Q&A with Sam Rogers – Nursery Management
Mid Georgia Nursery specializes in bed and breakfast trees and provides services to landscape contractors, wholesalers and municipalities. The nursery is located in Meansville, Georgia, and ships trees to Atlanta, Florida, Texas, Ohio and New York.
NM: How did you get into gardening?
SR: In fact, my father earned a degree from the University of Georgia (UGA) in horticulture. He was a great role model, and I just wanted to follow in his footsteps. In my teenage years, I worked at the Southern Nursery Association (SNA) trade show in Atlanta. I literally grew up not knowing anything else, except plants. That’s just what I like. Anyone who wants to go out in 90 degrees with 40% humidity and still have a good time, they have to be a little bit off (laughs), or when it’s 30 degrees outside with a nice breeze, but you love life because you’re digging and charging.
I think I was in fourth grade when I wrote a letter to school, and I mentioned that I wanted to be like my dad when I grew up and go to trade shows and get seed packets and pens and pencils (laughs). My mother found that letter and put it in the frame. I’ve got it hanging in my office now. My brothers ended up in the industry and my mom did too, so it’s a family tradition. I worked at Pike Nurseries in the 1990s. Then I went to UGA for horticulture.
NM: Can you tell me about your time at UGA, and what it was like to be a student of Dr. Michael Dear?
SR: Vince Dooley would come to Deere’s class and sit in the back because he was a big plant guy. It was cool, just being able to sit next to Vince Dooley and listen to Deere talk about trees or cheeseburgers or cheese puffs because he loves those things (laughs). The monastery was wonderful. They say he wrote the gardening bible with his book, and I was lucky enough to study under him. I sat in the same vomit green chairs at UGA that my father sat in.
NM: How did you get to Nursery Med Georgia and what do you do there?
SR: Right after I graduated from school I went to work at Bold Spring Nursery. Then in 2014 I started working at Med Georgia Nursery. Originally, I was hired in sales, but now I manage everything outside of the office – choosing what we grow, buy, produce, and sell. … We have a good group of people working for us and I don’t have to micromanage. I can say planting juniper and Deodara cedar On the upper side of the pitch because they don’t like wet feet, this is done. It is not necessary to specifically indicate the place in the field.
NM: What is your favorite part of the job?
SR: Well for me, it’s doing what God has spoken to creation – working with trees. Truly, this is the oldest profession in the world. God placed Adam and Eve in Paradise, and they had to take care of it. This is what I do every day, and it’s great. To me, trees cry out for God’s glory and design. Here’s a thought I had at a deer stand one morning during hunting season: What happens if you take all the animals away from the world? Everything dies. What happens if you take all the trees away? There is no more oxygen. Everything dies. What happens when you take all the water away? Everything dies. What happens when you take a man away? Nothing, because we are not meant for this world. We were created for something greater. Sometimes I teach at church, and Romans 11:16-18 talks about vaccination and how we are created in the image of God. In order for the rootstock and scion to be able to graft each other, they must be like plants. I cannot graft an oak tree onto a pine tree. There is no other way we can be fed unless we are created in His image. For me, when I read the Bible, I see trees and gardens everywhere. That’s why I say I’m in the oldest profession, which is great. There are two things I can talk about a lot: God and trees. When you put those two together, pay attention (laughs).
NM: When you’re not working, what are some of your hobbies?
SR: Well, I have a greenhouse in my backyard, so I mess around with plants at home. I love hiking, kayaking, canoeing on the river, or playing with my kids. Of course, they’re older now, which is really nice. My eldest daughter works with me part time. I teach her to spread. At the nursery, we try to propagate about half of what we grow.
For more: www.midgeorgiansy.com