Below are snippets from an interview - enjoy his words
"I think one of the great things about my career has been wisdom is acquired, if that’s the right way to put it, acquired with certainly a sort of passion for your subject matter. You’re continually student. You’re always in the learning mode. I’ve been so many places and I think been blessed to have so many different experiences with tree selection, tree planting, tree observation, actually hands on. I’m a hands-on sort of guy. We have about three and a half acres. I’ve got most of it planted. My wife and I are both avid gardeners. I just turned 70, Bonnie’s 66, so we’re not exactly spring chickens anymore. My goal in life is to be planting and when I fall over I have one hand on a plant, one hand on a shovel and looking for a spot to put that plant in the garden. I’m going to keep at it until my last day on planet Earth. It’s been a journey. So far the journey’s not over."
What is a noble tree?
It’s anything that outlives us. It’s anything that spans generations, has a long life, supports wildlife, fixes CO2, spits out oxygen, prevents erosion, increases property values, something that’s inherent in our everyday life. We need large trees.
Trees make a gigantic difference in just the psychology of what you’re talking about, when you’re walking through a neighborhood and it kind of gives you a feeling that somebody cares or somebody did care. Somebody way down the road cared. There’s a great quote about planting trees under whose shade you shall never sit. The true meaning of life is to plant trees under whose shade you shall never sit. I think that’s true. You have to look at this for the long term.
What are your favorite plants in your garden?
Certainly Witch hazel, Hamamelis is already finished flowering for us. The intermedia one called ‘Wisley Supreme’ and ‘Jelena.’ I’ve had many over the years.
The Viburnums, I have over 50 viburnums in the garden right now. We’ve bred viburnums so we’ve got some of our new ones and some old standbys too. Viburnums give you multi-season interest. Obviously you’ve got flowers, good summer foliage, fall color and you even have fruits hanging on into the winter months. It’s hard to beat viburnums as a group.
Crape myrtles, we have crape myrtles of every color except for blue and yellow, so we’ve got whites and pinks and purples and reds. For summer bloom from June until literally August September, again, how do you beat crape myrtles? That’s one of those plants that flowers on new growth.
Hydrangeas, by goodness, hydrangeas. Hydrangea macrophylla, I’ve got all the rebloomers: ‘David Ramsey,’ ‘Decatur Blue,’ ‘Endless Summer,’ ‘Oak Hill,’ and ‘Penny Mac.’ You name it we got it. ‘Bloomstruck.’ They’re all in the garden and they all performed magnificently last year.
Three and a half acres is pretty big. And it’s one old man and one older lady taking care of it. It can chew you up. Sometimes you question in the middle of summer when it’s a hundred degrees and the humidity is 99 percent, and you think, ‘Why are we doing this?’ Well we’re doing it because we love it. I mentioned magnolias before, I have a lot of magnolias in the garden.