Ciscoe Morris is a PNW legend — obsessed and irrationally enthusiastic about his one thing. Ciscoe is so into gardening that he kind of freaks you out. CHS likes to think we have a little Ciscoe in us.
So, when we saw that he was planning an appearance on Capitol Hill this week, we knew we had to talk with him. We learned a little bit about gardening but, more importantly, discovered some life lessons regarding noodleheads, oxygen and giant sequoias.
This has been an unusually cold and snowy winter. What kinds of plants might not make it because of all this cold weather?
If people are noodleheads like me, you try to plan things you shouldn’t have. Half of them got murdered by the snow. The regular hardy ones are going to sail right through, though. If a lot of your plants got broken, don’t panic. Wait a while and see if they come back. A lot of the time, they will.
Your Volunteer Park appearance includes a wine and cheese event in the Conservatory. What are some of the things people should look for when they visit the Conservatory that they might miss?
Check out their cycads — prehistoric plants like a palm tree. Sago palms are how people might know them. They’ve been around since prehistoric times. They’re ancient like dinosaurs. I also absolutely love their cactus collection. They might even be in bloom.
Capitol Hill’s elevation, grade and relatively full canopy seem to lend themselves to certain plants doing well and others doing poorly. What advice do you have for gardening on Capitol Hill?
The luckiest people in the world have a lot of sunshine but if you don’t, plant a lot of plots with color foliage. There’s some really cool hardy geraniums. Try and find things with cool foliage.
What about apartment dwellers? What’s the best way to green up an apartment in a small city space?
Bromeliads are great for apartments. The blooms will last 2 or 3 months. You’ll have something new in your house for months. Dracaenas are the easiest plants to grow. They add tons of oxygen to your home and they’re just foolproof plants. And, if you’ve got sun, plant jades.
The reason that so many people get frustrated is they just give up on a plant. The key is to find where the plant is happy in the house. Keep moving it around. If it doesn’t do well try another spot.
Anything non-garden-related that you like to do on Capitol Hill? Will we ever find Ciscoe hanging out in a coffee shop up here?
I used to live on Broadway. I worked at Seattle U for 24 years. I go out with my buddies at the Elysian all the time and I also love the Harvard Exit. Even back when I started at Seattle U it was always in danger of going out of business.
I go up and see my buddies at the Seattle U campus. It’s filled with totally spectacular trees and plants. The pride of the campus is the giant sequoia. I climbed to the top of that in a windstorm once just to feel it, you know? I directed the gardening there for 24 years starting on the first day of spring 1978.
Ciscoe discusses “How to Incorporate Tropical Plants into the Pacific Northwest,” Tuesday, March 10th at the Seattle Asian Art Museum