Carolyn Singer, master gardener, gardening columnist for The Union, dies |

Carolyn Singer, master gardener, gardening columnist for The Union, dies

The Union staff
Carolyn Singer, a master gardener and longtime columnist for The Union, died morning. She was 76. A celebration of life is planned for Aug. 21 at Pioneer Park.
The Union file photo/Cory Fisher

Carolyn Singer, a longtime gardening columnist for The Union, has died. She was 76.

According to Lin Donald, a fellow master gardener and friend, Singer died Friday morning after a prolonged illness.

“It was her body that couldn’t keep up with her beautiful spirit,” Donald said. “Spiritually, she was still busy writing articles. She said two days ago to let the newspaper know she was still looking to write twice a month.”

Donald said she met Singer nearly 35 years ago as they were both members of the first master gardener’s class in the area.

“It was through landscaping and gardening that we became close,” Donald said. “She was just such a good friend, my mentor really and we became very close friends.

“She’s just a special person.”

Donald said Singer died with her son, Sean McMillan, at her side.

In 2016, Singer returned to writing a regular column for The Union after stepping away for several months due to medical issues that resulted in her being placed on life support and unconscious. As the weeks passed, the hospital staff became inspired by Singer’s positive attitude and determination to recover. Impressed by her progress, one doctor began asking Singer about gardening.

“Suddenly we had switched roles,” Singer said at the time. “He had a notebook and I was giving him advice about his garden.”

After recovering, and a return to writing in August 2016, she thanked friends for helping with her own garden during her hospitalization.

“What a gift of love that garden is,” she said. “All that produce — my friends kept it going even when they weren’t sure about my recovery.”

“More than ever, I’m in touch with how important we are to each other,” she said at the time. “This spring I notice every bud that’s opened, every insect. I have an acute awareness of rebirth. I make time for longer visits with friends. When people ask if I use a walker at home, I joke and tell them that soon my walker will be a wheelbarrow, full of compost.”

Nevada County fixture

Having gardened organically in Nevada County since 1977, Singer is the author of the award-winning “The Seasoned Gardener, 5 Decades Of Sustainable And Practical Garden Wisdom” and two volumes of books on deer-resistant plants entitled, “Deer in My Garden.”

For more than 25 years, Singer opened up her Grass Valley property where she tested hundreds of perennials and deer-resistant plants. Her nursery, Foothill Cottage Gardens, and display gardens were open to the public for 25 years. She served as a revegetation consultant for the Nevada Irrigation District and regularly wrote a column, “The Seasoned Gardener,” for The Union.

Additionally, her designs and articles have been published in countless publications, including Better Homes and Gardens, Fine Gardening and Time-Life’s Complete Gardener series.

“Of course, Carolyn’s death is a huge loss for The Union, but an even greater one for our community,” said The Union Editor Brian Hamilton. “Carolyn’s commitment to this community and its growers has been clear in all her efforts to help us understand how to better grow our gardens of food, flowers and plants here in the foothills. And her guidance will continue to serve this community through the voice of her words published on these pages, in her books and online. She left a treasure trove of tips for us. Our thoughts are with her family and friends.”

Arrangements for services are pending. Dick Tracy, a fellow longtime gardening columnist and friend of Singer, said he plans to write a story on Singer to be published by The Union in coming days.

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