Career Exploration in horticulture and landscape design

Ken Lee lecture on Career Exploration of horticulture and landscape desingn Oct. 22. (Shirley Smith)

Shirley Smith

Assistant Professor of the Horticulture and Landscape Design Department Ken Lee conducted a seminar Oct. 22 for students interested in a career in horticulture or landscape design.

Lee explained how important horticulture is to landscape design. When the hardscape, lighting, water features, water systems and the design are completed, that’s the end of it, but plants and $50,000 trees can be expensive to replace.

“Plants are a living thing, so you have to have a good working knowledge of horticulture for that plant to last,” Lee said. “And you have to guarantee it for about six months after that.”

Many students had specific questions that were answered in the meeting.

 “I came to learn what’s out there in horticulture positions,” said Lisa Bolder, horticulture major. “I learned there were some specialty growers that I should focus on.”

Willis Berrios a 23-year-old agricultural and environmental plants major thought he might want to pass up the associate degree and go straight for a Bachelor of Science.

“My ultimate goal is to start a farm after college,” Billows said. “I want to grow organic food, hopefully for Whole Foods.”

Once thought of as a man’s field, landscape design has more females today, so Lee suggested not letting that determine whether to pursue a career in the area. If you have the passion for it, do it.

“I was a little hesitant that it was male dominated,” said Amanda Alexander, a 17-year-old who was undecided on her major until the seminar. “I’m really passionate about it and am going to take a horticulture class next semester.”

Upon completion of the degree, getting work was a great concern of many in attendance. 

Creativity and a portfolio are more important than the degree in landscape design projects available to you but, “In the design world, it is all about networking,” Lee said. “Don’t expect to get a project by advertising in the newspaper, you’ll never get it. It’s word of mouth. It’s who you know–so you have to make the extra effort.”

Lee points out to take advantage of internships because 80 percent get the job they apply for. There are four internships offered presently with three more coming soon. One will be in horticulture for the Irvine Ranch Outdoor Education Center for grades K-12.

This spring, Lee revealed, a new plan should be in place aimed at Veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). “It is scientifically proven that gardening is a great tool as therapy,” he said.

The department receives job offers periodically and will send them out by newsletter to all that sign up for the newsletter.

To sign up for the newsletter, email Ken Lee

Information on landscape design and horticulture:

Instructor Ken Lee, student Amanda Alexander in Career Exploration lecture (Shirley Smith)

Willis berrios wants to grow organic food. (Shirley Smith)

Lisa Bolder, horticulture major attends the horticulture and landscape design lecture last Tuesday (Shirley Smith)