top of page

APRIL MEETING REPORT: Johanna Silver - Growing Weed In The Garden - A No-Fuss, Seed-To-Stash Talk

Johanna Silver.
Author Johanna Silver.

Did you miss attending the April 12, 2021 SDHS meeting on Zoom? Want to know what you missed? Or did you attend but want to see it again? Good News! You can watch Johanna Silver's whole wonderful presentation here on our SDHS YouTube channel.

In this presentation Johanna Silver discusses her latest gardening book 'Growing Weed in the Garden: A No-Fuss, Seed-to-Stash Guide to Outdoor Cannabis Cultivation.'

About Johanna:

She is a James Beard Award-winning author who writes mostly about plants and people. Her two books, The Bold Dry Garden: Lessons from the Ruth Bancroft Garden (Timber Press, 2017) and Growing Weed in the Garden: A No-Fuss, Seed-to-Stash Guide to Outdoor Cannabis Cultivation (Abrams, 2020) are available everywhere books are sold. Johanna is a contributing editor at Better Homes & Gardens, and her work has been featured in Martha Stewart Living, The San Francisco Chronicle, and Eating Well. Previously, Johanna spent ten years at Sunset Magazine, beginning with a shovel in her hands and culminating as head of the garden department. She lives and gardens in Berkeley, CA, where she grows fruits, veggies, and entirely too many cut flowers.

About the book:

GROWING WEED IN THE GARDEN: A No-Fuss, Seed-to-Stash Guide to Outdoor Cannabis Cultivation

The first-ever guide to growing weed outdoors is now available from master gardener, Johanna Silver. From seed to stash, this no-fuss guide is the definitive book for learning how to cultivate your own cannabis. Readers will learn how to find and choose seeds, how to grow it outside (in Mother Nature’s own natural light), how much to fertilize and water, in addition to all the ins and outs of harvesting: drying, curing and trimming. The author even provides a section on what to do with your finished product, from rolling a joint, to making a tincture, oils, etc.

There are grower profiles of folks around the country who are growing their own plants, and Q&A’s from a regional perspective.

Author and California resident Johanna Silver, also former Gardening Editor for Sunset magazine, opens her book by admitting she is not a stoner. In fact, after getting laid off from her magazine job, she landed a writing gig with a friend from the San Francisco Chronicle. Her first assignment was to grow weed in her back yard and document it. Silver responded, “I don’t even know where to get seeds.” The editor told her, “That will be your first line!” And so it began.

Available at Bookstores nationwide such as Barnes and Noble -

And from many online resellers such as Amazon, etc. -


Did You Know?

This past month was not the first time that Johanna Silver has presented to the SDHS. Back in 2016, along with Brian Kemble, Johanna spoke about her first book, The Bold, Dry Garden: Lessons From the Ruth Bancroft Garden and here is that meeting report by Jeannine Romero from our archives:


By Jeannine Romero.

Gardeners familiar with two notable gardens in the Bay Area spoke to members of SDHS at the October 10, 2016 meeting. Brian Kemble, curator of the Ruth Bancroft garden in Walnut Creek, California, presented a before and after photo history of Bancroft’s public succulent garden. Also, Johanna Silver, author and professional gardener in San Francisco, wrote the book, The Bold, Dry Garden: Lessons From the Ruth Bancroft Garden, which was just published October 5, 2016. Silver spoke about the new Sunset magazine test gardens where she works.

Kemble, who started working in the Bancroft Garden in 1980, noted that his passion is planting from seed. He said it is “intensely mystical” to watch plants mature in their habitat. Ruth Bancroft, now 108 years old, has had an enduring devotion to succulents—long before succulents began trending in the past several years. According to Kemble, Ms. Bancroft is “just amazing to work with,” and “fearless.” He said she’s had a passion for irises since childhood, and the public garden also features rose and herb gardens.

The Walnut Creek land started as a walnut and pear tree orchard. The Bancroft family purchased 11 acres from the walnut farm and took the last of the walnut trees out. Ms. Bancroft began designing the succulent garden in 1971, and planting started in 1972. Kemble noted that every bed is compositional and not separated by plant type. The garden maintains a considerable collection of aloes, both outdoors and inside the greenhouse, despite a few severe frosts that have damaged the plants over the years, including one in 1972 just after plants were installed. He noted, “Ruth is not one to give up.”

Kemble said that Walnut Creek has winters with temperatures as low as 20 degrees and up to 23” of rain, which had pressured Ms. Bancroft to cover many tender plants in her collection with plastic box structures. The worst freeze was in 1990, when the garden stayed frozen for three days and temperatures dipped to 19 degrees. He said the garden lost “two tons of aloes alone.” He noted that after only a brief moment of hesitation, Ms. Bancroft quickly decided to plant the aloes again.

While waiting for agaves and aloes to grow and bloom, Ms. Bancroft planted ice plant to provide a big splash of color in spring. Blooming agaves are a recurring theme in the garden, he said, noting that it takes years for agaves to bloom. But when they do, some flower spikes are as “tall as a telephone pole.” Over the years, rocks were added to replicate the landscape where many succulents normally grow, and to visually tie the garden together. Her dry, bold garden also includes the California natives opuntia (“iconic” but “unfriendly”) and Mexican blue palm.

Author Johanna Silver briefly described the work she has done with Sunset’s relocation of their corporate offices to Oakland after 70 years in Menlo Park. Also, the test garden has been moved to Sonoma. She described the major move as “devastating” and “scary,” but in the end, she noted, “It’s been okay.” She said the current owners of Cornerstone Sonoma, home to a collection of retail stores, restaurants, boutique wine rooms, gardens, and galleries, offered Sunset space for the new home of the test garden. Silver said, “It is delightful to be in a more visited area.”

The Sunset gardens feature a greenhouse, a small alleé of moon garden trellises, a backyard orchard planted with 24 fruit trees, an outdoor gathering space, and a cocktail garden with hops and other plants grown and used in cocktails.

Thanks to both speakers for an especially interesting presentation. Our members were fortunate to visit the Bancroft garden on two Bay Area tours, in 1999 and again in 2012.



bottom of page