Talking shop with Scott Bryan, director of horticulture at Dalhousie

Monday, July 18, 2011
Scott Bryan is the director of horticulture at Dalhousie Golf Club in Cape Girardeau. (Kristin Eberts)

Scott Bryan's goal is that golfers at Dalhousie Golf Club get a sense of nature and awe along with their 18 holes. For the past three years, it's been Bryan's job as director of horticulture to keep Dalhousie beautiful.

Q: How did you become interested in horticulture?

A: From a very young age, I had an interest in watching plants grow and develop. My parents recognized that interest, bought my first greenhouse and allowed me to use their yard as a sort of training facility. From then on, it was something I innately knew I had a talent for.

Q: What kind of education and training does your job require?

A: I have a bachelor's degree in my field, but just as valuable are the many years of experience I have in the green industry. The training I have acquired over the past 20 years in the areas of horticulture, agriculture, and landscape design have all given me the ability to be associated with a top notch facility such as Dalhousie. And, as in many professions, I continue to study new and emerging technologies, practices and resources.

Q: How did your career evolve to get you to where you are today?

A: Some great mentors taught me early on to work hard and find something in life you love to do and make a career out of it. By working in larger cities like St. Louis and smaller communities like Cape Girardeau, I have been involved in all types of diverse projects and interacted with a variety of clients. Naturally, there aren't many issues I have not seen or dealt with.

Q: Describe what a typical day in your job is like.

A: My team starts out early in the morning, 5 a.m. After assigning their daily duties, I typically have several checks to make across the property -- like pest issues, weeds and fungus, an occasional errant golf cart track or tending to the Dalhousie garden where I grow vegetables and herbs for the kitchen to use in their dishes. I also consult with several of the Dalhousie neighborhood homes relative to their plant material or soil conditions or landscape.

Q: What's the most challenging part of your job and what do you enjoy the most?

A: We constantly strive to make the property more aesthetically pleasing for our guests. Of course, each year brings new challenges due to atmospheric conditions, plant life cycle, the surrounding properties, etc. There are many challenges to maintain and enhance a property such as Dalhousie. When I first started in 2008, I had to learn the property in order to take the beautification of the campus to the next level. Luckily, our partnership with SWT Designs, the landscape architect, created a solid design already, helping to make my learning curve a smooth process. I most enjoy being part of the beautification of this property and providing guests with a sense of nature and awe when they come out to the club. Dalhousie was actually a national finalist in the Club House of the Year by Golf Inc. magazine, and it is great to contribute in helping the club achieve such honors and accolades.

Q: Do you have a favorite view at Dalhousie? Can you describe it?

A: We have a spring-fed creek running through part of the grounds, and every year it changes and grows to what it is today. This is one of the areas that is less formal and has no design. What is interesting is that every time a member goes to or from the course, they have to cross this creek, so it is a focal point for lots of activity. I have spent the last couple of years introducing new flower varieties and interesting color schemes. Playing with this garden and watching it grow is my favorite.

Q: What's your best advice to offer to people taking care of their own lawns and gardens?

A: Don't be afraid to try new things. Experiment and find plant material that beautifies your home in your own unique way. As a designer, I always advise my clients to have fun with their landscape and gardens, making the outside of your home part of your overall living experience. Another piece of advice is to find out what soil types you have, run a soil test or two and grow plants that favor that soil. It's the catalyst for success in any garden.

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