As a lawyer, Catherine Dellinger Buckley didn’t mind getting her hands dirty now and then. She’s always been a hard worker. But after a career as an insurance litigator and two beautiful daughters later, she left the courtroom behind and headed back to school for a horticulture degree. No more “suits” for this gal — law…or the kind you find at Ann Taylor. Today, Catherine’s getting down in the dirt with the start of her second career, as co-owner of Pandora’s Phlox, a landscape and garden design outfit based in Atlanta.
If the winter weather has you dreaming about springtime landscaping and what you’ll plant in your next garden, feel free to get in touch with Catherine and ask her to lend a hand. Email her at email@example.com
You walked away from the law to play in the dirt. Why?
I was overcome with the desire to work outside and learn an entirely different field of knowledge. I’ve always loved science and enjoyed being an amateur gardener.
How did you come up with your company name?
It came to us when we realized that what we had to offer was a varied range of services, similar to Pandora’s box, which was filled with many different things (unfortunately those were all evil!). And phlox is a flower we like a lot, so we just put the two together and thought it sounded fun.
What do you specialize in?
We focus on landscape and seasonal color design, installing our designs, container gardens and hand pruning shrubs and small trees. We’re also knowledgeable in irrigation, grading, drainage, pest ID/management and a variety of maintenance issues.
Do you have a favorite flower?
I don’t have a favorite per se, but my favorite plants are common boxwoods and lacecap hydrangeas which have beautiful flowers on them. I also love magnolias for their fragrance.
Name your top 3 ‘landscape don’ts.’
1. Never use red mulch — it detracts from the plants and immediately draws the eye to the mulch. Leave this type of mulch for the gas stations.
2. Try not to plant something unless you know what it likes and how big it will get.
3. Don’t “butcher” your crape myrtles…just because some landscapers do it doesn’t make it right.
What are your favorite gardens?
The Atlanta Botanical Garden is really a treasure in terms of its diversity of plant materials. It’s a great place to see how something you like really grows. I also love Hills & Dales Estate in LaGrange, the Founders Memorial Garden and State Botanical Garden at UGA, and the Trial Gardens at UGA’s Griffin campus.
Where do you get your inspiration?
Gardens are lovely, but what inspires me personally are the shrubs and trees used to define an area and make it a place you want to hang out and enjoy. We have such nice weather in the South — we might as well be outside! I like to think of gardens as the icing, but landscape design is the cake.
Do your kids like to help you out?
Our daughter Abbi has discovered she likes to prune things. It’s a start.
When’s a good time to start spring landscaping?
As far as planning a landscape, you can do that any time of year. But the ideal time to plant trees and shrubs is in Fall so they have a chance to work on their root systems while the foliage/flowering is dormant. A well-developed root system will provide a good, healthy start which can weather droughts and heat better than Spring-planted trees/shrubs. Perennials can be planted in Spring or Fall. And annuals should be planted between April 21-May 21 and October 1-15.
What do you like best about being your own boss so far?
What I love most is the flexibility — getting to decide when to work and what to do. And I love doing lots of different jobs, and sometimes even deciding who I want to do them for. 🙂