved it, but it’s also been challenging, and while I’ve had lots of work, I’ve not been financially successful. Post Covid, like many, I’ve been left feeling drained, and my mental health hasn’t been great. I have once again lost my passion. So, I went back to basics in 2023, finalising existing projects, limiting new ones, and consulting with Landscaping Victoria on a new course. I’ve gone back to the simplicity of working in a retail nursery while I try to find my mojo. And that’s OK. My horticultural journey is by no means over. It’s maybe time to pivot again. Watch this space!

Upcoming Events

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This