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15 Incredible People I Met at the San Francisco Flower & Garden Show

March 28, 2009


from left: Jayme Jenkins, Debra Prinzing, Joan Bolton, Scott Calhoun, Nan Sterman, Hazel White, Julie Chai, Melinda Myers, Saxon Holt, Billy Goodnick

Remembering names is a skill I’ve mastered being in sales, however, remembering the names of a people I’ve never met is impossible.  The most stimulating part part of any garden show is the amazing people you meet along the way and putting a face with a name.  Below are the 15 most memorable people I met San Francisco. I was awestruck to learn about their experiences, their backgrounds, and how some of them played such an integral role in my growing passion for gardening. Check out my Flickr for more photos.

15 Incredible People


Joan Bolton, principal designer for Santa Barbara Garden Design, has been designing South Coast gardens for more than 10 years.  Many of her clients seek out her help in redesigning their inherited spaces or to spruce up their untidy, tired-out landscapes.  You may have unknowingly read some of her articles a few years back in Woman’s Day‘s gardening publications, Horticulture Magazine, Landscape Architecture magazine and the Los Angeles Times among others.  Currently, you can catch her In the Garden articles featured in the Santa Maria Times, Santa Ynez Valley News, Lompoc Record and Times-Press-Recorder.  She is also the garden editor for Edible Santa Barbara, a new publication set to make its debut this month.  Good luck Joan!

I first met Joan at the Garden Writers reception the first day of the show and got to know her a little more at dinner and coffee the next morning.  I enjoyed every minute of hanging out with Joan.  She has a very warm smile and relaxed way about her.


Kathy Brenzel is the garden editor for Sunset Magazine, and Sunset Western Garden Book, which is considered by many as a backyard bible.  I had the opportunity to sit in on her seminar, The “Natural” Garden, where she showed many examples of how to create earth-friendly landscapes that attract wildlife and conserve resources, without having to start from scratch.  I really appreciated her practical approach to transforming existing yards into more ec0-friendly spaces designed to either seek solace or entertain friends and family.  I was privileged in getting a signed copy of the updated Western Garden Book and to chat with her on a personal level.

You don’t have to start over; it’s possible to build sustainability into your garden one step at a time.  Start a compost pile.  Replace a patch of lawn with unthirsty ground covers, or put down a gravel path instead of solid concrete. –Kathy Brenzel

scott_calhoun Scott Calhoun is another name to look out for when you are reading the monthly garden column in Sunset Magazine and he freelances for other garden publications including Horticulture, American Gardener and Wildflower magazine.  I was so bummed to miss his two seminars at the show but he has two new books, The Hot Garden and Designer Plant Combinations.  Scott’s Tucson-based landscape design company, Zona Gardens, creates designs that observe the desert’s natural planting patterns and uses pops of color to add excitement to his clients’ spaces.

>> Catch Scott on his blog, website, books, Twitter.

julie_chaiJulie Chai is the associate garden editor for Sunset Magazine.  You’ve probably seen many of her garden articles around the internet and on Sunset’s garden blog Fresh Dirt.  Now you can catch her on Sunset’s Backyard TV hosting many how-to videos including Make Your Own Compost Bin, How to Stake a Tomato and How to Get Great Dirt.

rebecca_cole Rebecca Cole Does anyone remember the show Surprise by Design on the Discovery channel?  I had the opportunity to personally meet the show’s host in San Francisco at the Garden Writers reception.  Rebecca Cole has now taken the garden design world by storm with her New York based company Rebecca Cole Design, and internationally known as Cole Creates.  She teamed up with Smith & Hawken and Mark Campbell to create the Sky’s the Limit display garden at both the San Francisco and Seattle garden shows.  I left the show on Friday so I regretfully missed her seminar on Creating an Urban Jungle.

>> Catch Rebecca on her website, blog

ros_creasy Rosalind Creasy is only the pioneer of the field Edible Landscaping.  Her work, starting back in the 1970s, has revolutionized the way many of us think about gardening.  I was so honored, yet so embarrassed, to meet her for the first time at the Garden Writers reception.  I so ignorantly stated that I thought edible landscaping, and I don’t mean rows of vegetables but actually designing with edibles, was a relatively new concept (mind you, I’m not well versed on the history of horticulture being in sales).  Lucky for me, she kept her opinions to herself and granted me a photo op instead.  Rosalind has published 14 books about edible gardening and you can catch her latest contribution in Edible Estates: Attack on the Front Lawn.

>> Catch Rosalind on her website, books

welton-bg-4x6_1 Billy Goodnick is the Anthony Bordain of the landscape world, too witty for words.  I found myself not able to keep up with him sometimes because I was still trying to interpret what he said 3 sentences ago.  Regardless of my literary ignorance, I found him to be very entertaining and he made laugh, a lot.  When he is not designing landscapes for bdgc, Billy is an instructor, garden columnist, garden coach, blogger and TV host of Garden Wise Guys, and a rock-solid drummer for his band King Bee.  I feel priveleged that he takes the time to throw me a tweet every now and then.  Check out his portfolio of design work, simply an all-around talent.

>> Catch Billy on his website, blog, Twitter

holt_968_091 Saxon Holt is a world renowned photographer in the garden world.  His work focuses on the relationship of gardens to the land.  Some of his many photography assignments include Sunset Magazine, Horticulture, Fine Gardening, Architectural Digest, Gardening How-To, and new book Hardy Succulents.  If you have the time and need a boost of inspiration, his photo stories are so click-worthy.

joe2lowJoe Lamp’l is the guy behind the Joe Gardener brand.  You’re living in a cave if you haven’t seen either of his two national TV shows; GardenSMART on PBS and Fresh From the Garden on the DIY Network.  Joe’s latest project is promoting the idea of gardening on a budget with his $25 Victory Garden, check out his story on Good Morning America.

I conducted a phone interview with Joe back in February and I was so excited to finally meet him in person.  Even though he caught a plane  at 2:30 AM from the east coast to make it to the San Fransisco show, he was still willing to talk with me and sign my copy of his new book The Green Gardener’s Guide (will post a review soon).  Super nice guy!  Check out Joe’s website; full of great gardening tips and a free downloadable ebook Easy Vegetable Gardening Guide.

>> Catch Joe on his website, blog, books, Facebook, Twitter, Podcasts.


Debra Prinzing is a California-based author and lecturer who specializes in style gardens, interiors, and floral design projects.  She is a very special friend of mine thanks to Twitter.  Debra has authored five books (see my review of her latest book Stylish Sheds and Elegant Hideaways) and some of her current articles include Garden Design, Metropolitan Home, Sunset Magazine and Los Angelos Times HOME section.

Debra’s seminar, Your Private Escape, really sparked my imagination and got me thinking differently about the spaces in my own backyard.  I built a utility shed last year but I would hardly call it an escape.  People seem to travel less because of the economy, and adding a backyard getaway, or sprucing up what you already have, is a great way to leave the daily grind at the back door.  I owe a large part of my fabulous stay in San Francisco to Debra.  Thank you for your kindness and generosity.

>> Catch Debra on her website, blogbooks, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn


Melinda Myers has a CV (curriculum vitae) to die for.  Her background in horticulture is extensive with a BA from Ohio State University and a masters degree from University of Wisconsin.  In her 25 years of horticulture experience, she has written 20 books, started Milwaukee’s Master Gardener program, and numerous awards for her radio, television, communication and educational efforts.

I was fortunate to catch her seminar on Flavorful Landscapes: Adding Ornamental Vegetables to the Garden. Melinda recommends to think substitution as an easy way of incorporating veggies into your landscape:  use strawberries or thyme for groundcovers,  fruit trees for shade and raspberries or espalier for hedges. I’ve met some hoity-toity horticulturists, but Melinda is very approachable with her down-to-earth and friendly manner.

>> Catch Melinda on her website, Podcasts, books

nan_headshot Nan Sterman is an award-winning garden communicator, gardening expert, designer, and author of California Gardeners Guide.  She has two graduate degrees, one in biology and the second in training and education development.  She spent a decade consulting to Fortune 500 companies, non-profits, school districts, museums, zoos and botanical gardens.  Her experience doesn’t stop there, read more about her on her website Plant Soup, Inc.

I really enjoyed her seminar on Summer Gardening from Seeds and Cuttings.  I learned so many simple tricks to help me be more successful with seed starts.  She recommended seeds from Renee’s Garden, which we got two free packs to take home, because of their quality and detailed growing information.  I’ve never seen the back of a seed pack filled with so much helpful information.  She said spending a little more for quality seeds is well worth the money, because you get what you pay for.  I was delighted to see Nan sporting the same pair of West County Gloves I wear when I work in the garden.

>> Catch Nan on her website, blog, books

Gardens should feed souls and bellies – both human and non-human! — Nan Sterman

paultukeyPaul Tukey is the founding editor and publisher of People, Places & Plants magazine and author of The Organic Lawn Care Manual, the nation’s best-selling lawn care book in 2007 and 2008.  As a Safe Lawns spokesperson, Paul is a frequent public speaker on the subjects of gardening and environmental awareness, and has been featured on Good Morning America, Martha Stewart Living, NBC News, the New York Times, Men’s Health and USA Weekend.

Paul’s seminar Natural Lawn showed the smack-in-the-face consequences of trying to achieve the perfect lawn.  I greatly appreciate his efforts in stopping our chemical dependence on fertilizers and herbicides.

>> Catch Paul on his website, books

Learn more about the Gulf of Mexico’s Dead Zone in Assignment Earth’s brief video.

no_image1 Hazel White is the author and co-author of many Sunset books.  Before the San Francisco show, I didn’t realize the books I was reading to help guide me through designing my own garden were authored by Hazel.  On of my must-haves is The Edible Garden.  I was so bummed that I didn’t get a chance to talk more with Hazel at dinner with the other Garden Writers Association members.

>> Catch Hazel on her website, books

ez-tight-shot Ellen Zachos is a garden writer and photographer, a garden designer and an instructor at the New York Botanical Garden.  In 1997, Ellen founded Acme Plant Stuff, a boutique horticultural services company specializing in design, installation, and maintenance of exterior and interior landscapes.  I missed her seminars but there’s always next year.

Debra Prinzing introduced me to Ellen at the show.  While we were having coffee, I kept thinking she reminded me of someone.  Come to find out, she is a former Broadway performer and she’s played countless Julie Andrews’ roles.  That was it, Julie Andrews!  Ellen just released Green Up Time, a CD that combines her two passions, plants and music. Her voice has a striking resemblance to Julie Andrews as well.  Listen to sample tracks from her new CD

>> Catch Ellen on her website, blog, books

Who has influenced your passion for gardening?

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20 Comments leave one →
  1. March 28, 2009 8:39 pm

    Wow Jayme, that’s quite a list of who’s who! I’m just glad to make the cut! Thanks for all you do to keep the importance of gardening on the minds of so many people. I know it would seem biased to include yourself in this line up, but if it were me writing this article, I’d include you!
    thanks for all YOU do!

    • March 29, 2009 10:04 am

      You are welcome Joe! I do what I can to let people know it’s cool to be a garden nerd.

  2. dkprinzing permalink
    March 28, 2009 10:34 pm

    Hi Jayme, well, what a crowd of hort-heads you’ve assembled here! Like Joe, I’m so flattered to be included in your gathering of gardeners. You are the up-and-comer, my friend. We’re all inspired to know there are younger, hipper adventurous gardeners like you to carry on the passion with your own generation.
    It was so great to spend time with you in SF – A real treat! Now you have to join Garden Writers and come to Raleigh NC in September!
    xoxo Debra

    • March 29, 2009 10:07 am

      Thanks for the nice comments Debra! You are right, I will sign up with GWA and consider coming to Raleigh. That would be so much fun. Good luck on your last bout of speaking engagements.

  3. Dawn Stranne permalink
    March 29, 2009 9:57 am

    It was such a pleasure having you at the show and chatting in the press room…I hope we’ll get more time next time!
    Cheers, Dawn

    • March 29, 2009 10:12 am

      Hi Dawn. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment on my blog! You were so helpful in breaking the ice for me at the GWA reception. Thanks again for making me feel welcome.

  4. March 29, 2009 12:26 pm

    Hey Jayme, I don’t know anyone who devoured the garden show quite like you did. You have a knack for gathering ideas and people together. Thanks for the mention and keep up the good work.

    • March 29, 2009 1:06 pm

      Really? I’ll take that as a compliment. I crave ideas and helping others succeed. Now I just need find the time to do everything. Thanks for stopping by Scott!

  5. March 29, 2009 4:28 pm

    Hi Jayme,
    I’m honored to be in such good company, thank you. It was great meeting you and don’t forget, we have a date to debate the virtues of botanical Latin in Raleigh next September! I suspect you may be as stubborn and opinionated (both excellent qualities!) as I am.

  6. March 29, 2009 10:13 pm

    Hey Jayme – Indeed, a group of good folks all united by a passion for gardening – and communication. Glad you are a part of that group. If your readers want to see some garden photography lessons go on over to Gardening Gone Wild where I am part of a group blog

    Who has influenced my passion for gardening ? Almost every garden I see excites me to do something different myself and I purposely seek out well known gardener writers to collaborate on my books. Each of these writers has influenced my passion which is always changing and growing. But to be downright honest, it was my parents who most influenced me. I suppose the chores of harvesting the vegetables, weeding dandelions, and cutting the grass, actually embedded something in me that made me long to do gardening “chores” whenever I can. (though I don’t have a lawn…)

    Onward – Saxon

    • March 31, 2009 7:26 am

      I will add your group blog to your profile summary. Thanks for the link recommendation.

      I would be overwhelmed with influence in working with as many top designers as you do. What an awesome career you have and your photos scream of talent. Like you, my mom had to be one my greatest inspirations for gardening. It’s how we found the connection we have today.

      Thanks for stopping by Saxon. Best of luck in 2009!

  7. March 30, 2009 9:30 pm

    What a great idea for a post. Good for you. And it is well-written and concise as well. I always learn from you, Jayme, and appreciate the opportunity to do so. I love how your posts are so important to you-they are full of detail and never skimp. Thank you for that and for sharing these 15 great people with us! -Julie Bonn Heath

    • March 31, 2009 6:50 am

      Wow Julie, thanks for the nice comments! That means a lot coming from you. Hope you are well.

  8. March 31, 2009 11:45 am

    Beautiful post Jayme! Very elegant introductions to some familiar and new faces in the garden community. Wish I could have gone to the show! Thanks for sharing.
    Keep up the good work!
    ~Christina Salwitz
    ~The Personal Garden Coach

    • April 1, 2009 6:48 am

      Thanks Christina. I appreciate you feedback and glad you like the post. I wish you could have gone to the show too. You would’ve had fun and we could have finally met in person. Next time.


  9. April 3, 2009 12:35 pm

    Great plants and even better people! You can’t ask for more in life. Thanks to you and all the others for making the San Fransciso Flower Show fun and memorable. Thanks also for nudging me into the world of social networking. I just may surprise you with a tweet. Keep up the good work inspiring others to garden. – Melinda


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