I am often asked how long I have been landscaping. Seemingly a simple question correct? The short answer would be that I bought my sister’s 1994 Nissan pick up truck in 2002, put my shovels in the back and thus was a business born. The real story is more like the long developing life of a garden itself.
The name Merello-Sons started in 1957 in St. Louis, Missouri where my father R. Eugene Merello was raising four boys on a high school teacher’s salary. Having worked summers at his cousin’s garden center, Gene decided to start his own side business, Merello-Sons Landscaping. At the time it was Gene, his white ’57 Ranchero and my four brothers. He probably should have doctored the name as the years passed as my two sisters came along and picked up the rakes as well.
I showed up in 1966 and don’t really remember when I first joined him on the truck. I know it was when the Ranchero was replaced by the El Camino. So although my summer jobs were always predetermined to be by my father’s side, rake in hand, he instilled in me a love of plants and trees. He nurtured it daily with his natural teaching skills, schooling me in the common and botanical names of the natural world.
Over the years, as I attended college, backpacked and trained Europe and Italy, lit out for the workaday world, and settled in Chicago, I was never far from a stroll in a forest preserve, a visit to a botanic garden or a leaf-peeping trip to New England.
So finally I embraced the seed of the life my father planted in me lo those many years ago, the life of a landscaper. I wake up everyday happy to venture into the world of sylvan delights whether it be planting a tree, assembling a container of annuals, pruning a rose, raking leaves or tilling the soil.
How long have I been landscaping? I guess all my life.