Carrboro horticulturist plants seeds of knowledge

By Evelyn Greene
Carrboro Commons Writer

One chilly April morning, a man walked into the sunny front room of Padgett Station carrying his planner, a coffee cup and a bucket full of branches.

Any confusion was soon cleared up as the man filled a few small, red glasses with water and placed the budding branches on tables throughout the small shop. Bringing plant life to people unfamiliar with the outdoors is what Ken Moore has spent his entire life doing.

greene_florabest.jpg Ken Moore, author of the weekly nature column “Flora” in the Carrboro Citizen, has written more than 50 pieces for the paper. He wants to get more people outdoors.
Staff photo by Evelyn Greene

“By the time they leave high school, I think everyone should have a basic experience in horticulture and botany,” Moore said.
After earning a degree in English from Davidson College, Moore went back to school to study plants.

In 1971, he became the first employee of the N.C. Botanical Garden. It was there that Moore discovered his passion for sharing the beauty and excitement of nature with others.

As soon as the trails opened, Moore was bombarded with calls from school groups hoping to schedule a visit. Before he knew what he was doing, Moore offered himself to the groups as a tour guide. But he fell easily into the role, crawling through bushes and rolling over logs with children as young as 4 years old.

It was also during his first few weeks at the garden that Moore realized how important it is for children to be exposed to nature.

After retiring from the garden in October 2003, Moore became busier than ever. When Kirk Ross, editor of the Carrboro Citizen, asked Moore to provide the newspaper with a short nature column, Moore turned him down.

After spending the week walking around town and noticing things he wanted to share with his neighbors, Moore submitted his first column to Ross. “Take a walk in the woods and look at the beech trees” became the first of more than 50 columns Moore has written for the Citizen.

Moore’s column, “Flora,” quickly grew in popularity and moved to the front page of the Carrboro Citizen.

“We need to educate,” Moore said.

That is what he attempts to do with his 500 words each week.

“I get the chance to rant and rave and share some of my pet peeves,” Moore joked.

With so much to say on the subject, Moore has a hard time cutting his articles down to size. Even with his master’s degree in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Moore readily accepts help from his wife and editors at the paper.

“I’m famous for my long sentences,” Moore said. “One thing I try to do is go from my James Joyce sentences and Faulkner sentences and get them down to Gertrude Stein and Ernest Hemingway sentences,” he said with a laugh.

During his years as a teacher at the Schoolhouse of Wonder in Durham, Moore discovered that a lot of children aren’t exposed to the outdoors.

He said that as parents push their children indoors to keep them safe and clean, kids lose their appreciation for and curiosity about nature. Moore suggests that by getting the adults outside, their children will follow.

Moore’s purpose behind writing his articles is to “get more and more people to go outdoors.”

“What we need to do … is take these youngsters out into the woods. A lot of them are going to be scared, but let’s see if we can have some fun!” Moore said.

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