Ciscoe and “Oh La La”

Only a handful of garden writers can hold your attention, make you laugh and then when you least expect it…teach you something! Famous British garden authors, Christopher Lloyd and Beverley Nichols come to mind. Luckily, we have a local force of nature named Ciscoe who not only holds our attention and makes us laugh but manages to dispense incredibly useful gardening information without the customary British cynicism.

     “Oh, La, La! Homegrown Stories, Helpful Tips and Garden Wisdom” is Ciscoe Morris’s newest book and I defy any reader, gardener or not, to stifle a laugh while reading some of the antics and predicaments that Ciscoe either finds himself in or creates. They’re just too funny.    

      The laugh-out-loud stories are gateways to really valuable information.  It’s the best kind of teaching…with humor. As you’re reading, you can almost hear Ciscoe’s enthusiastic voice

 Audiobooks are really popular. Have you considered making an audiobook of “Oh, La La”? Would you be willing to read it?

“People have been asking me about that. I listen to audiobooks all the time and I think it would be super fun to read my book for an audio version.  I’ll do it for sure if the opportunity comes my way. Hopefully people will be able to understand my Wisconsin accent!”

      Ciscoe is one of the most popular garden speakers in the Pacific Northwest.  His “homegrown” stories are as popular as his gardening advice. With chapters like, “Don’t Make a Political Statement with Horse Manure”, “Eau de Vinegar” and “Colorado Blue Spruces Belong in Colorado”, you know you’re getting more than just the “how to” side of gardening.

    In your speaking programs have you noticed that younger people are getting interested in gardening? Do you see more young people, i.e. millennial?

“I meet quite a few millennial’s who tell me that their parents and/or grandparents are big fans, and they grew up watching me.  It makes me feel a little geezerly, but at the same time I’m honored beyond tweetle that they attend my talks.  A number of millennials tell me that I’m the reason they got into gardening which I take as a huge compliment.”

      Since our climate is similar to parts of Southeast England, many South Sound gardeners are crazy about English gardening and gardens. Ciscoe is no exception. He writes about some of the more memorable garden trips that he and wife, Mary, have led in England. He and his lucky tour members have “accidentally” met Great Dixter’s Christopher Lloyd, David Austin of English rose fame and Beth Chatto, all in their own gardens and all horticultural rock stars in England.     

 “Are there any specific gardens you haven’t seen yet that you would like to visit?”

     “Two countries I’m dying to visit are China and Scotland.  I’m hoping to visit gardens in both of them within the next few years.  Because I travel overseas so often, there are many gardens in this country that I have not yet visited, Lotusland in California and Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania just to name a couple.”

     Unexpected things happen when Ciscoe leads his garden tours. He makes it clear he loves conducting the tours and has no intention of slowing down. One is already lined up for Japan next fall.

Is your Japan tour filled?

“I led a garden tour to Japan soon after I finished writing the book.  It was fantastic and the gardens were truly magnificent.  My next garden tour leaves in 2 weeks to Morocco and France. I am about to announce my next tour scheduled for December 2020: The gardens and culture of South Africa.”

 “Oh, La, La!” is a joyous book to read and Ciscoe assures us that it isn’t his last….he’s full of stories…

      Sasquatch Books, 235 p. $19.95



“I Don’t Do Orange” meh!

IMG_4597At the risk of sounding judgmental…when I hear a gardener saying, “I don’t do orange” (and I just did), I worry. For some reason, the color orange is one of those embedded harbingers of “bad taste” that has no real basis. The sunsets and sunrises are a beautiful shade of orange, sherbet is a translucent orange, southern gardens are filled with the smell of orange blossoms, Mimosas are filled with tasty orange juice and the orange flavor of Grand Marnier can turn a ho-hum dinner entrée into something extraordinary. So, what’s wrong with orange in the garden? A few hot colors in an otherwise pale garden bring the landscape to life. They add spark. Having been around an “anti-orange”
segment of gardeners for quite awhile, I almost succumbed to their discrimination of orange and then…I took a trip to the United Kingdom and all my prejudices melted away. That summer I saw gaudy nasturtiums that made me smile, crocosmia that brought brightness to overcast days and impatiens that set off all the plants that surrounded them. I am a convert to orange.


Right before I go to bed
I do my gardening “in my head”
I plan a plot and take up grass
I double dig and plant en masse
I stake perennials and fertilize
Before the plants are too outsized
I train and tie unruly vines
I trim the beds in perfect lines
Compost is spread, I plant the seeds
I know just what my garden needs
I fall asleep with a perfect view
A finished garden, nothing to do
Morning comes…
and time to work
I think I’ll read a gardening book

Why Did My Plant Die?

Why Did My Plant Die?

by Geoffrey B. Charlesworth

You walked too close.

You trod on it.

You dropped a piece of sod on it.

You hoed it down. You weeded it.

You planted it the wrong way up.

You grew it in a yogurt cup

But you forgot to make a hole;

The soggy compost took its toll.

September storm.

November drought.

It heaved in March, the roots popped out.

You watered it with herbicide.

You scattered bonemeal far and wide.

Attracting local omnivores,

Who ate your plant and stayed for more.

You left it baking in the sun

While you departed at a run

To find a spade, perhaps a trowel,

Meanwhile the plant threw in the towel.

You planted it with crown too high;

The soil washed off, that explains why.

Too high pH.

It hated lime.

Alas it needs a gentler clime.

You left the root ball wrapped in plastic.

You broke the roots.

They’re not elastic.

You walked too close.

You trod on it.

You dropped a piece of sod on it.

You splashed the plant with mower oil.

You should do something to your soil.

Too rich.

Too poor.

Such wretched tilth.

Your soil is clay.

Your soil is filth.

Your plant was eaten by a slug.

The growing point contained a bug.

These aphids are controlled by ants,

Who milk the juice,

it kills the plants.

In early spring your garden’s mud.

You walked around!

That’s not much good.

With heat and light you hurried it.

You worried it.

You buried it.

The poor plant missed the mountain air:

No heat, no summer muggs up there.

You overfed it 10-10-10.

Forgot to water it again.

You hit it sharply with the hose.

You used a can without a rose.

Perhaps you sprinkled from above.

You should have talked to it with love.

The nursery mailed it without roots.

You killed it with those gardening boots.

You walked too close.

You trod on it.

You dropped a piece of sod on it.