Glimpse into the past – Honoring a Legend and Looking to the Future

by John A. Wott, Director Emeritus

Dr. Kruckeberg at Snoqualmie
Dr. Kruckeberg at Snoqualmie

For every creature – plants, animals, or people – there is a season. They are germinated/born, develop from juveniles into adults, usually produce progeny, grow into old age, and then succumb. In the plant kingdom, there are various ways in which plants reproduce, both sexually and asexually. In humans, we pass along our genetics, our ideas, and plans to successive generations.

In every field or endeavor of learning, certain people seem to become more prominent and eventually become legendary icons. The older generation passes and a new one rises. I was reminded this week of the changes that are occurring in the Northwest horticulture scene.

On May 25, 2016, Dr. Arthur R. Kruckeberg, one of the most prolific botanical scholars, died at the wonderful age of 96. Author of many prestigious publications, including several books, Dr. Kruckeberg guided hundreds of students of all ages on field trips, answered multitudes of questions, and lectured thousands of students on the flora of the Northwest. Legendary for his stature as well as his professorial appearance with his ever-ready pipe, he easily commanded your attention.

Along with his wife Mareen Shultz Kruckeberg, they turned their 4-acre Shoreline home and garden into a mecca which is today known as the Kruckeberg Botanic Garden and MsK Nursery. Dr. Kruckeberg was involved in the early master planning for the Center for Urban Horticulture in the 1970-80’s and forever kept a keen interest in its future.

Personally I remember the legendary noontime musical productions which he and several others provided by playing classical tunes on their woodwinds, while sitting in the Douglas Conservatory Foray. I also remember walking around the Kruckeberg Garden with him in his later years, ever more slowly as the years moved along. His keen interest in plants and sharing knowledge was retained to the very end.

Arthur and his pipe
Arthur and his pipe

However, the new generation is already evolving. This week’s issue of The American Gardener contained a significant article entitled “Riz Reyes: Rising Star,” written by Marty Wingate. Both Riz and Marty are successful UW horticulture graduates, and I am proud to have mentored both of them.

Riz Reyes picking the right color
Riz Reyes picking the right color

A native of the Philippines, Riz immigrated to the USA with his family in 1989. He always loved plants and eventually obtained his degree in environmental horticulture and urban forestry. Upon graduation, he become the head gardener for the Orin and Althea Soest Herbaceous Display Garden at the Center for Urban Horticulture for eight years. During this time, he was also my personal gardener where he introduced many new plants into my garden, most of which still flourish there.

Riz is also owner of RHR Horticulture, a business which specializes in all kinds of design, and landscaping. He has written for many publications, given many lectures and loves to design floral arrangements for special events. He won the Founders Cup for a magnificent garden at the Northwest Garden and Flower Show. His current monthly blogs are legendary.

Almost two years ago, he was tapped to be the head gardener for the new McMenamins Anderson School in Bothell from its early development onward. Today it is fast becoming a horticulture show garden in the Northwest, visited daily by hundreds of visitors.

And so it is….generations come and generations go…but oh the excitement as we reap the history past but look forward to the future ahead!

 

Riz and the late Orin Soest
Riz and the late Orin Soest