Off-the-Clock: June Smith
You can’t pass through the Franklin building lobby without marveling at the lovely flower arrangements that regularly grace the security guards’ desk.
These arrangements are artfully and lovingly grown and created by UCOP’s own June Smith, director, Development Policy and Administration, Institutional Advancement, Business Operations.
Link staff interviewed June and learned all about her delightful passion for gardening.
You’re very kind to bring flowers for the security desk in the Franklin building lobby. When did you start the tradition? What prompted you to do so?
I began in the early 80s. That’s when I started my own garden.
Some of my earliest memories are of gardening and digging in the dirt. My parents would buy seeds and miniature plants to get me started. No one else in the family kept a garden. Yet I have always loved it.
As far as the tradition at UCOP, I just like to share. It makes me happy. I think it does that for others. I get more pleasure from my flowers by seeing others enjoy them.
I also bring flowers for other offices from time to time when the garden is being generous.
Doing this actually cuts my gardening in half. I pick the flowers at their peak, and I don’t have to clean up as many spent blossoms.
The arrangements are quite beautiful. Do you arrange the flowers? If so, how did you learn this skill?
I do arrange them. Every bouquet is an experiment. Color harmonies can be a useful tool in creating something that pleases the eye. I’ve worked with flowers for about 30 years now.
Please tell us about your garden at home. What flowers do you have in it? Anything other than flowers?
I have lots of roses. They’re so generous; they give over a long time. I also like perennials. The garden, however, is given its structure by paths, hedges and trees.
The cutting garden is seen in the pictures.
We are lucky to live in one of the Bay Area’s banana belts so ideal for gardening – Piedmont. The garden is not very large, although the property’s orientation is narrower than most and a bit deeper. The photos depict the area to the rear of the house.
Does it require a lot of time to tend your garden?
It is time consuming. I spend a little time gardening every weekend. I usually harvest on Sundays and sometimes on Mondays.
How/why did you become interested in gardening?
I just always was interested in it. I don’t know where it came from! As I mentioned, my parents helped, even though they didn’t garden
You have to be an optimist in order to garden. It fosters thoughts of what can be. You can always picture what it will be next season.
And gardening is such a relaxing hobby.
Can you please share a few gardening tips with our readers?
You should feed the soil. Give it organic matter. You can make your own or buy composted material.
American Soil & Stone in Richmond sells “dirt” of all varieties. You can buy grape must, too; that works well.
What do you like most about gardening?
The bouquets and sharing them.
What is your favorite flower?
All of them.
With so many stunning flowers in your garden, I imagine it’s tough to decide on just one favorite.