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FOUNDERS AWARD 2018:  Richard Tiede and Tribute to Bracey Tiede


Our 2018 Founder’s Award went to Richard Tiede and his late wife Bracey. This couple was recognized as two outstanding individuals who formed a dynamic horticultural partnership. 


Richard found his gardening interests start to bloom in his childhood home of Michigan. Both his parents grew up on farms and instilled the beauty and excitement of plants in him from an early age.  Bracey’s interest developed later in life but by the time that they were married in 1992 both had developed a passion for gardening.


Both Bracey and Richard had careers in the high tech world.  Bracey graduated from UC Berkeley. Some of her early jobs ranged from office manager for the Harvard School of Design, working on the life science project for SkyLab3 at NASA Ames, as well as at Metaphor Inc., IBM, and Help Desk software companies. Richard worked in electrical, hardware, and mechanical design


The search for plants for their hot dry garden in the eastern foothills of San Jose led them to the wonderful world of Salvias. They not only grew many different species but also experimented with hybridizing some of them. Their passion for salvias also lead to a friendship with Betsy Clebsch and many visits to her home and garden. They also became friends with Kermit Carter of Flowers by the Sea. He says of them in his blog Sage Experts:


“Long before retirement, these two began gardening, an activity that Megatrends author John Naisbitt in the 1980’s identified as being among the “high touch” humanizing pastimes that would counterbalance life in what was then becoming known as the digital “information age”.


So these two are high-tech, high-touch folks whose volunteerism merges the two worlds. They've adapted their knowledge of digital technology, business management and xeric gardening to the needs of many garden organizations while also developing their own gardens as examples of sustainable landscaping.”


The two found their interest in gardening pulling them towards organizations where they could learn by volunteering. A partial list of places they graced with their presence: Heritage Rose Garden of San Jose, Santa Clara Master Gardeners Program, Saratoga Horticultural Research Foundation, Mediterranean Garden Society, California Native Plant Society, Pacific Horticulture Society, and our own Western Horticultural Society.


Not afraid to get their hands dirty, these two jumped right in to projects for these organizations that expanded their knowledge of the plant world while advancing each organization’s reach. Neither were shy to join boards, or become officers. Both were active with Western Hort. They helped with sales events, the Hot Plant Picks exhibit, organizing our June picnics, contributing pieces for the newsletter, suggesting speakers, and taking photos of members at various events for our website. Richard served as the Western Horticulture Society’s President from 2011-2016 where he guided our organization with humor and wisdom.


They both made contributions both great and small to help keep Western Hort running smoothly. Bracey and Richard would arrive early to help set up the tables and chairs, and Richard helped with our AV set-up. Both of them brought plants to share for discussion and for the raffle table. No matter the task, they were ready to step up and help. 


When not volunteering or working in their own garden, these two were avid travelers throughout the world, where they found exciting gardens filled with plants that piqued their interests. They traveled with a variety of groups, including friends from the Mediterranean Garden Society, they visited gardens in Australia, Borneo, Canada, England, France, Greece, Hawaii, Italy, Mexico, Monaco, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, and throughout the U.S.


Richard’s newest adventure will be moving to Hawaii to enjoy gardening in a completely new gardening zone and learning all about the plants that will thrive in the tropical environment. 


Western Horticulture is lucky to have had them both as members. It is people like the Tiedes that make our organization run smoothly and so enjoyable to be a member of. They leave behind fond memories and many holes to fill.

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