The Garden Hotline offers individualized solutions to garden problems that are practical, safe, effective, and natural. Our services are FREE to home gardeners and landscape professionals throughout Seattle and King County. We can help you reduce waste, conserve water and resources, and minimize chemical use while creating a vibrant landscape. The Garden Hotline staff also research, write articles in many languages and teach classes.
Garden Hotline Staff
Laura Matter has been a practicing horticulturist for the past 36 years, studied Landscape Horticulture at South Seattle Community College and has an Associate of Arts degree from Seattle Central Community College and a B.A. in Botany from the University of Washington. She has worked as a supervisor of an interior plant maintenance crew in downtown Seattle high-rise buildings. During 10 years with Seattle City Light, she worked with her crew to replace and reduce pesticide use at the utility. Under her guidance, a large electrical station was able to be registered as a Backyard Wildlife Sanctuary with the State of WA after being enhanced with native plants, birdhouses, and using natural alternatives instead of pesticides. Laura ran her own landscape maintenance business for 14 years and currently provides landscape consultations, specializing in native plantings, wildlife habitat and edible gardens. She worked at Swanson’s Nursery in the information booth answering phone and in person gardening questions from customers. She was a block leader, committee head, site coordinator and a senior garden advisor at Picardo Farm P-Patch where she gardened for 20 years. Laura is currently the Natural Yard Care Program Director at Tilth Alliance and specializes in watershed health, pollinator gardening and integrated pest management education. In her own time Laura enjoys vintage movies, photography and more gardening.
Melissa McGinn has been in the green industry for almost 20 years. She has a BA in Botany from the University of Washington and studied Landscape Design at Edmonds Community College. In the beginning of her horticultural career she was employed at local nurseries including Sky Nursery, Emery’s Garden, and Bellevue Nursery. After returning to the U.S. following an appointment as an Environmental Education Action Agent of the Peace Corps in Gabon, Central Africa, she decided to make sustainable education her career. For 8 years she worked for In Harmony Sustainable Landscapes, educating clients how to be more sustainable in their gardens and teaching Integrated Pest Management classes to coworkers. While in Bothell, she volunteered as an organizer for Sustainable Bothell, an organization dedicated to educating, motivating, and connecting local community members. Melissa was manager for Rooster’s Rendezvous at Country Village for 6 years and currently manages a community garden in Mill Creek that helps donate food to a local food pantry. Melissa is wife to a computer guru and mother of a 4 year old girl.
Rosie Cullinane earned her BA in interdisciplinary studies at Western Washington University’s Fairhaven College, with a concentration in ethnobotany, ecology, and art history. She continued her academic studies at New York University, where she received her MA, also in interdisciplinary studies in ethnobotany. “I originally thought I wanted to be a horticulturist, as I had been serving as a veteran certified Master Gardener in Kitsap County for seven years. But after I returned to college, my interests in plants expanded into ethnobotany.” What she enjoys most about the subject of all things related to the plants is the interconnectedness of all aspects of life on the planet. “What is so fascinating to me in my studies in ethnobotany is the history of how plants increase their range and scope across the world, through people-plant relationships and how the artwork tells the story of these relationships. I decode plant symbolisms and plant depictions that often reveal horticultural and ecological knowledge of the past”. After graduate school, Rosie worked as a Children’s Educator for the New York Botanical Garden in Bronx, NY, and took on plant-related occupations and projects once she returned to Seattle. Rosie hopes to continue her advocacy in sustainable food systems, water quality and environmental stewardship through her work at the Tilth Alliance. Rosie continues research work with art historians to identify plants in art and artifacts and to help understand the cultural context and significance of the history of people-plant relationships, enjoys the outdoors and learning things about Nature.
Julia Buscemi received a BS in Environmental Science and Management from University of California Davis in 2021, with an emphasis on biodiversity, ecology, and conservation. Studying sustainable food systems in a city surrounded by so much agriculture inspired a passion for gardening and farm education. After moving to Seattle, Julia worked as a baker at The Flora Bakehouse, slinging delicious pastries baked with produce grown by local Washington farmers. Feeling inspired by the local food system in Seattle, Julia began her career in garden education at Oxbow Farm and Conservation center as an environmental educator. Working with children ages 3-11, she spent the summer teaching all about the power and beauty of growing your own food. Julia is now a Program Coordinator for the Garden Hotline and loves to cook, knit, and explore the outdoors in her free time.
Nate Howard received a BS in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and History from Tulane University in 2015. A lifelong lover of the natural world, Nate is an experienced environmental educator with roots in the diverse ecologies of regions including New England, New York City, the Mississippi River Delta, and, of course, the Puget Sound. With a deep interest in urban nature and its connections to and impact on our social fabrics, Nate is passionate about communicating ways in which people can live harmoniously with the natural world – with a particular interest in urban forests, pollinator corridors, and waterways. These qualities steered him towards his current position as a Natural Yard Care Coordinator with the Garden Hotline, where he enjoys discussing options for living sustainably in the city. When not at the call desk, you can find Nate peering into any good street tree canopy in search of birds, bugs, and other critters.