Garden Talent: Brienne Gluvna Arthur aka Brie Arthur

Posted by on January 7, 2014

Going forward…

These are the bright young minds going forward into the field of horticulture.


Meet Brienne Gluvna Arthur aka Brie Arthur. Brie, thanks for sharing with Gardening with Confidence! And thank you for all you do!


Please visit the Gardeners going forward category (on this blog) for other interviews of bright young minds.



Brie in prop house

Name:  Brienne Gluvna Arthur aka Brie Arthur

Age: 34

Occupation:  Grower and Propagator

Place of Employment:  Camellia Forest Nursery

Where you went to college:  Purdue University  West Lafayette, IN



What is your earliest garden memory?

I was enchanted with my grandparents garden in Pittsburgh, PA.  They had the tidiest landscape in the neighborhood and they grew all their own vegetables, like most people did 2 generations ago.  Kohlrabi was the edible that I recall loving the most, with a light dusting of salt on a hot summer day.

What made you decide to enter the field of horticulture?
have been thinking long and hard on this question, and have decided to answer truthfully.  Cannabis is what motivated me to study horticulture.  As a young, hopeful student I thought it would certainly be legal by the time I graduated (2002) and I could devote my career to producing high quality Cannabis, legally.  However, I quickly got distracted with ornamental horticulture and have never looked back.  I am grateful that Cannabis lead me to my passion of growing plants and hope one day there will be no negative stigma attached to this significant genus.

Growing up my summer chores included mowing several acres of bluegrass turf, sheering Taxus hedges, picking up pine cones and mulching the garden beds.  I always enjoyed my outdoor chores, and even recall turning down invitations to Cedar Point (a big amusement park) because I needed to catch up on “yard work.”  When I look back now I think it is a miracle that these laborious jobs inspired me to enter this industry, but truth be told I STILL enjoy each one of those “chores.”

Please tell me about your specific horticultural position?  

I have the best job in world! Camellia Forest is a small, retail mail-order nursery, and we each wear a lot of hats.  My responsibilities are wide ranging and include customer service, sales, web design, writing plant descriptions, propagating, growing, gathering orders for shipment and general every day maintenance like weeding, spraying and pruning.

Gathering cuttings is my favorite task!  As a producer of rare woody plant material in zone 7, I have an opportunity to grow many of the best plants in the world. Here we can grow many sub-tropicals that are marginally cold hardy as well as a wide range of cold loving plants.  I travel to gardens all over the southeast and collect cuttings of any woody plant that catches my eye.  I love spending time with the hardworking gardeners who tend these collections, and listen to their stories.  I get to share a piece of their effort with Camellia Forest customers.  This is my driving force, and is why I am really hard to track down in the spring!

How long have you been in the horticulture business?

WOW, 14 years already- good grief time goes by fast!  I credit my first internship as the start of my career.  I spent the summer of 1999 working at Heartland Growers, a large wholesale bedding annual production greenhouse outside of Indianapolis.  Every day that summer I felt like the luckiest person alive to spend my days surrounded by all of those plants! I was addicted immediately.

What is your personal garden style?  

Edible with as many rare trees and shrubs as I can squeeze in!  Growing edibles from seed is what I consider to be my hobby, and I love the opportunity to change the design, color scheme and purpose of each garden seasonally.  I grow the “bones” to use as stock plants for cuttings, so I plant them closer than any rational person would, with the intention of pruning them hard for production.

Tell me about your first plant love?  

I am sure there were plants that I “loved” prior to my introduction to Rohdea japonica, but when Nancy Goodwin introduced me to this drought tolerant, shade loving, deer “resistant” broad leaf evergreen back in 2000 I declared I was “in love”, and have been smitten with that genera ever since!  The historical significance of the ‘Sacred Lily’ is what makes it an everlasting love affair.

Who inspired you in your career and how?  

So very many people!  Every person that I meet in this business inspires me in some way.

Ken Druse changed my life last year when he wrote the Next Generation article for Organic Gardening.  Because of the positive feedback, I became ubber motivated to connect with other gen x/y gardeners.  The Facebook groups Green Women Unite and Emergent: A Group for Growing Professionals were started as a means to stay easily connected with like minded horticulturists.  I am thrilled they have been so well received and utilized.

I owe a huge debt of gratitude to all of the amazing people I have worked for.  My first boss, Jeff Mast, who took a chance on a crazy 20 year old hippie intern for the summer.  That internship solidified my decision that horticulture was my calling.  Nancy Goodwin, who taught me the art-form of gardening, encouraged me to propagate, and complimented my organizational skills.  Tony Avent, for showing me how endless the world of plants is and for introducing me to many of my favorite people in the world!  And, especially, Kai Mei and David Parks for welcoming me to Camellia Forest 4 years ago and allowing me to run with my horticultural passion.  It is a wonderful feeling to be part of a happy team and I adore my co-workers and Kubby!

What is your favorite garden setting?

There are an endless number of gardens that I am smitten with.   The Romantic Style of Magnolia Plantation is where my mind drifts when I think of a garden setting that puts me most at ease.  The planting style there seems effortless, with winding paths and secret gardens tucked into fragrant Osmanthus hedges.  It is a garden that doesn’t demand you investigate every single specimen, but rather walk through and simply enjoy the experience of being surrounded by historically significant plants.  This design style was an intentional reaction to the early industrial revolution.  The purpose was to create a place of wonder, enchantment and romance with nature through horticulture.

What is your favorite planting style?  

I have 2, and they are vastly different from one another!

In a sunny, residential, suburban landscape (like where I live) I prefer an edible landscape mixed with choice conifers and other woody ornamentals.  Edibles provide an opportunity to reinvent the landscape seasonally and have the added value of providing nutrition!  They are gorgeous and should be celebrated in the landscape! (not stuck in a corner of the back yard)  Additionally, growing edibles from seed is very inexpensive way to “decorate” the open areas in a garden and reduce the amount of mulch needed.

Of course, I would be remiss to not mention the classic woodland garden setting of central NC, after all, I do grow shade loving trees and shrubs for a living!  The high pine shade that covers much of this region is the perfect setting for classic southern heritage plants such as Camellia, Magnolia, Gardenia, Ilex, and Hydrangea.   Better yet, it suits thousands of other genera that aren’t so well known!

What advice can you give others considering entering the field of horticulture?

This is a big, diverse industry, embrace it and do not limit yourself to one specific category.

Be positive, even when the weather sucks!  (which it will because you work outside!) Take comfort that no matter what, you can always complain about the weather– you work in agriculture!

Learn some of the basic, and most important skills early in your career: plumbing and electrical!  Also, computer literacy, business management and marketing skills will only help you, no matter what your job is!

Be patient, and enjoy yourself.  It takes time and experience to identify what you desire in a job/ employer.  And, these goals will change over time.  Embrace the good and the bad; hope springs eternal.

Never discount the importance of diversity in your income.  This is a notoriously low paying industry, and sometimes you have to be creative to make ends meet.  Free lance garden consulting, writing, and speaking can help you earn extra money and broaden your skill set and network.

Owning your own nursery is not always the solution!  Seriously, think long and hard before you go out on your own.  Often collaboration with others is a more efficient way to reach your dreams.  (also you can still travel!)

If you could go anywhere to see gardens, where would that be?

I would like to tour historic Camellia gardens of southern Europe.  The climate is very desirable and suits Camellias perfectly.  Not to mention the thousands of historic varieties grown in Europe that are not in the US… yet!

If you could go with any one person, who would it be?  My sweet, loving husband, David Arthur, is a fabulous travelling companion!  Though he isn’t involved in horticulture as his career, he is a great sport when we go on cuttings trips and really seems to enjoy learning about the collections we gather from.  He proposed during a collecting trip to Magnolia Plantations and Gardens, while we were gathering from the Ancient Camellia collection. Hard to top that trip!

I am also really fortunate to have a kind, easy going, plant loving boss in David Parks.  Recently we travelled through-out the southeast and had a great time being plant nerds!  We both share an affinity for broad leaf evergreens and conifers.    He is one of the most knowledgeable plants-men that I know, and it is a delight to get to spend quality plant time with him.

What was your most valuable training?

My work experiences are the reason that I am a passionate plants-person.  I have worked in many different facets of this industry searching for my niche.  It is important to recognize that not every job is the right fit but you can learn more from those experiences than anything. (Identifying what you do not like is easier sometimes than understanding what you love)  I consider every single day to be a valuable opportunity to learn, and I embrace the knowledge that my goals and interest will change over time.

How can people contact you: mail, fb, LinkedIn, Twitter, website, etc.? 

FB Brienne Gluvna Arthur/ Camellia Forest Nursery.

Anything else you would like to share?

This year I am proud to announce that I have gotten more involved in fundraising for the JCRA.  My husband David and I are co-chairs for the annual Gala in the Garden.  We are looking forward to helping plan this major fundraiser and hope to help bridge the age gap and increase the number of younger attendees.

Additionally we are planning our annual Tomato Tasting party as a fundraiser for the children’s edible gardening program at the JCRA.   We hope to inspire more people take up the hobby of home gardening and connect with a local resource for plants, information and community.

Recently I was honored to be named the Social Media chair for the International Plant Propagators Society, Southern Region.   This is an outstanding opportunity for me to promote an important professional association.  I hope to increase attendance at the annual meetings and the number of new members through social media outreach.  In early 2014 I plan to launch an IPPS mentor program, connecting experienced professionals with members of Emergent.  Please let me know if you are interested in participating!


Helen Yoest, Gardening with Confidence ®

2 responses to “Garden Talent: Brienne Gluvna Arthur aka Brie Arthur”

  1. […] her one-acre suburban garden outside of Raleigh, N.C., Brie Arthur grows edibles like tomatoes, cucumbers and squash alongside woody ornamentals like beautyberry and […]

  2. Frank Allocca says:

    Brie, Loved your short visit to Janet’s garden.. Sadly your roommate was not with you, he and I could have shared Porsche stories

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