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-Bob Riffle has passed away


quaman58

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I've been absent from this board for a couple of weeks and just saw this post. At first I wasn't sure if Bob was RLR but now I feel nothing but sadness. As stated before, we have lost a master teacher and ever stable advisor to the palm world. God bless you Robert and I wish you and your family the best!!

Me ke aloha,

Kawika

Dave Hughson

Carlsbad, Ca

1 mile from ocean

Zone 10b

Palm freaks are good peeps!!!!!

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I'm a relative newcomer, only about a year on the board and I can remember Robert took the time to answer my most basic of questions, and he did so always with respect.

That pretty much sums it up for me.  I remember in a few PMs w/ Bob I would respectfully call him Mr. Riffle.  He said, "Would you please stop calling me Mr. Riffle!"  I called him Bob from them on.  

On one particularly long thread (what's your weather like now...) I said, "Man, this thread is older than Mr. Riffle".  Bob responded, "Nothing is older than Mr. Riffle".  He was always humbly funny.  He will be missed.  May God bless you Mr. Riffle.

post-126-1155413905_thumb.jpg

Matt Bradford

"Manambe Lavaka"

Spring Valley, CA (8.5 miles inland from San Diego Bay)

10B on the hill (635 ft. elevation)

9B in the canyon (520 ft. elevation)

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GOD BLESS YOU BOB.

YOU BROUGHT TOGETHER PEOPLE FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD WITH ONE COMMON INTEREST- PALMS.

YOU WILL BE MISSED BY MANY PEOPLE, OF MANY BACKGROUNDS, IN MANY COUNTRIES, FOR MANY YEARS!

"LIVE YOUR LIFE SO THAT WHEN YOU ARE BORN, YOU CRY AND THE WORLD REJOICES AND WHEN YOU DIE, THE WORLD CRIES AND YOU REJOICE" -Anonymous

-JD

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I'd say hard to believe, but I know nothing about his age or health.  I do KNOW of his great knowledge about palms thru his comments here on the board and from his book "an Encyclopedia of Cultivated Palms.

He will be missed

Wai`anae Steve-------www.waianaecrider.com
Living in Paradise, Leeward O`ahu, Hawai`i, USA
Temperature range yearly from say 95 to 62 degrees F
Only 3 hurricanes in the past 51 years and no damage. No floods where I am, No tornados, No earthquakes
No moles, squirrels, chipmunks, deer, etc. Just the neighbors "wild" chickens

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A sad day for all of us.  Bob came to visit me in San Diego a few years back.  We had a wonderful time visiting all the local palm collections and then stayed up late (at a bar) just talking about plants, especially palms.  Bob had a keen eye for plant design and plant ID's.  His first book, The Tropical Look, taught me that the way plants look, not their cold hardiness, determined how we perceive a landscape.  Bob was a music lover and taleneted pianist.  I remember him telling me about having to sell his grand piano before he moved from Texas to Florida - it was like losing a child for him.

I will miss you, my friend.

Henry

Henry Donselman

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I just came home from work this afternnon and saw this.    It was like the bottom dropped out of the IPS.  I usually PMed Bob, about this subject or that, and called him RLR.  I wish I called him Bob more often.

I will miss Bob and his talents as author and moderator.  I hope he thought as well of me as I thought of him.  I knew Bob as the moderator and knowledgable guy, but through this board I caused him a certain amount of work and consternation from some of my posts, especially in the Palapa.  Perhaps I knew him slightly differently from some others, for even though he had cause to be angry with me, he was still a gentleman and never lost his temper.  He even had a few kind words for me.

I am glad I got to meet you Bob, if only briefly at the Palm Sale.  You have big shoes to fill.

Jerry

So many species,

so little time.

Coconut Creek, Florida

Zone 10b (Zone 11 except for once evey 10 or 20 years)

Last Freeze: 2011,50 Miles North of Fairchilds

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Here's a picture Dr. Henry Donselman took of Bob Riffle on the trip he mentioned in his earlier post:

post-3-1155418125_thumb.jpg

Diane

East of Seattle & Lake Washington

in Kirkland

Zone 8

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I met him first online through the Compuserve gardening forum.  Enjoyed his wit.  Then things got personal, as I gather they have with many of you.  Our feelings approached, I believe, love.  Hard online, but stilll.  Not so hard, perhaps, when you talk so openly and widely. What a frame of reference he had!  Music, film, plants, books.  Who knows what else.  He helped me with with concrete suggestions on several film projects.

Met him face to face of course with trepidation.  But he lived up in person!

I'll miss him!

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At the risk of appearing to be a parasite, I concur with everything everyone's said so far.

I have too many tears in my eyes to type much more of a reply.

I'll miss you, Bob.

dave

Let's keep our forum fun and friendly.

Any data in this post is provided 'as is' and in no event shall I be liable for any damages, including, without limitation, damages resulting from accuracy or lack thereof, insult, or lost profits or revenue, claims by third parties or for other similar costs, or any special, incidental, or consequential damages arising out of my opinion or the use of this data. The accuracy or reliability of the data is not guaranteed or warranted in any way and I disclaim liability of any kind whatsoever, including, without limitation, liability for quality, performance, merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose arising out of the use, or inability to use my data. Other terms may apply.

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I am so sorry.  

It's just like Bob that, the last time we corresponded, he didn't say anything about being moderator of this grand site, or that his books were *the* references on their topics.

The attachment's for Bob.   (I know, it's not a palm.  It's what I got.)

Janet

post-369-1155421683_thumb.jpg

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What terrible news! A very sad occasion.

At least he has gone to the big tropical garden in the sky and will continue on his good work there...all is not lost.

I have only known Bob for a couple of years, after submitting a couple of photos for his palm book, and then later through this forum. I would really have liked to have met him in person.

Daryl.

Gold Coast, Queensland Latitude 28S. Mild, Humid Subtropical climate. Rainfall - not consistent enough!

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Bob was the greatest person I never was able to meet. He encouraged me as a young palm fanatic and is part of the reason I became the lover of tropical plants I am today. The Encyclopedia is the core of my background palm knowledge, and I refer to it almost daily. Through my correspondences with him via the web and phone, I could tell he was truly a gentleman who loved his work and helping others. I regret not being able to meet him, but he has left us with so much. I don't know what else to say, I am at a loss of words.

His relatives surely know he was a great man.

Christian Faulkner

Venice, Florida - South Sarasota County.

www.faulknerspalms.com

 

Μολὼν λάβε

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I am shocked to hear. I am totally stunned at this news. What happened ?

I'll miss him dearly and I am unsure how I will continue in the same vain on this forum.

Happy Gardening

Cheers,

Wal

Queensland, Australia.

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This is all to hard to believe. He will always be in our thoughts. After having a great day, and I come to see this. This is all to sad.

Meteorologist and PhD student in Climate Science

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Wal,

I'm sure many others feel the way you do. I know I do. Palmtalk is definitely extremely quiet today, but I would hope that after we get over our initial shock we will get back to normal, and contribute to the Forum as actively as before, knowing that if RLR had been able to leave us a message in reference to the Forum I'm sure it would have been to make it as interesting, educational, humorous and thought-provoking (without being offensive!!!) as possible.

Every time I've checked the Forum today, I find myself coming back to read all the comments about Bob, and each time I'm sadder than before. Diane, thank you very much for all your personal memories. They were wonderful!

Bo-Göran

Leilani Estates, 25 mls/40 km south of Hilo, Big Island of Hawai'i. Elevation 880 ft/270 m. Average rainfall 140 inches/3550 mm

 

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Yeah I have been basically in a daze all day long. I have noticed that the forum has basically stopped after this announcement.  I too am getting sadder and sadder each time I see people typing things in here.  Hope you knew how much you meant to all of us, Bob. I know we're all missing you now.

Zac

Zac  

Living to get back to Mexico

International Palm Society member since 2007

http://community.webshots.com/user/zacspics - My Webshots Gallery

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Well, this is extremely sad news. It almost doesn't feel real. I never met him in person, but I feel like I knew him somehow because of this board and his wonderful Book of Cultivated Palms.

They say you can judge a man's greatness by what he leaves behind to grow. This message board that he started has brought us all together, and the fact that we're all at a loss now proves he was a great man. This board will definitely be different without him. The Palm world was enriched so much by him, and we all had the privelige of being in contact with him at some point. The Palm world will remember him as one of, if not the greatest influence of our time. Thanks RLR for your tireless efforts to enrich us all.

My condolences to all his family, friends, and other board members on this very sad occasion.

Best regards

Tyrone

Millbrook, "Kinjarling" Noongar word meaning "Place of Rain", Rainbow Coast, Western Australia 35S. Warm temperate. Csb Koeppen Climate classification. Cool nights all year round.

 

 

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The Tropical Look – The Saga Continues: Giving Birth to a Book

Two important things happened after Bob Riffle and I crossed paths in the early 90s.  He was already a strong presence on the CompuServe Gardening Forum as well as the LitForum on CompuServe.  He made some great friends there like the charming Dr. Henry Donselman, gifted film director John Hancock, best-selling author Diana Gabaldon, AP reporter Janet McConnaughey, Emmy-award winning writer Patrick Mulcahey and many of us mere mortals who, at his feet, learned to love palms and tropicals and the joy of knowing botanical names.  

In these early 90s, most of Bob’s friendships were online.  He told me he was a “vampyre” and only went out at night when people weren’t around.  He was a true recluse living behind a lush jungle of tropical plants on Norfolk Street in Houston where especially on Halloween the neighborhood children were afraid to venture.

But Bob needed contributed photos and contacts to round out The Tropical Look since he didn’t have the means to travel enough to take all of the photos himself.  With his knowledge and my brass, I called all of the “experts” he could name around the country including some of my own friends.   I described Bob and the book and invited their participation.  Who could resist collaborating with a genius (about 180 IQ) who was over educated, scathingly funny, could play classical music on his Steinway for hours at a time without looking at a sheet of music and was the foremost expert on palms and tropical plants?  And botany.  And taxonomy.  

Talking to these people on the phone and meeting them in person was like a child’s perfect Christmas for Bob.  Everyone helped and everyone loved him.  His world began to change.  

Next he began receiving invitations to speak.  At the time I was active in the Northwest Hort Society and had a lot of experience with what worked and what didn’t in front of a group.  I coached, he listened and then gave at least a dozen successful talks in Texas, Louisiana and Florida.  Now his life was changed forever; he had wonderful friends like Larry Schokman at The Kampong who invited Bob to stay in the guest house of that former Fairchild estate.  David Fairchild was Bob’s boyhood hero and that experience was better than anything he’d ever hoped for.

Amid all of this activity, however, there was a book deadline looming.  I had to teach this DOS Dino how to use Word and he went into Windows kicking and screaming (at me) (literally).  His perfectionism also forced him to type the book in the fonts and type styles he wanted in the book regardless of the requirements of Timber Press who wanted one point size and one font.

The Timber Press contact was Neal Maillet, their former Executive Editor.  At the beginning of the book, Neal admitted he was terrified of Bob who would roar in anger and hang up whenever he was told that the book couldn’t be exactly the way he wanted it, that plants had to be cut out, photos grouped in sections and deadlines met.  So Neal would call me and I’d call Bob.  It was a very funny round robin.  Neal and Bob became and remained friends to the end.

When The Tropical Look won the American Horticultural Society’s Garden Book of the Year Award, it was one of the high points of Bob Riffle’s life.

To be continued…

Diane (“Kirkland”) Laird

Diane

East of Seattle & Lake Washington

in Kirkland

Zone 8

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...knowing that if RLR had been able to leave us a message in reference to the Forum I'm sure it would have been to make it as interesting, educational, humorous and thought-provoking (without being offensive!!!) as possible.

This is exactly right.  Bob spent the last months of his life salvaging everything he could (with Mike Burnett's invaluable help) for the benefit of the forum.  

He recognized many expert-level participants (and lurkers) who are more than qualified to contribute information and answer questions.  (He would also be pleased if the posts weren't offensive.)

Please help make this forum thrive; it will be the nicest memorial possible to honor Robert Lee Riffle.

  • Like 1

Diane

East of Seattle & Lake Washington

in Kirkland

Zone 8

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i AM speechless as i sit at this computer , with a hollow feeling, if there are palms in heaven i am sure BOb will be the one growing them ,  he was no 1 in my book.  MY prayers are with his family.

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I was crushed this morning when I saw Mr.Craft's post and have been in a semi-depressed mood all day pondering RLR's passing.  And, this for someone whom I have corresponded with only electronically.  Such was his effect on many of us.

He was a tremendous asset to this community and his books will live on as his testaments.  Like many others, these books form my definitive references and have provided hours and hours of enjoyment.

I send only my best wishes to his immediately family and friends and hope that, after a time, their fond memories can overcome their feelings of sadness.

Larry 

Palm Harbor, FL 10a / Ft Myers, FL 10b

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This is terrible news.  When Jeff Searle told me the news this morning, I could not believe it.  God bless his soul and may his family have the strength to carry on.

Ray

Tampa, Interbay Peninsula, Florida, USA

subtropical USDA Zone 10A

Bokeelia, Pine Island, Florida, USA

subtropical USDA Zone 10B

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I am a relative newbie and I can't add anything to what has already been said.  I think he would be pleased if we kept this forum alive and thriving as the premier site for sharing information and love of palms and tropical plants.  May his family and all who knew him be comforted in this time.

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(STEVE IN SO CAL @ Aug. 12 2006,10:19)

QUOTE
Wow...I fell asleep last night with his book.

So did I- and it was the first chance I had to pick it up in 2 months.  

This is terrible news for all of us.  I never even had the chance to meet him in person  :( .

Zone 10B, starting 07/01/2013

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May God be with his family and comfort them in this time of sorrow. He will definitely be missed by all of us here.

NW Hillsborough County, FL (Near Tampa)

10 miles east of the Gulf of Mexico

Border of Zone 9b/10a

Lakefront Microclimate

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Diane

Thanks so much for posting that. So many things I remember when he lived back in Texas. Ah you made me remember that old piano, I'll never forget that grand of his. One time I came to visit, though it looked like it hadn't been touched in years, he effortlessly began to play (what else) Grainger's Country Gardens without even sitting down. Or when he would take us to the old places around Houston such as Alton Marshall's house; with his vivdly descriptive stories he could turn back the clock for you and give you a glimpse into the life and times of an era past. I don't know what else to add - though I know he would not stand for any of us moping over his passing we're still very sad and will never forget the memories. There will be never be anything close to another Bob Riffle

Richard (T.S.)

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I would like to thank Bob for all of his contributions to the palm world, his encyclopaedia is the main reason I have become as passionate about palms as most on this board.

Tim Brisbane

Patterson Lakes, bayside Melbourne, Australia

Rarely Frost

2005 Minimum: 2.6C,  Maximum: 44C

2005 Average: 17.2C, warmest on record.

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Rich, I used to call Bob and make him hang the phone around his neck and play music for me.  He thought I was insane but I loved it.  

Bob would always tell me about things he wanted to send me but lightning speed was not one of his traits.  Finally there were so many items in a pile that he put them all in a box and attempted to tape it up.  This is when I learned about his lack of manual dexterity.  He said he put the package on the Steinway to wrap, that it took two hours to tape and that it would be arriving with the piano attached!   :>  

T.S.:  It was great talking with you today about our old friend.  It really lifted my spirits.  I love to laugh and everytime I talked to Bob, we both laughed out loud.  Doris Day and the Vampyre.

Diane

East of Seattle & Lake Washington

in Kirkland

Zone 8

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What to say....

I think Bob would be happy for me that I did not see this thread early this morning as I left for a "Palm Day Out".  It was nice day amongst various palms for over 7 hours and I enjoyed it thoroughly.  I think Bob would have liked it that way and would wish we would celebrate the extra appreciation for "everything" he helped foster.

While at a loss and wishing for information, or something, I looked at his profile to see the last thread he replied to.  While it was under the "Chamaedorea Tueckheimii" thread, it could almost apply to the way he treated and interacted with each one of us.

-------------------------------------------------

Jay--

This is one of the best "threads" ever started on this site.

Thanks much for the wonderful info.

--bob

---------------------------------------------------

I am very teary eyed for a great man I never met in person and I'd like to thank RLR for all he did here and offer my most sincere condolences for all those that knew him.

May he now have a garden more exquisite than any of us!

Bill

Zone 10a at best after 2007 AND 2013, on SW facing hill, 1 1/2 miles from coast in Oceanside, CA. 30-98 degrees, and 45-80deg. about 95% of the time.

"The great workman of nature is time."   ,  "Genius is nothing but a great aptitude for patience."

-George-Louis Leclerc de Buffon-

I do some experiments and learning in my garden with palms so you don't have to experience the pain! Look at my old threads to find various observations and tips!

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A sweet and gentle soul has passed away...

God bless you Bob I never met you in person but all your books are in front of me ...if I want to hear you talking I just open one and read....read....read.

Thanks for rebuilding this forum ....

My condolences for all family and friends.

Thank you Diane for your remembrance; you brought him closer to me

Charles Wychgel

Algarve/Portugal

Sunset zone 24

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I was shocked to hear of the sad news and couldn't believe what I had heard.

Such a wonderful spirit and never a bad thing to say.

We'll all miss you Bob.

The Cox family, Perth Western Australia.

Made the move to Mandurah - West Aust

Kamipalms,
Growing for the future


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Stunned.  HUGE man, intellectually and for his humanity.  I never got to meet him, but have chatted with him on and off for many years after he rescued a poor ignorant Brit and pointed him in the direction of cold hardy bromeliads.  

Heres to the memory of Bob the Texican.

'The Essex Riviera'

Southeast England, UK

winter min usually -5C

Summer max usually 35C

Rainfall usually 20" (500mm)

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Awful news - I just want to add my condolences and to say how much Bob Riffle's contributions were valued

John

John Dransfield

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I have never met him, and now I can't. So of all of you out there that has cherrish it. For someone that I have never met to affect me this way is amazing. Every day I walk in my yard to relax and let the workday stress melt away. If it was not for his teachings I would not know as much as I do. If it was not for this forum I would not learn as much as I do. He has helped me create my backyard paradise and cheers me up each day I walk my garden. I will plant a palm this week for him so he will always have one in Orlando.

TIki

With a tin cup for a chalice

Fill it up with good red wine,

And I'm-a chewin' on a honeysuckle vine.

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I am deeply saddened to hear this. What a great knowledgeable man. My condolences go to his faimly. Hopfully this forum will continue to be educative and I'm sure everybody will miss him. My objective today is plant a palm in Bob's memory.  PLANT A PALM FOR BOB!!!  Good Bye Bob, R.I.P :(

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Beautiful Words

Bob Riffle had a dictionary vocabulary.  Often a word he used didn’t sound right to me, so I’d haul out our agreed-upon resource, the American Heritage Dictionary (either CD or paper) and look up the word.  With only one exception, his use could have been the dictionary example.  

I probably read The Tropical Look 3 times during the writing; I struggled with leaf shapes, and reading about a fascinating plant with reniform leaves was frustrating.  I didn’t know a panicle from a raceme and what, exactly, was a crownshaft?  Business and psych classes never covered how such a little thingie could have so many parts – stigma, style and ovary.  What were they?

RLR was only willing to simplify the book to a point and beyond that he felt that intelligent people who wanted to learn needed to make a little effort.  Our compromise was that I would find a botanical artist who would agree to contribute her illustrations to the book.  Neal Maillet at Timber Press gave me Shirley Hackney’s name, and I proceeded to convince her that this would be the book she’d want in her resume for future (actually paying) jobs.  She accepted, and you’ll find her illustrations beginning on page 395.  

For Shirley, it turned out that accepting this engagement was the easy part.  Drawing for Robert Lee Riffle was more difficult and, again, the round robin procedure was instituted, at Bob’s request this time, and I was the conduit.  He was never rude or disrespectful, just precise in his specifications for the drawings.  But it was rarely sugar coated.

The shape problems solved, we went back to work on adjectives.  In my earliest days of reading Bob Riffle on the Gardening Forum (where he was known as le bob, le b and The Palm God), I started printing almost everything he posted.  Especially when he named what was in his opinion the most beautiful tree or vine in the world.  These were still the days of reference books and I often had to make use of others’ to see what he was talking about.  Then I noticed I had about a dozen messages that named the most beautiful tree in the world but the trees were all different!

Beautiful.  Bob saw beauty in all palms and all tropical plants.  And he could only describe every plant as beautiful.  Even after years of finding synonyms for the word “beautiful” you can find that word used hundreds of times in both books.  If, reading descriptions in either book, the phrase “This is the most beautiful (tree, flower, etc.)….” sounds familiar, it is.  He got away with many most beautiful trees and flowers in the world.  

And the one exception to correct word usage:  “Pendulant.”  I was at my best at that time in visualizing the plants Bob was describing but I had to look up the word “pendulant” even though I thought I could picture it.  It wasn’t in the dictionary!  It wasn’t in another dictionary!  When I gleefully informed him of this, he said he knew but it SHOULD be a word.  It was a one in a million chance to find an error in his vocabulary.  That was my one.  The rest were his million.

To be continued…

Diane (“Kirkland”) Laird

Diane

East of Seattle & Lake Washington

in Kirkland

Zone 8

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Without The Tropical Look: An Encyclopedia of Dramatic Landscape Plants, there would not have been An Encyclopedia of Cultivated Palms which was Robert Lee Riffle's ultimate goal.  

Because of that, the foundation and process of getting the first book out is important, and the people who made it possible are important.  These are the people as Bob described them (Sally Roth told Timber Press about Bob Riffle):

Acknowledgments

I would like to thank first and foremost Sally Roth, writer and editorial staff member of Fine Gardening magazine, who started this project and without whom it would never have come about.

Larry Schokman, Director of Horticulture at The Kampong, the home of the late David Fairchild and now a part of the National Tropical Botanical Garden, is one of the most knowledgeable and enthusiastic plantsmen it has been my pleasure to meet and I owe him a great debt of gratitude for sharing that wisdom and excitement, for guiding me through the paradise that “Fairy” started and for contributing a great number of valuable and excellent photographs to this endeavor.

Special thanks are due Roger L. Hammer of Homestead, Florida who opened his garden and his wonderful knowledge of tropical plants to me one winter day and contributed a number of  photographs for this book.

To Kitty Morgan, publications chairperson of the Tropical Flowering Tree Society, I am most appreciative for making my last photographic sojourn in Florida so easy, so pleasant and so productive.

Dr. Henry Donselman was kind enough to read a large portion of the manuscript and offer his expert advice and comments.

I would also like to thank Cathy Ryan, horticulturist at Fairchild Tropical Garden, for her enthusiastic and valuable assistance while I was photographing the glories of that tropical garden.

Lance Walheim of California Citrus Specialties and author of Citrus: A Complete Guide to Selecting and Growing More than 100 Varieties for California, Arizona,Texas, the Gulf Coast and Florida, read the manuscript of the Citrus section of this book and generously offered his expert advice and comments.

Lynn McKamey, owner of Rhapis Gardens in Gregory, Texas expertly reviewed the sections on the genera Rhapis, Polyscias, Cissus and Cycas and in great detail gave me expert accounts of her experiences with these plant groups. Muchas gracias, LM.

Lib Tobey, director of Heathcote Botanical Garden in Fort Pierce, Florida was kind enough to take time from her busy schedule and show me the garden and share her plant experiences with me.

Grant Stephenson, owner of Horticultural Consultants in Houston, Texas and one of the country’s most knowledgeable persons on the cultivation of palms, hardy and otherwise, contributed much of his store of knowledge to me about these princes of the plant world.

The ingratiating Ms. Shirley Hackney was most generous in contributing valuable and excellent drawings for the glossary and text.

Patrick Mulcahey of San Francisco read the beginnings of the manuscript and was kind enough to communicate to me his professional writer’s reaction and advice.

To those correspondants who contributed additional valuable photographs a most heartfelt “Thank You!” They are most notably Perry D. Slocum, founder of Slocum Water Gardens and Perry’s Water Gardens and co-author of the invaluable and complete Water Gardening; Sean Hogan of Portland, Oregon, garden writer, plant explorer, horticulturist and contributor to a number of excellent books on tropical and desert plants; and Dr. Jim Racca of Iowa, Louisiana, member of the Bromeliad Society of America.

I want again to thank Diane Laird of Seattle, Washington who kept me writing when times were not so good and constantly provided not only the cheerleading needed, the unerring eye and educated mind likewise needed, but also one of the writer’s best friends: Starbucks coffee beans.

And last but not least I want to acknowledge my very longtime companion, Jesse R. McIntyre who endured day after day and night after night of my selfish and usually irascible writing stint at the infernal computer machine, asking only occasionally if it would make me happy in the long run. The answer was finally, “Yes; I think so.”

Diane

East of Seattle & Lake Washington

in Kirkland

Zone 8

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