“OH, LA LA!” is classic Ciscoe Morris. Seattle’s favorite gardening personality has a new book, and it drops this week. Filled with garden stories, sound advice and characteristic groan-worthy jokes, “Oh, La La!” is a horticultural hoot filled with gardening gold. The subtitle of the book, “Homegrown Stories, Helpful Tips, and Garden Wisdom,” neatly sums up Morris’ homespun appeal, which comes through on every page.
One of seven children born to parents who danced in vaudeville, Morris is a natural storyteller. “All my life, I’ve loved stories,” Morris says. So when he decided to write another book following his first bestselling garden title, it seemed only natural to create a collection of short stories about the topics closest to his heart: gardening, dogs and travel.
The book opens with an interesting and sometimes-hilarious look at Ciscoe’s early career as grounds care director at Seattle University. “In some ways, this book is a litany of my gardening disasters,” Morris tells me. “I learn so much more from doing something wrong than when things go right.”
Yet something must have gone right at Seattle University; while there, Morris developed a gardening program that put the campus in the national spotlight for its environmentally friendly approach to landscape management. The campus went on to become the first in the state designated a Wildlife Refuge by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Ciscoe went on to become, well, Ciscoe — a popular TV and radio host and a beloved public figure for all things growing.
Like growing with dogs, for instance. “I’m the biggest dog lover there’s ever been,” Morris enthuses. “But lots can go wrong if you’re not ready for it.” In the chapter entitled “Dogs: The Lovable Garden Pests,” canine-loving gardeners will find heaps of advice for dealing with digging, lawn “spots” and creating a safe environment for your beloved pet. “What it all comes down to is that dogs want to have fun, and no matter how well you plan, pups get into mischief,” he writes. “Hey, it’s only a plant.”
From wrangling wisteria and gardening with a pooch to explaining why “separate beds” are the path to marital (garden) harmony, you’ll chuckle your way through the pages as you gather valuable information for Pacific Northwest gardens.
The book concludes with several tales about gardens in other parts of the world. Ciscoe and his wife, Mary, are avid travelers and often host global garden tours. “Visiting gardens is really fun,” he tells me. “It’s so interesting to see the variety of gardens — what we have in common, as well as our differences.”
Morris regales readers with stories about blue poppies, a naughty Norwegian princess and unexpected adventures in France, including the hysterical origin story of his favorite phrase, “Oh, la la.”
“Oh, La La!” inimitably captures the ups, the downs and some of the malarkey of a passionate gardener’s life in the garden. Thank you, Ciscoe, for your many years of wisdom and for always keeping us laughing.