February 2016


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 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 appears in several national and local publications, including the American Gardener, Indiana GardeningAngie’s List magazine and her Hoosier Gardener column in the Indianapolis Star. 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 13 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.

Jo Ellen recently launched a new venture as garden coach to help 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. And, she and Landscape Fancies’ Wendy Ford, a garden designer, work with residential and commercial clients on landscape design, plant selection and installation.

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, who is a coach at USA Cycling and was the coach of the cycling teams in the 2012 Olympic Games in London. And, she has dogs, Bisque and Sadie,  and a cat, Callie, who goes by Cowgirl because she’s rootin’ tootin’, all found.

Jo Ellen is secretary of Garden Writers Association, former director of the Marion County Extension Board , a director of the Indianapolis Museum of Art Horticultural Society, president of the Friends of Garfield Park Inc., and past president of the Business Ownership Initiative of Indiana. She is an Advanced Master Gardener in Marion County.

She also volunteers at WFYI (marketing, communications and public relations subcommittee), the Indianapolis City Market (container and landscape plantings), Capital City Garden Project (Spring Garden Clinic) and Garfield Park. She also is a member of the Indiana Historic Landscapes Alliance, a not-for-profit organization that works to promote awareness, preservation and tourism at culturally significant landscapes throughout Indiana. She is also a member of the Indiana Historical Society and Indiana Landmarks.

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