OC Gardeners Lose their Voice; Cindy McNatt Retires

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OC Gardeners Lose their Voice; Cindy McNatt Retires

The voice of Orange County gardening just grew quieter. Cindy McNatt, garden editor of the Orange County Register, has written her final column for the newspaper. Long time gardeners remember the grand ‘ol days of garden writing in Southern California, when newspapers bristled with page after page of garden advice and encouragement. Local experts, like Bob Smaus, Bill Sidnam, Lili Singer, Jan Smithin and others were mainstays within the gardening community.

For the past twelve years Cindy McNatt has been just about the lone voice of gardening in our newspapers, writing about what to do and what not to do in a garden. She profiled great local gardeners and their gardens; she reminded us of what to plant each month; she reviewed new plants and new garden gadgets; she told us about upcoming garden tours and gardening events. Anything green, Cindy was writing about it.

cindy2Cindy McNatt has been gardening since she was a very young girl in Pasadena. Back then, she rented a small guesthouse in the city and planted a row of corn and, as she describes it, a “hill of beans”. Cindy has been digging in the dirt and writing about gardening ever since.

I first got to know Cindy when she was a rookie garden columnist for a small paper called The Tustin News, where she wrote about the local garden scene. Knowledgeable gardeners know that the best gardening advice is local. What is important in a Chicago garden is about as useful to a gardener in Orange County as a July umbrella. Cindy lives and gardens in Tustin, so she wrote locally. Gardeners ate it up.

Soon, she joined the ranks of The Orange County Register and became their Garden Editor, always writing locally. Cindy has penned hundreds of articles over the years. You’ve read them; you probably have a few that you’ve saved, folded safely between the pages of a favorite gardening book. Cindy McNatt is also my friend. Together, we’ve visited dozens of local gardens and we’ve gone on garden tours together. When it comes to gardening, Cindy is the real deal; she doesn’t just write about it, she lives it. She’s at every garden event, understands the trends and changes going on in our gardens and knows all the great gardeners in Southern California. We frequently talk about what we like and what we don’t like in gardens and we discuss trends. I’ve visited Cindy’s garden and she mine. I remember her at my garden about ten years ago, as we harvested about fifteen or twenty different varieties of tomatoes. We sat on the ground and tasted them one by one.

Of course, we all know the newspaper world is changing. Another round of downsizing last month and Cindy’s voice is now gone from the pages of The Orange County Register.

Thank you Cindy for guiding us in our gardening lives over these past many years. When I open up the newspaper this Saturday morning I won’t find your words. I will miss those words. All the gardeners in Orange County will miss those words.

Now, go have fun in your garden.

– Ron Vanderhoff, A Gardener

By |2014-06-17T19:33:54+00:00June 17th, 2014|Gardening, Landscaping|3 Comments

About the Author:

Ron Vanderhoff is a lifelong Southern California gardener and the General Manager and Vice President of Roger’s Gardens. He is a local director of the California Native Plant Society and serves on a number of state and local advisory committees involving horticultural education and natural resource protection. He was a principal contributor to The Butterflies of Orange County and The Wildflowers of Orange County and the Santa Ana Mountains, as well as a special contributor to The Sunset Western Garden Book.


  1. Wonderful tribute to a fabulous gardener and garden writer it’s truly a pleasure to call Cindy a friend. I’ve enjoyed having her visit the ranch and I’m honored to have been a feature in several of her garden articles. I too shall miss her words in the OC Register although I know as any true garden writer we will find her words and garden tips featured in other medias.

    • Ron Vanderhoff June 19, 2014 at 1:37 am - Reply

      Well said Annie.

  2. Sharyn Mahoney July 19, 2014 at 4:12 pm - Reply

    Cindy will be missed. She is so knowledgeable and “spoke” and explained in such detail. I DO have many of her articles folded in my garden books. Realizing that newspapers sometimes downsize, it’s sad that so much insignificant trivia has replaced what is of REAL interest and has stood “the test of time”. I think subscribers to the Orange County Register (given the choice) would have made changes different than many of those that have been made! I am becoming more and more disenchanted with the Register!

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