My garden is pretty damp and inhospitable at this time of the year—best seen from the cozy side of a window. The rainy season is frighteningly late this year in California while here in the Pacific Northwest we grudgingly acknowledge this precious resourcebut yearn for the occasion to put our weatherproof garden gear back in the closet.
Yet, despite our differences, we are all gardeners united by a love of plants. Whether I’m standing in a San Diego garden filled with blossoming succulents or flowering acacias and grevilleas in January, or back home a few days later and celebrating the return of hellebore season—a quieter but no less welcome seasonal marker—my gardener’s heart beats a little quicker at the amazing variety around me. I got to thinking about how all these plants came to our collective attention, found their way into nurseries—and our gardens—and fueled a passion that puts us outdoors in all sorts of weather, feeds our constant curiosity, and prompts a resilience and optimism that carries from year to year.
In this issue of Pacific Horticulture we’re taking a closer look at the people behind the plants. Historical figures, both mythically large and largely unsung, have forever left their mark on the West Coast landscape. Madame Ganna Walska gave us the remarkable Lotusland, while in the 1920s, J.C. Forkner (no relation) envisioned turning Fresno into a modern day Fertile Crescent of productivity and health.
Organizations focused on single genera (say, lilacs, or Pacific Coast iris), and rigorous selection committees like Great Plant Picks, are peopled with passionate and knowledgeable horticulturists sharing their expertise, as well as seed and plant stock! And, as you’ll read in the pages ahead, Pacific Horticulture Society owes its very existence to the support, direction, and continued vision of some of the West’s leading plantsmen and women.
By no means exhaustive, the following stories only hint at the many individuals behind the plants we love so dearly. Our gardens are what they are today because adventuresome travelers, inquisitive scholars, and experimental gardeners have generously shared their passion and work to bring us the wonder and riches of horticultural life on the West Coast.