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Ron Vanderhoff

Sub-Region: Southern California Coastal, Inland
State: California
Business: Nursery Manager - Roger's Gardens

Biographical Information

I'm a gardener. I just love plants, gardens and the people who pass through these gardens. I have been involved in plants and gardens my whole life. From native plants to those only interesting to a collector and all of those in between, I enjoy sharing what I have learned and learning what I still need to know. I am a professional horticulturist, managing one of the U.S. busiest garden centers, Roger's Gardens in coastal Orange County. Mostly, in serving the gardening public I wish to help people discover the virtues of gardening as well as the value of plants to the planet and to our lives. In addition to being a garden center manager, I am a speaker and writer. My gardening passions continue to evolve but currently reside in the South African Oxalis genus (no kidding), Iphieon, Eucomis, etc. Issues I am interested in include the introduction of more climate appropriate plants, reduced green waste, groundwater concerns, the new botanical garden at the Great Park in Orange County and the ever changing "California" garden from a style perspective.

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.

Where can members get more of your advice?
We're open 362 days a year at Roger's Gardens. I lead several gardening seminars throughout the year, mostly on Saturday mornings. My most popular series is the "In the Garden" series which is usually the first Saturday at 9:00 AM in our amphitheater.

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.
I garden in the mild Mediterranean climate of southern California, specifically Lake Forest, in Orange County, CA. Sunset Zone 23, USDA zone 9b. Wet, mild winters and mild, dry summers.

How long have you been gardening?
Since I can remember. As a small child I gardened. Professionally for about thirty some years.

What triggered your interest?
Just the outdoors and nature in general. My earliest memories were of planting bare-root strawberries every fall and eating the fruit every spring. Strawberries are still my favorite fruit.

What is your specialty, expertise or claim to fame?
After twenty-five years of professional garden management, all in Southern California, I suspect I'm pretty well rounded. Professionally, I have written on various garden topics for many newspapers, magazines, etc. and appeared in some television and radio.

What formal education do you have?

Ron's Book Recommendations

Pat Welsh's Southern California Gardening
Because it is so full of real, and practical advice and information that works in Southern California - and it is written by such a great individual.

The Botany of Desire
Because gardening and gardens are more than transient and superficial, they are integral to our lives - and Michael is such a great writer.

Shocking Beauty
Because he gets it. What a garden is all about - a personal experience that has meaning to the gardener.

  Ron's Favorite Websites

Native Sons Nursery
Because Dave Fross and his company "get's it".

Pacific Bulb Society
Because bulbs are one of my current passions.

Roger's Gardens Nursery
Because it pays the bills!

What formal horticultural training do you have?
Ornamental Horticulture degree. Countless seminars, workshops, conferences, educational trips, etc. More importantly . . .lots of practical knowledge.

What is your favorite garden or plant-related topic? Tell us a little about them.

What is your biggest gardening pet peeve? Tell us about it.
Bad information.

How much time per week do you spend gardening?
Not counting my work time, I suspect it is about 10 hours per week, maybe a bit more.

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?
About 60 hours per week, not counting my own personal gardening time.

What gardening or horticultural clubs, societies, or organizations (or any other interest) do you belong to?
Royal Horticultural Society, Orange County Horticultural Society, San Diego Horticultural Society, California Native Plant Society, Mediterranean Garden Society and a few more. Also memberships at several botanical gardens.

What other biographical information would you like to share?

Gardening Questions

What do you like most about gardening?
Sharing with other people. Helping them to discover the value of gardens and gardening.

What do you dislike most about gardening?
People getting bad advice, bad plants, etc. and then giving up.

What individual has influenced your gardening interest the most? How?
I can't name just one. Some influences have been Robert Smaus, Pat Welsh, Dave Fross, Jan Smithin, Dan Hinckley and Nicholas Staddon, . My original horticulture instructors, John Parker and John Lenanten remain an influence. My father, will always be my greatest influence.

What is your favorite place or activity in the garden?
I love potting and re-potting, as well as propagating new plants.

What is your favorite time in the garden?
Fall and winter (on mild, dry, clear days).

What is your favorite public or private garden in the world? Why?
Heronswood was . . . But now I'm looking for a new favorite.

What is your favorite color in the garden?
This will change from time to time. Currently it is warm Mediterranean colors, such as gold's, caramels, browns and rusts.

If you could grow only one plant, what would it be?
Impossible to answer.

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?
A couple include Worsleya and Paramongia.

What is your favorite gardening outfit or costume?
Just a pair of shorts, sandals and a hat.

Do you have a gardening philosophy you would like to share with other gardeners? What is it?

Who is your own favorite gardening personality on TV, radio or in print? Why?
I don't have one. Gardening is too local to have a national icon.

What is the one question about gardening you would really like people to ask you?

And what's the answer?

What is a garden myth you hear frequently which you know is untrue?
Not so much of a myth as it is a misnomer; "How often should I water this?"

And, what is the reality?
Of course, there is no answer. The answer is "when it needs it", butt you often hear this answered in a matter of fact manner. Too bad.

What group or kind of person do you think would benefit most from the advice you can give on gardening?
Very interested people who want to learn, and want good, solid, fundamental information. They don't need to know a lot, but they need to want to learn. And they must love nature and the outdoors. If they're only gardening to get a job done or to impress someone, forget it.

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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