Gardener Portrait: Susanne Lucas

Susanne LucasOne of the most rewarding benefits of being involved in the gardening world is meeting other truly dedicated and generous gardeners. We met one particularly passionate individual, Susanne Lucas, well over a decade ago, and immediately responded to her infectious, “Let’s have fun in the garden” attitude. Her fabulous outlook is apparent when you visit the Plymouth MA garden she shares with her husband Morry, and her two “children”, Amelia and Ripley, a pair of amazingly well behaved Airedale Terriers.

Although her garden is composed of many types of plants, Susanne has a particular passion…an ornamental grass we commonly call bamboo. Susanne has a thing for all kinds of Bamboo, but most importantly the hardy forms, particularly Fargesia. How did this obsession begin you may ask? Susanne recalls that she first became aware of Bamboo as a youngster. She had custody of her elementary school’s pet guinea pig, and it escaped from her care into a neighbor’s grove of Bamboo. It’s easy to picture Susanne as a feisty little eight year old with dirt under her fingernails, exploring the jungle-like tangle in search of the missing pet, and at the same time, being distracted by the bamboo’s sheltering cover.

Susanne went on to study horticulture in college, but credits the many incredible plant people she’s met over the years for inspiring and influencing her education. One such individual, a Swiss gentleman named Anton Grieb, whom she met in 1992, was an amazing mentor whose love of all plants was only superseded by his infectious attitude. Over the past 20 years, Susanne has built a distinguished career in horticulture. She now wears many hats: she’s a landscape gardener and consultant , a former president and now honorary life member of the American Bamboo Society , and a founding director of the World Bamboo Organization.

With all these Bamboo related credentials, Susanne has sometimes been referred to as the “Bamboo Queen”, but she really doesn’t appreciate this reference, “Gardening is a not about rank or achievement. And it sounds snobby.” When asked what advice she could offer to novice gardeners, Susanne’s response conveys what we all want to hear. “Travel, even if it’s in your own neighborhood, and look at plants. Learn about where plants originate from so you understand the conditions they grow well in. Make friendships with others who garden; you will learn so much from them. And make sure you do what you want in your own garden.”

13 thoughts on “Gardener Portrait: Susanne Lucas”

  1. What a great new addition to your site. I’ve never met a gardener I didn’t like, but I haven’t met all the gardeners there are, and this is a wonderful way to “meet” more! I feel I’ve met another kindred soul in Susanne. Thank you–

  2. The connections we make in life and especially in gardening enrich our world. We’re glad you’re happy to have “met” Susanne. Who knows, your paths may cross some day soon.

  3. Loved your portrait of Suzanne, I have also known her for many years and find her one of the most knowledgable individuals in the horticultural community. She is truly a JOY. Time spent with her is truly precious and uplifting, you could never have a bad day spending time with Suzanne.

  4. What fun to read this and you have truly captured Susanne’s spunky and enthusiastic personality and her passion for bamboo. Thanks for starting this series of Portraits!

  5. I love snow and all the activities that go with it, but this time of year even I am ready for a change. So just reading about Susanne left my spirits high and I can’t wait to get out and garden. I’m even thinking about putting in bamboo this year!

  6. Peter, Susanne’s ears must be burning! She sure is fun to be around. Lee, there are so many wonderful ways to use Bamboo and specifically Fargesia in the garden. I’m sure you can find a spot for one (or maybe as a “panel” to separate to areas). –K

  7. But . . . did she ever capture the escaped guinea pig? You shouldn’t have left us in suspense like that.

  8. Lived here Since 1992, Big corner lot but no landscaping when I arrived. Now have a beautiful yard (so a lot of people have said) Have been ask to be on two tours so I did one. Have to tell you that Tullahoma is a small town, so not a lot to pick from.

  9. Thank you for a well written article about my dear sister Susanne. I’m very proud of her and her many accomplishments, but I really wish she would stop using unknown plant words when we play Scrabble!!

  10. So…Susanne is using the horticulture card when she plays Scrabble! I’m glad she’s putting her plant knowledge to good use.

  11. BTW, Catherine, Susanne informed me that she did catch the guinea pig, and she didn’t get in trouble either.

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