Meet Renaissance Man & Garden Manager, Joe Horton
While we may still be trudging through the torrid dog days of Texas summer, autumn really is just around the blazing bend. September is the best time to begin seasonal planting and this month’s employee spotlight features an educational conversation with our extremely well-versed, multidisciplinary Renaissance man and Garden Manager, Joe Horton.
Bonick Landscaping owes its success to the commitment, creativity, and expertise of our employees. Our staff is our largest asset and our biggest differentiator, and we love taking the time to showcase them.
Interview by Tammy Vanderkolk
Hello, Joe. Thanks for taking the time to chat with us. First, could you please describe your role at Bonick Landscaping?
Sure! My day begins with proper maintenance management, which is of the utmost importance. The outdoor environments we maintain are complex living systems; they require specialized care and attention. To ensure my role happens consistently, it takes a dedicated Garden Manager to administer these programs, while empowering and meeting the crew-led team, to share in the decision-making and stewardship of our clients’ gardens.
That’s a very eloquent way of explaining it. Can you tell us what a typical day looks like in your world?
Above all else, I embrace the highest horticultural standards—I keep my clients, administrative staff, and crews versed as to what is being done and why. I also score my work through various programs here at Bonick, including plant health, water management, insect and disease protection, pruning, fertilization, and replacement planting when necessary. In conjunction with coordinating seasonal color planning, enhancement proposals, and framework priorities for the workday, I exercise latitude for independent creative judgment on how to structure garden services and operations.
Speaking of seasonal color planning, do you have any recommendations for clients for fall?
Nothing has a more immediate impact on the mood of a garden than color. It’s up to the client’s taste, and the architecture of the home, but one must have a color scheme and a harmonized look that unifies the design. I try to educate my clients so they understand why and how I arrive at the determination for their particular garden. I’d recommend selecting from a quiet color palette for the fall and winter months.
What important factors do you feel help you to best meet your client’s needs?
The ability to interpret client needs is a necessary skill; It is particularly important as you are pitching clients and meeting their expectations with garden solutions. You can’t assume their needs or you’ll be missing the mark. If you don’t understand their needs, you jeopardize closing the deal to bring them on as a client. Know their business, listen, ask questions, bring ideas, and continue to circle back.
Listening definitely goes a long way in your role! So, Glenn tells me (and I surmised from your answers so far) that you have quite an extensive background prior to coming to work for Bonick Landscaping—could you please elaborate on that?
I have studied at various colleges and universities in Interior Design, Environmental Planning & Design, and Community and Regional Planning, and I have postsecondary training in Horticulture Science. My pre-professional landscape and interior design-based internships, respectively with Montague, Russell Page, Morgan Wheelock, Leta Austin Foster, and Mark Hampton have broadened my global perspectives to a multitude of architectural design disciplines.
Wow! I can imagine! Your well-rounded expertise sounds like quite an asset to the Bonick team. What inspired your passion for landscaping/plants?
Most seek meaning in life and want to make the world a better place. I like to think I am a tastemaker—a curator of beauty, and I like to believe I make a difference in a subtle way. It is all about the passion, the experience, the inspiration, the peace, the hope, and creating a sense of wonder. With that, then I feel I have fulfilled my purpose.
I love that! Do you have any favorite plants or trees?
My favorite trees are the Texas Heritage Live Oak and the Humboldt County Redwood Sequoia—one of the most massive tree species on Earth.
Beautiful! So, what is the most rewarding part of your job?
The best reward at work is to see your co-workers eager to learn and do whatever it takes to ignite the best performance from the team; that ultimately sets them up for the championship run!
I’d imagine that team building is crucial in your world. Tell us more about yourself— What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
I am so humbled to be featured in the spotlight at Bonick. When not at work, as a plantsman, a self-taught garden designer, and an entrepreneur, the quality of my thinking was constantly on the move between homes, jobs, and states, and invariably, I worked on my own. I have interests, in event management, black and white photography, and fly fishing in the New Mexico, Colorado, and Wyoming rivers. My travel destinations continue to explore public and private gardens while collecting contemporary art and antique garden books.
One could say you’re quite the renaissance man, Joe! What do you like best about working at Bonick?
The best thing about Bonick is having a little bit of everything—the latitude of independent creative judgments, the ability to try new ideas, bringing my enhancements to completion, and owning what I do. I love working with and meeting so many new people. There is something different every day: New challenges, new job sites, the opportunity to be creative, and do things outside the box. I also like the reporting structure—I have great bosses and a great team; it makes all the craziness worth it!
Well, Bonick is very blessed to have you, Joe! Thanks so much for your time.
Tammy, thank you for the opportunity to spotlight me at Bonick!
You might also enjoy: