Friday, February 06, 2009

Gardening in Eden - For Reals Now

Jack Eden's obituary appeared in today's WaPo -- read it here. Jack's column and local radio spots spanned about three decades, so many DC-area gardeners are very familiar with Jack's image and name. He was a bit "before my time," so I know him mostly by reputation and second-hand stories. The fact that he was self-taught and really caught the gardening bug later in life make him someone a lot of budding gardeners could relate to. He had a straight-forward style and was not one for flowery prose or excessive verbage.

His web site, http://www.jackeden.com/, which is full of general gardening advice and not really locally specific, is still up and definitely worth a perusal.

I have to confess that I'm in obituary nut. I read them like other people watch soap operas. The obituaries are hands-down the best writing and most fascinating stories in the paper. You just can't make this stuff up! Ordinary people who have remade themselves several times and who have multiple hobbies are common. You think you know someone, but truly you do not.
The most interesting sentence in Jack's obituary for me was this one: His "Garden of Eden" column ended abruptly in 1996 over a payment dispute involving the Internet use of his column. Reading between the lines I take that to me Jack was not willing to sign over all his future rights to his columns without just compensation. And good for him! If there had been more folks like him a decade or so ago, perhaps today writers (both on and off-line) might be able to support themselves by writing for a living.

6 comments:

Barbara Martin said...

Hard to believe but I used to listen/read Jack Eden back in the 1980's when I was new-to-gardening but very hooked on it. Jack Eden, Henry Mitchell, and James Underwood Crockett were my early teachers. Sad. Thankful.

Susan Harris said...

Jack Eden was notorious for advising readers to use TONS of chemicals. Those were the bad old days of garden writing at the Washington Post.

WashingtonGardener said...

Barbara -
Yes, Mitchell et al were a great source of local garden inspiration and all are missed.

Susan -
Agreed, Eden gave out some bad advice and his chemical advocacy is now thankfully seen as "old school." Yet, there is still much there to admire in his work.

ChrisU said...

Amen to Susan Harris. The man did love his chemicals. And assumed they were the answer to all the world's problems. Still, I'll miss him,

PS there was a rumor that used to go around that Jack was, by profession, a chemical engineer! I heard it separately half a dozen times at least.

jessica said...

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Thanks for sharing the informative with us..
cheer

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Jessica
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George said...

Jack Eden was a legend on WTOP in the 70's and 80's. Sunday mornings I listened to his show for 3 hours. I sent him many letters and received personal replies in each case. I must have gotten 50 or 60 of his Data Sheets of planting tips at the Suburban Trust bank. He loved promoting his Penn Fine perennial rye grass and I planted my lawn with that a few times. Poinsettias were also a favorite of his, as was Roozen's nursery. Yos Roozen has a show on WMAL now and mentions Jack to this day. I even saw him at the Philadelphia flower show one year. I sure miss his commentary and voice.