Confessions of a Plant Hoarder

by Dominic Gratto

My love of plants just kind of happened.  For as long as I can remember they’ve always fascinated me. In some ways it feels like my interest in plants was fated – like God had in His plans for these fascinating green (and sometimes purple, or red . . . ) things to capture my attention.

Maybe it was all those summers I spent walking through my Granny and Poppy’s sprawling garden in Delhi, New York, searching for blueberries, raspberries, green beans, rhubarb and sneaking as many of them into my mouth as I could before getting caught. Or maybe it was being forced to help my dad with his landscaping company, Fred Smith Landscaping, when I was still in elementary school. Or maybe it was my dad always rattling off the botanical names for plants that we came across. Or maybe it was all the tours of college campuses that we ended-up taking on family vacations where my dad would comment on their landscape design (or the lack thereof). Despite my protesting and feigned lack of interest I was always intrigued. My siblings, on the other hand, just wanted to get the show on the road and get back in the car.

Whatever it was that triggered my love of plants, it started early. And it stuck. I remember using my spending money in middle school to buy plants that I could grow in my room. I didn’t need the CDs and movies that my peers were buying. I wanted plants. It’s still that way. At last count, my wife and I had over forty house plants residing with us. And that doesn’t even include the ones on the porch. Somehow my wife tolerates this fascination.

This obsession of mine is why I got involved in Botanica. After visting the Krohn Conservatory in Cincinnati a couple of times, I began to wonder why my adopted hometown of Louisville didn’t have a similarly wonderful garden. I began to ask around and after talking to my alderman, Tom Owen, he put me in touch with Botanica. The rest, as they say, is history. I fell in love with the mission and vision of Botanica and determined that I would do whatever I could to make this happen.

You should get involved in Botanica, too. Help make the Waterfront Botanical Gardens a reality! Our city needs this. We deserve this. And besides, gas is expensive. Who can afford to drive to Cincinnati anymore?