Author, expert has deep roots in Del Mar

Pat Welsh was born in the Brontë Country of Yorkshire, England, into a family of garden lovers. They sailed to America in 1939, spent the war years with their family on a farm in Bucks County, Pa., and moved to California, where Welsh graduated from Hollywood High and Scripps College, marrying a Los Angeles lawyer on her graduation day in 1951.

The Welshes moved to Del Mar in 1955 and raised a family after which Pat Welsh's career as a garden communicator took off.

In 1979, she became first garden editor of San Diego Home/Garden Magazine and later "Newscenter 39's Resident Gardener;" host of several national videos and infomercials; and author of books, including "Pat Welsh's Southern California Gardening: A Month-by-Month Guide," "The American Horticulture Society Southwest Smart Garden™ Regional Guide" and "All My Edens: A Gardener's Memoir." "Pat Welsh's Southern California Organic Gardening Month by Month" is scheduled for publication next year.

Also a lifelong painter and intermittent sculptor, Welsh designed and built in 2003 - with the help of Betsy Schulz and 80 volunteers - the 92-foot-long, mixed-media mural in front of the library on Camino del Mar.

What brought you to Del Mar?

My late husband, Judge Louis M. Welsh, was practicing law in Los Angeles when we met. He was a trial lawyer in the law department of the Santa Fe Railroad, but within the first year of our marriage, Lou went into private practice, eventually founding a large Los Angeles law firm, later known as the Briedenbach firm.

Lou had grown up in Chicago and Indiana and served as an officer in the Navy during the war. After the war, his mother, Frances, and her husband, John Lloyd Wright, built a home in Del Mar on a large piece of property. Like his famous father, Frank Lloyd Wright, John was an architect.

Shortly after Lou and I were married, a jealous competitor of John got him hauled into jail for a minor infraction of the rules pertaining to architectural designers in California. Lou took the case, defended John in court and won on appeal. In payment for legal services, John and Frances gave us a piece of property worth at that time $8,000 and located 15 feet west of theirs, but lower on the hill.

Lou and I and our two children, Francie and Wendy (Francesca Filanc and Wendy Woolf), moved to Del Mar, and I lived next door to my in-laws for 28 years, until they passed away. I am still living in that house. After the Wrights died, Lou and I sold their home to the parents of our late, beloved son-in-law, Peter Filanc.

The two gardens still have a path from one home to the other.

What makes Del Mar special to you?

The aspects I particularly love in Del Mar are the beach, the ocean views, the people and the charming, walkable, winding roads laid out with the help of dray horses before WWII; in other words, before the advent of the bulldozer.



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