Baker Nursery devotees
Fellow Master Gardeners and
especially Fruit and Rose Lovers
It is with bittersweet sadness, gratitude and delight that I write to you about the passing of Wayne Matthews. Sunday evening I received a call from his Baker co-worker, Master Gardener Carolyn Hills, that Wayne had been found collapsed beside his car outside of his gym. No one was able to revive him. Since we were out of town we were not able to access our contact list to let you all know. Here is some of what we have learned from him All of what we have learned going forward. Following is the obituary link.
Wayne had an effervescent personality, always a smile as big and warm as the Sun we often spoke under. We first got to know Wayne while haunting what we called "the annual bare root rose fest at Baker Nursery". We bonded immediately when he learned that we, like he had in California, grow and sell fragrant roses. To Wayne and us, why buy no fragrance when there are so many lovely looking and fragrant choices. He though was also adept at growing roses in pots here in the Valley of the Sun, a skill we have yet to learn. In addition to working at Baker Nursery Wayne was caring for and living with his parents and often spoke of the 100+ roses he tended at their home in pots!
One hot day at Baker's he asked if we'd still be at the nursery in 30 minutes. We answered , "Yes!". We laughed that Baker Nursery was a second home. When he returned from lunch, it was with large icey cold tea for us. So touched by this gesture. Bought while he was out for his lunch break. Thank you, Wayne.
While we have been known to accompany people on rose buying trips, we knew we could recommend friends and clients to him and know that they would get a grand tour and education to find the perfect rose. Thank you again, Wayne!
A year and a half ago when we were unable to prune the roses due to injuries in a car accident. Wayne came on his vacation to help get the work done. It was not easy work, but 2/3 of it was done by the time his back prevented him from finishing. Thank you again, Wayne.
His knowledgable enthusiasm didn't stop at roses. No! Tomatoes were also big on his list. So during what we called "the annual tomato fest at Baker Nursery" he also provided suggestions of various varieties that he was familiar with. We told Wayne that we had discovered how to pronounce, the tomato "Stupice", formerly known as [stu-peace]. The "Stupice" tomato now known as [stu-peach-ka]. Wayne greeted us during tomato season with a loud call, of "Stu-peach-ka!" fist thrust into the air, a tomato war cry. His joy and enthusiasm was contagious and so we returned in kind with the same "tomato war cry". Thank you again, Wayne!
Tomatoes and roses were not our only shared love - fruit trees - purchased from what we called "the annual fruit tree fest at Baker Nursery". Those of you who have been to Tre Soli know that we have about 4 dozen fruit trees and over 200 rose bushes and rose trees. Many of those fruit trees were suggestions from Wayne of fruit that he believed you "have to have". Right now the one that is most distinct in my memory is his waxing poetic for the "Peter's Honey Fig". Unlike the more common "Brown Turkey" and "Black Mission" figs, "Peter's Honey" turns yellow when it ripens. Our three fig trees are now in their fourth summer in the Tre Soli gardens. As it would happen to my bittersweet delight the"Peter's Honey Fig" has just really started to ripen this week when we returned after Wayne's death. After four years they have finally come into a prolific season. They are so sweet and unexpectedly juicy. Much like seeing Wayne at Baker's. The figs are in but Wayne is not. I would love to share them with him. While it takes many hands, our garden is sweet in no small part because of you, Wayne. Thank you so much.
Friday we will be attending the celebration of Wayne's life, otherwise our Front Door Honor Market would have been open to sell these lovely figs. Instead we will be harvesting to share with Wayne's friends and family. If you too were a beneficiary of Wayne's vast knowledge and big grin we may see you there. Come share a hug. His absence leaves a big hole in our and in the gardening community's hearts.