Rizaniño Reyes, known as Riz, is a new generation of gardener. Now 25, this child prodigy has grown into a horticultural omnivore whose keen knowledge...

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Rizaniño Reyes, known as Riz, is a new generation of gardener. Now 25, this child prodigy has grown into a horticultural omnivore whose keen knowledge and enthusiasms bode well for the future of Northwest gardening.

Q: What sparked your early interest in plants?

A: My dad operated a fruit plantation in the Philippines, and we went to the markets there. When I was 7 we came to the states. What tipped it was that PBS series “Gardens of the World” with Audrey Hepburn. I taped it and watched it again and again. It made me want to learn everything about gardens.

Q: Did you really have your own exhibit at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show when you were 13?

A: I was in the amateur competition that year with bulbs I’d forced, and flower arrangements. The next year I did a garden vignette called “Reflections of Culture” about my background emigrating from the Philippines. They had to make special arrangements to get me in because no one under 16 was allowed in the convention center during setup.

Q: And a plant expedition with Dan Hinkley when you were 22?

A: It happened quickly. In 2004 I was accepted into an exchange program for a year of study at a university in Sichuan Province, and of course I had to botanize. When Dan heard I’d be there at the same time he was, he asked me to join his group and help collect plants for Heronswood. . . . I was thrilled to learn the ropes and see plants in their native habitat.

Q: What are you up to now?

A: I’ve completed my bachelor of science in Environmental Sciences and Urban Forestry. I’m the half-time gardener for the Soest perennial garden at the UW Center for Urban Horticulture. I’ve got my own business called HRH Horticulture, which is a small specialty nursery, design consulting and garden coaching. My nursery focuses on Chinese plants and other rare and unusual plants . . . In the spring I’ve been asked to teach a class on shade gardening at Edmonds Community College. This last season I finally had the guts to open my garden in Shoreline. Every plant I have has a story, and I like to share.

Q: Whew! What comes next?

A: I hope to get my master’s degree abroad, in horticulture or botany. I got into horticulture because of that synergy created by the blend of art and science; I love the whole concept of that collaboration.