5 Minutes With … Hannah Brookfield
Owner of BotaniGal in Sykesville, Maryland, Hannah Brookfield is a certified professional horticulturist and a certified horticulture therapist.
What made you choose horticulture as a career?
It actually chose me. My first job was at a garden center when I was 16 and, at the time, I was like, “Oh, it’s just going to be a job that’s going to pay for my gas.” But it turned into so much more. It’s where I fell in love with plants and talking to people about plants. I started at age 16, and I worked there through the rest of high school and then went back for two summers while I was in college.
What is the most rewarding part of owning your business?
Oh my gosh — all of the happiness that my business has brought people. It’s a safe haven for when people are sad or in a bad mood — they’ll just come to my store and peruse the plants. And all the feedback I’ve gotten about coming to my store and all the plants that I carry providing happiness, and all the customer feedback that I’m making a difference in people’s lives.
If you weren’t in this profession, what would you be doing?
I would be doing some type of work with individuals with developmental disabilities. I cherish that population. My brother was special needs growing up. I ran a greenhouse that did job training for people with special needs for nine years before owning my business, so that part of my life is just so important. And I hired my first special needs individual a couple months ago. So definitely something with that population because it’s so important to me.
What’s something that few people know about you?
I just started lessons to get my pilot’s license. My husband is a pilot, and it’s just time for me to learn. He is very big into general aviation; he is always flying his little plane around. I just want to at least know how to take off and land.
Favorite plant to grow? Why?
Hoyas — that is my favorite genus. I have over 60 different hoyas in my personal collection, and I always have lots of hoyas in the store. I love them because they have awesome foliage and there’s so much variation in the genus, but they also get awesome flowers. My hoya ‘Undulata’ is my favorite in my collection, followed by the hoya ‘Imbricata’. I like the weird ones that you don’t see a lot.