Juliana Maxey-Allison | 10th Street
|Pat Welsh. Photo Juliana Maxey-Allison.
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Pat Welsh, well-known locally for her horticultural expertise, did not speak about plants at the DMCC Salon at the home of Howard Appel and Loreen Collins. Instead, she focused on her own exotic beginnings. Turns out that this Del Mar resident of 40 years is a transplant from England.
With her flair for the dramatic, Patricia Ruth Fisher-Smith Welsh talked about life at Hoyle Court, in Yorkshire, England— “like Downton Abbey, but smaller”— where she was born in 1929 to a well-to-do manufacturing family. She reminisced about “a time, place, and way of life that we will never see again,” describing the many rooms, many gardens, servants, even a zoo. Her first memory from babyhood was looking out from her buggy at beautiful Virginia Creeper growing up one of the garden walls. She attributes her lifelong pursuit of greenery and nature to this experience.
However, those early years of privilege were dampened by the Depression and the fact that her beautiful but peripatetic parents were always away. She and her brother John, raised by nurses, were often left to their own amusements and adventures. Luckily, they lived through the many daring escapades she narrated in scary detail. That era ended when her parents divorced. Various challenging changes followed, culminating in a move to America. Pat was 10 years old.
Once landed, there were moves and excursions around New England and Florida before she was settled on a farm in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. After some years of hard work on the farm, she moved west, in 1945, to Hollywood with a new stepfather who gardened. She helped, grounding herself through gardening. Fast forward: Pat attended Hollywood High School, Scripps College, met Louis M. Welsh, married him six weeks later and in time moved to Del Mar.
Pat’s horticultural career started in 1970s. She has been a teacher, garden editor/columnist, television performer, public speaker, and artist, co-creating the mosaic wall fronting the library with Betsy Schulz. Her books include Pat Welsh’s Southern California Gardening and All My Edens: A Gardening Memoir. Pat’s awards: the San Diego Emmy, the San Diego Press Club Award, three Quill and Trowel Awards from the Garden Writers of America, Horticulturist of the Year from the Cuyamaca College Botanical Society, the Lifetime Achievement Award from Quail Botanical Gardens, and Horticulturist of the Year 2003 from the San Diego Horticultural Society.
Gardening questions? www.patwelsh.com/