The Propagator: Brienne Gluvna Arthur
There are gardeners who seem to be able to stick a pencil into the ground and grow an oak tree. Brienne Gluvna Arthur, 33, the propagator and grower for Camellia Forest Nursery in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, is one of those horticultural magicians. Each spring to fall, she takes cuttings from shrubs and trees, and within a year she has salable flowering plants in containers.
While studying landscape design at Purdue University, Arthur had an internship working at Montrose, one of America’s greatest private gardens, in Hillsborough, North Carolina. She realized that in addition to designing, she wanted to work with plants. She landed a job as production manager at Plant Delights nursery in Raleigh. “I had no idea so many plants existed,” she says.
Arthur’s other interest is food production. “I have always prioritized health and nutrition,” she says. “My mom was amused that I wouldn’t eat fast food as a child—somehow I knew it wasn’t worth eating.” This awareness of food systems has led her to grow her own organic vegetables since college.
Besides Camellia Forest, Arthur does design work through her business, Designing Solutions. “I wish I could redesign the suburbs with edibles! I would design a neighborhood using plants that have a purpose beyond just covering up house foundations,” she says. “So much can be done to utilize the suburban soil, sun, and irrigation systems.”
Arthur admits that propagating plants is her life’s great passion. “I have found nothing else to be as satisfying as seeing newly formed roots on a cutting. The real key to propagation is learning from your failures. If you don’t succeed in one season, try again,” she says. “Gardening is a hobby that hopefully will last a lifetime, because each season is different, year after year, and ‘hope springs eternal.’”
Photo: DL Anderson