By Melissa O’Brien
Mia Mengucci is a self-taught horticulturist who has dedicated four decades to the field. Mia provides valuable insights into the industry with a background that spans various areas of horticulture, including greenhouse work, landscape management, and volunteer work at the PHS Philadelphia Flower Show. Her passion for plants and commitment to sharing knowledge with fellow horticulturists is contagious. Join us as we delve into Mia’s journey, her experiences as a woman in horticulture, and the significance of mentorship and giving back.
Mia’s love for horticulture began early in life, working in a greenhouse during her teenage years. From there, she climbed the ranks and eventually became a supervisor. Although she aspired to pursue a formal education in horticulture, circumstances prevented her from completing college. Undeterred, Mia embarked on a career that would span various sectors of the industry.
Over the years, Mia has worked at garden centers, country clubs, and PHS Meadowbrook Farm, gaining expertise in annuals, perennials, trees, shrubs, and more. She is currently a Horticulturist at the Union League Liberty Hill. She is currently a Horticulturist at the Union League Liberty Hill. Her broad spectrum of knowledge encompasses everything from fungicides to irrigation systems, and beautiful greenery in between. Despite not considering herself an expert in any one area, she embodies the spirit of a lifelong learner, always open to new approaches and techniques.
“Mia is a Renaissance woman in horticulture -- she's able to do everything,” says Mia’s wife of nearly five years and partner of 27 years, Holly. “She's not just a Jack of all trades, but she's also a master.”
Mia emphasizes the significance of mentorship in her career. She fondly recalls her first boss, Frank Cierech, who instilled in her the values of hard work, accountability, and equal opportunity. Another influential mentor, Cynthia Best, showed Mia the intricacies of detailed work and the artistry of horticultural design. Mia cherishes the relationships built with fellow horticulturists, especially women, with whom she regularly visits gardens, arboretums, and botanical gardens, nurturing a sense of community.
While her work often involves solitude, Mia appreciates opportunities to connect with fellow horticulturists. She mentions the local Women in Horticulture group, where professionals from various backgrounds share their projects and approaches. Such interactions offer valuable insights and a chance to share experiences and knowledge, fostering a sense of camaraderie in a predominantly male-dominated profession.
The Flower Show holds a special place in Mia’s heart, having volunteered with PHS for over 20 years. She says, “The Flower Show is our 'Plant Olympics.' It's basically a family gathering where you get to connect with like-minded people who you may only get to see once a year. I always love the Flower Show for that reason, plus it gets me all jazzed up for the spring season.” Mia highlights the remarkable effort required to organize such a grand event, and she laments the need for more young people to get involved and carry the torch into the future.
When she’s not busy working long days at the country club, Mia still finds time to give back to her community as one of the founders of Mt. Airy’s Tree Tenders group. “I got involved in the community immediately because that's what I was taught to do growing up in a very small town,” she says. Whether she’s volunteering at the Flower Show or planting trees in her community, Mia rarely takes a break from giving back whenever and wherever she can.
Mia's enthusiasm for horticulture is undeniable. Her dedication to her craft, even after 40 years, remains unwavering. She expresses a deep love for the early mornings spent tending to containers and garden beds at the Club, where the hum of machinery and the rising sun create a serene atmosphere. Her passion, combined with the support of her wife, Holly, have been instrumental in her journey and serve as a driving force in her continued commitment to the industry.
From humble beginnings in a greenhouse to becoming a master at her craft, Mia’s journey exemplifies the passion and commitment necessary to thrive in the field of horticulture.