Evelyn Alemanni - Southwest
Sub-Region: Southern California Coastal, Inland
Evelyn Alemanni is a self-employed writer, artist, web site designer and award-winning gardener. She is a member of the board of directors of America in Bloom, a national organization that promotes the use of plants to improve the quality of life in our towns and cities. As a judge for the America in Bloom competition and also the Canadian International Communities in Bloom competition, she has evaluated more than 60 towns in five countries. As a judge for the international LivCom Awards, she has judged projects from 19 countries. Just released is her new book, Best Ideas, which includes more than 2000 best practices from towns in the US that can easily be adapted as models for improvements by towns across America. The book has been nominated for the national book award of the American Horticultural Society. It is available from America in Bloom at www.americainbloom.org . In the past, Evelyn served on the board of trustees of the San Diego Botanic Garden (formerly Quail Botanical Gardens).
In 2001, Good Morning America named Evelyn's garden one of the five best in the U.S. San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles has twice named it one of its gardens of the year. Garden Ideas and Outdoor Living featured it on its cover. It has also been in Garden Shed, Better Homes and Gardens, Dream Gardens Across America, Gardens, Decks and Landscapes and Landscape Solutions and on many television shows.
Evelyn's garden writing and photography have appeared in San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles, Garden Compass, Pacific Horticulture, Planting Pride, and the San Diego Union. She is a popular speaker at local garden clubs and has appeared on radio and television.
Evelyn lives with her husband and two basset hounds in Elfin Forest, California and gardens on 5.5 acres.
Please tell us briefly about your favorite cause/business/product in which you are involved that you would like to share with the general public and why.
Marilyn's Own (www.marilynsown.com) they sell humate and mycorhizzae that works miracles in gardens. Quail Botanical Gardens - the only botanical garden in San Diego County. An undervalued resource. Elfin Forest Garden Festival - www.elfinforestgardens.info . Raises funds for community projects in this unincorporated, north county community. One of the last rural communities close to the coast. America in Bloom (www.americainbloom.org ). I judge for this organization, helping towns across the US to improve their quality of life. Communities in Bloom (www.cib.org) . I judge for this organization, helping towns across Canada and Europe improve their quality of life. LivCom – www.livcomawards.com. I judge for this international organization which helps promote international best practices for sustainable communities.
Where can members get more of your advice?
www.allea.com and by participating in America in Bloom. I speak to groups throughout North America and appear and radio and television programs. .
Evelyn's Book Recommendations
Written and designed by Evelyn Alemanni. A compilation of more than 2000 practical ideas you can use to improve the town where you live. Includes photos by Evelyn Alemanni.
Evelyn's Favorite Websites
Buena Creek Gardens Nursery
Briefly describe the climate where you garden now (climate zone, state, area) and any other areas where you have gardened in the past.
I have gardened in California for 35 years. Zone 9.5. As a judge for AIB and CIB, I have the privilege of exploring gardens, parks, and wildlands around the world.
How long have you been gardening?
Since I could walk.
What triggered your interest?
Flowers growing in my grandfather's lawn.
What formal education do you have?
Six years of college. Self taught in horticulture.
What is your favorite garden or plant-related topic? Tell us a little about them.
Flower arranging and flower photography. I grow lots of flowers for bouquets and pick a large bouquet almost every day of the year. I love to give bouquets to people. Taking closeup photos of flowers is also fun. I like to go out in my garden on the first day of the month and photograph every flower that's blooming. It usually takes at least 4 hours. My photos have appeared in many magazines and newspapers, even magazine covers.
What is your biggest gardening pet peeve? Tell us about it.
Most bedding plants these days don't make good cut flowers. It is hard to find plants for growing "florist quality" flowers.
How much time per week do you spend gardening?
All gardening is a pleasure! 20 - 40 hours.
How much time per week do you spend working at the business of gardening, such as consulting, reading, writing or talking about your gardening subject?
I am not in the gardening "business", but frequently speak to garden groups and spend about 3 months per year on activities related to America in Bloom, Communities in Bloom, and LivCom.
What gardening or horticultural clubs, societies, or organizations (or any other interest) do you belong to?
American Horticultural Society, America in Bloom, Communities in Bloom (International, LivCom).
What do you like most about gardening?
What do you dislike most about gardening?
The cost of water. Standard time and short days.
What individual has influenced your gardening interest the most? How?
My mother. She is always planting and gardening.
What is your favorite place or activity in the garden?
My greenhouse is a magic place where "life begins".
What is your favorite time in the garden?
What is your favorite public or private garden in the world? Why?
The grounds of the Hotel Bora Bora in the South Pacific. There are fragrant, tropical flowers everywhere. Each morning, the staff picks the flowers to make leis for the guests. The air is warm and scented with plumerias, ginger, hibiscus and more. Also Powis Castle in Wales.
What is your favorite color in the garden?
The garden chooses its own colors. For example, one year I planted a "purple garden" and bright orange nasturtiums volunteers all through it.
If you could grow only one plant, what would it be?
Flutterbye Rose. Its flowers range in color from light yellow to bright orange, with tones of pink and apricot in between. The hips are bright red, and the leaves are glossy. It is a vigorous, easy to grow plant that brings constant pleasure.
What plant have you tried to grow that has given you the most trouble? Or, what plant would you like to grow and can't, and why?
I kill hydrangeas, daylilies, azaleas, gardenias and camellias. The soil pH is probably wrong, and I'm very stingy with water. Of course I'd like to grow these because they're lovely cut flowers. Delphiniums are also hard to grow, but that's climate related.
What is your favorite gardening outfit or costume?
An apron with three pockets is my “must wear” for gardening. One pocket for pruners, one for gloves, another for miscellaneous – seeds, twine, etc.
Do you have a gardening philosophy you would like to share with other gardeners? What is it?
Don't waste your time talking to the plants, listen to them, they'll tell you what to do. Plant what you want, where you want, when you want. Roots go down. If you share your garden with the family dogs, wear shoes.
Who is your own favorite gardening personality on TV, radio or in print? Why?
Sorry, don't have one.
What is the one question about gardening you would really like people to ask you?
How do you achieve that look of controlled chaos in your garden?
And what's the answer?
It does it itself.
What is a garden myth you hear frequently which you know is untrue?
That you need to alternate grass and other garden wastes and turn it periodically to MAKE good compost.
And, what is the reality?
I put everything in one bin til it's almost dry, then shred it, adding one cup humate to one yard of shredded yard waste. I spray it with water til it's moist, and in about 4 to 6 weeks, VOILA! Compost!
What group or kind of person do you think would benefit most from the advice you can give on gardening?
Garden clubs enjoy having me as a guest speaker, I have given presentations at botanical gardens internationally, speak to community groups, and the towns that I visit for America in Bloom and Communities in Bloom say that my advice is better than they get from consultants to whom they pay tens of thousands of dollars.
Would you like to participate, or can you recommend someone who you think should? We're always looking for more expert gardeners to tell about their philosophies and give their plant recommendations contact us and we'll get started (it's easy and a great way to promote yourself).