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Meet the Blogger: Leslie Halleck

Did you know that we have a new member of our blogging team? We do. Allow me to introduce you to the smart and talented horticulturist/writer//Star Trek fan Leslie Halleck. Her first post will debut at noon today, but in the meantime, here’s a little Q & A that will help you get to know her a little better.

Where are you from? I’m an Army brat, so I’m not technically from anywhere specific. I was born in Washington D.C. but was moving around by the time I was 6 months old. I grew up in Germany, but I have also lived in New York State, Maryland and Michigan. As my father always said to me, “bloom where you’re planted.” Turned out to be the perfect mantra!

How did you get into horticulture? I always gardened from a young age with my mother and adopted grandmothers along the way. My adopted “Oma” next door at one of our homes in Germany spent most of her time in her large vegetable garden where I’d regularly help her. So I think the seed for a love of gardening was planted in me at a very early age. I started out as an art major and spent a couple of years in art school before shifting gears. When I was 19 I started working at an indie garden center and realized that my true calling was horticulture. I then changed my major to Biology/Botany at U.N.T and then went on to get my M.S. in Horticulture from Michigan State. I first planted roots in Dallas when I accepted a position  at The Dallas Arboretum to oversee research trials and collections.

What does your average work day look like? That’s an interesting question. With the varied jobs I’ve had over my career, my work days have changed dramatically.  What was an average work day for me in horticulture 20 + years ago is strikingly different to how I spend my days now.  I started out being outside in the rough of things all day every day; in plant research projects, landscaping and garden center retail, all of which I loved by the way. That transitioned into more research and more design work. Now, I spend most of my time writing, which I also love.  A little over a year ago, I left my position as G.M. for North Haven Gardens to run my own business full time. Now I work with green industry companies on their marketing and business strategy. An average work day for me now is spent writing a lot of horticultural content for my clients, be it blog content, advertising copy, PR or social media. I also handle website and re-branding projects for my clients so there are inevitably design projects to oversee or technical maintenance issues to address for them. I meet with clients to go over long-term strategy. I also write columns for industry and consumer publications as well as provide lectures at professional events and educational classes, so I’m often working on articles or presentations. I also try to keep up with my own gardening blog as best I can and offer gardening information at my website. In addition, I still provide technical horticultural consulting for landscaping and architectural firms, so sometimes I work on planting plans or visit job sites. My pre-work day starts with feeding the chickens, the chihuahuas, checking on the beehives and watering the garden, of course.

What is your least favorite plant?  I think I spelled that out for D Home a number of years ago in an interview…Poison Ivy! My hatred hasn’t waned. I always have one eyeball trained on spotting it. I’m so allergic, I might break out in a rash just looking at it.

What is your very favorite plant? Now, any horticulturist will tell you that’s a loaded question! How can we pick just one favorite? I’d say I go through phases of favorites. I’ve had major orchid, bonsai and carnivorous plant phases. I do love tiny succulents such as living stones, (Lithops sp.) So cute you just want to pinch them!

What’s your favorite television show? That depends on what shows are running at any given time. Now, if you want an all time favorite, I’d probably have to say Star Trek. Followed by Buffy. I’m a total sci-fi geek. I love Dr. Who. Battlestar Gallactica was my favorite show when I was 6 years old. But I’ve also seen every episode of Sex and the City at least 10 times. I mean, what life situation does that show not cover? Right now I’ll always catch Downton Abbey, Luther, and Sherlock. I will also admit that I love Restaurant Nightmares and Gordon Ramsay, especially the BBC version. I think I may need to cut back on TV…

Where is your favorite place to go in Dallas? Can’t say there is just one place in particular.  Of course I enjoy hitting all the indie garden centers and florists; I’m a plantaholic. I call it “garden center hopping.” I love watching the jellyfish at The Dallas Aquarium downtown. Texas Theatre in Oak Cliff  is great for seeing indie films. Times Ten Cellar in Lakewood is a great place to catch up with friends and colleagues. White Rock Lake is a great place to relax and walk andI take lots of plant photos at The Dallas Arboretum.