NHS Board Biographies

Joseph Abken (2015-2017)

A Northwest native, Joe Abken grew up gardening as a form of sustenance in the small timber town of White Salmon, WA. He credits his grandmother’s love of flowers and gardening for his passion for horticulture. He moved to Kenmore, WA in 2004 and began working at Sky Nursery. When he’s not busy working at Sky Nursery, as the General Manager, he spends his time gardening, cooking and practicing his photography.

Colin Cary (2016-2018)

Colin Cary is the President of Smith Bunday Berman Britton, P.S., a CPA firm located in Bellevue.  As a CPA, his expertise is in taxation and financial issues.  Having grown up in Seattle as the child of English parents, he always admired his mother’s love for her small garden.  As an adult, Colin has learned that gardening is not just something that can be enjoyed by professional horticulturists, but by everyone.  He currently lives in Brier where he continues the family practice of maintaining an English garden.  Colin was previously on the NHS board where he served as Chair of the Finance committee.

Lynne De Merritt (2014-2016)

Lynne has gardened in one form or other for most of her life. Her earliest recollection of gardening was tending an herb patch at age 3; memorable because she broke the kitchen window with the hoe. In the early 70s, tired of mowing, she removed her mother’s front lawn and replaced it with native plants. Lynne was among the volunteers that built Seattle’s Magnuson Community Garden, and served on its board. Current gardening is confined to a city community garden and collecting plant and landscape books. She feels that NHS educational program of lectures, classes, and tours are an important part of lifelong learning and cultural enjoyment; and there is much to learn. Professionally, Lynne was a research consultant for a local government nonprofit. She retired in the fall of 2014. Lynne joined NHS in 2007. She is a plant sale volunteer, has helped with the Miller Library book sale, and is currently researching the history of NHS.

Emily Dexter (2014-2016)

Emily Dexter is a Seattle native who is living and gardening in the same house where she grew up in Laurelhurst. Some 15 years ago, with no background in plants, she decided to rip up the entire front yard and turn it into a garden. A decade and a half later finds Emily’s front yard filled with so much plant material that one can hardly see the house. Like any plant addict, she enjoys trying new plants, moving plants around, starting a few from seed and cuttings and creating a botanical tapestry. Emily was introduced to NHS through the Spring and Fall Plant Sales, then started going to classes and the Board Open Houses, and has now gone on many of the wonderful NHS trips. A retired CPA, Emily brings her financial management background to the organization, and currently serves as treasurer. Besides gardening, Emily is active in community affairs and spends get-away time at a cabin in the woods on Lopez Island.

Justin Galicic (2016-2018)

Justin Galicic is a public school teacher by trade but considers gardening an increasingly serious hobby.  Ever since he was a young lad he has been fascinated with tropical and subtropical plants and is always pushing the limits of what he can get away with growing here in the Pacific Northwest.  He lives in downtown Seattle, but has taken over his parents garden in Normandy Park.  The immersive garden he has created is home to an extensive collection of exotic plants from all around the world.  Justin writes an informative gardening blog GrowingSteady.com and has taught classes for NHS for the past couple of years.

Sue Goetz (2015-2017)

Sue Goetz, CPH is a garden designer, writer, and speaker. Through her business Creative Gardener, she works with clients to personalize outdoor spaces-from garden coaching to full landscape design.  Sue’s garden design work has earned gold medals at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show and specialty awards including; the Sunset Magazine award, the Fine Gardening magazine award and The American Horticultural Society award. Writing and speaking are Sue’s favorite ways to share her love of gardening her work has appeared in numerous publications including Pacific Horticulture magazine Seattle Met, APLD Designer magazine, West Sound Home and Garden and Fine Gardening Magazine and she is the author of The Herb Lover’s Spa Book published in February 2015. Sue served two previous terms on the NHS board, where she served as secretary, led tours, classes and opened her garden for the Meet the Board Tour.

Greg Graves (2015-2017)

Greg Graves worked for Burlington Northern Railroad for 24 years and when they moved the Seattle based jobs to Topeka, Kansas he returned to school to follow his passion for gardening. Greg earned a degree in Landscape Design and Ornamental Horticulture in 1998 followed by an internship at the Miller Botanical Garden. A year later he became the head gardener where he worked until June 1st of 2011 when he retired. In 2005 Greg bought 3 acres in rural Pierce county and began building his own garden and nursery along with his partner which they named Old Goat Farm. Greg now continues to work on the garden and nursery. He is currently vice president of NHS and was previously on the NHS board from 2003 until 2009 and was president of NHS 2005 /2006 and 2013/14. He is past president of the board of the Pacific Horticulture Society.

Ellen Hecht (2016-2018)

Ellen became enamored with the Northwest during a Seattle overnight, enroute from her home in New York to an Alaska vacation. After spending many a cold, east coast winter, the lure of perennial gardening almost year round sounded like an opportunity that was too good to miss. So 25 years ago she relocated to Capitol Hill where she soon found a refuge as a volunteer among the amazing tropical plants at the Volunteer Park Conservatory.

Her career in international travel has allowed her to share her passion for discovering nature and gardens in far off lands with may adventurous travelers. It was during her first NHS Meet the Board Tour -and the opportunity to peek into people’s gardens closer to home- that she realized she needed to be a part of this organization.

In addition to NHS, she is an active Master Gardener, volunteering at the Washington Park Arboretum clinic, Magnuson Children’s Garden and other gardens. She credits her great-grandfather, who was a senior gardener at Brooklyn’s Prospect Park in the early 1900s, for passing on her (mostly) good gardening genes.

Jason Jorgensen (2015-2017)

Born in California, Jason moved to Washington State at the age of seven, and has called the Pacific Northwest home ever since. After more than twenty years in the international shipping industry he decided it was time for a career change. After graduating in 2013 with degrees in Landscape Design and Ornamental Horticulture from Edmonds Community College, he turned his life-long passion for gardening and plant selection into his profession as a landscape designer.

Mark Lyke (2014-2016)

Mark Lyke grew up in Washington State, but Alaska lured him with what he thought would be a one year stint teaching in Angoon, an Alaskan Native village between Sitka and Juneau. Mark a Husky, a retired public school teacher after spending 34 years in Alaska, now serves as Horticulture Manager for Lakewold Gardens in Lakewood. He ended up returning to Des Moines, WA where his wife grew up. They now live in Federal Way. Mark graduated from Shorecrest High School, University of Washington, Seattle University and the University of Alaska, Southeast. During the winter and summer, Mark and his wife, Joanie, still retreat to their cabin in Talkeetna, AK. Mark also has Master Gardener certification in both Alaska and Washington.

Hans Mandt (2015-2017)

Hans was born in Germany, grew up in southwestern Ohio where he graduated from Miami University with a degree in Physics. During his forty-year career as a Computer Scientist he had the dream job of teaching at his Alma Mater for five years. Having gardened most of his adult life, he decided to pursue gardening seriously as his next career. This brought him to NHS (four prior board terms), where he served as president, chair of the finance committee, chair of the symposium committee and as a member of the education committee he developed the enlightening book corner we had for many years. Hans also led a tour to Germany for NHS in 2013. He is currently revamping his garden to make it simpler to manage.

Gillian Mathews (2016-2018)

British-born Gillian followed her gardening sister to the United States, where she developed a passion for gardening and retail. Over seventeen years ago she established Ravenna Gardens. She served on the NHS board for three prior terms with a particular passion for the educational program where she has arranged many exciting local, national and international tours.

Meagan McManus (2015-2017)

Meagan is a Seattle native who grew up in Lake Forest Park. She comes from an ancestry of gardeners and orchardists based in Central Washington. Meagan credits her love of gardening to her parents who required that she and sisters work in the large family garden every Sunday of their youth. As a young girl she spent summer months hiking and botanizing in the Cascade Mountians. She attended Western Washington University, majoring in Sociology and minoring in Environmental Studies. Later she received her certificate in Wetland Science and Management from the University of Washington, and worked as a Wetland Ecologist for several years. After a stint abroad working with organic farmers around Tuscany, Meagan returned to horticulture. She has worked at area nurseries doing everything from plant buying to design and merchandising. She volunteered for many years with the University of Washington Rare Plant Care group archiving Washington endemic rare and endangered plant seeds. She lives in West Seattle with her husband, daughter and five chickens, where they tend to their growing perennial borders and large vegetable garden.

Renee Montgelas (2016-2018)

Renee’s interest in gardening began gradually with sprouting avocado seeds and propagating house plants. It grew into an obsession with an evolving group of plants as she began landscaping her yard soon after buying her house in Seattle in 1982. She is now working on renovating this garden.   Gardening was her “therapy” during her 30-year career in the public sector in the transportation planning and policy field. Upon retirement, she volunteered for the NHS Fall plant sale and took an NHS tour to New Zealand, the first of many NHS trips. Renee served two terms on the NHS board from 2006-2011 and co-chairs the tours committee with Gillian Mathews. She also enjoys leading tours as a docent at the Dunn Gardens in north Seattle.

Daniel Mount (2014-2016)

Daniel Mount comes from a long line of domestic and professional gardeners and farmers. After receiving a degree in Botany from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 1986, he worked as a herbarium assistant, a field collector and a grower for the research collections at the Missouri Botanical Gardens. He also designed and maintained gardens in the St. Louis area. In 1988, he moved to Seattle where he has maintained, created and consulted on gardens in the Puget Sound area as well as Cologne, Germany; Rio nell’Elba, Italy; Durham, North Carolina and Phoenix, Arizona. He has settled in the Snoqualmie Valley and runs his own estate gardening business. His involvement with the horticultural community in the Northwest began at the Washington Park Arboretum, where he volunteered. Working with Jan Pirzio-Biroli he assisted in relabeling the entire collection over the course of three years. He has also spent many years volunteering at the Bailey-Boushay house. He has been contributing a quarterly column to Garden Notes since the Winter 2007 issue. He also teaches classes to local garden groups on botany and gardening. In his free time he enjoys growing vegetables and botanizing both locally and abroad.

Chuck Ogburn (2014-2016)

Chuck Ogburn was transplanted from a Yakima Valley orchard to the UW in 1967 and never really left. He majored in microbiology and botany, did research in the Pathology department for 30-plus years, and retired to the garden several years ago to finally reconnect to his botanical side. With time, compost, plant sales and knowledge from NHS lectures and symposiums he has converted the jungle which developed while he was working back into a garden/plant collection. In addition to NHS board, Chuck serves on the board of the E.B. Dunn Historic Trust Garden.

Susan Picquelle (2016-2018)

Susan Picquelle is almost a native Seattlite, having lived here since 1983 with her husband Jim Meador. The two of them have been crazed gardeners ever since they moved into their first home here over three decades ago. Susan recently began her new career as a landscape designer after 30 years in her first career as a statistician conducting research on marine ecosystems. Immediately upon retiring from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Susan eagerly jumped into the Landscape Design Program at Edmonds Community College, and graduated from the program in 2012. But her horticultural education began much earlier, thanks to the excellent programs from NHS and other groups in Seattle’s hotbed of horticulture. An admitted plant addict, her plant lust is no longer restrained by the bounds of her own garden now that she designs densely planted gardens for others. How wonderful to be able to feed an addiction and even get paid for it! Besides being an NHS devotee, Susan also volunteers with the Association of Professional Landscape Designers, and occasionally with the Arboretum Foundation and the Northwest Perennial Alliance. In addition to her own landscape design business, Susan works part time as a designer for Nyce Gardens (http://nycegardens.com/) and intermittently with Phil Wood Garden Design (http://www.philwoodgardens.com/). When not designing gardens or working in her own garden or attending or planning garden events, Susan enjoys scuba diving in tropical waters, drinking wine with friends, and wearing hats, not necessarily in that order.

Sue Tong (2014-2016)

A Seattle native, Sue began her passion for horticulture while raising her family in Laurelhurst.  Left with a large underdeveloped yard, she began an intense study of plants and hardscape to form a cohesive design and created an English garden.  Attending lectures and NHS classes provided learning opportunities to gain more horticultural knowledge.   After a garden tour to Italy with the Center for Urban Horticulture, she moved to Inverness with a south facing property and transformed the site into a Tuscan garden complete with several water features by Little and Lewis.

She owned and operated an insurance agency for 35 years but interior and garden design has been her passion.  She majored in Textiles, Clothing and Art at the University of Washington which helped the organization, color and textures of plants came naturally.

Cathy Van Dyke (2014-2016)

Born and raised in Southern California, Cathy has also lived in Texas, Pennsylvania, Northern California… and the Seattle area since 1990.  Remodeling homes and gardens has kept Cathy on the move.  Being a real estate broker, she sees homes which call out for a challenge…. and steps up to the plate!  Cathy gets great enjoyment out of constantly improving her garden and p-patch.  No idea is too big—be it hardscape or  plant material.  A true believer in zonal denial, she is always tweaking things for maximum texture and color.  Other hobbies including quality time with family (especially her grandchildren), travel and cooking

Jackie White (2014-2016)

Jackie White has retired from a career of representing public interest clients (primarily cities, counties and transit) before the Washington State Legislature that included serving on a number of boards, associations and commissions. She now has time to explore many interests, but is most passionate about gardening (especially vegetables), broadening her knowledge of horticulture, travel and cooking. She occasionally mentors and teaches youth how to cook what they grow in the garden and about the nutritional value of food. Jackie has been gardening and cooking since her youth, but soon after retiring a friend brought her to NHS where she’s spent many hours attending lectures, going on tours, volunteering and meeting new friends. She is now serving her sixth year on the NHS Board and currently holds the office of President. She is also an active member of the Master Gardeners Program of Thurston County and is the past president of the Master Gardeners Foundation.

Marty Wingate (2014-2016)

Marty Wingate is an author, speaker, and tour guide. Her garden books include Landscaping for Privacy (Timber Press) and Perennials for the Pacific Northwest (Sasquatch Books). She is also the author of two mystery series: the Potting Shed mysteries (The Garden Plot, The Red Book of Primrose House, and Between a Rock and a Hard Place) and the Birds of a Feather mysteries (The Rhyme of the Magpie, Empty Nest). Marty became involved in NHS while participating in fund-raising auctions to support the Elisabeth C. Miller library, where she worked while earning her master’s degree in urban horticulture. She received an Elisabeth Carey Miller scholarship from NHS in 1996.

Holly Zipp (2015-2017)

Holly is the Head Gardener at the Elisabeth C. Miller Botanical Garden. In 2008 she moved to Seattle from her hometown of Washington, DC after completing her Master’s Degree in Landscape Architecture at the University of Michigan. As a new transplant, she found NHS immediately and volunteered for the Northwest Flower & Garden Show booth so that she could make friends in the northwest horticulture community. Prior to joining the board she served on the NHS Scholarship committee and is now on the Library committee. Between college and graduate school, she spent several years working on organic vegetable farms on the East Coast. She enjoys traveling to visit gardens whenever she can, and manages to eek a garden from the front yard at her apartment.

Application Deadlines

NHS Grants: August 31, 2016 Scholarships: May 9, 2016