Oct 24th, 2008

Marc Cathey: A Legend in Gardening, A Man Before His Time

Adrian Higgins, over at the Washington Post, wrote a nice piece earlier this month on Marc Cathey, former director of the U.S. National Arboretum, who died Oct. 8th at the age of 79.
I have to admit, before reading Mr. Higgin’s piece, I had not heard of Mr. Cathey. But he sounds like a man who was far ahead of his time, thinking about sustainable gardens well before anyone else. The Washington Post article says,

He coined the phrase “tough plants for tough times” to convey the need for lower-maintenance landscapes that were kinder to the environment than the former lawn- and chemical-dominated model.

Plus, this man had character. Here is a taste of the article:

Tall, dapper, and with ties and handkerchiefs as colorful as his persona, Dr. Cathey gave hundreds of lectures during his career that combined scientific authority with sheer showmanship. He was sometimes called Dr. Purple, after his favorite hue.

Before the dawn of PowerPoint, he would extol the virtues of plants using multiple slide projectors, soundtracks and, on occasion, smoke machines, confetti and other special effects.

“He got people wowed up because of his ability to tell stories and to bring life and drama to everything,” said Holly Shimizu, executive director of the U.S. Botanic Garden. “There was no one else like him in horticulture.”

Sounds like someone I would have loved to have known. Thanks for the wonderful tribute. And thanks to the ladies at Garden Rant for sharing it.

Jonah Holland is Digital Content Manager at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, where she has worked for 14 years overseeing social media, the blog, and the website. She is also a mom, yogi, open water swimmer, gardener, and seeker. She's been known to go for a walk in the Garden and come back with hundreds of plant photos, completely inspired to write her next blog post.

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