Cruso, Thalassa (1908–1997)

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Cruso, Thalassa (1908–1997)

English-born American gardening expert, author, and television personality. Born in London, England, on January 7, 1908 (some sources cite 1909); died in Wellesley, Massachusetts, in June 1997; daughter of Antony Alford and Mildred S. (Robinson) Cruso; granted acad. diploma anthropology and archeology, London School of Economics, 1932; married Hugh O'Neill Hencken, on October 12, 1935; children: Ala Mary (who married William S. Reid); Sophia (who married David L. Stone); Thalassa (who married Thomas J. Walsh, Jr.).

Member of several international horticultural societies; recipient of many awards for gardening.

Selected publications:

Making Things Grow (1969); A Small City Garden (1972); To Everything There Is a Season (1973); Making Things Grow Outdoors (1974); The Cape Cod Dunes (1974); Making Vegetables Grow (1975).

Through her appearances on Johnny Carson's "Tonight Show," as well as her own television show and books, Thalassa Cruso became a familiar figure to Americans as an expert gardener and gardening instructor. Born in England in 1908, she made her home in Boston, Massachusetts, from 1935, where her program "Making Things Grow" aired on Boston's acclaimed public-television station, WGBH, bringing her to the public's attention. As she became known for her practical approach, humor, and candor in coping with gardening failures, her show aired throughout the educational television network as well as on commercial television. After the show had been running for two years, Cruso recorded her principles in the book Making Things Grow, which appeared in 1969. Soon a standard for indoor gardeners, this book was followed by several more. Her views—with their references to English gardening and orders to establish a plant's care in accordance with its native environment—proved pertinent even to the experienced gardener, while her style encouraged the novice. Cruso held memberships in several international horticultural societies and received numerous awards for gardening. She was a columnist for the Boston Sunday Globe and a frequent contributor to McCall's, Country Journal, and Horticulture. Cruso practiced "tough love," wrote a correspondent for Time. "She poked, prodded and downright bullied fading philodendrons and pooped polypodies until they stood at attention."


Time. June 30, 1997, p. 23.