Photo courtesy Gabe Grothe
Gabe Grothe wakes up with the sun each morning and does some stretches. After brewing himself some coffee, he checks on Claire, his wife, and then his 6-month-old daughter, who sleeps in her nursery filled with flowers and plants hanging from the ceiling. He steps outside of his house, his yard housing some of his favorite plants, and hops into his vehicle, heading to Martinson's Garden Works, where he works as a landscape designer.
Grothe, 28, has always been interested in nature, spending most of his early years hunting, fishing and hiking. He knew he wanted to pursue a path that kept him close to nature so that he could share its wonders with those around him. He says he grew up helping his parents garden.
"I always had a green thumb," Grothe says. "I enjoy the outdoors."
What started as a summer job for a young Grothe turned into his life-long passion. Landscaping, Grothe says, is an art form that encompasses more than just mowing a yard and planting some shrubs. Landscaping is about knowing and understanding nature and helping others to get the most out of their yards. He meets with clients to talk about their needs, drafts designs and then implements them.
"Landscaping is just something I landed in, and it just so happens to be something I've done my whole life," Grothe says. "The lifestyle is great, and I enjoy working with my hands and working with people."
Grothe has not had much time to work on his own yard since the birth of his daughter, but he says his daughter comes first.
"(My Yard) has looked better," Grothe says. "I got a few weeds coming up, but my baby outweighs the weeds. I enjoy playing with her more than I enjoy pulling weeds."
He says he wants to raise his daughter to respect nature and teach her everything he knows about his craft.
"I just want her (his daughter) to respect the outdoors," Grothe says. "Our daughter's room has hanging baskets and all kinds of plants in there, so she is growing surrounded in plants."
Grothe, who graduated from Madison Central High School in 2009, originally went to college as a forestry: wildlife management major, but his life pivoted back toward landscaping when he took a semester off to work in Colorado at the Rocky Mountain National Park. When he returned from his trip, he changed his major to landscaping contract and management. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in the field from Mississippi State University in 2014.
"After that summer, I got out of that industry—or that mindset—and went into landscaping because you get more out of what you put into it," Grothe says.
Grothe says people spend too much time on their phones and not enough time in nature. He urged people to travel and spend time grounding themselves in nature because it is the best way for us to connect to others and the world we live in. Connection to nature is important to Grothe, and he says if you do not have a yard, you can still liven up your home with indoor plants. He believes a relationship with nature is essential for living.
"We need each other," Grothe says. "Plants need humans, and humans need plants. It's a symbiotic relationship."
Grothe says he loves being able to work with people to create the best yard they can for them, and he loves seeing the reactions people have when seeing their finished yards. He says that it just does not always click with people on paper, but once they see their yard finished, they almost always love it.
"(Landscaping is) kind of a service job, so you're creating things that your clients want," Grothe says. "A lot of times it is their dream to get their house down, so seeing that through is very satisfying. You're just helping make dreams come true."
For information on Martinson's Garden Works, visit martinsonms.com.