Gardening with Ciscoe


Ciscoe Morris, Seattle’s resident garden expert, can be a bit of an acquired taste. I’ll admit that at first I wasn’t sure what to make of him.  He doesn’t have that slick HGTV, “Hi, I’m Bob, and I’m here with Jane to talk about easy tips for fall color” vibe–which is a good thing–and decades in Seattle have done nothing to tame his Wisconsin accent.  But Seattlites love him.  He walks through the Seattle Garden Show and he’s treated like a rock star.  So what’s the appeal?

I was in Seattle recently and I caught this episode of ‘Gardening with Ciscoe’ on the local news. (Sorry, no way to embed it.) This, I think, shows what makes Ciscoe such a great local garden personality.  First of all, he’s insanely excited about the accidental discoveries he makes in his garden–giddy, almost.  Now, “giddy” wouldn’t work for everybody, but you can’t help but giggle when Ciscoe gets a little nuts over a red twig dogwood.

What I loved the most about this video clip was the moment, about 2 minutes in, when the host asks him what plants can be rooted by simply sticking the twigs in the ground in fall.  He shrugs, kind of amazed by the possibilities, and says, “Go around the garden, chop off a bunch, and see what roots!  What the heck, you got billions!”  In other words, “Don’t ask me!  We’re talking about putting sticks in the ground!  Just go outside and give it a try!”  This is someone who actually gardens.  He’s not afraid of looking foolish, and he’s the exact opposite of intimidating, but he doesn’t dumb it down, either.  He’s a master gardener, a certified arborist, and he spent 24 years as the grounds manager at Seattle University.

You can catch Ciscoe on the local news, read his column in the Seattle P-I, tune in to his radio show, or read his book. He’s everywhere.

YouTube does offer up one video we can embed, and it happens to be a cool idea for composting food scraps in a small space, so here you go:

[Video no longer available.]


  1. Great video. We started composting this summer and it’s amazing how much we’ve cut down the amount of trash that goes to the curb every week–it made a bigger difference than I expected.

  2. Thanks for sharing Ciscoe with us. I love him! What a genuine spirit, he overflows with joy and excitmemt. I think what makes him so popular is that he lets nature be the star, instead of calling attention to himself.
    And isn’t it true? Isn’t nature and all its variety truly amazing? We can use more Ciscoes on tv, radio and in our neighborhoods to spread the sunshine!

  3. I caught a bit of an accent. I like him fine–he kinda reminds me of Paul James, who tends to act all excited too.

    They lost me at drilling holes in trash cans though. We don’t even use those here any more. Can’t I just buy a small composter? (she whines)

  4. I’ve lived in the Seattle area for almost eight years, and Ciscoe is one of my heroes. I’ve learned so much from him. I’ve even won three prizes from his weekly radio show.

  5. I hope Ciscoe comes across MUCH better than he did here “in translation”. I would have been sooo frustrated had I been given the advice to “Go around the garden, chop off a bunch, and see what roots! What the heck, you got billions!”

    You see, I may be a very in-the-earth laid-back gardener, but I’m also a hopeless plant nerd and science geek. I would have wanted instructions on how to propagate things the way they do it commercially: I’d want to know about nodes and hormones and humidity and…well–you get the idea. THEN I’d ignore all that and just jam some fresh twig cuttings in the ground

    I’m sure Ciscoe is fun to watch. Now if only I had high-speed internet or cable TV…

  6. I’d much rather watch Ciscoe than that stripper guy of Oprah’s. Too bad Ciscoe’s in the PNW… might as well be broadcasting from Mars since I garden in California’s Central Valley.

    Still, Ciscoe’s the kind of garden show host we need. He seems genuine and his passion for plants comes through. I think soundbite-driven news stations don’t allow for in-depth gardening shows where you’d actually see a plant propagation tutorial. Maybe he’ll go cable someday…

  7. Yup, Ciscoe has pretty much achieved cult status up here. He’s enthusiastic, funny, and… often wrong. My nursery friends often roll their eyes when correcting misinformation customers bring in: “Ciscoe said you’d have this plant in…” Never let horticultural facts get in the way of a good story.

    That said, his Wees-caaahn-sin accent and unslickness have probably brought the fun of gardening to a whole new audience fed up with fake packaging and lawn-and-yawn shows. Plus, when the clowning is done and it’s a wrap, he’s a genuinely nice guy.


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