Virginia R. Rockwell, VSLD, VCH, LEED Green Associate, APLD Associate, is Principal Designer & Owner of Gentle Gardener Green Design. She is certified as a Landscape Designer by the Virginia Society of Landscape Designers, as a Horticulturalist by the Virginia Nursery and Landscape Association, and is an Associate member of APLD (Association of Professional Landscape Designers). Virginia holds a Garden Design Certificate from the Royal Botanic Garden at Kew, London, a Permaculture Design Certificate in ecological and ethical design, and spent a hands-in-dirt apprenticeship at The Findhorn Foundation, Scotland. Virginia is also a member of Green Plants for Green Buildings (GPGB), the James River Green Building Council (JRGBC), and is a US Green Building Council LEED Green Associate. Gentle Gardener Green Design is a licensed nursery stock dealer, providing custom plant sourcing for the firm's design clients only.

In a prior incarnation, Virginia worked in advertising and marketing strategy for major brands including Coca-Cola after receiving her MBA from Columbia in New York. Virginia’s commitment to sustainable, green education and enterprise extends to teaching at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden and Virginia Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners; appearing on WCVE PBS television’s Virginia Home Grown; volunteering for the Orange Downtown Alliance, Rappahannock River Basin Commission and Orange County 4H; and to helping husband Robert and daughter Stella on the family cattle and timber farm in Orange County, Virginia.

Make an appointment with Virginia

Alumnae Magazine, Fall 2000, p. 29

Virginia Rockwell '79 resides in a gentle world surrounded by nature, new life and a special calling. That calling was awakened in a political science class taught by former Agnes Scott professor David Orr, a leader in environmental issues. But time passed before Rockwell could answer. Rockwell is among those talented individuals who squeeze several lifetimes into one. After graduating from Agnes Scott, she earned an M.B.A. from Columbia University in New York. The successful marketing and advertising career that followed included a stint with Coca-Cola. During this time gardening was an antidote to corporate stress.

In 1993, Rockwell stepped off the corporate ladder and landed in Scotland. An extended retreat at The Findhorn Foundation became her hands-in-the-dirt apprenticeship in organic gardening. Findhorn rekindled Rockwell's fascination with sustainability, the interest sparked by Orr. "Dr. Orr is the type of inspiring, mind expanding professor that Agnes Scott attracts," says Rockwell.

She followed her renewed interest to the Royal Botanic Garden at Kew, London. Studying with John Brookes, she earned a Garden Design Certificate.

In 1995, she was designated a Master Gardener, and in 1999 was inducted into the Virginia Society of Landscape Designers. Rockwell's liberal arts education prepared her for this latest career incarnation. "Landscape design integrates many disciplines and you must understand all of them."

In 1995, Rockwell settled in a rural area of the Virginia Piedmont where she met and married Robert Bradford, a cattle  farmer and building contractor.

In spring 1996,she opened The Gentle Gardener, a retail garden center and landscape design firm (www.gentlegardener.com). Her slogan, "For a garden as pleasing to nature as to the eye," underscores Rockwell's commitment to biodiversity and sustainability. These practices aided survival of her plant inventory during last summer's drought. In true Rockwellian fashion, she embraced the challenge, winning a blue ribbon for a garden display of drought-resistant plants. The Orange County Fair in Montpelier, Va., was the venue for Rockwell's prize -her third blue ribbon in a row. When not designing award-winning gardens, she teaches a series of landscape design workshops geared toward sustainability.

Her latest creation, daughter Stella Rockwell Bradford, was born the first day of spring, March 20, 2000.

A guiding principle of The Gentle Gardener is, "Call forth body, mind and spirit to walk in beauty." Virginia Rockwell's path is guided by her passion for creating beauty and her quest for knowledge. "You could say I'm a proponent of lifelong learning. Agnes Scott prepares you for that."

-Nancy Moreland

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