Moraga Garden Center – A Farewell


Moraga Garden Center closed on October 31, 2021.

I worked for Kenny Murakami at MGC from 2017 through 2020. I often find myself thinking about my time there.

I learned so much, and I rely upon what I learned each day — with my garden, and the gardens of my clients. I learned more about plants and gardening in those three years than I did the previous forty. 

I learned how to listen to customers. I learned botanical names of plants. I learned how to water, how and when to fertilize and prune. I learned about vegetables, and when to plant them, and how to tend them.

I learned about garden pests and weeds. I learned about least-toxic alternatives regarding herbicides and pesticides. 

I learned which bamboos were invasive, and which were better behaved. I learned how to deal with management and mitigation of invasive / running bamboo. 

I learned about dormant bare-root fruit trees.  I learned how to keep an decades-old, decaying greenhouse from falling down. 

I learned to admit when I didn’t know the answer to something. I learned where to go to learn the answers.

I learned confidence.  

I learned about the Lamorinda community. I learned about my neighbors.

And I learned about myself.

Kenny was usually a patient man, taking time to coach me, humoring my lack of experience, and tolerating my many questions. He could be a tough boss, however. If he had to tell you something twice (or three times, especially), he let you know about it.

During the summer and early fall of 2020, it was my job to water the entire nursery — something like 4000 plants — three times a week.

If I missed watering something (or overwatered it), I heard about it. It didn’t matter if it was 105 degrees. Missing a plant wasn’t an option. 

At the time, I was, sometimes, exasperated by the criticism.

Now, I realize, it made me a better gardener. 

When talking with clients and friends about gardening, I often hear myself using the same words Kenny used when he was educating me about plant selection and care, soil science, and botany.  

 I already miss going to Moraga Garden Center on Saturdays to soak up the park-like atmosphere, talking with my former colleagues, and seeing the cats, Salvia and Sprout. I miss geeking out over gardening with the regular customers.

I miss being able to drop by and pick up plants, soil, and supplies for my clients, and for my own garden. 

I find it difficult to envision our community without the resource of Moraga Garden Center.

Thank you, Kenny, for being such a wonderful teacher, and mentor, of sorts. Thank you for maintaining a botanical sanctuary, and being such a reliable fount of knowledge.

Your positive impact on local gardening and gardeners is as appreciated as it is immeasurable. 

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