5 Minutes With … Liz Lark-Riley
Liz Lark-Riley is senior customer relationship manager at Mahoney’s Garden Centers, a family-run home and garden business with seven retail locations in the Boston area.
What is the most rewarding part of garden center life for you?
For me, it’s the people. Plant people are some of the most wonderful humans I’ve met, and I am so grateful to have been in roles where I get to learn from experts in the most beautiful field imaginable. I’m also grateful for the opportunities that I’ve had to bring my people and problem-solving skills to the plant world. Fostering connection between humans while immersed in the world of plants has been tremendously rewarding.
What is your biggest goal for this year?
After 10 years learning the green industry in Florida at Rockledge Gardens, I’m now in a new role at Mahoney’s Garden Centers, where I get to learn about the industry in New England. I’m eager to wrap my brain around how winter affects the industry (we don’t have winter in Florida) while also understanding the inner workings of a multi-location garden center. Additionally, a major goal for me at Mahoney’s is to gain the trust of my new team during our first spring together.
If you weren’t in this profession, what would you be doing?
My background and education are in theater and arts administration. Up until about three years ago, I thought I would return to the arts after we sold Rockledge Gardens … but somehow the garden industry really wiggled its way into my heart. A personal goal for me within the next couple of years is to volunteer to serve on the board of an arts organization in greater Boston; that way I get to stay involved in both industries.
What’s something that few people know about you?
Few people know that I lived and worked in China in my 20s. I taught graduate level English, speaking and writing at Southwest University of China. While I was there, I got to spend two weeks trekking through the Tibetan highlands on horseback — I slept in a tent with baby yaks. It was incredible.
Favorite plant to grow? Why?
I may have to come up with a new one now that I’m in New England, but I adore passion vines. I just love the wildness and beauty of vines; I love how alien the flowers look; and passionfruit is absolutely delicious.