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MEETING REPORT: June Meeting Report

By Sabine Prather.

June 11 was a beautiful evening at the fairgrounds for the monthly meeting. Attendees were able to check out the many garden exhibits at their leisure, as the fair was closed to the public. However, the wine bar was open for purchases!

The SDHS exhibit showed a charming little home with a drought-tolerant yard. It won several awards, with prizes totaling over $6,000.

Recognizing Greg Rubin, 2018 Horticulturist of the Year

Lucy Warren introduced the 2018 Horticulturist of the Year, Greg Rubin. Lucy has had two great careers in both marketing and gardening. She's a Master Gardener and former editor of California Garden magazine, and she was also assistant coordinator of the Flower and Garden Show at the fair for many years. She knows Greg well, having co-authored two books on California native plants with him: The California Native Landscape: The Homeowner’s Guide to Restoring its Balance and Beauty (2013) and The Drought-Defying California Garden: 230 Native Plants for a Lush Low-Water Landscape (2016).

Lucy's article in the May SDHS newsletter about Greg Rubin notes that he is the 'owner of California’s Own Native Landscape Design [and] he is widely recognized as a leader in the field of native plant landscaping, specializing in creating stable, sustainable, ornamental gardens of California natives.'

Like Lucy, Greg didn’t start out as a gardener. During his career as an aerospace engineer, his accomplishments included developing several patents, but after being promoted into management, he grew less and less excited by his work. Luckily, he caught the bug for gardening with native plants when he re-landscaped his parents’ yard and used native plants on the recommendation of a friend, Bill Entz. One project led to another until Greg quit engineering and started his own landscape design company. He made many mistakes, but persevered because it was his passion. His girlfriend, Tracy Murray, stood by him when things looked bleak. The turning point for Greg was in 2013 when his mother was dying and he was close to bankruptcy. Following his mother’s funeral, he fortuitously signed a quarter-million dollars in contracts!

Pat Welsh and Greg Rubin, 2018 Horticulturist of the Year, at the June meeting at the fairgrounds.

Greg thanked many people for his success, including Bill Entz, who took him to Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden and changed his life; Pat Welsh; and Mike Evans, founder of Tree of Life Nursery. Maggie Olsen helps keep his business together with her organization skills and her great memory. Bert Wilson, founder of Las Pilitas Nursery, taught Greg the importance of fire resistance in the landscape; because of this, project houses have survived fires when nearby houses burn.

Greg said that natives are no longer the poor stepchild of landscaping; they’re now taken seriously and are even used in CalTrans plantings. Greg pairs the water-smart benefit of native plants with the use of drip systems to emulate nature, thereby reducing his plant loss from 40% to less than 10%.

So, what's on the horizon for Greg? Argentine ants get into the root balls of plants, and this seems to be a new challenge that Greg is willing to take on!

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