Get ready folks. One of the Northwest’s gardening experts and general all around characters is coming to Spokane on Thursday.
Ciscoe Morris, host of Northwest Cable News Network’s “Gardening with Ciscoe,” will bring his irrepressible sense of humor wrapped around his encyclopedic gardening knowledge when he speaks at the Spokane County Master Gardener Foundation Banquet and Fall Auction at the Lincoln Center. Morris’ program is heard throughout the Northwest and in Alaska, northern British Columbia and Northern California. He will be speaking on tips for an environmentally friendly garden. Funds generated from the auction and ticket sales will go to support the WSU Spokane County Master Gardener Program.
Morris got his start in gardening at the age of 10 in his native state of “Wis-cheese-kin” (Wisconsin) when he bugged his local priest into finally hiring him as a lawn boy. Somehow he landed in Seattle and worked his way up to head gardener at Seattle University. His radio career started when a local radio garden show host got sick and recommended that Morris take his show. “I said ‘I don’t know’ so many times it became a comedy routine.” The station asked him back.
Then it was on to his first television tryout in the late ’80s. The show was hosted by Jeff Probst, now the host of “Survivor.” Morris’ name was handwritten at the end of the list of candidates. The day he had the audition, he got caught in Seattle traffic and was so late they only had a few minutes to get him in.
“I got to say about three words and they said that’s it,” he said. He went home thinking that was that. But no: He got a call early that evening to be at the first broadcast the next morning.
“I went and walked around a bit and nobody paid any attention to me,” he said. Finally he went up to the producer and told him he was there to do the show.
“The producer asked who I was and I told him,” Morris said. The producer responded, “You’re not Ciscoe, the other guy was Ciscoe!” He turned to the crew and said, “ ‘We have to do the show with this yahoo.’ I was on the show for nearly five years and to this day I don’t know what happened to the guy that was supposed to be there.”
Morris considers himself an environmental gardener who works with nature.
“I think it makes gardening way more fun if you don’t use a lot of poisons,” he said. “When you work with nature you learn to appreciate the spiders and the different bugs and what they can do for you.”
He also feels that even people with black thumbs should garden just little bit for the soul, “even if it’s only for 15 minutes.”