Wayne Winterrowd

Early last week we received the sad news that Wayne Winterrowd had passed away. He was 68. Wayne shared his deep knowledge and true love of gardening with Horticulture’s readers for more than 20 years, most recently in his column “North Hill Notes.” Wayne wrote with eloquence and wisdom, crafting hundreds of flavorful sentences to learn and to live by. We offer these two quotes now—easy gems to bring into the garden with you, and that way keep him in mind. “A garden that is not worth a little trouble is not worth anything” (1998). “It is fun, and sad is the gardener who does not continue to have that” (2010).

Besides collaborating on their own outstanding garden and many books, Wayne and his spouse, Joe Eck, designed gardens through their firm, North Hill. The website, northhillgarden.com, has details about their work and books, along with an essay by Page Dickey and information about a memorial fund.

Other obituaries and articles about Wayne appeared in the Burlington (Vt.) Free Press, the New York Times and the Washington Post.

We’ve asked some of Wayne’s friends to remember him in their own words. Their thoughts follow. We invite you to leave your thoughts in the comments section, below, if you wish.

“Gentle but authoritative, infinitely sensitive and unequivocally witty, Wayne never uttered or wrote a parenthetical statement. Every truism he spoke and every sentence he penned had layers of depth and understanding based on his uncannily spot-on insights into life and its applications for the garden. If ever there was a person who filled the world with his presence, it was Wayne. And our world will fade a paler shade of green without him.”—Tovah Martin

“Wayne told me once that the vegetable garden was his favorite part of the garden at North Hill. It is in itself an enchanting spot, reached through a flowering meadow and bounded on one side, at a suitable distance, by a piggery and on the other by a friendly gaggle of geese, hens and turkeys. Within the fenced enclosure, framed with blueberry bushes, the ground is divided by straw paths into a series of beds burgeoning with leeks and lettuces, strawberries and artichokes, peas and beans.
“I think this was Wayne’s favorite area because it wove together two of his passions—gardening and cooking. Here was the pleasure of sowing and growing, the beauty of order and plenty and the promise of delicious meals that he would daily conjure up to bring to the table. Wayne’s third passion was, of course, writing, and we, his friends and readers, are rewarded with the legacy of his words on gardening, on cooking, on life.”—Page Dickey

“As it is with many mentors I have had the privilege of having in my 
life as a horticulturist, cook, writer, there is seldom a turn in the 
garden, a move in the kitchen, a seed sown in the potager or a 
sentence written that I am not reminded of the pith and substance of 
Wayne Winterrowd. His carefully crafted letters, his exuberance and 
love for language—spoken and written—, his tending of flocks of 
geese and chickens and his caring for his beloved canaries will be 
remembered and cherished. Wayne (and Joe) were sustainable 
gardeners before sustainable was a word, committed to a sense of place and locality before it was a movement, were gay activists when it still carried a dangerous stigma. My world has become decidedly less 
opulent knowing he is no longer amongst us.”—Daniel J. Hinkley

“Drawing plants for North Hill has always been a pleasure. Each
illustration began with a phone call from Joe—the stewartia was in
spectacular bloom; the Egyptian onions, in perfect form; the colchicums have never looked better. An e-mail from Wayne followed, insisting I must come for a meal. I did not hesitate to obey; Wayne was a fantastic cook, the garden holds endless allure and the conversation always enriched me. I often took the plants home to draw when our visits left no time for sketches, packed securely amongst the leftovers Wayne wrapped up for me. But I was there for more than the plants and the food—it is the friendship that sustains—generous, sincere and full of warmth.”—Bobbi Angell

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14 thoughts on “Wayne Winterrowd

  1. Pingback: Opposites Attract in the garden — Gossip in the Garden

  2. Each month I received my issue of Horticulture magazine I would go first to “North Hill Notes”. How I shall miss the gracious gardener Wayne Winterrowd. He is one of the best garden writers a magazine could have. My prayers for his family and his companion, Joe….

  3. I am so grateful to have a chance to express my sadness at the loss of Wayne Winterowd, made so much more poignant as I read “Our Life in Gardens”. All of his books have been enriching, exposing as they did his love of planting things, raising animals, gourmet cooking, and his home. But this book is a love story, deep and strong, of two people sharing a life as one. The gardens and the literature they created together will live and bring joy forever. My heart goes out to Joe.

  4. Wayne was so kind and giving. i once wrote and asked him about publishing a book and he wrote me a 2 page answer. he did even know me. i always got him to sign his books. my favorite was his book on perennials. it is falling apart i use it so fmuch. i send condolences to Joe Eck; you did such wonderful things and were a great couple. sincerely kinsa turnbull

  5. For years I have read his books and articles and loved them. Hoped to meet him one day. I have many many plants in my garden because of him. I often return to his book “Annuals for Connoisseurs”. I’m so saddened and send my condolences to his friends and family and especially Joe Eck.

  6. I only knew Wayne through his writing but I certainly feel the pain of his loss. His books were like a warm chat with a true gardening friend. I will miss him.

  7. We have all suffered a great loss — and especially Joe. What a partnership was their work, their garden, their writing and the conferences they presented. I have read all their books many times over; I renewed my lapsed subscription to Horticulture just to enjoy North Hill Notes. My kindest wishes go out to Joe as he finishes their final joint work, To Eat. Remembering Wayne’s loving description of Joe’s fitful writing habits (in the preface to Elements of Garden Design), I pray that Wayne’s spirit will be there to help support him in this project.

  8. I am sad at the passing of a man I never met. Our life in gardens was the most truley genteel, genuine, love and humor filled – well, memoir and study of the heart of a gardener. A lost art, gentility, made to shine against the sandpaper of this modern world. Its words kept my spirits up when they needed it and when I read of his death, I thought of the loss I felt when my mother, a gardener’s gardener, passed away, in keeping the ones left behind in prayer.

  9. Pingback: A Life in the Garden: Wayne Winterrowd Remembered - The Home Outside - JMMDS Landscape Design Blog — Julie Moir Messervy Design Studio

  10. We are so saddened to read of Wayne’s passing! Such a warm and gracious individual whom we met some 13 years ago and whose book we purchased when he was here in the Pacific Northwest at one of our meetings. Rest in peace, Wayne.

  11. Wayne Winterrowd’s writing made me want to be in his garden and taste the produce. I should have known he was a great cook also. I met him once in Seattle at a symposium and got my copy of his book signed. Thank you for a good life well spent and condolences to Joe Eck. What a team!

    hat a team.

  12. What a painful loss.

    I met Wayne and Joe at a conference in Asheville, NC. For their part of the program they did an innovative and engaging slideshow and reading from their latest book about plants at North Hill.

    My first exposure to their work was through their books. Yes, they transformed some of what they grew into delicious meals, but fortunately for us, their writing is also like food for the famished.

    Will miss Wayne’s work. And my heartfelt condolences to Joe.

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