November 2010 home page

  Plant Whisperer
Dolores Davies | Crest Road

Editor's note: This is the piece as it appeared in the print edition of the Sandpiper.  To read the unabridged version, click here.

Biil Teague.  Photo Judy Wigand

On September 29, Del Mar lost its beloved, modern-day Johnny Appleseed, Bill Teague, who poured his heart and soul into the beautification of Del Mar, leaving an indelible imprint on the community as well as the landscape.

Born in Corona, CA, in 1944, where his great grandparents were pioneer citrus growers. Teague met his wife, Linda, in high school, where the two bonded over their mutual fascination with flora. They both graduated from Cal Poly Pomona with degrees in ornamental horticulture, and moved to Del Mar in 1978. They raised two children, Christopher and Susan, while Bill became a prominent flower grower.

After 30 years, he retired and worked tirelessly as a garden designer. “Besides being an extraordinary plantsman and garden designer,” said Pat Welsh, author of several garden books, “Bill was an inspiring human being from whom one could learn much about plants and much about what is important in life.”

Welsh and other friends recall the days before Bill became ill (with ALS) when he would rise before dawn, depositing well-chosen plants in public landscapes and medians throughout Del Mar, without charge or fanfare. After the Del Mar Garden Club was founded in 1988, Bill became an ex-officio member, guiding their beautification efforts, recalls co-founder Marnie Mahoney, who worked with Bill on the Post Office garden, where he installed the boulders and smaller rocks that gave the garden its “good bones.”

Teague, a founder of the San Diego Horticultural Society, designed many of the award-winning SDHS and San Diego Botanic Garden exhibits at the Del Mar Fair, among other landscaping projects in town.

Becky Dembitsky, a frequent partner of Bill’s in many Del Mar beautification efforts, will always remember his contagious smile and enthusiasm. “Bill will remain special to all of us who were fortunate to know him; his legacy will live on both in spirit and through his beautiful landscapes.”

Over the last year, Mary Friestedt took Bill in his wheelchair to consult on projects at the San Diego Botanic Gardens and in Del Mar. “Bill was the kindest, most giving human being I’ve ever known,” said Friestedt. “He taught me the key to happiness: help others and make our world a little more beautiful. Look to nature for cues--rolling hills, rocks, simplicity. Focus on the positive and ignore the rest.”

A “Celebration of Life”will be held Nov. 14 at 1 p.m. at San Diego Botanic Garden. Donations can be made to: San Diego Botanic Garden, Bill Teague Garden Fund, P.O. Box 230005, Encinitas, CA 92023; Friends of Powerhouse Park, P.O. Box 297, Del Mar, CA 92014; or the ALS Association (www.alsa.org)


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