People  |  June 15th, 2014

Guy Behind the Garden: Bryan Kinghorn | Kinghorn Gardens

Bryan Kinghorn

Bryan Kinghorn, President
Joined/Started the Team: February 1987

Day-to-day activities on the job:

It’s a blend of activities and I’m fortunate to be surrounded with a team of hard working, talented people who love what they do. My primary activity is to give “real -time” life to our mission and values, keep them relevant amidst all the other challenges of working with a perishable product, & try to get comfortable with conceeding to things that simply are out of my control. That last one can be almost a full time activity in and of itself.

Garden guru from:

I’ve been generously blessed with a number of significant mentors in my career…but formal training came from Iowa State University.

Favorite plant & why:

Big fan of any of the Doublefile Viburnums- They have strong horizontal branching, their leaves have a terrific texture to them, beautiful and plentiful white flowers in spring, fantastic fall color and they don’t require much maintenance.

What does the purple polo mean to you?

Purple is considered to be a noble color, and I certainly consider the creation, care and craftsmanship involved with gardening to be a noble profession. When I put on the purple polo it reinforces for me that the work we do is important and impacts people’s quality of life in a positive way.

Where did you get your green thumb?

Wow…as I mentioned – lots of good mentoring and a long line of Kinghorns who simply love plants.

What does your garden at home look like?

There is a gap here between what it looks like and what I aspire it to look like. When I have the free time- (the winter season) that isn’t very conducive to implementation, and when gardening is in full swing-my time isn’t too available for execution. Just a reality I wrestle with.

Hidden talent:

Playing the piano…

Favorite food:

La Casa Pizza- pepperoni, green olive, mushroom, both cheeses- Large !


Books and reading, working on my golf game, an interest in an assortment of the arts – such things get folded into the week on a regular basis.

Favorite TV show:

I know this is going to date me, but I just loved the Red Skelton show. I could laugh and laugh for hours as a kid watching him…and it was good, classy humor. We are big “sports heads” at our house, so most of our current TV time centers around a ball game of some sort.

Celebrity garden crush:

Big Fan of the Chicago Botanic Garden

Favorite outdoor experience:

Day Hiking in the Rockies with Family.

Most neccesary landscape/gardening tool:

A well balanced, traditional garden spade. You know… the short, wooden, handle kind.

If you were a tree, what tree would you be?

Going with Hop-Hornbeam (Ostrya virginiana). One of the most durable, carefree, unassuming North American natives out there.

For or against garden gnomes?

A bit lukewarm on the gnome thing…

Where do you get your gardening inspiration?

Following 9-11, Michele and I had tickets to the Omaha Symphony, and that evening’s concert was a tribute to Aaron Copland. Ernest Richardson, the conductor for the evening gave a brief overview of things that he and his wife took inventory of following that tragic event. Listing out the people, places and items of importance to them after such a sobering tragedy. He mentioned that both of them brought up the value they placed on their garden space and how much it meant to them for their own renewal and restoration. As it turned out, that was one of the most inspirational, unexpected encounters about gardens and gardening I’ve come across. It’s helped broaden my own understanding of the work we do in service to others. It gave more clarity of purpose to what we actually do & was very inspirational to hear it being described from another perspective. I’m grateful to Ernest for being so genuine in sharing that story with his audience that particular evening.

Most rewarding part of your job:

My very first boss (Walter Rupp) gave me some terrific wisdom. He told me “Bryan, it’s far more important to cultivate people than it is to cultivate plants” I’ve tried to honor his wise direction, and it is very, very rewarding to see others grow.

The one thing you can’t live without:

Morning coffee is kind of a big deal to me…

If you were in a pie eating contest what flavor would you choose?

It’d have to be Butterscotch – must be part of my Scottish DNA

Favorite gardening quote:

“There is No Garden without a Gardener”-  Nelson Mandela


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