1.Introduce yourself. What is your name, school, major, and plans for after graduation?

My name is Olivia Smith, and I am currently a senior at Grand Valley State University studying Natural Resources Management. This spring, I will be graduating and moving to Pennsylvania to pursue a summer internship with Longwood Gardens. I will be working with horticulturists and other students each week on outdoor display gardening. After that, I would love to pursue a career in horticulture at a public garden or public historical estate. 

2.What draws you to Japanese Gardens and horticulture?

I am drawn to horticulture because it does not feel like a job to me. I feel that I fit naturally within the environment; my interests intrinsically align with the structure of my work. It fits very well with the lifestyle I want which is being active, outdoors, and in a non-stressful work environment. Japanese gardening has brought more awareness and intention to the way I think and work in the garden. The overall aesthetic of a Japanese garden feels very meditative and free flowing. My favorite thing about Japanese gardening is how everything is so intentional and meticulous, and nothing ever feels rushed. 

3.What is your experience working or studying Japanese Gardens?

I have been working at Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park for the past two years. The Japanese Garden here is a beautiful, creative, and inspiring place. I will always be fond of it because that is where I learned everything I know about Japanese gardening thus far. I am extremely appreciative of the gardeners that have taken me under their wings and have helped me cultivate a love and appreciation for the fine art of Japanese gardening. They also helped me understand the more spiritual and deeper aspects of the garden and the history behind the techniques that are used. I still have so much to learn and I am excited to experience other Japanese gardens around the country and throughout the world. 

4. Do you have aspirations to engage with Japanese gardens in any capacity professionally? 

I will most definitely keep learning about and engage with Japanese gardens throughout my career in horticulture. I am keeping myself very open to the idea of someday becoming a Japanese gardener, but I still have so many things to experience and learn about. I would be so happy to end up in a Japanese garden, but for now, I am just seeing where the wind takes me!