About Ann



Garden blogs exist for many reasons so I thought I’d tell you about myself and why I’ve been blogging for so many years. Above all, I love to write and garden. Secondly, I’ve been able to use blogging to reach out for many years while living a rather solitary life due to chronic health problems and I’ve always hoped that sharing my experiences could help others. Lastly, I simply love plants and their people. Gardeners are often the kindest, most optimistic and gentlest people and the quality of gardening culture has immeasurably enriched my life. My hope is that by reading more of our gardening blogs you too can find some pleasure and community here as well. 

My blog exists as a web log—in its original sense. It is an ongoing diary (or memoir) documenting my gardening life, stories, comments, thoughts and opinions. 

What’s with the name Ficurinia? It’s Sicilian dialect for Prickly Pear and is a nickname I was given once because I’m a bit prickly on the outside but am bright and sweet inside. 

Why do you call yourself an Amateur Bot-ann-ist? The Ann in bot-ann-ist comes from my first name. Amateur—on the other hand—is another form of my surname: Amato. Although it translates from Italian as “beloved,” this word also means a young and immature beloved aka lover. This is at the heart of the word amateur: someone lacking the skills an expert might have while retaining a lot of the naive love of something. In a world full of experts and expertise I think we need a few more amateurs. I’m more than happy to be one.

After being prescribed a new asthma medication back in 2011 I’ve been more active—and much happier.

Ann was born in Portland, OR and grew up in the suburb of Milwaukie with her parents and two older brothers. Her father Frank published fishing magazines and books and her mother Gayle was a homemaker. As a child, Ann’s favorite activities were reading and being outdoors.

She attended both Lewis and Clark College and Portland State University. While at Lewis and Clark College she studied biology and English literature. At that time she wanted to become a science writer, but after a year there it was clear she was developing health problems so had to drop out during her second year. After some time away from school, she returned to her studies, but this time it was at PSU where she graduated with a BA in 2001. She double majored in English literature and art history with a focus on linguists and critical theory (aka contemporary philosophy).

After graduation she’d hoped to enter a PhD program, but it became clearer that her health problems were worsening. After two more years of frustrating medical appointments, she was finally diagnosed with the rare blood disorder Hereditary Angioedema in 2003. By that time reading and writing had become more difficult and previous academic pursuits had become too taxing due to chronic pain and swelling so instead she turned to gardening books for comfort and companionship. During the worst of her illness, gardening kept her grounded.

In 2007 she started to blog—eventually realizing she’d landed right back at the beginning. It wasn’t science or nature writing, but it was writing about gardening and that was close enough.

Currently, Ann is in the process of rebuilding her life after nearly two decades of poor health. She is still gardening, germinating and collecting seeds, blogging whenever she feels the need to do so, and best of all, she’s stabilizing her health and learning to live again after being prescribed a medication that generally lessens the frequency of her swelling attacks. Recently she’s started to take horticulture courses and has started to work part-time for a horticultural photographer. She hopes to begin working on a few writing projects soon.


Enjoying the first grapes of the harvest somewhere in Oregon wine country, September, 2015. 

2 thoughts on “About Ann

  1. Joe Postlewait

    Hello Ann,

    I found your site while researching Hastin B. He’s my Great-Great Grandfather by way of Ezekiel B. Our family knows very life about him from the end of the civil war on and nothing about the wife believed to have died after my great grandfather was born. If you have any information to share I would very much appreciate and e-mail.

    Take Care, Joe

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Joe,
      Send me an email and I will tell you what I know. I’ve corresponded with another Postlewait and I think her name was Mary. Write me at ficurinia@gmail.com. What your family didn’t know was that your great-grandfather had a sister and she was my great-grandmother. (They had the same mother.) I didn’t know about any of this until I saw the census information. Then it all made sense.

      Thanks so much for writing! I look forward to hearing from you.


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