7683fa53e22b42f8dd017872eaa97a58
Region: Southwest

Taylor Murphy

Sub-Region: Southern California Coastal, Inland
State: California
Business: Owner - A Green Thumb Plant & Landscape Consulting

Biographical Information

Native of San Diego; lived in the same house for 37 years(unheard of here); attended St. Joseph's School, St. Rita's School, Our Lady of Peace, Southwestern College, Cuyamaca College, SDSU. Married for 17 years to a US Navy Retired Navy Command Career Counselor.

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?
By subscribing to A Green Thumb's email monthly newsletter, which is also on the website at www.agreenthumb.net or calling for a consultation!

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.
Zone 24, San Diego Coastal

How long have you been gardening?
Since I was 12. I'm 53 now.

What triggered your interest?
My Mother: everywhere we moved in San Diego, we took our plants with us; she would have us take cuttings, or dig plants up, wrap them in plastic bags with some soil and transplant them. On several occasions, my Mom would stop the car, go into the trunk, get out her gloves and either cut or dig up a plant she spotted and liked. I can remember society garden women coming over to take pictures of my Mom's Sansaverias.

What is your specialty, expertise or claim to fame?
Tropical & Sub-Tropical Plants, with emphasis on flowering trees, ferns, bamboo and unusual, exotic plants.

Taylor's Book Recommendations


Black Magic and Purple Passion
The only book on black plants. The author is the same person who hybridized Phormium *Platt's Black*, and the founder of The International Black Plant Society.


Sunset Western Landscaping Book
aka, Da Bible: the best comprehensive local gardening book for amatuers and professionals alike.

Taylor's Favorite Websites

Black Plants
It's all about black plants

What formal horticultural training do you have?
B.A. Fine Arts, San Diego State University, 1974: Botany & Biology at Southwestern and San Diego State; Ornamental Horticulture at Cuyamaca College. I wanted to do graphic design or interior design; instead, became a dental hygienist for 13 years and a nuclear inspector for General Dynamics before that. Also worked for Xerox in Phoenix as a copier technician and for Motorola in Scottsdale and Tempe, Arizona as an inspector for silicone chips under an electron microscope.

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.
People who insist on planting trees like they are shrubs in the wrong place and cutting them so: then, after the tree matures, cutting it down, like it's the tree's fault for growing. The biggest peeve: Italian Cypress trimmed at the bottom like it's standing on one leg or planting Italian Cypess as you do hedges.

How much time per week do you spend gardening?
None anymore; I turned it into my business!

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?
Too much,,,,My husband is ready to divorce me! My neighbors love me! And Home Depot employees run when they see me come into their store!

What gardening or horticultural clubs, societies, or organizations (or any other interest) do you belong to?
American Bamboo Association, San Diego Horticultural Society, Tropical Flowering Trees Society of Florida, Greater San Diego Business Association, California Landscape Contractor's Association

What other biographical information would you like to share?

Gardening Questions

What do you like most about gardening?
Being surrounded by green living things. It's very peaceful. Plus the fact, knowing that something I planted will live long past my life span. I still drive by houses we used to live in and still see plants I planted years later thriving.

What do you dislike most about gardening?
Pests. Well, I shouldn't call them pests; everyone on this planet has to eat. Just eat in another garden.

What individual has influenced your gardening interest the most? How?
My Mother. She was one crazy plant-loving hippie,,,,,Goddess Bless her.

What is your favorite place or activity in the garden?
Sitting in my spa in the late afternoon while looking out at the garden and watching the hummingbirds zoom in and out to the feeders, while listening to the tiny metal chimes ring that I have hung in my bamboo.

What is your favorite time in the garden?
Mornings, and sunset time.

What is your favorite public or private garden in the world? Why?
San Diego Botanical Garden: It is where my mother took me, as a child, (I think I was about 7 or 8), I first saw a staghorn fern. I immediately knew I wanted one. I even imagined how I would cut one down. I was fascinated by them. I now have several in my garden decades later.

What is your favorite color in the garden?
Silver; followed by black

If you could grow only one plant, what would it be?
Let's just say, I used to grow my favorite plant back in the 70's in my bedroom closet. Why? Obvious..

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?
Plumeria. I surrender my will to the snails and Mother Nature with trying to grow Plumeria.

What is your favorite gardening outfit or costume?
PJs, my green rubber gardening shoes and a cup of vanilla cream coffee.

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 watch TV or listen to radio. In my opinion HGTV does nothing to enhance the gardening experience; it is a pure commercial venue which confuses and scares the average homeowner; especially the Landscapers Challenge and their $65, 000 backyards. If I had to pick, my local pick would be Tom Piergrossi.

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?
The so-called "Japanese Zen Garden" is a myth.

And, what is the reality?
It is a late 20th Century WESTERN creation that has nothing to do with the Japanese Garden Tradition. While some Westerners may be enamored with the idea of a so-called "Zen Garden" that links Zen Buddhism with the Japanese dry garden aesthetic, it is a patently false idea. Buddhism experts dismiss the Western concept of Zen Gardens, claiming that Zen principles are about what's within you, not the environment that surrounds you. The correct Japanese name for what Westerners call "Zen Gardens" is karesansui.

What group or kind of person do you think would benefit most from the advice you can give on gardening?
Your basic, average homeowner who wants a nice garden or backyard for pleasure or entertaining, but does not know where to turn for reliable, helpful advice.


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