Severe aversion to creepy crawlies. No previous experience with a mattock (or any other garden tool). No prior evidence of a green thumb. Just a strong desire for a beautiful garden and a lot of impatience for immediate results. Brenda Cooke, marketing coordinator at ABE, says she began “working” the front yard in Spring 2020 from "bare dirt" beginnings, gaining confidence and gradually expanding her landscaping ambitions to include clearing “every known invasive in WNC, including monster pokeweed, Chinese wisteria, tree of heaven, ivy, oriental bittersweet, porcelain berry, brambles, multi-flora roses and smilax” from a hillside and an embankment on her just-under-one-acre property in Asheville. Says Brenda, “It didn't take long for me to realizer that weeks of 3 hours daily clearing land after work, and 7-8 hours on Saturdays & Sundays, isn’t just gardening—it’s extreme gardening!”
Brenda says she is thankful for friends who have become gardening mentors and shared their knowledge, adding "I have found gardeners in general to be a most generous group of people. Facebook gardening groups—local and non—have been a great source of free plants. That's important when you're impatient for results. Everyone is happy to share plants and gardening joy, whether they know you or not!"