Volunteer Spotlight: Amy Conroy, Mom, Artist, and Gardener

Ask Amy Conroy what she enjoys doing most and she will tell you spending time with her children is her favorite pastime. Her other passionate pursuits, art and gardening, are tied for a close second. As a Trees and Shrubs volunteer at Mercer Botanic Gardens, Amy relishes both.

Read below to learn how she balances family, work, and play, and where she gets her inspiration.

Q & A

How did you get started at Mercer?

When I decided to stay at home to raise my children, I took that opportunity to pursue passions I had put on the back burner while working in the professional world. I enrolled in the Texas Gulf Coast Gardener series of classes at Mercer Botanic Gardens. Suzzanne Chapman, then Mercer’s volunteer coordinator, came to our class to discuss the volunteer opportunities at Mercer. By the end of the final session, I decided to volunteer at Mercer on the same day that I had been going to classes. It happened to be on Thursdays, the same day the Trees and Shrubs committee meets. It was a good fit since one of my favorite categories of plants is small ornamental trees.

What do you do at Mercer?

I have been a volunteer in Trees and Shrubs for about four or five years now. I enjoy the interaction with other plant lovers and the exchange of ideas on the selection of plants. Helping to find and care for new and unusual plants has been exciting and fun!

How has serving at Mercer inspired your love for art?

Many years ago, my mother-in-law shared an article in American Artist about a watercolorist who used her garden as inspiration for her art. I thought, “I want to do that!” As a volunteer in Trees and Shrubs, I am exposed to many unusual varieties of plants. By researching and caring for these plants, I derive inspiration and ideas for the subject matter for my art. Many of the plants at March Mart are now in my garden and on my canvases. As a member of Lake Houston Area Artists, I also participate in art shows twice a year. The entry rules regarding the originality of art work are very strict. An easy way to guarantee that the image is solely mine is to grow my own subject matter in my garden, so that is what I do!

Where is your artwork showcased and is any for sale?

I have sold a few originals and have done one commission piece for a client who saw my work on display at a specialty garden center. I have work on display at the Kingwood Library and at Dr. Nunnery’s office in Kingwood, along with art from other members from Lake Houston Area Artists.

We appreciate your volunteering at Mercer and March Mart. What would you say to someone interested in volunteering at Mercer?

I really enjoy volunteering at March Mart and Mercer’s other sales because it is rewarding to assist customers with their landscaping ideas. Finding just the right tree or shrub that will meet their needs is very satisfying, for them and for me. It has greatly expanded my own personal knowledge of plants and gardening. It’s fun talking plants with customers and other volunteers.