The Gift: a passion for plants

While I spend most of my time looking for new plants, today I discovered some plants that were old but personally significant. My father sent me an email with a link to a website called Penny Postcards. On this site you can view old postcards arranged geographically by state and county. My father directed me to the cards for Linn County, Iowa. Here I discovered beautiful postcards of gardens designed by my late grandfather William Wood, the former manager of parks for Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

I’ve never met my grandfather. I am sad to say he died before I was born, but I do feel a closeness to William for like my father and me, he was a plantsman. He was trained in England as a true master gardener before he immigrated to the town made famous by Quaker Oats. I have visited the parks of Cedar Rapids many times and with each visit I was warmly greeted with the smell of cooked oats and the lasting remnants of William’s handy work; the Ellis Park golf course, the ruins of an old Shakespeare garden and trees planted by his caring hands. No, I have never met my grandfather, but still, I have come to know him. He loved plants and gardens, and he had a desire to share his passion with others, and that is the gift he gave to me.

Now you can subscribe to the Plant Hunter and get your updates by email.


  1. How nice to have something like this, a place, to remember your grandfather.

  2. Anonymous8:13 AM

    Hi Tim,

    I believe I met your father yesterday at the Clairmont Retirement Center in Austin, TX.

    I am working on a project about people's "heroes" called Share Your Hero and my wife and I went to the center to talk to the people there about their heroes.

    One of the gentlemen I spoke to was most likely, your father, Bill Wood, born in Cedar Rapids, IA.

    He told me his hero was his father of the same name, Bill Wood. Said his father was born in England and his mom in Ireland and they had 9 kids in their family. His dad loved plants and they lived in a park called Ellis Park. People called his dad "Pops". Pops always saw the best in everyone, he didn't want to ever hear anyone say anything bad about anyone. People in the town would always go to Pops for advice. He told me he just always wanted to be near him because he made him feel so good and that his dad would pat him on the leg and say, "You be careful, son". And he teared up when he told me that.

    He said that he was in England during WWII and that he was involved in feeding the troops. I get the impression he was in produce or something.

    Anyway, I decided to go on line and search for "William Wood - Cedar Rapids, IA" and see what came up - and your site popped up. I was amazed to read what you wrote about your grandfather. Has to be the man your father told me about.

    So did I speak to your father yesterday?

    Share Your Hero is a wonderfully rewarding project I've begun a couple of months ago. I find it very rewarding asking people about their heroes because it touches them to their core and is very personal. I am finding out so much about how we are and more about myself.

    Check out I would love to know who your hero is.

    You can contact me at

    Jan Chester
    Austin, TX

    PS: My wife Karen does volunteer work at the center and is running bingo next Tuesday. That's how we decided to go there. I met another man who was Yogi Berra's first cousin. Very interesting group of people.

  3. You met my Uncle Bill. Willaim Wood was my Grandfather. I never met my Gradnfather - he died before I was born.

    I appreciate your post very much and enjoyed learning more about Pops.


Thank you for your comments.

Please know that I delete spam and SEO back-links and will call you out as a spammer if you attempt to use this blog to promote your website, business or whatever else you are selling. Please respect this blog.