Get to Know Jessy

Jessy is the head horticulturist here at Painters Greenhouse

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While it would have been fitting to introduce you to Jessy last week - she was a forestry major, loves trees, and will also be here this fall to answer your tree & shrub questions - the truth is, what Jessy does for us here at Painters is so vast that it's hard to pick just one week in which to highlight her!

Jessy is the head horticulturist here at Painters Greenhouse and she brings an incredible bevy of wide-ranging knowledge to the job. Jessy has over fifteen years of experience in propagation and growing of everything from shrubs to aquatics, and spent several years working in landscape and garden design and installation. She is involved in planning our production timeline, overseeing the seeding program, and training many of our new staff in watering, plant care, and plant production. There is an art and a science to caring for plants in a greenhouse setting and she has both down pat. She is a pillar of our greenhouse family and we are so grateful for her steadfast dedication over the last decade.

Jessy grew up in Morganton and has always loved the woods and nature. As she got older she enjoyed discovering what the area had to offer, exploring the forests and hiking many of the wonderful trails nearby. When it came time for college Jessy knew she wanted to find a career working outside. She studied at Warren Wilson and later transferred to Western Carolina where she majored in forestry and worked in the greenhouse on campus. Through her on-campus job she learned seed sowing, landscape installation & maintenance, plant & floral arrangement for events, and was even given her own bed to design. After graduation, Jessy worked at Snow Creek Landscaping and more recently in the perennial gardens at Biltmore Estate.

Jessy had beautiful established gardens at her home she recently sold, and she looks forward to starting from scratch and designing landscapes at her new property. She loves English cottage gardens with a more natural feel. For her, this means lots of perennial flowers and grasses creating layers and texture. Grasses are a favorite for Jessy because they not only provide evolving textures, colors and sound, but also serve as homes to native insects, birds and mammals.

Jessy loves that she is constantly learning from and adapting to changes in her gardens. And yes, there are bumps along the way -even the head horticulturalist at a greenhouse can have a vole take out three perfectly placed trees. Luckily she knows to expect such challenges and doesn’t let them stop her. Landscapes continually evolve, so you have to be adaptable. As trees mature and things fill in you may have shade in new places and need to relocate or thin plants out to keep them happy. Jessy may not have pursued horticulture if not for her grandmother- she had beautiful gardens and shared her plants and passion with Jessy as she grew up.

Jessy’s other love is being on the water and she is trying to enjoy time out there this fall before it gets too cold. One of her favorite spots for canoeing is the Catawba River. She also loves Curtis Creek- it’s one of the prettiest places around, with consistently cool water. She also enjoys making fresh and dried flower arrangements - which you may remember from past sales, - bonfires, and live music.

As a lover of all things fall Jessy is looking forward to our fall sale (though she's more excited for corn mazes, haunted houses, and halloween). She planted a small pumpkin patch, and if you see any gourds or tiny pumpkins at the greenhouse they were most likely grown by her. When she's not at the greenhouse one of her favorite fall traditions is driving up number 9 with her husband and son- stopping at the stands along the way for veggies, at grandma's stand for boiled peanuts, going to a corn maze, visiting a pumpkin patch, and going apple picking. Sounds like the perfect fall day!

Here are some tips from Jessy:

  • It's important to know the bloom time of each plant and keep that in mind when you're planting. For instance, Autumn Joy Sedum provides great winter interest in your garden as do Brigadoon St. John's Wort and lenten roses (Hellebores). Winter Daphne and Pieris are great early bloomers as we enter spring.

  • Don’t get discouraged if you only have shady areas, because there are great shade plants that provide beautiful blooms and interest such as heuchera, lenten roses (hellebores), and hostas.

  • Don't cut everything down after the first frost. Jessy is a big proponent of leaving the seed head on to provide support for birds and other wildlife in winter. Many seed heads are also quite pretty such as those of Siberian Irises.

  • Jessy is not a fan of monoculture, but prefers a big mix of plants - this can help prevent deer, rabbits, or other pests from eating everything & also is much better for pollinators.

  • For direction in planning your garden Jessy’ recommends starting with an Allen Armitage book - he has many!