North Hill Garden

September29th

5 Comments

Mr. Winterrowd died of a heart attack at North Hill, the 23-acre farmstead and garden that he and his partner, later spouse, Joe Eck, created over 33 years.

To their readers, North Hill became famous through their joint books about planting and cultivating what had been a heavily wooded mountain in southern Vermont near the Massachusetts border.

They set about clearing some of the land and exploiting the terrain to create incredibly rich and plant-diverse gardens along a mountain stream, in upland meadows and through meandering woodland. In one area alone, they planted 100,000 daffodil bulbs. Most notably, they introduced gardeners everywhere to the principles of using horticultural techniques to make plants hardier than generally thought.

They lived off the land, with poultry, pigs, dairy cows, and an abundant fruit and vegetable garden. Mr. Winterrowd was an inveterate cook and raconteur. He and Eck met in Boston in the 1970s, and when they first moved to Vermont, they supported themselves as grade school and high school teachers of French, English and Latin.

Once their horticultural careers were launched, they were in high demand as garden lecturers and designers to groups and clients around the country. The couple chronicled their exploits in a series of garden books, including “A Year at North Hill” (1995), “Living Seasonally” (1999) and “Our Life in Gardens” (2009).

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Anticipating a renewed interest in annual and tropical plants, Mr. Winterrowd wrote solo books on tender exotic plants including an encyclopedia titled Annuals and Tender Plants for North American Gardens (2004).

In it, he spoke of his formative years learning to garden with his aunt, who lived in a village next to Lake Pontchartrain, and discovering the wonder of tropical plants. Later, his father would take him on summer vacations to Florida and Cuba.

“There, another whole range of plants grew, enlarging even more my sense of all the magical things that could be planted once one broke away from the limitations of mere hardiness,” he wrote.

Wayne Rudolf Winterrowd was born in Shreveport, La., on Oct. 29, 1941. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English and French from Louisiana State University. Mr. Winterrowd and Eck married in 2009 after Vermont legalized same-sex marriages.

In an interview last year with The Washington Post, they explained how they wrote their books together: Eck would structure and write a draft chapter and turn it over to his partner to put in “all the little creatures. Wayne’s sense of invention – and it’s been true of the garden as well – is far greater than mine.”

They were at work on a book about food gardening, which Eck said he will complete on his own.

In addition to his spouse, Mr. Winterrowd is survived by the couple’s adopted son, Fotios Bouzikos of New York; and a brother.

Winterrowd told The Post that in all his years with Eck, they quarreled only twice, once over the placement of tree in the garden. Mr. Winterrowd wanted it planted askew, for effect. “It takes a lot of courage to plant a tree crooked,” he said.

By Adrian Higgins

Washington Post Staff Writer

Sunday, September 26, 2010; 7:26 PM

5 Comments

  • Comment by Betsy Rosen — October 2, 2010 @ 11:31 pm

    The website is beautiful and the tributes to Wayne their equal. I miss him so much already.

  • Comment by Ann VanArsdale — October 3, 2010 @ 8:02 am

    I’ve always looked forward to emails from Wayne in the spring at pig weaning time. He was a gentleman and I will miss him.

  • Comment by Susan Craig-Bratton — October 3, 2010 @ 1:55 pm

    Once again heaven welcomes a wonderful soul all too soon. I will always have such fond memories of my visits to my brothers home. No story more memorable for me than the summer with the bear in the pig barn.
    Wayne, we love you and miss you so much already. My sister is correct that time moves so quickly and appreciation of life and your loved ones ever important. Brother Joe, my heart is with you. The garden will forever be a living memorial.

  • Comment by Daniel Hildreth — October 11, 2010 @ 8:55 pm

    Wayne was someone who had a deep compassion for all living things, whether they be friends or roses. A true renaissance man who dared to live a life driven by his passions, showing others how to enjoy the minutiae of everyday beauty. I can rarely think of him without a smile, eyes crinkling, making everyone around him follow suit. I remember visiting my uncles Joe and Wayne as an adolescent with my grandparents one summer, and being presented at dinner with my first beer because “if I was going to have an adult dinner, I may as well have an adult drink.” Of course, he was the chef and afterwards I felt a bit of horticultural growth on my chest. I urge anyone who loves Wayne, Joe, Fotios, or North Hill to contribute to the fund to preserve the gardens at North Hill. There could be no better way of remembering Wayne’s past than to allow his flowers to bloom into the future.

  • Comment by Chuck — January 6, 2011 @ 3:18 pm

    I am so very sorry about the passing of Wayne. The book, “our Life in Gardens” I have read again and again, over a half dozen times, word for word, and I never stop tiring of reading it.

    You guys have made me an undying daffodil bulb planter. I now have several thousand in my backyard wooded area, and I strive before it is all over to have several thousand more.

    Both you and Wayne have been an inspiration to me. Being a gay man, I have learned to appreciate the beauty that is gardening. I enjoy using my garden trowels or diggers, as I learned to call them growing up in Pittsburgh. I enjoy the toil and sweat, the sun warming my skin, the beauty of my labor.

    I attribute to you guys my impulsive snitching of various starters from public beds that now have transformed my various flower beds. Your rest stop escapade that you describe in the book will forever endear me to you guys. I nurture these transplants as you guys have loving down for so many years. Giving “birth” that way, if you will, gives me great pride.

    Mega hairy muscle hugs to you Joe. I know this winter will be a transitional time for you. I do hope you can make all those beautiful willows, forsythia, and other stems you gather up in winter from the garden and bring inside blossom into a loving tribute to Wayne.

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