I grew up in rural Indiana where gardens consisted mostly of vegetables and the occasional peony plant. My childhood was spent on an 80-acre farm where we crop-farmed tomatoes for Red Gold Company (which manufactures tomato products, including pastes, sauces and salsas). My mother raised five children, managed our produce stand, and always had a sizeable vegetable garden.

The relatives who visited us had great things to say about our farm. Even though my Dad downplayed it, he secretly beamed with joy from those reviews. Me? Well, I hated it and couldn’t wait to get off the farm!

Back then, I didn’t really understand my parent’s passion and connection to the land, and I couldn’t see beyond the business side of farming. It was a working farm, after all, and didn’t lend itself to leisure. And at that point in my life, I didn’t recognize the possibility of creative expression and aesthetics as an outcome of horticulture in any shape or form. I was also living in an area with so much “sameness” and conservatism and like so many others before me, I was eager to see the world – I didn’t have the time or awareness to appreciate the bigger concepts of cultivation, growth, deterioration and renewal.

Fast forward 25 years, and like many people, life’s ups and downs – art school, the creation of a design firm, countless rungs up the corporate ladder ended by an unexpected (but ultimately welcomed) downsizing – left me yearning for my own connection to the land, and a new outlet for creative expression. Today, I live in Indianapolis, and even though my personal gardening is confined to an urban setting, I love it.

Gardening allows me to use all the parts of me, and opens my mind to possibilities. I’ve finally put all the pieces together, technical know-how, design, and my quest for discovery. I started out with a few containers, some hostas here and there and moved onto a two-acre project – rare by urban standards. For me, gardening’s greatest lesson is that nothing lasts forever. And the profoundness of accepting that has made me dig deeper into myself and ask important questions: Why am I here and what can I do to make things better?

Which brings me to this blog. If you’ve read this far, you most likely share my enthusiasm for gardening and horticulture-related topics. Maybe you are simply looking how to get started. Hortus|5 will be a forum for sharing and documenting my processes, inspirations and thoughts as a self-expressed gardener. Sharing is encouraged. Please feel free to leave a comment or, if you prefer, email me your thoughts. I would love to hear from you and how you garden.


Mario Mirelez is an Advanced Master Gardener as recognized by the Purdue Extension Master Gardener Program and is an active member of the American Boxwood Society, American Hosta Society, The Indianapolis Hosta Society and the Marion County Master Gardener Association.