About Nan Sterman

“Plants are everything to us. They are what we eat, the fabric of our clothing and our building materials.  Medicines come from plants and fragrances, too. Plants are the basis of the world’s food chain, they keep our planet cool and filter pollutants from the air.  Plants make the oxygen we breathe and are the beauty that surrounds us.

Where would we be without plants?”

It Is All About Plants

Nan Sterman can’t stop talking about plants. Meet her in the supermarket and she’ll tell you about the variety of peach in your shopping basket – where it was bred, the time of year it ripens, the best variety to grow in your own backyard and whether it needs another peach to pollenize it.

Don’t Be Afraid, Nan Just Can not Help Herself

Nan’s love affair with plants and growing things started when she was a small child. She tried to hide it the way people hide things they don’t understand about themselves, but it wouldn’t stay hidden, especially once Nan was in college and stumbled (literally) on Duke University’s botany department. There, the California native let her love of plants out of the closet.

Through the 1970s and 1980s, Nan was involved in the Back-to-the-Land movement, the precursor to today’s sustainability movement. In summers, she worked with organizations focused on food justice, environmentalism, organic practices, and the like. One of those places was a demonstration house in Berkeley California that put Nan in charge of vegetable gardens, chickens, rabbits, and compost. She’s grown vegetables and composted every place she’s lived since.

It Started With Writing…

In graduate school, Nan’s colleagues worked hard at the research bench, solving the mysteries of photosynthesis. Nan though, was drawn to students and teaching student labs.

Later, she earned another graduate degree, this one creating education and training programs.

The two disciplines eventually collided when Nan was hired as garden editor for San Diego Home Garden Lifestyle Magazine. Soon, her articles were appearing in Sunset Magazine, Better Homes and Gardens, Organic Gardening, Christian Science Monitor and many other publications including the Los Angeles Times and San Diego Union Tribune where she has ongoing columns.

In graduate school, Nan’s colleagues worked hard at the research bench, solving the mysteries of photosynthesis. Nan though, was drawn to students and teaching student labs.

Later, she earned another graduate degree, this one creating education and training programs.

The two disciplines eventually collided when Nan was hired as garden editor for San Diego Home Garden Lifestyle Magazine. Soon, her articles were appearing in Sunset Magazine, the LA Times, Better Homes and Gardens, Organic Gardening, Christian Science Monitor and many other publications including the San Diego Union Tribune where she has two ongoing columns.

… Then Garden Design

Gardening books, photography, talks, lectures, international garden tours, and eventually, designing gardens all followed.

“I didn’t intend to design gardens,” Nan says, “but after all those years looking at gardens, talking with designers, dissecting their compositions, combinations, and colors to write about — along with experimenting in my own garden — I realized I had undergone an apprenticeship.”

Still, Nan’s approach is uniquely her own. Because of her biology background, Nan understands the plants and the land in ways few other designers do. As a California native, the seasons, soils, and waterwise practices are in her DNA. She has been a long time proponent of drip irrigation and installed her first drip system in her own garden in 1986.

Today It’s a Gardening School, TV and Podcasts

More about Nan coming soon.