Your 50th/35th Year Anniversary Memories

Gardener’s Corner | Questions and Answers with Local Experts

By Dan Songster, 2016 March

The question for this edition is: This year is the 50th anniversary for CNPS and the 35th anniversary for the Orange County Chapter. Please share one interesting memory from your time as a member.

Celia Kutcher -“I saw the notice of the formation of an OC chapter of CNPS on a bulletin board in the Biology Department at Cal State Fullerton early in the 1978 spring semester. The first meeting I attended, a few weeks later, was held in the Horticulture Unit at Orange Coast College.  Perhaps a dozen attended.  A few of us are still chapter members.

Ron Vanderhoff – “Many years ago, before I was active in CNPS I visited Sarah Jayne’s home garden during a OCCNPS garden tour. Her wonderful, soothing garden blended horticulture and California so perfectly that it made an indelible, lifelong impression on me. It wasn’t until several years later that I came to know Sarah and her amazing legacy with CNPS. CNPS is not just plants, it is people. Sarah Jayne is a CNPS legend.”

Chuck Wright – “My memories of the OC-CNPS go back to when we met at the Irvine Ranch Water District facility on Sand Canyon. I was so impressed that I was joyfully greeted at the door each month by Dan Songster. I have continued to be amazed at the diversity of people who flock to the monthly meetings and how knowledgeable and help each and every person is.  A most unique tribe that volunteer at the state level, and at the same time gets their hands dirty right here in Orange County. A most amazing and diverse group of people that I am pleased to be associated with.”

Laura Camp – “For the last six years, it’s been my honor to serve on the CNPS board with the last two as president. The experiences are many, varied, and too numerous to do justice to. CNPS board and Chapter Council meeting locales all over the state four times a year. I visited Quincy, Chico, Fort Bragg, Sacramento, Big Pine, Bakersfield, Yucca Valley, San Diego, San Carlos, Santa Clara, Santa Rosa, Berkeley, Claremont, Marin, with self mandated detours to natural areas all over the state. An invaluable life-changing experience that I highly recommend to anyone. Hooray for one of the great floras of the world, California native plants!”

Brad Jenkins – “I was an inactive CNPS member in the 1990s. Around the year 2000, OC board member Sarah Jayne and I met on mountain hike led by mutual friend Jesper Widen. I told her the chapter needed a garden tour. She thought the idea had promise, but I would need to get involved, in which case she would help. With her hands on guidance, the first in a long string of garden tours came about on April 28, 2002. A CNPS and life lesson was learned: If you want to make good things happen, get involved and team with capable people. CNPS OC has many capable people, come enjoy them, and you can make positive changes happen.”

Rama Nayeri – “My favorite moments in CNPS involve making new friends and connections.”

John Gossett – “I will never forget how amazed I was at the extraordinary variety of ways to garden with native plants when I took my first OCCNPS garden tour. Wonderful!”

Nancy Heuler – “It’s impossible to pick one moment after roughly ten years of attending CNPS events, O.C. Board and Chapter Council meetings. I’d have to say my fondest memory is of the wonderful, dedicated, friendly and knowledgeable people I’ve served with during those years—I’ve never known such an amazing group of all around delightful human beings you all have been an inspiration to me and I’ve learned so much from you!”

Helen Smisko – “I have enjoyed learning about the incredible OC habitats from the many and varied field trips. Thanks to Ron Vanderhoff for leading & Rich Schilk for keeping the website up to date.”

Dan Songster – “I agree with Rama and Nancy. When I think of my time with CNPS I think of the people. In our local chapter with Sarah Jayne and Celia Kutcher leading the charge for many years and all our members who have been inspiring in so many ways. At state level Chapter Council meetings where decisions can be far reaching and discussions long, one memory I can’t escape is the June, 1993 Board Meeting (now Chapter Council meeting) being held up near Beetle Rock in Sequoia. We woke up to several inches of snow! I remember David Magney of the Ventura Chapter was President at the time and after the snow plows came through in midday we adjourned to get down the hill before the roads iced over. A wonderful dinner was arranged by the local Chapter and various places to stay the night arranged. It was there in Three Rivers, that Elizabeth and I met that indomitable weed warrior from LA/Santa Monica Chapter, George Stevenson and wife Helen while sharing a small cabin for the night. We heard some wonderful stories.”

Sarah Jayne – “As newsletter editor, I get to have the last word! Most memorable are the people who share the passion and the field trips where we get to revel in it.”


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