By Heather Collins
As a garden coach, Myrene Brown is on a mission to empower gardeners throughout Indiana with the tips and tools to plant a beautiful garden that evokes delight rather than dread.
“Gardens really should soothe rather than be one more chore in life, in my opinion,” she said.
Brown started her own business, Myrene’s Garden, in 1998 and works as a full-time garden coach, offering consultations and services that help homeowners learn how to properly plan, plant and maintain their own gardens. She specializes in rain gardens, native plants and wildlife habitats.
“It’s basically what people’s grandmother’s used to be with the kids, hands-on teaching them how to garden,” Brown said.
The Zionsville resident of 27 years said she got interested in gardening after the 1983 purchase of a home that contained extensive gardens.
Brown has a master’s degree in microbiology from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry and a bachelor’s in medical technology from State University of New York at Buffalo.
She said people with a science or artistic background are often drawn to gardening because it allows them to experiment with different variables and color patterns and analyze the results.
“Plants kind of lend themselves to people who have a curious mind,” Brown said.
Brown gained extensive knowledge about gardening through reading books, experimenting and becoming involved with the Boone County Master Gardeners.
Ellie Clapp hired Myrene’s Garden five years ago to transform and rejuvenate her new home’s landscape. Brown helped Clapp assess the existing gardens and plants, develop a plan for removing invasive plants and add native plants to the landscape. Brown and Clapp have met almost weekly during the growing season since 2012. Clapp said during a typical consultation with Brown, they weed and water together as Brown educates Clapp about plant care, pruning and attracting pollinators.
“I now know better how to prioritize needs and to care for the plants and gardens,” Clapp said. “I’ve learned to recall Myrene’s wisdom even on days I’m gardening alone.”
During their first consultation of this year, Clapp and Brown assessed winter damage, new spring growth and planted a native pussy willow.
“We’ve made plans for more, but only if the first thrives,” Clapp said. “That’s a lesson from Myrene.”
“Plants teach you how to garden. If they flourish, you know you did it right. If they die, you know you have to go back to the drawing board,” Brown said.
Myrene’s Garden services include assistance with garden design, on-site education, consulting and lectures. During consultations, Brown provides tips on creating a garden that aligns with clients’ outdoor lifestyles, pruning lessons and tips to enhance gardening speed. Brown has presented lectures on Indiana wildflowers, rain gardens, native plants and more.
Brown’s goal as a garden coach is to help people have joy and peace of mind when they look upon their gardens and to provide clients with the education and tools they need to make their garden thrive.
“To me, gardens should be your pleasure in life,” she said.
Each year, Brown takes on a new focus. This year, she’s highlighting plants for pollinators, and she’s encouraging gardeners to use native plants to provide the right sources of food for pollinators.
Brown said a benefit of using native plants is knowing that they have adapted to the local weather conditions and soil type.
“If you pay attention to what grows naturally here in Indiana, there are a lot of really beautiful plants,” Brown said.
She said if you see a plant growing somewhere where no one is tending it, such as in an old cemetery, it’s likely a good bet for a low-maintenance plant, so long as it looks good.
Brown recommends Woody Warehouse Nursery in Lizton as a place to purchase native plants. She also recommends visiting nativeplantsunlimited.com or inpaws.org to discover and purchase native plants.
For information, visit myrenesgarden.com.
Zionsville: A pollination station
Myrene Brown obtained her certification as a Habitat Steward from the National Wildlife Federation in 2000. She is a member of the six-person HABITAT C.P.R. team that set a goal of obtaining a community wildlife habitat certification for the Town of Zionsville through the National Wildlife Federation, which the town obtained in 2000. Brown said the certification means there’s enough people in the Zionsville community who have committed to trying to garden in a manner that supports pollinators and wildlife.
“You can be part of the solution of making sure the plants are there for the pollinators,” she said.