A New Season
In July 2022, Horticulture Manager, Jo Phillips, retired after 28 continuous years of employment. Following a long, hard search and interviews of several very promising candidates, we are pleased to introduce to you our new Horticulture Manager, JoHannah Biang.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I was born in Missouri and grew up there until the age of 8, when my parents decided to move to Georgia. We lived in Meansville, GA, and then I moved to Athens for college and lived there for the past 15 years. I have a dog named Rowdy who is 9 years old and getting grumpier by the day.
What is your gardening experience?
I’ve been an amateur gardener my whole life. I worked several years as the manager of a garden center called Mill Pond Gardens. This is where my love of horticulture expanded beyond the personal application in my backyard. I loved educating our customers on plants for their yards and hearing all about how their gardens were growing.
When I came to the University of Georgia for school, I worked in a plant propagation lab and then later found myself working and evaluating plants in the Trial Gardens at UGA. I loved seeing all the newest annuals and perennials, growing them out in the greenhouse, and then later planting and evaluating them for our climate in the Southeast. I also completed a horticulture internship at Callaway Gardens where I worked on the trails, in the Sibley and butterfly center, the vegetable garden, and even propagating native azaleas. During my master’s degree, I reconnected with my passion for growing food and later went on to manage UGArden, UGA’s student community farm where we teach students how to grow their own food using organic practices on a 9 acre farm. Much of this food is then donated back to the community for food insecure individuals and families. I have been the farm manager there for 11 years.
So, my gardening experience is expansive, and ranges from ornamentals, to vegetables, to fruits, medicinal herbs, and even mushroom cultivation.
How did you get interested Horticulture?
From a young age, I have enjoyed gardening with my grandmothers. They instilled in me a deep appreciation for plants and the outdoors. I also had a vegetable garden growing up where I would spend the majority of my time. It wasn’t until I was in high school that I realized that horticulture could be a viable career path. I didn’t even know what that word meant at the time, but when I realized that it would entail the study and cultivation of plants, I knew it was the career path for me.
There are too many to even mention. My favorite perennial is probably Echinacea (coneflower). My favorite vegetable is a homegrown tomato or carrot.
My favorite season in the garden is spring, when the grass turns green again and the leaves start to emerge.
What do you like to do in your down time?
Right now, I’m finishing my PhD at the University of Georgia, so it is taking up a lot of my down time. Otherwise, I love to fish (freshwater, saltwater, spinning rod, or fly fishing), I knit, I sew, I’ve dabbled in pottery, I love to hike and take Rowdy for long walks, I love going to coffee with friends, and I’m very involved with my church family and my immediate family.
What are you most looking forward to about this job?
I’m looking forward to reconnecting with ornamentals and joining such a devoted and talented horticulture team. I’m also looking forward to ways that I can slip vegetables into any areas that will be allowed and for engaging and connecting people of all ages and backgrounds with the estate.
Please join us in welcoming JoHannah, as she ushers in the newest season at Hills & Dales Estate! –HM & JB