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By Jim Bishop.

Jim Bishop served as the third President of the San Diego Horticultural Society (SDHS) from 2011-2017. He joined the Society at its very first meeting in September 1994, and he served on the Board for 2 years prior to assuming the Presidency. Jim wrote the article below about his life in horticulture.

My name is Jim Bishop and, like many of you, I am a plantaholic. As far back as I can remember, I’ve always had a passion for plants. I began with wonderment at the simple dandelions I saw growing in a front yard, extended to actually growing thousands of plants, and evolved into a goal to visit as many gardens as possible, and then to searching out unusual plants growing in their natural environments.

My passion for plants has led me on a wonderful path through life and much of it is the result of the San Diego Horticultural Society. Not having a professional career in horticulture or the landscaping industry, I spent much of my life feeling that I hadn’t met “my people." However, when I sat in the back row of the first meeting of SDHS in September 1994 and watched Steve Brigham (2009 Horticulturalist of the Year) Don Walker (1st SDHS president and 2005 Horticulturalist of the Year) clown around and talk about plants, I knew I had finally found them. I could never have imagined the path I would follow as a result of attending that meeting.

Thanks to the SDHS newsletter, there is no need for me to document my life experiences with horticulture in this column. Since 2011, I’ve been writing the column for our newsletter entitled “My Life with Plants” and you can read all about how plants have interacted with my life in these columns.

While my obsession has been with plants, it has also given me the opportunity to meet many incredible people--horticulturists, writers, photographers, designers, home gardeners, teachers, countless speakers, and plant enthusiasts from around the world. Some of those wonderful people include many of our past Horticulturists of the Year honorees and I feel privileged to now be part of this amazing group of twenty-four. (You can learn more about them on our website.)

While not exactly a horticulturist, the most significant person in my world, plant or otherwise, is Scott Borden, who I met at a garden party in 1994. He has enabled me to truly follow my passion for plants and led me on journeys around the world.

Jim Bishop's Garden on Poppy Day.

Since leaving the software industry in 2008, my goal has been to inspire climate-appropriate San Diego horticulture wherever possible. We live in one of the most diverse and unique plant environments on the planet and every San Diegan should be exposed to the possibilities. This appreciation of our environment has become even more important with climate change, our unpredictable rain and water supply, and our ever-growing population. Over the years, Scott and I have shared our garden with many horticultural-related non-profits, been on many public and private garden tours, and had our garden featured in printed and online publications.

I’m basically a shy person who is perfectly content to stay home and putter in the garden. However, I also realize that by sharing I can have a much bigger impact. Being asked to be President of SDHS in 2011 was a big step for me and required moving me out of my comfort zone. Over time I’ve become more comfortable in front of people and asking others to help and I have realized that it takes a community of individuals to make an all-volunteer organization successful. I realize that small actions by many people can lead to large results and I’m happy to have contributed to the success of SDHS.

During my tenure as president, SDHS was able to continue to build on our previous successes in supporting the San Diego Horticultural community. During my tenure we:

  • Maintained low membership fees

  • Introduced an Annual Garden tour of private gardens in different areas of San Diego. This significantly improved our budget.

  • Built a new website that tied membership, email, event and payment processing together in one place

  • Automated the membership initiation and renewal process, saving thousands of dollars

  • Moved the newsletter to an online format saving thousands of dollars on printing and mailing costs

  • Made the online newsletter free to everyone

  • Offered “Featured Garden” tours to private gardens and places of horticultural interest

  • Offered workshops

  • Created six award winning gardens at the San Diego County Fair

  • Relocated monthly meetings to a more comfortable, centrally located facility

It was truly an honor to serve as SDHS president and I encourage everyone to get involved in their local plant groups. Going forward I’ll be active more in the background of SDHS, continuing to write my column and helping out where my skills are needed. I’ll also continue sharing our garden and plant adventures online through pictures and stories in social media. And of course, I’ll continue working on our private garden.

I am very thankful to the SDHS board for selecting me as the 2019 Horticulturist of the Year. This is a great and cherished honor.

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