Women in Horticulture: Chloé Thomson

What drew you to horticulture originally?

Not wanting to work 100% of the time from a high rise office building in the CBD! 

What pathway did you take to get there?

When I left high school I actually went on to study a Bachelor of Agricultural Science – I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do in life, but I knew I didn’t want to be in an office 100% of the time! While studying Ag, I realised I loved the plant subjects most. I graduated and went on to work for several horticultural associations and businesses in sales/comms and marketing roles. I discovered I loved working with plants and people – particularly the communication and education side of things. Then I decided to go back and study my Grad Dip of Horticulture at Burnley.

What obstacles did you encounter along the way?

Number one would be that my careers councilor at school NEVER suggested studying horticulture when I was at high school…..even though looking back many of those “school career pathway tests suggested I work in outdoors/plantbased work!

Then when studying Ag Sci people would say to me “why do you want to be a farmer”? 

I was also the kid at school and Uni who was pretty terrified of doing drama classes or giving oral presentations in front of the class! But as I’ve discovered when you’re talking about something you’re passionate about – the nerves melt away and I really enjoy talking to large groups now. 

I did experience a bit of sexism & discrimination during some of my roles in my early 20s. One National Sales Manager told me that “we don’t normally hire girls your age coz they just get married and get pregnant”. Another boss declared his love for me when I announced after 10 months that I was resigning (basically because I felt something was weird…clearly I was right!). 

Who were your mentors?

Jane Edmanson has been a huge supporter of mine since I met her back in my mid 20s. She’s encouraged me along the way with stagepresenting and also on camerapresenting.

No one has specially been my mentor though, but I’ve certainly looked up to many women in the agriculture and horticulture industry and been inspired by what they do or their career pathways. Likewise, I find I follow a lot of non horti business women too because they often do things that I think “oooooh this would be great if I could apply it to plants or gardening” and this has been the way many ideas have been sparked for me. 

What are you working on at the moment?

Building my personal brand – Bean There Dug That and also growing my online gardening course Sprout School. But I also maintain a steady flow of work from a number of large horticultural businesses – I create video content for them or write copy for them. I’m also the MC for the main stage again at this years Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show at the end of March.

What does an average day consist of for you?

Working from my home studio office – mostly on the computer but on days when I need to create video content I get to play with plants or garden products in my garden! Working from home means that I take “garden breaks” regularly throughout the day to water my garden, harvest produce or just sit and enjoy the peace and quiet while drinking a cup of coffee. I call myself the horticulturist of many hats, because my days can be soooooo varied! But I LOVE it 🙂

What is your favourite plant?

Gotta be a yellow flowering Aussie native daisy! So I’ll pick Xerochrysum viscosum ‘Sticky Everlasting’ – it’s a hardy native, indigenous to my area. It’s got small papery yellow flowers and it’s as tough as old boots, flowering its socks off throughout spring & summer. I love it when planted with silverfoliaged plants and grasses for movement.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Still self-employed & subcontracting out to various businesses. I’d love to create even MORE video content and teach as many students as possible inside of Sprout School. I’m also loving writing for various horticultural businesses, including for the Good Organic Gardening magazine – it’s fun to write in different styles and tones.

What are your 3 most worthwhile tips that you can give to women who are starting out in the horticulture industry?

1. Plant & garden people are the nicest people!

2. A good gardener is always learning

3. Find your niche in the hort industry – there are SO many different roles and career pathways – find the one that makes you the happiest!


Chloé Thomson
Horticulturist, Presenter, Content Creator & Copywriter + Sprout School Founder
Bean There Dug That

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