East Brainerd resident Michael Brown, who's been boosting the exterior beauty of high-end residential properties for more than a decade, is taking his passion for plants indoors. The former owner of Scenic City Land Design recently launched Lush Chattanooga, providing interior plant design and maintenance to local businesses.
While the local landscaping industry is fairly saturated, the few people locally who specialize in interior plants are approaching retirement, he said, and he saw a great opportunity for a young guy who loves plants to get into the industry.
Brown discovered his passion for plants while volunteering at an orphanage in Singapore during his four years of service in the U.S. Navy, which the Hixson High and Chattanooga State alum had joined at 25. In Singapore he was introduced to two graduate students who were designing and constructing national park additions, and they inspired him to study plants and landscape architecture.
After being honorably discharged from the Navy, he enrolled in the landscape design and architecture program at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where he worked in the experimental gardens on campus and oversaw the greenhouse dedicated to interior plants.
Brown said he had the opportunity to work with some of the best in the landscaping and plantscaping industries while working with the Engledow Group in Carmel, Indiana, and he brought that experience back home in 2015 when he started Scenic City Land Design.
He's still doing exterior landscape design consultation and contracting work, though since March he's been focusing primarily on designing and installing interior plantscapes.
The range of businesses Brown has worked with through his new venture thus far include everything from a salon to a deli to multiple dental offices, as well as Jackson Furniture, which neighbors his business's physical location in the Lovemans building downtown.
He said he develops a design based on the client's budgets and needs, does the installation and provides monthly maintenance that includes a guarantee of the overall health and appearance of the plants.
"I have a passion for what I do, and I firmly believe in the power of living plants," said Brown, adding that most people are aware of the benefits plants provide, such as improving air quality and increasing productivity.
What sets him apart, he said, are the high levels of creativity and functionality he's able to offer clients, taking care that neither aspect overshadows the other.
"Everything works and serves a purpose, but at the same time is attractive and creative," he said of his designs.
His relationships with his clients are also paramount.
"I'm a people person, and a lot of what I do is relationship based," said Brown. "I'm the guy who comes to your wedding or helps you through a garden party. I become fast friends with a lot of my clients."
Over time, he wants to continue to grow the business by forming and developing even more relationships here.
"My daughter is my driving factor," he said. "I want to build something I can either hand down to her, or sell and give her the opportunity to do what she wants to do."
Until then, he'll be in the business as long as his mind and body allow.
"I imagine I'll do plants in Chattanooga for the rest of my life," said Brown.
To learn more, contact Lush Chattanooga at 313-4794 or visit lushchattanooga.com.
Email Emily Crisman at firstname.lastname@example.org.