Kevin Petrie

Langdon Hall’s famed gardens begin at the driveway entrance, span across the property with perennials and annuals, include a kitchen vegetable garden, decorative plants, and 75 acres of Carolinian forest. One can only imagine the time and energy needed to tend to every plant, flower, and tree. That is why Kevin’s role as Gardening Assistant is so essential to sustaining the beauty that was first envisioned in 1902 by the Olmsted Brothers, the designers of notable landscapes throughout North America.

When discovering the Earth Science class in his last year of high school, Kevin realized his love for the outdoors could perhaps morph into a career. “Growing up my dad and I loved going on canoe trips and exploring the outdoors, and my mom has always been passionate about gardens,” explains Kevin. “I wasn’t crazy about touring gardens with my mom as a kid, but that has definitely changed with age.”

After much consideration, Kevin enrolled at the University of Windsor for the Environmental Studies program with a specialty in Resource Management. Just before the summer of his second year his mom came across a job posting in the local paper for a summer position on the Grounds Team at Langdon Hall.

“I remember going to the interview and never even knowing this beautiful property existed,” says Kevin. “That summer I became a glorified weeder but what I didn’t realize was that I was literally learning from the ground up and gaining an appreciation for how a seed grows, insect interactions, consistency of the soil and so much more.”

Kevin worked on the Grounds Team for four summers while completing university. After graduating he moved back to Kitchener with his girlfriend, and now fiancé, Ashlee and chose to stay at Langdon as a door porter after the summer season had ended. It was in the winter of 2014 that the position of Gardening Assistant became available and Kevin was chosen by Head Grounds Keeper Mario Muniz to fill the role.

“There was definitely a learning curve with the new role, but it was the opportunity I was waiting for,” explains Kevin. “The job is so diverse that one minute I’m creating a bouquet for a bride’s room and the next I’m learning about forest restoration. Each day is different and each season brings something new.”

Kevin also leads the seasonal crew each summer and credits his dad for the leadership skills he was able to bring to the position and values the management experience he has gained. His next goal is to finish his Horticultural Diploma through the University of Guelph that he has halfway completed.

“Looking back, a career in the Langdon Hall gardens didn’t really cross my mind while working as that glorified weeder,” says Kevin. “But this opportunity has planted a seed—as funny as that sounds—and I can’t wait to watch it grow.”
Next year, Kevin and Ashlee will say I do and a new chapter will begin. Perhaps one day Kevin will be called upon by a young property eager to design the next Olmsted inspired garden and hone in on the skills and knowledge he’s gaining from his experience at Langdon Hall to create the next beautiful masterpiece.