About the gardener

To a certain extent, I think my love of gardening originated in a love of digging. Gardening is an excuse for me to get my hands in the soil.

Pictured here is my first formal garden, circa 1962. I remember clearly selecting and planting the crepe myrtle sapling. I think it had purple flowers, which would naturally have been a great attraction (I still veer toward purples and blues in the garden). Along side is a potted zinnia, grown from seed, and an even smaller pot with an Ajuga reptans (another blue flower).

I regret to confess that I was also mean to plants occasionally, stripping the leaves off Boston ferns or picking camellia buds to peel them laboriously like an onion. There was some indescribable fascination with exploring what was inside the unborn blossom.

It was a modest start. In 1970 things exploded, fueled from a discovery via the Whole Earth Catalog that seed and plant catalogs could be ordered for free. I ordered about forty and was inundated with horticultural information. In addition to regular seeds, I started experimenting with plants shipped through the mail, including bare-root roses from Tillotson's in Mill Valley, the legendary nursery that helped popularize the resurgence of old garden roses in modern gardens.

Since 1975 I've been a renter without land of my own, which led to a number of modular container gardens (and in some cases "legacy" plants...my pink-flowering strawberries are descendants of the ones I first planted in 1980). My current landlord is somewhat forgiving of my encroachment on their territory. In 2002 I claimed some ground that was formerly lawn and planted antique roses. Every few years I extend back a little further. Learning to propagate my own heirloom roses provided me with more stock to include in the landscape.

Some landscaping decisions have been out of my control, such as a Brazilian Sky Flower that was supposed to be the shrub form but was actually a fifteen foot tall tree when it got up to speed. It inspired me to create a fern garden under its dappled shade. Sometimes it seems as if the garden is making decisions, not me!