Join us for monthly Western Hort programs designed to inform, educate and inspire the dedicated plant lover. Meetings are currently available via Zoom and links are sent monthly to all members who provide email contact information. Meetings are a benefit of  WHS membership. We also currently have a sharing agreement for meetings with the California Horticultural Society. Our members will receive links to the their monthly Zoom meetings and we will send them links to ours.

Meetings are held 9 times a year on the second Wednesday of the month and feature a lecture and slide presentation by a guest horticultural specialist. Each program also includes a member-led discussion and photos of unusual plants.

Future in-person meetings, when feasible, will be held at the Los Altos Youth Center, 1 N. San Antonio Rd, Los Altos, CA 94022.

In-person meetings often include a sale of diverse plant varieties donated by members and local nurseries as well as books, seeds, tools and other horticultural items on occasion.  All are welcome!

Meetings currently presented via Zoom. Link sent to all members prior to the meeting date.

If you enjoy the talks given at our meetings and want to help the Western Horticultural Society sustain our program, you might like to sponsor one of our speakers! Your donation helps cover the costs of hosting a speaker and we will note your name as sponsor in our newsletter. You can choose the month or speaker of your choice or perhaps you have a speaker you would like to propose? Contact Leslie Dean lesliekdean@sonic.net about donations or questions.   

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October 13, 2021 7:15pm via Zoom

Culture and Gardening Lift Ev'ry Voice!

With Abra Lee

It was nothing short of a grand affair when a Florida floral business with family ties to a Harlem Renaissance legend launched during the roaring twenties. And when it came time to sell her beautiful blooms, an iconic gospel singer made customers an offer they just couldn't refuse!

From the ordinary to the extraordinary, join in as we celebrate iconic Black Americans in

horticultural history.


Abra Lee is a national speaker, writer, and founder of Conquer the Soil a community dedicated to celebrating the history and art of horticulture! She has spent a whole lotta time in the dirt as a municipal arborist, extension agent, airport landscape manager, and more.

Lee is a graduate of Auburn University College of Agriculture and an alumna of the Longwood Gardens Society of Fellows, a global network of public horticulture professionals.

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November 10, 2021 7:15pm via Zoom

Crevice Gardens: Stuck in the Cracks

With Kenton J. Seth

Crevice Gardens are finding their way into gardening magazines, Pinterest pages, and botanical gardens. But what the heck are these things?

Presented by Kenton Seth, one of three people on earth he is aware of, who specialize in building crevice gardens professionally. We'll be learning about their history, advantages, construction, and plants. This mountain inspired and erstwhile obscure garden style, saturated with stones and miniature plants, is an obsession of lifelong naturalists, mountain-lovers, and plant nerds around the world. We will see how a current renaissance of it is expressed worldwide from New Zealand to the dry American West.

Kenton J. Seth is a thirty-something Colorado-based garden designer and hopeless plant enthusiast. He has a small nursery to grow plants for his gardens, which range from around Western Colorado to the US Coasts and even a few overseas.

Crevice gardens dominate his work, including a book in 2022, but he also works with natives, dry land gardens, and recently meadows.

He writes a blog at kentonjseth.blogspot.com and his work is at PaintbrushGardens.com


December 8, 2021 7:30pm, Zoom and venue TBD

Gardens to Lure You Out of California

With Lynn Chan and David Eger

Are you looking for inspiration on how to design your garden? Are you waiting for it to mature?

Do you want it to be lush but don't have the water? Regardless of the reason, it is always a joy

to visit someone else’s creation. It rejuvenates the way we look at our own.

In this talk we would like to take you on a tour of some of our favorite gardens that we have visited around the world. Each one gave us more than a postcard photo. We saw new plants, unique arrangements, or even a new perspective of looking at life all together! 


David and Lynn grew up in the lush countrysides of Delaware and Malaysia. They love traveling to see gardens and to meet the gardeners who tend them.

None is too big, too small, too far, or too old. When they’re not traveling, they can be found puttering in their edible-focused cottage garden in Burlingame.


January 12, 2022 7:30pm, Zoom and venue TBD

Growing Gorgeous Gardens from the Ground Up

With Lynn Del McComb

As a life-long plantophile, Delmar McComb has grown a huge variety of plants from all over the globe. Cultivating such a range of species has engendered another passion for trying to understand the soil beneath our feet. This accessible and utilitarian talk will emphasize how to enhance and tailor your soils to maximize the health and beauty of your garden and container garden plants using readily available materials and methods.

Whether you need to make your Arctostaphylos and Zephyranthes or your artichokes and zucchinis happier, there will be many practical tips and insights given to grow abundant foliage, flowers, and fruit, while continually regenerating your soil fertility and structure appropriate to your garden denizens. 


Delmar McComb is co-owner, with his partner Carin Fortin, of Blossom's Farm in Corralitos, California, where they grow and process approximately 100 varieties of medicinal herbs which are made into health and beauty care products.

He was director of horticulture for Suncrest Nurseries Inc. in Watsonville, California for 5 years where he introduced more ecological growing practices. He designed soil mix recipes and started in house production of these recipes that were used for the production of the diverse variety of plants grown there. Prior to this, Delmar gardened professionally for nearly 30 years serving as horticulturist, consultant, and designer of many California public and private gardens. He was the owner of Checkerspot Nursery, a wholesale grower of perennials and shrubs from 1994-2002. 

And as an operatic tenor, Delmar has sung many leading roles with opera companies around the state.

February 9, 2022 7:30pm, Zoom and venue TBD

Farming in The Valley of Heart’s Delight

With Andy Mariani and Charlie Olson moderated by Robin Chapman

Change is inevitable. But despite the paving over of The Valley of Heart’s Delight,

many of us still cherish the legacy of the farmers and bounty of the harvest of Santa Clara Valley.

This is still one of the best climates on earth for growing an amazing variety of fruit.

Between the two of them, Charlie Olson (in Sunnyvale) and Andy Mariani (in Morgan Hill)

have spent over a century tending family orchards and growing some of the

best tasting fruit there is.

Tonight Robin Chapman will moderate a conversation between two local growers whose skill, knowledge and passion has kept some precious acres of trees growing and producing fruit

with the flavor they were meant to have.

This conversation will be in a question and answer format. Members are asked to submit their questions for the speakers at least a week before the meeting to  info@westernhort.org.


Andy Mariani, educated in both horticultural and behavioral sciences, continues his family’s tradition of growing specialty stone fruit along with persimmons and citrus in Santa Clara County. 

An innovative farmer, he practices Integrated Pest Management as an approach to fruit growing. 

As a member of the California Cherry Research Committee, he has helped initiate research in cherry growing.  He has also authored a book on fruit varieties, several articles and lectures on various aspects of fruit growing. 



Charles J. Olson grew up picking apricots and prunes in the family orchards in Sunnyvale, land his grandfather first purchased in 1899. His mother Rose, an immigrant from the Middle East, set up the family’s first fruit stand on El Camino Real.

Charlie went off to the University of Denver where he played football. After college Charlie played professional football in the Canadian league and then returned home to become the third generation of Olsons to work in the family business. Charlie’s daughter Deborah, the fourth generation, now distributes his luscious fruit through their family company, C.J. Olson’s Cherries. Charlie, now 86, manages the 10-acre Sunnyvale Heritage Orchard, one of the last working apricot orchards in the Santa Clara Valley. He was recently named "Sunnyvale's Hero," an honor marked by a banner in the orchard he has long cared for. 


Robin Chapman is a journalist native to Los Altos, California. She worked at KRON-TV in

San Francisco and several other stations in the West before heading to Washington D.C.

There she covered the White House and other big stories for the ABC-TV station. In 2009 Robin returned to her hometown to care for her parents, and in the years since has published

California Apricots: The Lost Orchards of Silicon Valley and Historic Bay Area Visionaries,

both from the History Press.

She is working on a book based on a collection of her columns for the Los Altos Town Crier on Bay Area history. It is tentatively titled Apricots in Paradise: True Tales of the Santa Clara Valley and scheduled for publication by History Press in late 2022.