Jim Martin is a lifelong gardener who has worked in public horticulture for 21 years on a variety of high-profile projects. During his 12-year tenure as director of horticulture at the Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia, S.C., he played a key role in the development of their nationally-recognized 90-acre Botanical Garden.
He was also the creative support specialist for Carolina Nurseries, located in Moncks Corner, S.C., and was instrumental in the master plan development for the Mepkin Abbey Botanical Garden, also in Moncks Corner. He’s also served as the vice president of horticulture for Brookgreen Gardens, the first public sculpture garden in America, on Pawley’s Island, S.C.
In addition, Martin is a freelance garden designer and has operated his own business, Paradise Design Inc., for the last 15 years. A Clemson University graduate, he holds a bachelor’s degree in ornamental horticulture. Long active in community projects, Martin was on the board for Columbia Green, a nonprofit organization working with green space enhancement in the downtown Columbia area. He is also one of the founding board members of the Charleston Horticultural Society and served on the board for seven years. He also received that group’s Founder’s Day 1830 award in 2008 for exemplary horticultural service and creative vision in the Lowcountry.
Besides horticulture, Martin enjoys floral artistry, which he has been studying seriously for the last seven years, as well as writing and photography. His work has been regularly featured in Charleston Magazine and Charleston Home magazine. Martin makes his home on James Island, where he tends his own half-acre garden.