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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Bob Stewart’s Never-Ending Nursery


With scientific curiosity and the playfulness of youth, Bob and Brigitta Stewart have made their Michigan nursery an exploratorium.


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Adjacent to the greenhouses of Arrowhead Alpines, Fowlerville, MI, a long border of herbaceous perennials

Photo: Arrowhead Alpines

By Allen Bush

I’ve been to Hell and back.  The visit didn’t fit my notion of what small town Hell, Michigan, might look like. The biker bar was uncommonly tame and the Pleistocene prairie was heavenly.

Nurseryman Bob Stewart of Arrowhead Alpines lives nearby in a different hell. He has cancer and is fighting back with a chemo pump, a pile of meds and the support of Brigitta, his wife and fun-loving sidekick-in-plants. The cancer is a particularly nasty Stage 4 colon cancer, “…pretty much 100% death rate,” Stewart admitted. “Having cancer is strange. I’ll never recommend it as lifestyle,” he told me. “I try to deal with things as they come.  And I have mostly had great support from friends and customers, although some treat you like a leper or expect me to suddenly get religion – born again pagan with a dash of Buddhism…Chemo kicks the crap out of you, but you can’t let it run your life…Attitude matters but needs to be tempered with realism. “

Bob Stewart has an attitude.  “Don’t believe what people tell you,” he says, which means—Look and listen.  This is not a tall order for Stewart. Profoundly shaped by a lifetime outdoors, he looks, listens and questions common assumptions. It understates Bob’s genius to call him simply “a nurseryman.” He’s a thinker who can see Mother Earth beyond greenhouse and garden.


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Posted by Julie on 10/26 at 02:04 PM
EcologyGardening & LandscapeSciencePermalink