On the QT | The Official Newsletter of GWA August-September 2016 - Page 7
GARDENING BUG BITES COACH DOOLEY
Vince Dooley, retired University of Georgia
football coach and avid gardener, is one of the
keynote speakers at the 2016 GWA Conference
& Expo in Atlanta.
I first met Vince Dooley when he was
featured on A Gardener’s Diary. To hear him tell
the story, Coach Dooley didn’t start out with a
passion for gardening, but he always enjoyed
“working in the yard.” He has a love of learning
and knowledge about history, politics and
other subjects. When he was the head football
coach at the University of Georgia someone
suggested he take a course with Professor of
Horticulture Michael Dirr.
Dooley thought he would satisfy his curiosity and then move on. It didn’t quite work
out that way. As he puts it, “That’s what one
inspiring teacher can do.” He was bitten by the
gardening bug. Twenty years and many classes
later, he is still smitten. He says that being at
a major university with two superstars in one
discipline—Dirr for woody ornamentals and
Allan Armitage for herbaceous plants—was a
Retired University of Georgia football coach Vince Dooley says he hopes to inspire the love of gardening in
As he puts it, “That’s what one inspiring teacher
can do.” He was bitten by the gardening bug. Twenty
years and many classes later, he is still smitten.
him talk about plants and gardens inspires
me and makes me look forward to getting out
and working in my own garden.
PHOTO COURTESY VINCE DOOLEY
Dooley is always looking for the next plant,
the one that he doesn’t have. He says that a
visitor commented to him that they had never
visited a garden where all the weeds were
Japanese maple seedlings. He has large collections of Japanese maples and hydrangeas, as
well as other genera. For Dooley, gardening is
good for the body, mind and soul. His association and friendship continues with Dirr and
Armitage. The coach has travelled with Dirr to
gardens and symposia in the U.S. and abroad.
Whenever he has free time, Dooley is out
in the garden. It’s hard for him to sit and relax
though, because he always sees work that
needs to be done. At 83, he is more passionate
than ever. Dooley doesn’t talk about scaling
back. In fact, if his plans work out, he will be
increasing the size of his garden.
He thinks the best way to inspire others
about the value of gardening is by example.
“Even people you think wouldn’t be interested
can surprise you,” Dooley said. Just listening to
Erica Glasener is a horticulturist/writer and the
marketing manager at Gibbs Gardens in Ball Ground,