SAN DIEGO — Bruce Moto Asakawa, a well-known figure in the gardening world, passed away on Jan. 27 after a more than 30-year struggle with Parkinson’s disease. He was 80.
In a tribute for Garden America, John Bagnasco wrote, “Bruce Asakawa was the gentle giant of the California gardening scene for over half a century. He was active in the green industry, landscape design, and gardening communication for most of his life.”
Born in San Diego on Aug. 15, 1941, Asakawa was interned with his parents and thousands of other Japanese Americans during World War II. The family returned to San Diego in 1945 and re-established their lives by opening the Presidio Garden Center on Morena Boulevard.
Asakawa graduated from Mission Bay High School and Cal Poly Pomona with a bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture.
He was a landscape architect and managed Presidio Nursery and Bonita Garden Centers with his parents, Moto and Florence Asakawa, and brother, Glenn. He also proudly served as a navigation division officer in the U.S. Navy aboard the USS Kitty Hawk.
Asakawa became a syndicated gardening radio and television host. He was seen regularly as the Garden Expert on “PM Magazine” and was a frequent guest on “Sun Up San Diego.”
He was the author and co-author of several books, including “Bruce and Sharon Asakawa’s California Gardener’s Guide,” “California Gardener’s Handbook,” “California Gardening Rhythms” and “California Gardener’s Resource.”
In addition, he helped establish the California Association of Nurseryman’s certification program, was appointed by the governor of California to the California Urban Forestry Advisory Council, served on the Human Relations Commission in San Diego, and was a board member of the Japanese American Citizens League.
The family is thankful for the care he received at the Veteran Home of California Chula Vista and Vitas Hospice.
He is survived by his wife Sharon, daughter Tasia, son Eric, daughter-in-law Stephanie, grandchildren Nicholas, Samokai and Emiko, brothers Glenn, Don (wife Linda), Larry (partner Kara) and nephew Kristofer.
Donations may be sent to Balboa Park’s Japanese Friendship Garden, Japanese American Historical Society of San Diego, Parkinson’s Association of San Diego, or Ocean View United Church of Christ.