February 2018


Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp/Photo by Rob Banayote

Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp grew up in Indianapolis and lives about 15 minutes from downtown in a 1951 mid-century modern ranch. As a confessed hortiholic, she admits that her eyes are too big for her yard. You just can’t have enough plants. She feeds the birds, provides them with sources of water, and if she’d complete the inventory and application form, her landscape could be a certified Backyard Wildlife Habitat. One of these days it will be official. She considers herself a seat-of-the-pants, trial-and-error gardener.

A former newspaper reporter, she now works as a freelance writer, editor and photographer. Her work has appeared in several other national and local publications, including the American Gardener, Indiana GardeningAngie’s List magazine, Edible Indy and more. Her weekly Hoosier Gardener column has running  in the Indianapolis Star since 1989. She edits Iowa Gardener, Michigan Gardening, Minnesota Gardener and Wisconsin Gardening magazines. She works with corporations and not-for-profits on annual reports, newsletters, white papers and other types of written communication. Besides freelancing, she has worked seasonally at a large independent garden center for 17 years. She was the founding editor and a part owner of  Indiana Living Green magazine. Jo Ellen blogs at

She’s a popular speaker about garden-related topics and sustainable living, and is a member of GreatGardenSpeaker, where you can see reviews of her presentations.

As a garden coach, Jo Ellen helps clients learn about their landscapes and what to do when, problem solving and other advice. She has Going To Pot, a container planting service for residential and commercial clients.

She describes her life as a mosaic, making a living from various types of work: writing, speaking, garden coaching and landscaping.

She has a grown son, Benjamin, an avid bicyclist, who works for Stages Cycling in Boulder, Colorado, with his beautiful wife, Jennifer Sharp, and their two pups, Moonli and Makiah. And, she has dogs, Bisque and Sadie,  and a cat, Callie, who goes by Cowgirl because she’s rootin’ tootin’, all found creatures.

Jo Ellen is treasurer of Garden Writers Association, a director of the Indianapolis Museum of Art Horticultural Society, director of Indy Food Coop, which operates Pogue’s Run Grocer, and member of the Indiana Landmarks Cultural Landscape Committee. She’s past president of the Friends of Garfield Park Inc., and the Business Ownership Initiative of Indiana, and former director of the Marion County Extension Board. She is an Advanced Master Gardener in Marion County.

She and Tom Tyler are co-authors of  The Indiana Gardener’s Guide. In 2011, Jo Ellen wrote the Visitor’s Guide to American Gardens, which has more than 400 gardens in the United States and Canada, the first national garden guide in more than 10 years.  Jo Ellen was a contributing writer to:

  • The Garden Tourist 1998, 2000 and 2001 by Lois Rosenfeld, Garden Tourist Press
  • 1,001 Ingenious Gardening Ideas by Rodale Press, 1999
  • Wings of Their Dreams: Purdue In Flight by John Norberg, Purdue Press, 2003 (Amelia Earhart chapter).
  • Oxford Companion to the Garden edited by Patrick Taylor, Oxford University Press, 2006
  • The Gardener’s Garden, Phaidon Press, 2014.