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Jim Threadgill

Sub-Region: Southern California Coastal, Inland
State: California
Business: Owner - The California Flower Bulb Company

Biographical Information

I'm married, 3 children spread out from elementary school to college, 2 cats, 1 dog, 21 finches, parakeets, love birds, etc.

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.
We are the exclusive marketers of the flower bulbs that are grown at The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California. We specialize in flower bulbs, and a few perennials, that will grow and flower with profusion in the California home garden.

Where can members get more of your advice? for bulbs and plants that work in California. I speak publicly 5 or 6 times per year at various southern California locations (The Huntington, local gardening clubs, etc.) I am almost always available by telephone and e-mail.

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.
Coastal Carlsbad is the only location where I have gardened by choice. A very coastal marine environment.

How long have you been gardening?
21 Years.

What triggered your interest?
I didn't like the idea of driving home from work and seeing that my neighbors had nicer flowers than us. My wife was clearly a driving force.

What is your specialty, expertise or claim to fame?
My specialty is flower bulbs that are appropriate for the California home garden. Most of these are native to other Mediterranean Climates (Israel, southern Europe, South Africa, etc) just like we have here. Bulbs that will acclimate and continue to perform annually on our meager 10" rain per year. Most Dutch bulbs just don't work here.

What formal education do you have?
BA in Business from Arizona State University.

Jim's Book Recommendations

Cape Bulbs

Best Bulbs for Temperate Climates

California's Gardener's Guide

  Jim's Favorite Websites

Dave's Garden
Can have good information for novice gardeners who need to know more about what will work in their specific zone.

Flower Bulbs Online
Bigger, better bulbs for warm weather gardens.

Willow Creek Gardens
Nursery in Southern California dedicated to 'strong plants, big bulbs, faster flowers'

What formal horticultural training do you have?
The remaining education is simply hands on, trial and error, etc.

What is your favorite garden or plant-related topic? Tell us a little about them.
It must be some of the tropical gardens scattered across the 5 main Hawaiian Islands. Fragrant flowering tropicals are a current interest (Plumeria, Stephanotis, etc.).

What is your biggest gardening pet peeve? Tell us about it.
Watching irrigation water from home owners (the cities and counties do it on their property, too) run down the street and into the storm drain and then into the ocean. We all live in a desert and water is an extremely precious resource to waste. All of the pollutants that flow from lawns, gardens, automobiles, etc are poisoning the marine food chain.

How much time per week do you spend gardening?
5 to 6 hours. I would spend more there except I run my own business 60 hours per week.

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?
Average of 70 hours per week.

What gardening or horticultural clubs, societies, or organizations (or any other interest) do you belong to?
San Diego Hort Society, International Bulb Society and the North American Flower Bulb Wholesale Association.

What other biographical information would you like to share?

Gardening Questions

What do you like most about gardening?
The calming effect brought on by fragrant flowers at sundown.

What do you dislike most about gardening?

What individual has influenced your gardening interest the most? How?
Clearly, my wife. She grew up in a house where her mother gardened at least 3 hours per day, and continues at this same pace at age 85.

What is your favorite place or activity in the garden?
Planting just about anything. At the end of the day you can actually see what you have done and get a great sense of accomplishment. And I like watering with the hose at the end of a hot day when time permits.

What is your favorite time in the garden?
Just before sunset, the shadows, colors and fragrance are unequaled compared to any other time of day.

What is your favorite public or private garden in the world? Why?

What is your favorite color in the garden?
Bright yellow overlaid onto dark purple, like that of the few Dutch Iris that work in California.

If you could grow only one plant, what would it be?
Lilium "Casablanca" while this is not a good naturalizer for the California garden, the performance for the first year is breathtaking and the fragrance is unequaled. The pure white flowers are 8" to 10" across!

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 wish we could grow tulips. Hand a 2nd grader a crayon and a blank sheet of paper and ask them to draw a flower-over half will produce a tulip!

What is your favorite gardening outfit or costume?
Torn up shorts and a holey Tee shirt for summer. Torn up jeans and a holey sweatshirt in winter.

Do you have a gardening philosophy you would like to share with other gardeners? What is it?
To use plants from other climates (Mediterranean) like we have here in California, not what was priced right at a mass merchant. The easier and simpler gardening is, the more people will do and the better they will get at it. If they purchase the wrong plants, they will spend a lifetime nursing them to health and i don't believe that is what gardening is about. The right plant for the right climate is premier.

Who is your own favorite gardening personality on TV, radio or in print? Why?
I don't watch TV or listen to the radio. However, I do read most of the southern California print media (SD Union, North County Times, Sunset Magazine, Garden Compass, etc.) and learn something new in most articles. I would recommend new gardeners immerse themselves into all aspects of this media to become better educated in our climate. I believe that Tom Piergrossi has some good information for California gardeners, as well as Nan Sterman and Debra Lee Baldwin

What is the one question about gardening you would really like people to ask you?
What is the best price performer of all bulbs that grow in California?

And what's the answer?
Ranunculas. Each bulb produces 25 to 35 flowers! Try and get that out of a tulip of daffodil.

What is a garden myth you hear frequently which you know is untrue?
Flower bulbs don't grow in California.

And, what is the reality?
Reality-The correct ones do, the Dutch ones don't

What group or kind of person do you think would benefit most from the advice you can give on gardening?
First time home owners have got to be a good place to start. Secondly, families that have new found time on their hands (kids not in soccer, baseball, school, etc.) and devote it to gardening.

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.

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