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Meet Don Kline, the succulent garden man

WHITTIER — Nestled on the 6300 block of Gregory Avenue is a home that has truly “gone green.”


It is the residence of Don Kline and what is likely one of the most impressive gardens in Whittier.


The 79-year-old retired educator has lived in his home for 40 years, after taking it over from the previous owner.


When he moved in, there were orchids and bromeliads. Under Kline’s care the garden has expanded to include hundreds of different plant species.
According to Kline, there are 40 to 50 trees on the property, “less than 7/10 of an acre.”


It’s not just trees that Kline cultivates; his front and back yards are thriving with a lush oasis of cacti, succulents, plants, flowers, fruit, and bushes as well.


Klein says he hasn’t done inventory on his plants in a while, but he currently has “hundreds” on property.


“It’s changing all the time,” said Klein. “I don’t buy much anymore because I don’t hardly have any place to put them.”


While he does maintain a list of individuals who will come and buy plants from time to time, Klein maintains that his garden is “just a hobby.”

“I retired when I was just a little past 50, and I’ve been doing this 28 years,” said Kline. “I grew up in Kansas, so I farmed; I was a farm boy…I’m used to working in the soil.”


“I had a friend who said, ‘Can you help me? I’ve got some plants I need to move.’ They were succulents. He gave me some, and I got real interested. I went to a succulent/ cactus shop in San Francisco, got more interested. That was 30 years ago.”


His hobby has now expanded to include his wife of five years Kerryl, who now has her own corner in the garden. It didn’t start off that way, though.


“She didn’t know a cactus from a rose,” joked Kline. “But now, I’d say she does most of our potting.”


What’s the secret to his success? It’s not necessarily about his own mixed soil and compost, nor having a “green thumb,” like you might believe.


“It’s really more about consistency in plants, and really in life itself,” said Kline. “You don’t forget to water for a month, or anything like that. Sometimes people do that.”


Most importantly though, he likes it.


“It’s just really fascinating because they have so many different shapes and flowers,” said Klein.

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