Thursday, May 3, 2012

Mary Lou's tour (come see my garden for yourself)

Many of you out there in Orange County and Long Beach and elsewhere fondly remember a little nursery called Heard's Country Gardens. Tucked away in an odd quasi industrial area of Westminster sat a nursery that was the brainchild of Mary Lou Heard.  Filled with rare perennials, it captured the hearts of gardeners in the area.

Once when I was 15 or 16 years old I went to Heard's with my grandma to pick out some herbs.  I was visiting from Northern California and loved to see the variety of plants that the nursery had to offer.  There were few people in the nursery that day, and Mary Lou was grooming plants in the 4" area. I said to her "I love this blue eyed grass, it grows on my parents ranch", Mary Lou said something like "I like it too, it's one of my favorites", then I said something to the effect of "it's a tiny iris relative you know" and Mary Lou said plainly "no, it's not".  I then asked Mary Lou if she had a plant encyclopedia where we might check the plant's family. She showed me directly to the book.  I was right. Mary Lou offered me a job on the spot.  I told her the 500 mile commute would be tough and that I'd probably better finish high school.

Later when I was 19, I was living in the area and looking for work. I went and asked for the job she had offered me. She took my number and said she would call me. I heard nothing for two weeks. At this point I called and was asked "how can I help you" to which I replied "I want you to hire me".  She did.  And so began my career in horticulture.  At first I was just a leaf picker and a hose dragging waterer, but every week with the help of Mary Lou and others in the nursery I learned about plants. So many plants. Mary Lou kept such a wide variety around and sometimes there would be a flat of plants in one day and you wouldn't see them again until the next year or ever.  But I learned them all, or at least as best as I could.

I worked for Mary Lou for about 5 years, until she closed the nursery.  After two years of battling colon cancer she had to let the business go.  Later that summer she passed away.

There are countless stories I could tell about Mary Lou, but the thing that I want to share is that she had a pure love of plants and gardening.  That is why she started the garden tour.  Mary Lou always wanted it to be about real people and real gardens. She wanted people to be able to share their love of gardening with each other.

Today the garden tour lives on in her name.  It benefits a women's shelter, a horticultural scholarship and a cancer charity.

After all these years my garden will be on the tour, I think Mary Lou would be proud.  I hope you all can come see my garden this Sunday 10am to 5 pm.

Here is the info:

In case you forget, my name is Dustin

addresses for the tour

Here are some before and after shots.

Front yard early 2010

Frontyard 2012

Frontyard 2010

Frontyard 2012

Backyard 2010

Backyard 2012

1 comment:

  1. Hi Dustin! It was wonderful seeing your garden today on the tour. I was very flattered that you recognized me from my days of shopping at Heard's. I can't believe what you have done with your garden in such a short time. Thanks for giving me your blog address, and I am looking forward to reading your past entries. Now I am off to find the perfect spot for the green concrete leaf I bought from you today! Sandra.