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In his decades of reporting at The Bee there were never any complaints from the subjects of his stories. Dick puts that down to his practice of sending a pre-publication draft to each subject. He says, “More often than not the person you were interviewing can clear up any misconceptions AND add something to the story that they forgot to mention.” Dick had a charmed career at The Bee. In those days the newspaper could reward his quality writing with trips to cover every garden spot from Winterthur to the Chelsea Flower Show. Dick was a blossoming horticulture writer when he encountered the Garden Writers Association. "I approached the first meeting in the 1970s, thinking I'd be spending the day with people who spoke botanical Latin, ‘How's your Fischer's Ricinifolia begonia?’ But I came home impressed with how much fun they were. And I joined shortly after that." In 2011 the GWA made Dick a Fellow, recognizing his years of service as a GWA National Director and mentor to garden communicators, along with his excellence as a writer. Dick’s best stories about the GWA don’t revolve around board meetings though. Among the many GWA symposiums he attended, Dick was at a regional meeting at Stanford in the 1970s that ended with a giant au naturel redwood hot tub party that drew about 40 skinny dippers. The symposium chair, Karen, joined in the festivities and she crossed paths with Dick at a garden event 20 years later. “Karen!” Dick said, “Do you realize the last time we saw each other we were stark naked?” “Yes,” she said, unsmiling, “Don’t tell my husband.” That was one occasion on which the author of The Bee’s popular Garden Detective column did not have to search for clues.
Charlotte Germane writes a free, weekday garden enewsletter, Dirt du jour: Northern California. She also provides writing, social media training and management, marketing, and public relations to the garden world.
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