About the Author
Author: Mitch Shirts
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.
San Diego Botanic Gardens is my local favorite garden interest. Although I've worked at SDBG less than four years, I've been a fan for almost thirty years.
You can contact me at San Diego Botanic Gardens.
Briefly describe the climate where you garden now (climate zone, state, area) and any other areas where you have gardened in the past.
Coastal San Diego; in the past - the midwest
How long have you been gardening?
40 years (do I sound old or what?)
What triggered your interest?
Interests in the natural world, design and being outdoors.
What is your specialty, expertise or claim to fame?
Botanical/public garden management; general horitcultural knowledge of a wide range of plants; zoo horticulture.
What formal education do you have?
Bachelor of Arts from the University of Michigan with a major in geography.
What formal horticultural training do you have?
Bachelor of Science from Michigan State University with a major in ornamental horticulture.
What is your favorite garden or plant-related topic? Tell us a little about them.
Dave's Book Recommendations
Sunset Western Garden Book
Dave's Favorite Websites
Great resource for insects, diseases, and other pests.
What is your biggest gardening pet peeve? Tell us about it.
Veldt grass (Ehrharta erecta) and related species. This is such a nasty weed because it so well adapted to our local climate. It is very drought and shade tolerant, and produces seeds prolifically. In just the past decade or so it has become an incredible problem in many landscapes of western SD County.
How much time per week do you spend gardening?
3-4 hours plus work at QBG.
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?
40-50 hours per week at QBG.
What gardening or horticultural clubs, societies, or organizations (or any other interest) do you belong to?
San Diego Horticultural Society, American Horticultural Society, California Native Plants Society, American Public Garden Association, Zoological Society of San Diego, Association of Zoo Horticulture
What other biographical information would you like to share?
My wife Claire is a horticulture instructor at Mira Costa College
What do you like most about gardening?
The beauty of plants and gardens, fascinating and unusual plants, being outside in the normally idyllic San Diego climate.
What do you dislike most about gardening?
Being outside in really bad weather which happens much more often back East.
What individual has influenced your gardening interest the most? How?
Several plantsmen - writers like Donal Wyman, Graham Stuart Thomas, Michael Dirr, and J.C. Raulston have been most influential. Their wide ranging interests and passion about plants have been inspirational.
What is your favorite place or activity in the garden?
I enjoy planting and pruning most.
What is your favorite time in the garden?
Early morning or late afternoon
What is your favorite public or private garden in the world? Why?
What is your favorite color in the garden?
If you could grow only one plant, what would it be?
Madrone - Arbutus mengiisii
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?
Silver tree leucondendron argenta has been very difficult. I'd love to grow Arbutus mengiesii but I have never lived in a climate or with tap water where it would survive.
What is your favorite gardening outfit or costume?
T-shirt, shorts and sandals.
Do you have a gardening philosophy you would like to share with other gardeners? What is it?
Be observant, read as much as you can, talk to others.
Who is your own favorite gardening personality on TV, radio or in print? Why?
My favorite is John Bagnasco on "Garden Compass" radio and magazine as he has been a good friend since college.
What is the one question about gardening you would really like people to ask you?
Why do so many landscape plants from back East do as well as they do out here?
And what's the answer?
Even though this seems like such a radically different climate we are on the same latitude as Myrtle Beach, South Carolina many do quite fine given some water. Some like pampas grass do better here than back east, while others do fine in the landscape if given enough water during our long summer/fall drought.
What is a garden myth you hear frequently which you know is untrue?
Bamboo is invasive.
And, what is the reality?
Actually clumping bamboo is not, while running bamboos are certainly fast spreading and challenging to contain.
What group or kind of person do you think would benefit most from the advice you can give on gardening?
People who move here from back East and who are trying to figure out what to do now.
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).