Napa County Record Your community Positive
Living newspaper in the Valley since 1946
Volume 55, No. 4 April 2000 Napa, California
John Dallas: A man for all seasons
by Nancy Brennan, based on her story which appeared in the Napa County Record April 19, 1990
John Dallas, who passed away on February 27, 2000, gained popularity
and a measure of fame from his Rose Garden on Mt. George Avenue in Napa. Every
year he held an open house, and gardeners from all over northern California
came to enjoy the results of his green thumb and eye for design.
In 1973, when he and his wife, Gladys, and their children moved
to Mt. George, there were only a few trees, a barn and a house on the property.
After John developed the land, he had more than 500 varieties of roses -- draped
on arbors, growing along paths and serving as ground cover -- as well as a grove
Dallas' love for plants came to the fore when he served in
Korea for the second time. He experimented with planting some zinnia seeds around
the Quonset hut at the camp near the demilitarized zone. They grew to be more
than five feet tall.
When he retired from the service, Dallas worked at Cudaback's
Nursery for three years, then was offered a job teaching at an alternative school
for junior high school dropouts located at Conn Dam. In an interview with Napa
writer and historian Nancy Brennan, he recalled, "I taught the outside
classes. We made trails for the other students to use."
When the funding for the program ran out, he earned a Master's
degree in counseling. When he interviewed at Solano College for a counseling
job, they noticed his horticultural experience and offered him a job as horticulture
instructor. During this time he became involved in his garden at home and also
taught courses at Napa Valley College for another seven years.
Besides creating an attractive setting for his home, the garden
he worked so hard on had two purposes: First, to show how roses can be used
in a garden, and that they aren't hard to care for, and second, he wanted to
introduce people to some of the less common roses.
Dallas was interested in "Heritage" roses, the varieties
grown before hybrid tea roses were recognized in 1867. Local nurseries used
to refer customers to him if they wanted an unusual rose bush or if they wanted
to see how the plant looked in the landscape.
Dallas believed that one of the principles of landscape design
is to have plantings and structures that you can look through to see other vistas.
He accomplished this with trees and trellises and arbors. In some cases he had
four different climbing roses on one arbor. And if a rose wanted to climb a
tree, that was all right too. His was a very natural garden.
Visitors came from far and wide to see his garden, but John
Dallas remained a genuine person, with a real love of gardening. After years
of teaching horticulture classes and perfecting his wonderful home garden, Dallas
never sprayed except rarely for weed control. "I can smell the roses,"
he would say, "instead of the sprays."
A memorial for Dallas will be held in his garden on May 6.
Page created: AUG 2000 ~ Updated: Saturday, January 4, 2003