What is Garden Mentoring?
In a nut shell, it is advice and training that helps individuals make the best decisions regarding plant choice, landscape modification (including hardscape) and cultivation technique — helping the mentee understand what they should and should not consider doing; make more informed decisions (i.e., save money and time while learning a skill set). Ideally it involves a visit to the specific location, since every property is different, to assess contour (drainage), available light, blocking needs, soil structure and pH, condition of existing vegetation, et cetera. The mentoring starts with the mentee making and sharing a short (one side of one sheet of paper) pre-assessment overview (e.g., likes, dislikes, goals, priorities, etc.) — there is no charge for this. The onsite assessment will take 1-2 hours with advice given on what should be considered, especially regarding extraction and what to avoid. However, the decision about what to do will rest with the property owner since they will be paying the mortgage, property taxes, as well as for the work and the materials, and will be the ones living with the outcome. The mentees will be advised that having a great yard/garden is a process and NOT an event and that it is about the requirements of the plants. If the plant(s) cannot survive or will get too big or require special treatment (high maintenance), then you could be wasting your money and time. Emphasis will be placed on the 4 Ps: plan, preparation, purpose and prioritization, as well as playing the cards you were dealt (i.e., being objective and realistic.) Advice may include, but is not limited to ornamentals, layout/design, vegetables gardening, fruits and berries, composting, pruning, plant identification, weeding, soil preparation, invasive species, et cetera.
Everyone should have an assessment BEFORE buying a property or undertaking additions/changes to their landscape — money well spent.
As regards the mentoring or assessment, there will NOT be a contract. It is pay as you go with the fee project specific and expected at time of service. There is a base hourly rate depending on travel time/distance. The Mad Botanist WILL NOT be available to do the work he recommends (too busy with his own property and at Soules Garden as well as publishing and marketing books) but will provide advice on how to proceed. Nor does he make pretty elaborate drawings of potential layouts — frankly, he finds them largely to be a waste of money, and they can be pricey.
The goal is to provide the mentees access to advice that will help them make their property more beautiful, useful and safe, utilizing habitat appropriate species and environmentally sustainable practices. Mentees are strongly advised to obtain, read and frequently consult Rantings of a Mad Botanist: A Comprehensive Guide to Gardening and Land Use Practices Emphasizing Central Indiana (McKnight, 2016).