Steve Hootman- 2017  Guest Speaker

This year we have a plant person's plant person, Steve Hootman, Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden's Executive Director and Curator - Friday, June 23 at 7:00 pm at Sehmel Homestead Park.

Steve will present: “Successful cultivation of Meconopsis [blue poppies], Cardiocrinum [a type of lilly], species rhododendrons and other choice plants in our Pacific NW climate.” "I will discuss and illustrate methods and ideas relating to the above topic with specific instructions and examples for the home gardener and collector.   Included will be many images of these special plants in their native habitats in China and the Himalayas."

He has participated in or led almost twenty expeditions into the remote regions of Asia looking for rare and new taxa of rhododendrons and other plants and is considered one of the world authorities on the genus Rhododendron. He is also an active collector, authority and promoter of related Ericaceae including genera such as Vaccinium, Agapetes and Gaultheria.

In an effort to study and protect these rare species, the RSBG's Executive Director and Curator, Steve Hootman, travels to remote locations around the world to locate and document these rapidly disappearing plant populations. These expeditions have discovered species new to science and have provided researchers with genetic material for scientific study.

In 1995 Curator Steve Hootman participated in his first seed and plant collecting expedition to China. This was the first time that a staff member of the RSF had been able to take part in such an experience. Several species of Rhododendron that were completely new to cultivation as well as at least one species new to science were collected. Such was the success and positive attention resulting from this first expedition that the active acquisition of new wild material for a now rapidly growing collection continued on an almost yearly basis - and it continues to this day. After a few such trips in the late 1990s, Steve Hootman began organizing RSF-sponsored collecting trips with plant hunters from around the world as well as more leisurely "sight-seeing" and driving tours that RSF members could participate into experience rhododendrons in their wild habitats. Since that initial expedition in 1995, dozens of new rhododendrons and many dozens of new companion plants have been introduced into the RSF garden and general horticulture thanks to the success of these trips. In addition, the RSF has gained an even more prominent position in the horticultural and botanical worlds due to its being on the forefront of modern plant exploration.

Finally, in 1998, then Garden Manager Richard Peterson took on the role of Co-Executive Director along with Steve Hootman who was then the Curator. ... Foundation leaders named Steve Hootman Executive Director of the RSF and RSBG, as well as Curator [in 2009].


DIRECTIONS to Sehmel Homestead Park from Tacoma

From Hwy 16 take Burnham Dr. NW exit, stay in left lane go west on Burnham Dr. NW

Left on Sehmel Dr.

Left on 78th Ave NW to park entrance

Follow signs to the Sehmel Park Pavilion

10123 78th Ave NW, gig harbor, wa 98332

Our mission is to provide annually a quality garden tour to promote literacy for children and adults on the Gig Harbor and Key Peninsula. 

Contact Us

P.O. Box 1328
Gig Harbor, WA 98335

[email protected]

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