“I’ve always been that kid who wanted to spend more time outside than inside,” said Meredith Gaines, one of our Senior Plant Experts. As a child, she was often found making mud pies, picking berries, or using plants to decorate.
“With nature, you can really explore your imagination. I was always in my own world.”
A lifelong nature enthusiast, Meredith began her career after graduating with a Bachelors in Biological Sciences and Horticulture. She spent 3 years working in both public and private gardens and private landscaping. Then in January of 2020, she joined the FastGrowingTrees.com team.
“Nature has always been my happy place, where I go to recharge my batteries and think,” Meredith said about what sparked her love for horticulture. “When I first started college, I wanted to be on the health side of biology but quickly realized that wasn't for me. Instead, I transferred my focus to the plant world and have been there since.”
From Cacti to Course Creation
During the first 3 years of her career, Meredith focused on sustainability, specialty collections, and historic plant specimens. She began working in a cactus garden and then made the jump to a formal English garden.
But after a while, she realized that working out in the field took its toll on her physical health. But she still wanted to keep her career plant-centric (while saving her knees!). And voila! She soon became one of the top horticulture experts of the company.
Her Creative Solution to Wayward Golf Balls
Meredith shared one of her favorite customer interactions:
“A woman had called in explaining that her patio is right next to her neighbor’s putting green. According to her, the neighbor needed more practice, and she was tired of having golf balls appear on her patio. We talked for a long while and settled on planting a dense hedge to fill in that area and act as a golf ball shield.”
More Than Just Customer Support
During her time on the customer support team, Meredith connected with customers beyond garden talk. During a support call around the Fourth of July, the customer paused mid-conversation to share something special with Meredith.
“Apparently, her neighborhood’s kids were parading down the street playing the Star Spangled Banner on their recorders,” Meredith explained. “She held out the phone so I could hear it.”
Another customer contacted Meredith to troubleshoot his Leyland Cypress Trees. To thank Meredith for her help, he asked if she likes horses. “I said, ‘Of course!’ and he sent me calendar-quality photos of these beautiful wild horses that ran through his property. It made my day.”
Becoming a Plant Educator
Eventually, Meredith switched to the content team, becoming the go-to expert for all things plants. Now she contributes to the Plant Resource Center’s educational content, including our 101 courses.
A Plant to Remember
If she had to pick a plant that everyone should know about, Meredith would say ferns.
“I could write a love letter to the fern family. For a plant that doesn't flower, it does a lot and is diverse when it comes to shapes and colors. Ferns were on the earth when the dinosaurs were! You can eat them. They provide greenery in- and outdoors that’s not just grass. They’re low maintenance, adaptable, and powerful air purifiers (NASA did a whole study on this).”
Meredith’s Pro Tip: “If you look outside on a chilly morning, some types of ferns will be flat to the ground. So, they basically work as natural thermostats if you want to know the outdoor temperature.”
There’s Always Something to Learn
Meredith’s favorite part of her job is discovering something new every day. Even with 1500+ varieties in our inventory and countless blog articles, we’ve barely scratched the surface of the plant world.
We know nature has a lot to offer. It drives our passion for providing quality plant education. And that’s why we love our experts like Meredith–they keep us growing strong.