If Susan Olinger ’99 of Flanders could have seen into the future when she began studying
Landscape Design and Management at County College of Morris (CCM) 18 years ago, her
accomplishments would have surprised her.
“I was always shy,” recalls Olinger. “I thought of myself as more of a follower than a leader.”
Today, she is a landscape and garden designer and the 2012 president of the national
Association of Professional Landscape Designers. She founded the New Jersey chapter of
that organization in 2007.
She has attended numerous workshops and conference tours in this country and in Europe,
and completed certificate courses at both Rutgers University and the Harvard Graduate
School of Design.
Landscapes designed by CCM graduate Susan Olinger, pictured above Olinger first developed an appreciation
for gardening while working at a garden center. “I really enjoyed working with the plants and I decided to learn more,” she says. “The first person who I spoke with at CCM was very helpful in pointing out what courses were coming up that semester and where I should start. It gave me a good feeling about the program.” She began her studies in 1994, attending part-time while she worked, and completed her Associate in Science in Landscape Design and Management five years later. From there, she transferred to Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU) to major in English. “Another goal of mine was to be a garden writer, but I didn’t finish at FDU because my career was taking off. I figured I’d go back. At some point, I will.”
Today, she works as a landscape and garden designer with a company in Flanders. Prior to that, she worked in a retail nursery, managed private gardens, and served a two-year horticultural internship at the Frelinghuysen Arboretum, Morristown.
She has lectured to groups on garden design and plant maintenance, and is a freelance garden writer and member of the Garden Writers Association. This spring, she will be donating her services to design a garden space during the annual Mansion in May fundraiser for the Morristown Medical Center.
“I like working with people and it’s wonderful to be outdoors,” she says. “I wouldn’t call myself an artist, but I’ve always had a creative desire and landscape design offers an outlet for that.”