By Lisa Marun.
Just as we observe changes in our gardens as the seasons pass, SDHS has gone through its own transitions over the years. While the mission and purpose of SDHS remains steadfast, it’s nice to look back and trace some of the changes that have made us better at achieving our goals. If you’ve been with SDHS for a while, enjoy this trip down memory lane; if you’re relatively new to the family, this is your chance to learn more about just how far we’ve come.
Before looking at some snapshots of SDHS over time, let’s start at the beginning. There would be no SDHS without our first president (1994-2003), Don Walker. Since his childhood in Los Angeles where he was in close contact with the nature that surrounded him, observing and interacting with plants was an integral part of his life. He had volunteered, been a member, and served on the boards of many garden and horticulture organizations before hatching a plan to start what became SDHS. I’m sorry that I never had the opportunity to meet this fascinating man. You can read this interesting article about him from 2005.
Wondering what was seen on the first SDHS local garden tour when Don was president? Take a look at the San Diego Cactus and Succulent Society’s April 1995 newsletter, Espinas y Flores (page 3, paragraph 3). Also, you might enjoy reading what Susi Torre-Bueno had to say in this wonderful recount of the early days of SDHS.
Speaking of Susi, it’s impossible to look back at what SDHS has done over the years without taking into account the boundless energy and generosity that she has given, always without hesitation. Susi was our second president (2003-2010) and newsletter editor from 1996-2016. This only scratches the surface of what Susi has contributed to SDHS and to horticulture in general in the San Diego region. Written about Susi in 2012, this article will make you wonder what you’ve been doing with your own life all of these years.
If you’re curious about who some of the meeting speakers were in 2005 during Susi’s presidency, read page 9 of the Winter/Spring issue of Cuyamaca College Ornamental Horticulture Department’s newsletter, The Urban Horticulturist. And if you’re wondering what was in Issue 179 of Let’s Talk Plants!, the first issue that was published online, read here.
In 2010, when Susi Torre-Bueno was still both president and newsletter editor, both Don Walker and Jim Bishop were board members. Sadly, in that year, another long-time board member and one of our founders, Bill Teague, passed away. Bill had a profound scientific understanding of plants and he married this with an innate aesthetic appreciation of the environments plants inhabit. Read more about Bill, and about some of the other things going on at SDHS in November 2010, in this issue of My Life with Plants.
Shortly after Bill Teague’s passing, SDHS went through another important transition as Susi stepped down from her position as president and welcomed Jim Bishop in her place. Jim can tell you best about the many gifts and experiences that he’s shared with us since, and before, he served as president (see My Life with Plants). However, I can’t resist mentioning the gorgeous garden that he and his partner Scott Borden have created at their Mission Hills home. Many of us have been lucky enough to spend some time in this much beloved garden, but for those who haven’t, Rebecca Sweet has some wonderful photos of it on her website, Harmony in the Garden.
SDHS has recently been experiencing more changes than ever before. After having our monthly meetings at the Del Mar Fairgrounds for 21 years (we outgrew our first meeting venue after only two months!), we moved to our new meeting location at Congregation Beth Israel in August 2016. A few months later, Susi Torre-Bueno passed the journalistic reins on to Susan Starr after two decades of singlehandedly bringing the pages of Let’s Talk Plants! to life for our members and for horticulture enthusiasts beyond San Diego. As we've learned, Susan’s extensive editing experience, as well as her past leadership roles within SDHS, have prepared her well for the responsibilities that come with this role. And while we’re on the subject of newsletters, stay tuned for a newsletter metamorphosis that’s just around the corner as we dive into the digital age by moving the publication to a new online format and leaving behind the print and downloadable PDF versions.
And now, as Jim Bishop steps down after six years at the helm, we are at the threshold of welcoming our fourth president. And so it is with great appreciation that we can look back at all of the learning and all of the memory-making that we’ve done over more than two decades at SDHS, and look forward to the changes to come—just as we do in our gardens.