I’m not what you’d call a sportswoman. I’m a little uncoordinated. At school I was the child the sports’ teachers would shake their heads at when they saw me coming. I’m sure they were thinking there is no hope for this one. Apart from winning most improved player for about three years in a row for basketball, I don’t have that many awards from childhood.
I’m sure making up for it now.
Last Friday night I attended the Nursery and Garden Industry Queensland Award Ceremony. During the night I had one of those “this is your life moments”. The presenter started to read a story about a girl who seemed to have accidentally fallen into horticulture while looking for her dream job. 15 years on that girl discovers she is working her dream job.
As the presenter was reading this story I got thinking, this girl sounds a lot like me.
He then announced “The Queensland winner of the Heather Ramsey Young Leader Award goes to – Chelsea van Rijn.”
It took a moment, hang on that’s me. Wow.
But what does this mean?
The Heather Ramsey Young Leader Award recognizes and rewards the outstanding achievements of individuals in the Australian nursery and garden industry, who display exceptional commitment and passion towards their business, the industry and industry leadership potential.
That’s me. I’m young (this is my last year of being young though), I’m committed to this industry (long days and sometimes longer nights) and gardening is my passion.
But it’s not just the physical aspect of gardening. It’s the sharing component I love. I love enabling others to enjoy gardening with my few simple tips. I love going to clubs and talking gardening. I love writing my gardening blog and using Trevallan’s Facebook page to keep you updated and informed. I don’t get paid to write my gardening column that appears in the Queensland Times, I do it because I want to share with you all this wondrous thing called gardening.
It was an amazing experience to be recognised and awarded this award by my industry peers. I couldn’t have won this award without you.
It is because of my customers, my family and my mentors that this award was possible.
The other day a gentleman came into Trevallan Lifestyle Centre to tell me he hated mowing. He read my lawn challenge article and thought I was crazy saying I loved to mow. He followed my simple steps and now he loves to mow. His granddaughter loves coming over and running barefoot on his lawn. He mows twice a week and loves sitting back to admire his handiwork.
It’s because of happy customers and family who are gardening enthusiasts that my passion has grown. It’s because of you I want to achieve more so I can give you more.
I am so proud to win this award. Thank you for helping me turn my passion turn into an award. I hope we can continue to share this passion for many years enabling us all to have amazing gardens.
Every Wednesday on Trevallan’s Facebook page is “Ask it Wednesday?” A day I leave the page open to any questions the followers can throw at me and I attempt to answer them.
It’s become a much anticipated day with many people tuning in to see what has been asked and of course what I’ve answered.
I have developed such a great personal rapport with so many of Trevallan’s followers that I forget to some I am just a business on a computer screen.
This became evident when a few weeks ago on “Ask it Wednesday?” I was asked “What’s my Horticultural background?”
I realised at this point that so many of you may not realise who I am – the face behind Trevallan’s web presence.
I am me.
I come from a family of gardeners. My knowledge is book based but most comes from being surrounded by it all my life. It’s amazing what you can learn just by listening.
My grandparents were gardeners. Their vegetable patch sustained the family, so no outside food had to be bought in apart from meat. My grandfather also loved to fiddle. His true love lay with camellias and azaleas and he self taught himself to cross breed, graft and do cuttings. He was also a lawn fanatic. Think bowling green, see my grandfathers lawn!
My parents before going into retail had a successful landscaping business ‘Trevallan Landscapes’ that would have been in operation for about 30 years today had my father not died in 2000. Trevallan Landscapes was high in demand and I remember my father travelling all over Queensland doing landscaping work – private and commercial. Working for him was also a great way for me to earn pocket money as I grew up.
I finished my bachelor business degree in 1999 and after my father died began working at Trevallan Lifestyle Centre full time.
Since than my pieces of paper have increased – I have a Certificate III in horticulture, am a Certified Nursery Professional, am chemcert qualified, have been a national finalist for Young Horticulturalist of year and been a HAL emerging Leader. I am also a member of the Horticultural Media Association Qld and am a committee member for local garden club ‘Glebe Garden Club’.
As quickly as my pieces of paper increase so does my workload. I now write a weekly gardening column for Ipswich’s local paper “The Queensland Times”, I write for the gardening magazine ‘About the Garden’. I write this blog, manage Trevallan’s social media – Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest and this blog plus work at Trevallan. Lucky for all of us Trevallan is run by my mum who works there tirelessly so I can do all this other fun stuff! I also love giving gardening related talks to social and gardening clubs.
While I’ve been paper collecting so has Trevallan – over the years Trevallan has won a few awards, one I am most proud of is Best Small Garden Centre in Qld in 2010.
As many of us know knowledge isn’t gained just from reading a few books. Knowledge is made up of a lifetime of asking questions and determining what you believe is right answer.
I attend as many industry run events and read as much as I can so I can try to stay onto of new information, plant releases. I also try to take the time to listen to my customers, my growers, my suppliers as I find they’ve tried and tested many things I wouldn’t get a chance to try in my lifetime.
Basically I Live it breathe it!
But horticulture isn’t my only love – aromatherapy is another passion. In between all my paper getting for horticulture I also completed – Certificate Four Massage Therapy, which included Aromatherapy I.
In October 2012 I won a world wide competition to create my own essential oil blend. This blend ‘wisdom‘ is produced by internationally renowned aromatherapy company Perfect Potion and sold at Trevallan as well as world wide via Perfect potion stores and online trading.
So that’s me.
The girl behind the computer screen.
I don’t honestly know how it came about. All I remember was it started with a graduation present.
Perfect Potion was a little shop in the Elizabeth Arcade in Brisbane. Mum and I went there and she bought me essential oils as a year 12 graduation present. Ylang Ylang was one of of those oils. I had a candle oil burner. A few years later I upgraded to an electric oil vaporizer. It was ugly yellow; there wasn’t much choice back then!
No matter where I lived I always had my oils. Slowly as my interest grew so did my extensive library and my desire to try all the oils and all the combinations. I enjoyed infusing my home with the scents I created. I loved it when friends visited and they’d say ‘your house always smells so good’. When I lived in an apartment the girls upstairs used to tell me how much they enjoyed walking past my door as there was always beautiful scents wafting out.
Lucky for me as my interest grew Perfect Potion flourished. More and more stores opened, more oils were released, more blends were available, more products. Quench my scent thirst, no, it only fueled it.
There was nothing more I enjoyed than spending an afternoon in a Perfect Potion Store.
All the while it never entered my head to pursue it any more than a hobby.
One day the opportunity arose to stock Perfect Potion at Trevallan Lifestyle Centre. We have never looked back. It has been an amazing journey being a part of a company that seems to only take huge steps forward.
Then something strange happened – Perfect Potion ran a competition, a competition unlike any other. A competition open to all Australian and Japanese residents. The competition was to create your own essential oil blend to be sold under the Perfect Potion banner. They had never offered this before; all the blends sold by Perfect Potion are Perfect Potion’s creations.
But I couldn’t create a blend. What do I know? Perfect Potion even ran some classes on the art of blending to help. I couldn’t attend them. I even convinced myself it would be pointless entering. Then I got excited and started playing around with some of my oils. I then got completely disheartened as time and time again my combinations made me gag!
See the competition wasn’t just about choosing some essential oils. You had to work out the perfect combination of oils and then how much of each oil. Plus the scent you were trying to create was to embody your scared space.
Hang on I live in a small house with kids, animals – what scared space?
My books! It always comes back to books. Books are my scared space. Books are my escape. At the time of the competition my little library was being built. So now I had a sacred space but no scent. I gave up.
Then a few days before close of competition inspiration struck. I got it. The oils just worked, the combination, the amounts. It worked. But I still hesitated. It was late that night I finally got enough guts to enter. And swoosh like that the email was sent, the competition closed and I promptly forgot all about it.
You see I had a baby on the way. Number three to be exact. The day the winners of Perfect Potion’s competition was announced I was a little busy. I was in labour.
When I finally got my head out of the clouds I read an email “Firstly, a massive CONGRATULATIONS for being the winner of the Create Your Own Sacred Space Blend Competition”.
I thought “what’s going on. Who won the competition? They aren’t telling me the names”. I thought it was a generic email sent to everyone who entered informing them of the winner.
Tears may have flowed when it set in.
Something I loved, something that is so important and a part of me just became real.
The day that I received that little bottle adeptly named ‘Wisdom’, my heart skipped a beat. Just thinking about it now makes me well up with tears.
It wasn’t just that I won it was the recognition I also got from the creator of Perfect Potion Sal Battaglia. A man who I admire for all that he and his team have achieved over the years.
Sal wrote ‘Choosing the sacred space blend has been so difficult for me as there were so many wonderful ideas and beautiful blends…. I was so impressed with the depth and complexity of the blend. It is such a simple formula…..I absolutely loved the blend …
I was and still am on top of the world about this.
Sometimes when I’m having a bad day I just go to the Perfect Potion website and read the Wisdom Blend synopsis ‘Created by Chelsea Van Rijn from Australia, this blend represents her library which is a sacred place of learning, a place to gather thoughts, to be inspired and become wise.’
I read it and think I did that.
When we have it in the vaporiser at Trevallan and customers comment on how beautiful it smells I love seeing their faces when I tell them it’s a blend I created. I’m sure some of them don’t believe me and think I’m a looney!
I will be eternally grateful to Sal and the Perfect Potion Team for giving me this opportunity.
I am so lucky to have one of my secret dreams realised and to be able to share it with others.
But what’s in my lucky potion?
Check out Lucky Potion
My winning essential oil blend ‘Wisdom’ is a combination of my four favourite essential oils – Ylang Ylang, vetiver, fragonia and patchouli.
Perfect Potion describes the blend as ‘The deep musty and exotic aromas of vetiver and patchouli together with the intoxicating and arousing aroma of ylang ylang and fresh, vibrant scent of fragonia create a truly mystical and sacred space.’
But why these oils? What do they mean?
Ylang Ylang is my all-time favourite oil. It has a sweet floral scent. To me it embodies all that is passionate, sensuous and uplifting. Whenever I wear it I feel confident and almost bewitching. It is believed to be useful in creating feelings of peace and dispelling anger. It is a scent that embodies all that is good about femininity.
Fragonia was an oil that was very new to me but I instantly fell in love with it. It’s an Australian native essential oil obtained from Agonis fragrans. I feel Fragonia has an ability to work at a deep level, releasing both physical and emotional blockages. It’s very soothing and calming oil. I have found it sometimes referred to as the magic oil as it seems to work on whatever level that is needed to help the body, mind, or spirit find balance.
Vetiver, it smells like the earth. Most people are put off by it. I love it. I guess that’s why I love my job. I feel just like the earth there are layers to it. Coincidently vetiver is very useful for grounding and centering a person and opening them up to their core wisdom.
Patchouli is described as soothing, calming and somewhat hypnotizing scent. It always makes me feel like I’ve escaped to the orient when I smell it. Patchouli oil has a grounding and balancing effect on the emotions and banishes lethargy, while sharpening the wits, fighting depression and anxiety.
This is all my own interpretations of the oils and their meanings I am no way a qualified aromatherapist.
With these four oils I was trying to create a scared space for everyone. A place we could escape to to find ourselves. A place where we are free to be us.
When I vaporise ‘Wisdom’ at home it fills my house with such a warm comforting scent. I feel at peace and safe in my own surrounds. I love it when I put it on in the mornings and then I go out. I can smell it as I get to the front door and know I’m home. My shoulders drop and I feel relaxed.
Just recently ‘Optimum Health’, a natural therapies clinic in Ipswich has asked to use it for their meditation classes they are starting soon.
I truly feel this blend will ‘create a truly mystical and sacred space’ for you.
I was lucky enough to be a 2012 Finalist for the Nursery and Garden Industry Australia (NGIA) Young Leader Award. The Young Leader Award seeks to identify, recognise and reward the outstanding achievements of individuals in the Nursery & Garden Industry, who display exceptional commitment and passion towards their business, the industry and leadership potential for association and industry schemes. Six finalists Australia wide are chosen.
What did I win – The opportunity to network with the most amazing people.
My tangible prize was a fully paid NGIA conference at the Gold Coast Marriott Resort, a trip to Melbourne for a discussion on the Pot levy, which lucky for me coincided with the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show, a trip to Sydney for a marketing seminar and a training session of my choice in my state.
Before the award I was slowly taking off my rose coloured glasses and thinking this industry may not be for me. Now I am all fired up again. I want to do everything and be apart of it all.
This award has let me meet a lot of people I would have never have had the opportunity to meet. Gardening Celebrities like Jason Hodges, Tino Carnevale (ok so all I said was Hi but I still met them!), Hortiman and Claire Levander. I got to meet the owners and managers of My Garden Centre Crushes (garden centres I look up to) Rivers of Yarrambat, Vadoulis Garden Centre and Brookefield Garden Centre. I met the CEO and President of the NGIA. I met so many amazing people like Leigh Siebler (editor of Greenworld magazine, just one hat he wears) and other Garden Centre owners that I have read about in the magazines and plant production nursery members. There is too many to mention really.
There were five people though that have affected and left me most inspired. These were my fellow finalists. I believe meeting them has helped me put back on my rose coloured glasses and given me the stamina to push on and give this industry everything I have to offer.
We are viewed as the leaders of the NextGen of the Australian Nursery and Garden Industry. After meeting with and being apart of this amazing group I believe that the Australian Nursery and Garden Industry can only go from strength to strength.
Keep an eye on us we are the future and you’ll be seeing us everywhere reminding you to Improve your Plant/Life Balance!