Industry Icon Jim Nau Retires

Allison Westbrook

Thursday, October 3, saw a jam-packed celebration for the retirement of Jim Nau, most recently the Cultural Advisor and Horticultural Historian at Ball Horticultural Company. Current and former Ball employees and industry friends joined in the celebration to share stories and anecdotes about working with Jim in his 37 years at Ball.

Those gathered heard from Jim’s friends and co-workers, including Anna Ball, Jack DeVroomen, Diane Blazek, Anne Leventry, Lisa Lacy and Tim Duffin. Anna shared a story of the beginnings of the Wave Petunia, saying, “If I had to name one person responsible for Wave, it would be Jim.” She recounted how he pulled her out to the trial gardens and showed her the carpet-like purple petunias, which he knew were going to be game-changers. “He knows flowers, is observant and has the guts to come to my office and make me come look [at something],” said Anna, to laughter from the crowd.

Jim is a fixture in the industry and has received many awards and accolades for his work, such as the Perennial Plant Association’s Garden Media Award. He’s also authored several books, including the Ball Culture Guide and the Ball Perennial Manual, and edited the 18th and 19th editions of the Ball RedBook.

In his 37 years at Ball, Jim has impacted many facets of the company, but most importantly, the people. Lisa Lacy, Global Product Manager for PanAmerican Seed, recounted working with Jim and learning from him when she was a new employee at Ball.

“To me,” she said, “You are Ball, you are horticulture.” And from the standing ovation Jim received, it was clear that the crowd felt the same. GT