Michael is very distinctive and easily identified among master gardener members. He is invariably seen wearing his signature blue flat hat. It evokes images of Michael in a French Bordeaux vineyard, working the grapes and making wine. Asked about the story behind the hat he said, “His mother is English and as a kid the family visited England during the summers and those were the style hats he wore.” He also commented that his son in Canada wears the flat hat and this is a way to feel connected. In any event, it’s immediately recognizable and adds a bit of fun to Michael’s persona.
Pre-master gardener, Michael spent a career in the transportation industry. At one time he was the youngest certified railway engineer in the United States, but most of his career was in the aviation industry. Over the years he worked in sales, marketing and operations of British Caledonian, Sabrina Airlines, British Airways, Continental and a host of others. Michael found Singapore Airlines the most interesting because of mix of cultures. He was instrumental in setting up their Houston operations.
Michael’s family were farmers and early on he expected to continue the family business. Obviously, that didn’t work out, but it did create an interest in gardening that continues today. He started his master gardener program in 2012. His initial interest led him to work in the bog area. He was impressed with the teamwork and organization of the Bog team feeling that it was a good place for him. It helped that he had similar conditions around his home. Learning which plants like wet feet and which didn’t aided him when selecting plants for the house.
When asked his favorite plant he said he, “had to think about that a minute.” He finally said the Queen’s Tears, a member of the Bromeliad family was a favorite. Asked about his least favorite there was no hesitation – the Mother of Thousands wins hands down. Mother of Thousands is reminiscent of Audrey II in the Little Shop of Horrors. It not only looks like Audrey, but Michael said once you have it, it is almost impossible to get rid of.
Michael now works in the Greenhouse and is extremely proud that all the plants selected for the fall plant sale this year were propagated by master gardeners.