Q&A with Stephanie Richardson, City of Midland horticulturist

Stephanie Richardson is a horticulturist with the City of Midland’s Parks and Recreation Department. She is responsible for the vibrant plantings in Downtown Midland at the Midland Area Farmers Market, at the entryways to Midland and throughout the city.

Richardson serves as an advisor to the Midland Blooms program, and you may have seen her crew maintaining the blooming marigolds along Eastman Road throughout the summer. We talked with Stephanie recently about her passions in planting foliage and why Midland is so great to design for.

Q: How long have you been a city horticulturist?

A: I started with the City of Midland on January 2nd of 2007, it’s my thirteenth growing season, which is how I count my time!

Q: What is your favorite part of the job?

A: My favorite part is the opportunity to beautify the community, and see my designs come alive and bloom throughout the city. The job is very unique, and not many people have the opportunity to enjoy a job like this, as many communities do not have the ability to keep a horticulturist on staff.

Q: Your designs have been complimented by many, what do you draw inspiration from?

A: I draw inspiration from so many things. It’s multifaceted. Obviously, I draw inspiration from nature itself and that comes out in the designs. I love looking at color combinations and ideas I get from travelling. I’m always mentally and visually experimenting with bold textures, patterns, and lots of color blocking like in the Ashman Circle. I couldn’t really say where it comes from, it’s just a gift that comes from within. It’s one of my favorite talents.

Q: Is there anything special you have been working on that you are really excited about?

A: One thing I’m proud of is that I try to be as organic as I can here in the City with our plantings. I started an organic fertilization program, and I can feel good about the fact that the seven acres of turf around the farmers market and Tridge is all organic. I also try to use native plants when possible. I try to build the soil in the healthiest and most natural ways, to minimize pest and disease issues.

Q: What makes Midland a unique landscape to design for?

A: I think what makes Midland so unique is that this is a community that cares about beautification. There’s an entire city of beautiful spaces spread throughout that are enjoyed, encouraged and supported by the community. Every entrance into our city is inviting and beautiful, and I think that is one of the factors that makes Midland unique.

Q: What specifically does the job of City Horticulturist entail?

A: The design of annual plantings in various areas like the parks and downtown, I advise and work with the Midland Blooms Committee, design and implement seasonal displays in the downtown area. I also maintaining existing landscaping, designing new projects, rehabbing older projects and revitalizing them, overseeing the grounds maintenance crew, project management, working on clearing invasive species from vital waterways, special projects, and much more! All things horticulture and design ultimately.

Q: What relaxes you after a hard day?

A: Honestly? I’m relaxed when I get a chance to tend to my own garden at home. That doesn’t always happen as much as I would like. I work hard at keeping Midland beautiful, and sometimes I need to step back and remember just how much I love taking care of my own spaces.

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Read more articles by Andrea Foster.

Andrea Foster is a writer for Catalyst Midland, and in her full time job an environmental educator for Little Forks Conservancy. She is a mother, a partner, an activist and a feminist. In her spare time she enjoys volunteering, kayaking, hiking, knitting, curling up on the couch with her cats and projects that benefit her community.