Rest in Peace, Bert Wilson

Bert Wilson and Family

Many of you may have heard the sad news that Bert Wilson from Las Pilitas nursery died recently.

And we’ve been hearing from the community – recent comments:

Rick Halsey from the California Chaparral Institute wrote, “Although I never had the honor to meet Bert, we did communicate via phone and email multiple times. His passion for the natural world was an inspiration. Nature has lost a dear friend.”

Sharon Reevehabitat restoration grad student at SDSU, wrote, “I am so sorry to hear this! Even though I never met Bert face-to-face his frequent email advice made me feel he was a friend. He was always timely and forthcoming with his knowledge. He deeply understood California ecosystems, soils, and organisms better than anyone I have ever met. He was an unparalleled advocate for wildlife gardening. His death is a devastating blow to us all.”

Laura Camp, President of the CNPS Board of directors and Tree of Life Nursery CFO, “I never had the chance to meet or speak to him, but we all owe him a debt of gratitude for his pioneering work with native plants in the garden, and his passion and sense of humor permeated all his writings. I’m sorry for his sudden passing, too soon.”

Frank Landis, botanist and CNPS chapter board member, said, “Bert was an inspiration to me as well.  I was lucky enough to meet him once, and his views on native plants influenced a lot of what I went on to learn in grad school.”

Pete Veilleux, owner of East Bay Wilds: “Bert has given so many of us so much information over the years.  he probably created the first high-tech tool for CA native plant buffs – at least in the state, maybe the whole country.  I met Bert a couple of times – at Las Pilitas – and I’ve exchanged dozens of emails w/ him over the years. His significant other got upset when I showed up late in the day, but Bert only rolled his eyes, smiled, kept working and answered all of the dozens of questions I had.  I know that I’ll miss him. ”

Here is from the Las Pilitas website:

Our family’s beloved husband, father, grandfather, friend and mentor Bert Wilson has passed away suddenly. This website and the nursery were both his labor of love. Our time with him was filled with love, jokes, excitement, learning and lots and lots of California native plants. Although he is gone we can still hear his voice on his videos, read his writings on our website and see his genius in his cultivars. Both our nurseries and our online shop will continue to be open for business as we press on with his legacy while innovating as he always had.

We will be having an open house at both nurseries in May if you would like to share your stories of him, talk native plants or buy native plants. We will announce a specific date soon.

Check back as we share our memories and others’ memories of him.

Please email any stories you have of Bert Wilson to his son and website operator at so that we can share them on this blog or later on separate pages. Or email/comment to us any bertisms you find on our website, like “Don’t treat natives like broccoli”.

– Celeste, Penny, Ian and Valerie