Aug 5, 201204:45 PMIn Her View
Business Insights & Inspiration
Inside the Garden of Scott's Miracle-Gro Executive Jan Valentic
One of Jan Valentic’s favorite childhood memories is being a “rolling peony.” She explains that as a child, her mother decorated her clothing and bike with beautiful peony flowers so that she would stand out while riding in her town’s annual Memorial Day parade. It must have been quite the site for others to see, but Valentic didn’t mind because even as a little girl she loved the aroma and silky texture of peonies.
Years later, the peony is still Valentic’s favorite flower and her mother’s passion for expressing herself artistically through gardening continues to influence Valentic’s love for nature. As senior vice president of regional marketing for Scotts Miracle-Gro, an industry-leading lawn care, garden products and services company, Valentic has found the perfect career that aligns with her passion for nature. She is responsible for developing and ensuring strategic consistency of the company's regional marketing efforts. Prior to this role, Valentic led the developmentof Scotts’ sustainability initiative, which aligns product innovation, operations, public outreach, partnerships and associate participation with the company's commitment to the environment, water quality and conservation, and energy and waste reduction.
We recently caught up with Valentic to learn more about the roots of her passion for gardening and her successful career at Scotts. She not only sat down for an interview, but welcomed us inside her Dublin, Ohio garden, which serves as a daily source of beauty and inspiration.
What sparked your passion for gardening?
A: My passion for gardening was influenced by my mother, who is a naturalist. She was an early “greeny” before it was a cool thing. She’s always been dedicated to cultivating native plants, composting and creating habitats for birds. I joke with people that the most common childhood memory I have of my mother is of her backside because she was regularly bent over working in her garden. She’s always been very creative as well. After my mother took flower-arranging classes, there was always a great vase filled with an interpretive arrangement of live flowers on our table.
When I got a home of my own, I had a strong foundation of knowledge and exposure to gardening that helped me to be more confident as a gardener. My mother, who is now 90 years old, helped me to understand that gardening can be a form of artistic expression and spiritual connection.
What makes your home garden so special?
A: The design is architectural. When my husband and I moved to Dublin from the Seattle area, we renovated our new home. Since I wanted the outside of our home to reflect the type of Zen-like, clean and simple design we created on the inside, we completely redesigned the garden area. Our property has a lot of clean lines and just enough spaces where I can plant annuals and add spots of color here and there.
What do you enjoy the least and the most about the gardening process?
A: What I enjoy least is the sore back that I always get at the end of a hard day of working in the garden.
I enjoy a lot about the process, especially shopping for products and plants and imagining how things are going to be laid out. For me it’s not a chore. It’s time for calm and quiet and enjoying the richness of life. You might call it a different form of yoga.
You are exposed to so many beautiful flowers. Do you have a favorite?
A: The peony. When I was kid, I remember riding a bike in my hometown’s Memorial Day parade. For the ride, my mother would decorate my bike and me with peonies – they would be in my hat, pinned on my clothes and strapped around my bike. I was a rolling peony. Whenever I see a peony, I remember things like this, plus their great aroma and texture. My mother has about 75 peony plants in her garden. We moved them from my childhood home to her current home.
Do you have a favorite type of garden?
A: My favorite type of garden is Japanese because they are often steeped in symbolism. Take, for instance, the Japanese rock garden. In ancient Japan, rocks were sacred objects and the mediums of gods. Building a rock sculpture in one’s garden was most often an attempt to attract immortal spirits and receive their blessings. Even the white sand and water you find in Japanese gardens are thought to be associated with purity and sacred places. I find connecting the human world to the spirit world to be not only provocative, but also how you can express your gratefulness for the beautiful world that we live in.
Is there a famous garden that you would like to visit?
A: I’ve always wanted to visit Kyoto Japan because it’s known for having beautiful parks and gardens. One of its most famous parks is Philosophers Park in Kyoto, which has beautiful cherry blossoms. I would love to see it.
What are some of Scotts’ top corporate priorities?
A: Water conservation and quality. Nature requires water as humans do, so it’s important to us that people are smart about irrigation and know how to use our products correctly to protect and preserve our watersheds and rivers. Water issues are inherently“local.” For Scotts to make a difference in a community, we have to understand what water-related challenges are being faced. Then, we work with local NGO’s and environmental agencies to determine the role Scotts can play in educating consumers about what they can do to make a difference in their own backyards.
One of our other priorities is helping customers be more confident about gardening. We have found that today’s younger generation of homeowners is a bit different than older generations. They generally have the means to garden, but find that they are way too busy with other obligations. In earlier years, we could count on the tradition of gardening being passed down from generation to generation. We’re excited about helping younger customers learn and feel confident about gardening.
What do you enjoy most about working at Scotts?
A: I love the business that we are in. Helping people connect with and enjoy the cycle of nature in and around their home—particularly in today’s hyper-fast, always tethered-to-technology world—inspires me everyday. Plus, Scotts Miracle-Gro is a company that is rooted in family. From the original Scotts brothers who opened shop almost 150 years ago in Marysville to the Hagedorn family who founded Miracle-Gro and today owns a majority share, we have a legacy to uphold. A legacy of stewardship of our environment and creating the kind of company that we all would like our children to be part of.