Spreading the Joys of Gardening

Scott Conner loves gardening. And it shows.

For a dozen years, this Kirkland, Wash. horticulturalist has been inspiring more people to garden in the northwest. He teaches gardening classes for master gardeners, landscapers, garden club members, seniors and the general public. He has a weekly call-in radio program. He opens his own yard and garden for elementary students to learn about good and bad bugs.

Right now, about 100 people in the Seattle area attend weekly classes with Scott. They meet at community centers and schools to talk about the joys and challenges of gardening.

"One class of students has been meeting each week for five years. It's more like an extended garden club," he said.

Not only has he helped more people start gardening, he also helps them learn how to switch from a mindset of chemical dependence to one of gardening in harmony with nature.

"We spend a lot of time in classes learning about water conservation, composting, soil building and controlling pests and diseases organically," he said. After a dozen years of teaching about gardening this way, he has seen a surge of interest in organic gardening.

"There is so much interest now," he said. "It's very exciting."

His students describe him as a warm, patient teacher who has helped and inspired them to become better gardeners.

"Scott has totally revived my interest in gardening," wrote Katherine Parker, one of two dozen people who nominated Scott for the Garden Crusader Award. "He has challenged me and others to practice gardening in a more satisfying and practical way. He encourages us to know and use botanical names for plants and to use organic and environmentally safe methods for our yards and community. He honors and respects us with his practicality, honesty and humor."

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