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LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT: SDHS Celebrates Another Year And So Do I

By Karen England, for Let’s Talk Plants! September 2023.

WiX stock photo. Happy birthday cake.

The San Diego Horticultural Society Celebrates Another Year and So Do I

As the San Diego Horticultural Society celebrates its 29th year this month, I too am celebrating. I have been on the SDHS board for the last four years starting with becoming the Let’s Talk Plants! newsletter editor in September 2019 and then additionally becoming president in 2020.

Although I was not an individual member back in 1994 when the SDHS was formed, I was keenly aware of its beginnings while working at my extended family’s garden center in Encinitas called Sunshine Gardens, where I oversaw the nursery’s marketing program which included the business becoming an early SDHS sponsor and newsletter advertiser (something which Sunshine was up until the day it closed in December 2021). I was the Sunshine Gardens representative to the community, which included the SDHS for many years and gave me a bit of an insight into our group’s early days.

(Read more about the history of the San Diego Horticultural Society here -)

In 2009 I was the herbs presenter on a panel of five speakers on edibles at the May meeting at the racetrack.

Screenshot of the archived newsletter description of the then upcoming May 2009 meeting called "From Garden To Table: Delicious Tips From The Experts".

You can read the full Meeting Report of that meeting in the June 2009 issue of Let’s Talk Plants! No. 177, page 21 online here SDHS_June_09.pdf (

It was terrifying! The room was packed with hundreds of people. I was given ten minutes to talk about growing herbs in San Diego - which was impossible! Unlike the blueberry guy who had only one berry to talk about in his ten minutes or the tomato lady who focused on that one group of plants or even the wonderful Mia McCarville who concentrated on growing Asian vegetables, or the man talking about rare fruits, I was asked to speak about herbs. All herbs. I knew that even if I winnowed the subject down to just Mediterranean herbs that that would still be too much information and too many plants to mention for the allotted time, so I focused on presenting just one herb. I chose the Herb of the Year™ that year, Laurus nobilis, Sweet Bay. Even with only that one herb to talk about, I still went over my time. It couldn’t be helped.

My mom attended that meeting in support of me and captured when her barefoot and wreath wearing daughter took a photo of the audience with a cell phone from the podium that night in Del Mar. Truly it was one of the biggest audiences that I've ever spoken in front of to this day.

I brought my mother along that night for moral support, and, from the audience, she took pictures of me during my presentation and then posted them to her Facebook telling the world that I was barefoot as I spoke (I was. She wasn’t lying.) and that I wore a bay wreath on my head (I did.) The barefoot thing has to do with nerves, and I have done it a lot throughout my life (when it isn’t disrespectful to the venue or event.). I think it grounds me. Well, even if it doesn’t quell my nerves really, this quirk seems to make me memorable (as if the leafy wreath on my head doesn’t!) People still mention it years later…

Above are the photos of me culled from my mother's Facebook post about the event dated May 13, 2009. (Those are tan lines from my flipflops on my bare feet if you are wondering.)

Since joining the SDHS as an individual in 2019, the membership of our society has been so kind and encouraging to me, and the experience has taught me and continues to teach me important skills that have given me wings to do so many more of the things that I love than I ever imagined that I could do. I am so grateful to you all.

It is thanks to your faith in me that I am also now serving on the board of the International Herb Association where I am their newsletter editor as well as a contributor to the IHA’s Herb of the Year™ books. Additionally, I have become a West District Delegate to the Herb Society of America’s Member-at-large committee.

My expanding experience working with various garden groups, serving on boards and committees, collaborating between organizations, etc. has confirmed my belief that the San Diego Horticultural Society is healthy, and I believe that the future of the SDHS is bright, thanks to our dedicated board that is focused on transitioning our 29-year-old group into a modern-day society that respects the past, honors our mission and vision, and serves our members, the community and the environment well through its various offerings.

Our Mission To inspire and educate the people of San Diego County to grow and enjoy plants, and to create beautiful, environmentally responsible gardens and landscapes.
Our Vision To champion regionally appropriate horticulture in San Diego County.

San Diego Horticultural Society Board of Directors

  1. Karen England, President, Newsletter Editor-in-chief & SD Hort Book Club Head Muckety-muck

  2. Ray Brooks, Treasurer

  3. Ken Kubarych, Secretary and Zoom Coordinator

  4. Jim Bishop, Publicity Coordinator and Past President

  5. Jason Chen, Member-at-large

  6. Donna Mallen, Programs Coordinator

  7. Karon De Leon, Volunteer Coordinator

  8. Debby Dunn, Membership

  9. Dave Ericson, Garden Tour and Sharing Gardens

  10. Open Position, School Garden Grants and Student Scholarships


Monday, September 18 at 6pm

Guests welcome! For zoom link or to learn more about ways you can help the SDHS send an email -


To this day, SDHS president Karen England often wears a fresh wreath made of bay leaves when she presents about herbs to groups both in-person and on Zoom.

Karen sells IHA Herb of the Year™ books on her website including Bay.


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