Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
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On becoming a plant expert

    A young woman in Phoenix asked me via e-mail how she, too, can become a plant expert. So I detailed my approach. From the list, she, you or anyone can decide what portions may be interesting and possible to pursue. The world, after all, has too many lawyers, but too few plant experts.

WORK for hire
    Independent gardening during and after college, working for over 80 clients. All facets: pruning, watering, weeding, lawn care, fertilizing, composting, pest & disease management, propagation, planting design, soil preparation, installation. Diligent study and dirt-under-the-nails experience helped me learn identities and needs of many different plants.
    Independent consulting, writing, speaking since 1988. Exclusively plant-related, focusing on but by no means limited to trees. Dozens of clients for advice or skills --individuals, businesses, city, county and state governments, NGOs. Plant labeling too. Also tours and teaching. Offering my services on a custom basis exposes me to learning opportunities that might otherwise be missed.

WRITING
    Besides my various books and regular columns, I have written over 300 miscellaneous articles, reviews and lists for magazines, journals, news letters, my website, etc. To write material worth sharing with others, requires research --hence learning-- on my part. Nit-picking feedback from peer-reviewed journal articles as well as informal help from learned associates, further enhances my knowledge and improves the writing.

RESEARCH on my own
    Field study, observing, identifying, and learning about trees and the wild plants of greater Seattle: mosses, ferns, grasses, herbs, shrubs and trees. I visited different habitats, collected specimens, took notes and photos, made lists, then turned to libraries (and later, the Internet). I've still not delved much into liverworts or algæ, nor tropical flora and house plants. There's ever more to learn.
    Library study: Days and days in the forestry library, natural sciences library, horticulture library, architecture & landscape architecture library, plus libraries in California, Oregon, and B.C. In particular libraries at U.C. Berkeley and U.C. Davis have enormously more material than those in Washington. My own library also has become weighty. Also I use the herbarium for study.

Traditional Secondary EDUCATION
    Plant courses at Seattle Central Community College; Edmonds Community College and the University of Washington. Miscellaneous classes seminars and workshops (such as at the Center for Urban Horticulture).

OTHER
    Computer literacy. Some gardeners dislike computers. Many young people believe everything needed is on the Internet. In fact, vital material sits alone in libraries, so both computers and libraries are needed for learning.
    Photography. 5,000+ plant pictures; besides touching the soul, photographs stir the memory.
    Public speaking; I have addressed more than 100 different groups. It helps hearing questions that cause me to do additional fact finding.
    Volunteering, and activity in organizations, including holding offices (e.g., 1996 president of Seattle Tilth 1998 president of TREEmendous Seattle, 2004 president of PlantAmnesty). These and other roles let me make a vast acquaintance with knowledgeable people, and exposed me to learn ing opportunities that enriched my expertise. For example, volunteering at the U.W. Medicinal Herb Garden taught me about the cultivation, i.d. and uses of healing plants. Tending a weed i.d. garden plot at Seattle Tilth for 24 years made me learn every common weed, even at the seedling stage.
    One cannot merely attend classes, or pass a test, and then be an expert, nor be a real expert just by writing a column or hosting a radio show. The process is an ongoing, never ending labor wherein a beginner becomes intermediate and then bit by bit expert in various capacities. I feel obligated to share my learning --hence my website, books, articles, lectures, tours and whatnot.

(originally published in my November 26th 2007 newsletter)

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Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert

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