High Profile: Master Gardener Jon Reelhorn
1. OCCUPATION Owner, Belmont Nursery. That means I do a bit of everything from selling plants to growing them, and from serving my staff of 50 to loading and unloading trucks. There’s rarely a dull moment. We are a grower of trees, shrubs and flowering plants and serve homeowners, landscape professionals and garden centers throughout central and northern California.
2. YOUR FIRST JOB Professional baseball player. I was a pitcher. I chased my boyhood dream for five years or so after playing at Fresno State. What a terrific opportunity. A highlight was joining the 1980 (oh, that’s a long time ago ...) world champion Philadelphia Phillies in major league spring training. That team was loaded with future hall-of-famers, personalities and now terrific memories: Pete Rose, Mike Schmidt, Steve Carlton and Tug McGraw, among others. What a kick for a young kid out of college to have that opportunity. My friends tease me by saying that I’ve never had a “job,” and that I work at my hobbies. First baseball and now growing flowers.
3. WHERE YOU WERE BORN Stockton, CA. I came to Fresno State as a freshman on a baseball scholarship. I was a city boy attending an ag school, intimidated by the farmers’ kids who knew all the answers to the professors’ questions in class.
4. LAST GOOD MOVIES YOU SAW Hidden Figures. I saw it at Sierra Vista Mall and thought it was a keeper, one that I’d buy in the future and watch over and over at home.
5. PERSON WHO MADE THE BIGGEST IMPACT ON YOUR LIFE My college baseball coach, Bob Bennett. He’s quite famous among the baseball community and he made a huge impact on my life. He took me as a young kid, a prima donna of sorts, and molded me into a respectful, confident yet humble man, mature enough to compete with the best players in the world. I owe him a lot for molding me into a man from a cocky boy.
6. FAVORITE VACATION SPOT I’m a big Central Coast fan, but my go-to place is Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Park. It’s right in our backyard and often not crowded. My peace of mind comes from a day hike with my yellow lab, Crash, in the Giant Sequoias. It’s majestic, quiet and complete with fresh air and the awe of nature. Bring a lunch and a friend and leave your watch at home. What’s not to like?
7. FAVORITE BEVERAGE I’m a wine drinker but not much of a wine expert or wine snob. It’s a simple pleasure and just fun. I recently had a Cabernet aged in barrels previously used to age bourbon. It was very interesting because I’m a bourbon whiskey fan and a red wine fan.
8. YOUR LAST MEAL I’m a big Alaskan king crab legs fan. I’d take an all- you-can-eat, hot crab legs meal with plenty of melted butter ... and chocolate ice cream for dessert, of course.
9. FAVORITE REGION OUTSIDE CALIFORNIA I recently travelled to Tuscany, Italy. Wow, what fun. I went on a tour with a small group of nurserymen from throughout the U.S. We were treated so well. I’d go back in a flash.
10. THE WORLD WOULD BE BETTER PLACE IF ... If we “loved our neighbor as ourselves,” a principle that’s made a huge impact on my life. As a Christian, I am humbled and blessed by the opportunity I have, the things that I have been given and the hope that He gives us for the future.
Features Editor Ann T. Sullivan Whitehurst