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Dara Emery Memorial Lecture

Date: Saturday, October 12, 2013

Time: 3:00PM - 5:00PM

Instructor: Phil Van Soelen

Location: Blaksley Library

Dara Emery Lecture: Members @ $20.00
Dara Emery Lecture: Non Members @ $25.00

Phil Van Soelen: "Great Choices for the Home Garden: Inspiration from Northern California"

For more than 30 years, Phil Van Soelen has brought interesting and unusual native plants to the attention of the public. He is co-owner, with Sherrie Althouse, of the regionally famous and iconic California Flora Nursery (familiarly, Cal-Flora Nursery) in Fulton, north of San Francisco. Since 1981, they have influenced a generation of plantsmen and brought many new cultivars into wide-spread use, including Vitis ‘Russian River’, Artemisia ‘David’s Choice’, Salvia ‘Winnifred Gilman’, Monardella ‘Russian River’, and Ceanothus ‘Heart’s Desire’, just to name a few. Cal-Flora maintains a strong emphasis on propagating and growing their own plants from seed and cuttings. This keeps their inventory reflective of their own interests and experiences and their explorations of the surrounding foothills and wild trails of northern California.

“My motivation for starting the nursery came from a love of being around natives in the wild,” says Mr. Van Soelen. “If I didn’t see them in that context, I wouldn’t have the same connection with them. Like many people, I have developed a personal relationship with nature. I’m constantly looking at vignettes and tableaus in nature and thinking – wow - that’s beautiful and so subtle. At the same time, natives fit in with this climate and environment. I find that I want to be surrounded with that kind of beauty.”

Cal-Flora Nursery aims to change horticulture through the plants they introduce. “As a culture,” says Mr. Van Soelen, “we come from a tradition using heavy irrigation and fertilizing. Our water bills reflect the habit of relying on irrigation systems, instead of planting at the appropriate time of the year. Our culture is at odds with the needs of the planet! If we really understood and were well-adapted to the climate, gardening with natives would be the easiest thing in the world.”

  • Phil will speak on Great Choices for the Home Garden: inspiration from Northern California, at on Saturday, October 12
  • Wine and hors d’oerves will be served before the lecture
  • All proceeds go to the support of the Santa BarbaraBotanic Garden

“We are inspired when we see what nature does with natives,” he says. “For us, they offer a never ending enjoyment when gardening with them. How could they not? They’re gorgeous; they’re never boring. I can’t help it. Over time, I find myself falling more and more in love with natives.” Please come and share Phil’s love of these many varied and beautiful plants.