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I learned to garden in Los Angeles, filling my backyard with rosemary, lavender, and garnet bougainvillea. By the time I moved to Memphis, I was convinced I could grow anything, but my confidence was short-lived, hobbled by humidity, shade trees, and Tennessee clay.

Lucky for me, I found the help I needed from acclaimed writer and photographer Ken Druse, whose book The Natural Shade Garden became my bedside Bible. I read the book practically every night, learning how native plants such as trillium and wild ginger actually like growing under trees. By the time spring rolled around, I was ready with a plant list and a new philosophy: The best gardeners work with nature, not against it.

The acknowledged founder of the natural gardening movement in America, Druse has been pushing the ecological and aesthetic attributes of native plants for decades. He has been the gardening editor of House Beautiful since 1979 but still finds time to write, host a radio show, and come to Memphis for a lecture this Thursday at the Dixon. His talk begins at 11 a.m. in the Winegardner Auditorium, but come a little early for Druse's 10 a.m. booksigning (several of Druse's books will be on sale at the Dixon or bring your own) or a morning walk under the Dixon garden's autumn-color canopy.

"The Ecological Value of the Natural Garden," The Dixon Gallery & Gardens, Thursday, November 15th, 11 a.m. Free with the cost of admission.

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