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Steve Brigham

Sub-Region: Southern California Coastal, Inland
State: California
Business: Owner Buena Creek Nursery

Biographical Information

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.
Uncommon flowering garden plants that are easy to grow and use less water, with an emphasis on bird and butterfly plants.

Where can members get more of your advice?

Background Information Briefly describe the climate where you garden now (climate zone, state, area) and any other areas where you have gardened in the past.
Buena Creek Gardens is in USDA Zone 10A and Sunset Zone 23. I have also gardened in the San Francisco Bay Area and in Santa Cruz County, CA.

How long have you been gardening?
46 years.

What triggered your interest?
Vegetables originally, but then ornamentals, with my Mom's inspiration (she planted an arboretum on our 1-acre property in Atherton, CA.)

What is your specialty, expertise or claim to fame?
I am a combination of horticulturist, botanist, and naturalist.

What formal education do you have?
B.A. in Biology/Natural History/ Environmental Studies, UC Santa Cruz, 1978.

Steve's Book Recommendations

Mediterranean Climate Trees for The Garden, Ornamental Trees of San Diego

It has more kinds of plants and more photos than any other book.

Sunset Western Garden Book
I like it because of all of its West-Coast based information

Steve's Favorite Websites

What formal horticultural training do you have?
UC Santa Cruz Arboretum, 1972-78 plus college courses at UC Santa Cruz.

What is your favorite garden or plant-related topic? Tell us a little about them.
New Plants, but also Bird and Butterfly Gardening.

What is your biggest gardening pet peeve? Tell us about it.
My biggest gardening pet peeve is that small quantities of pesticides are seldom available to consumers. Now folks shouldn't be using pesticides (I don't), but many people do anyway. Instead of being able to get a single dose of pesticide for a specific problem, however, they have to buy a big bottle of whatever - which would be enough to last them several lifetimes. And so some folks end up building up dangerous arsenals of extremely toxic chemicals that they'll never use but that probably would merit some monitoring by the Department of Homeland Security! For both environmental and safety reasons, that's just plain wrong!

How much time per week do you spend gardening?

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?

What gardening or horticultural clubs, societies, or organizations (or any other interest) do you belong to?
San Diego Horticultural Society, Quail Botanical Gardens Foundation.

What other biographical information would you like to share?

Gardening Questions

What do you like most about gardening?
Propagating new plants.

What do you dislike most about gardening?

What individual has influenced your gardening interest the most? How?
Marshall Olbrich, Western Hills Nursery, Occidental, CA, 1970's and 1980's. ('nuff said, but I always wanted to do what he did in a climate where I could grow many more kinds of cold-tender plants).

What is your favorite place or activity in the garden?
Watching the birds and butterflies in our Bird & Butterfly garden.

What is your favorite time in the garden?
9-10 AM (before we open to the public).

What is your favorite public or private garden in the world? Why?
The Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden (just north of Hilo) has some mighty fantastic tropical specimens, and seems like a very friendly place as well.

What is your favorite color in the garden?
Purple and orange and green together.

If you could grow only one plant, what would it be?
Amherstia nobilis.

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?
Lots of plants should grow here, but just end up dying in the summer because of our heavily-chlorinated and alkaline Colorado River irrigation water. The answer is amherstia nobilis, it's just too tropical for almost everybody, but when it's in bloom, it's the most beautiful tree in the world.

What is your favorite gardening outfit or costume?
I only wear one outfit, shorts (or jeans when it's cold), white T-shirt, and (when it's cold) a navy-blue zippered sweatshirt.

Do you have a gardening philosophy you would like to share with other gardeners? What is it?
Nature is supreme, and gardening should be fun, please don't make it any more complicated than that.

Who is your own favorite gardening personality on TV, radio or in print? Why?
I don't watch TV, but I like Judy Wigand's Sunday columns in the San Diego Union-Tribune Homescape section.

What is the one question about gardening you would really like people to ask you?
Why do we garden?

And what's the answer?
Because Nature is beautiful, and we love Beauty.

What is a garden myth you hear frequently which you know is untrue?

And, what is the reality?
You may not need these things, but they're big profit-makers for the commercial nurseries! Buy plants instead!!

What group or kind of person do you think would benefit most from the advice you can give on gardening?
Folks who like Nature will like me.

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).

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