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A good mind simply doesn’t retire

I read that we retire to, not from, something.
The retirement of Hugh Conlon on July 1 has given Hugh the time to create and expand an existing blog he began several years before retirement.
He has since taken his more than 30 years experience with ornamental horticulture into the exciting world of the Internet.
Hugh still travels to gardens with his camera in his pocket, he examines many blooms and then takes photos of the best specimens to share with readers of his website.
His favorite gardens are all gardens, regardless of whether they are botanical, arboretums, demonstration gardens or small home gardens.
Hugh searches out new, different and unusual plant forms and blooms that will thrive in our gardens. He then writes about them, attaches a photo and posts it on his blog.
At last report, Hugh had more than 800 photographs stored on his computer.
He edits the photos judiciously and nothing mediocre is allowed in the collection.
His personal garden is a wonder of amazing plants of many types and forms. His gardens have grown to take most of the grassy area at his home.
A project Hugh has been pursuing for several years is designing and planting flower beds on the grounds of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Johnson City.
It is remarkable how the efforts of one person can add much enjoyment to many people driving by or walking the grounds surrounding the church.
On a recent trip to St. Mary’s, the pansies planted by Hugh were in full bloom.
I encourage those of you who are thinking of retirement to look beyond the end of regular work days, and expand your thinking to include retiring to something you have always wanted to do.
Hugh is an admitted plant addict and rarely meets an ornamental specimen he doesn’t care for in some way.
I remember retired coach Vince Dooley telling us that when he was thinking of retirement, he thought about what he had always wanted to do and never had the opportunity.
His decision was gardening. He took a class at the University of Georgia and then proceeded to landscape his own garden, write several books about football and flowers and other topics.
A good mind simply doesn’t retire.
Hugh continues to assist the University of Tennessee as a consultant and filling other requests of that institution, but he has time himself to do what he was educated for and enjoys the most.
Hugh gives many talks and presentations, combining his photography collection with power point, making a delightful evening of learning from a quiet and unassuming professional.
During the 15 years I have known Hugh, he cheerfully gives answers to questions he has been asked many times.
When gifted with more plants than he has room to plant, he is quick to give them away or plant them on the grounds of St. Mary’s.
In Hugh’s retirement, we lost a favorite UT Horticultural Specialist, but retained a continuing resource.
Check out his website at; you will be glad you did. Happy Gardening Everyone!
Jeanne Cope is a Garden Writer and UT Lifetime Master Gardener. Email her [email protected]