Do you remember what first sparked your interest in gardening? If you garden (which we’re pretty sure you do), then you have a story or two to share from your experiences in the dirt.
Was it beautiful wildflowers? Tasty vegetables? Majestic trees?
Every one of you out there is a gardener with a unique gardening style and skill set.
Have you ever talked about your gardening routine with other people? Or, have you ever tried asking a family member, a friend, or a neighbor about their own gardening history?
Before we get going, we wanted to remind you that last week we showcased our favorite, local nursery, Watson’s Greenhouse and Nursery. We enjoyed presenting our review of this amazing nursery to all of you and hope we motivated you to visit your local nursery.
Also, if you enjoy and want to learn more about native plants in your area, go to the North American Native Plant Society or to our favorite, Washing Native Plant Society!
This week, we switch gears a bit and present our first interview with a local, professional gardener. This ongoing, monthly segment will present the life stories of amazing gardeners.
Why Interview a Gardener?
First of all, gardeners come in all shapes and sizes. Some are the amateur, do-it-yourself type of gardeners who are eager to attempt new things and therefore usually hone their craft through trial and error.
There are also the professional or master gardeners who specialize in certain types of gardening. In addition, there are beginning gardeners, indoor gardeners, rose gardeners, the list goes on and on.
Second, each and every one of these gardeners had to begin somewhere and therefore has their own story to tell. It is through these stories that we can share our knowledge within our community of gardeners in order to obtain the most enjoyment out of what we do.
We look forward to presenting their stories to you because we all have so much to learn from each other. Hopefully, you will learn and appreciate each gardener’s journey as much as we do.
True stories of gardeners and their real-life gardening experiences can inspire and educate us.
Here are some great garden books to check out!
This month, we introduce you to Roger from Seattle, Washington. Roger works as the Lead South Gardener for one of the largest school districts in Washington State. Sean met him years ago while working in the same grounds department. Currently, they still work together for the same school district but in a different department.
Roger’s employment history has spanned various grounds or garden departments for several different municipalities across the U.S.
Originally from Texas, this professional gardener has been gardening his entire life. Whether as a child growing up in the southwest, or at his personal homes in both Tennessee and North Carolina, he maintained gardens.
He has lived in multiple climatic zones eventually settling in the Pacific Northwest where he has perfected his gardening skills over the last two decades.
One piece of advice from this seasoned, veteran gardener is that the best crop to grow almost anywhere is tomatoes. Hands down.
Question #1: What first got you interested in gardening?
Roger: Growing up on a ranch in the hill country of Central Texas, my family had three large vegetable gardens. We grew multiple crops. Our family canned and stored vegetables for use over the fall and winter months until the next crop could be planted in mid-February. We also planted flowers in and around the garden.
I guess to answer your question, my mother was definitely the biggest influence in making me a lifelong gardener. I remember in addition to the large vegetable gardens, my mother kept house plants and had them on the front porch. I learned how to grow and care for many different plant species from my mother.
Question #2: Where was your first garden?
Roger: My first garden was in Texas as a child. As I said we lived on a large ranch and had both pigs and chickens in addition to vegetables. Growing up, my brother and I would spend each summer watering and tending the garden every day.
The main crops our family planted and harvested were beans, corn, tomatoes, and okra. These were crops that could be planted once and then harvested throughout the spring and summer months. Sometimes we were lucky and could plant late summer crops to be harvested in the fall depending on the climate that year.
Question #3: How would you describe your current garden in Seattle?
Roger: I would say it is mostly an English-style herb garden. I grow lots of herbs, but also vegetables an d flowers. I enjoy harvesting the leaves from multiple species of mint, thyme, sage, or other herbs so I can use the dried out leaves to make home teas. I also use the herbs for cooking.
My style is mostly sustainable or organic gardening with no chemicals added. I use fallen leaves for compost, along with other yard and kitchen debris, in order to incorporate it back into my garden for a natural, healthy soil. Weed suppression is through leaf and woodchip mulch, along with dense plantings so weeds don’t have a chance to sprout and are out-competed.
Question #4: Do you have one thing you like the most about gardening?
Roger: The beauty and the peacefulness. The garden makes me feel tranquil, relaxed, and clear minded. I love interacting with wildlife and being a part of nature. The balance I feel with nature and wildlife while making choices without harming the balance by using organic practices.
Question #5: What is your biggest gardening success of all time?
Roger: The ability to pass along my love, interest, and knowledge of gardening to my two daughters is my biggest success. I am so proud of my daughters for taking on my enthusiasm for gardening.
Also, another success is my plant starts. I believe a good gardener gives freely of their garden in order to help and share with others. By giving my plants to others, I can extend my garden and be a part of those gardens where my plants are placed.
The ability to pass along my love, interest, and knowledge of gardening to my two daughters is my biggest gardening success.
Question #6: What was your biggest goof of all time as a gardener?
Roger: Definitely my mistake of using pesticides before I was properly educated about them. Pesticides cause devastation on the environment. I became aware of pesticide-use and their terrible effects on the environment when I started working as a professional gardener in Seattle.
I am very concerned about how destructive pesticides can be on beneficial organisms and non-target organisms. These can both create a bigger problem than before the pesticide was even used.
I believe that some pest-damage levels, or thresholds, to my garden are acceptable. Natural predators and mother nature can help control garden pests.
I am very concerned about how destructive pesticides can be on beneficial organisms and non-target organisms
Roger continues his gardening journey in the Pacific Northwest. He is always looking for new plant species to grow and is expanding his herbal garden to test out in new teas. For more information on southern gardening, click here.
(Disclaimer: all interviewee’s have given full permission to share their stories and information for this blog post).
Well, that’s all for now. We hope you enjoyed this month’s interview with Roger from Seattle, Washington, and learned something to help you think about your gardening history or how you think about gardening in your own world. If you would like to be interviewed or would like to hear an interview about your favorite gardener, email us and let us know.
In the meantime, check out our post about how to prune in the winter or read our previous blog posts here! If you like to hear about different gardening topics, listen to our podcasts. Make sure watch for next week’s blog post on How To Mulch Your Garden.
Let us know if you have any questions or comments anytime, we would love to help.
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~ Sean and Allison