Two-time national award winning gardener and Tampa, Florida, native Valarie van Orden began gardening at age two with her mother.
Although diagnosed at age five as a “paraplegic who would never walk again,” the determined, young athlete eventually represented the USA in two international invitational water-skiing championships (Jamaica and Mexico), and won second overall as the Jr. Women’s Title in slalom, ricks, and jumping in the Acapulco competition.
Since that time, Val has taught the sport of water skiing to more than 2,000 children, earned the Curved Bar Award in Girl Scouting (highest award), and earned her AA degree from the Fashion Institute of America in Atlanta, Georgia.
The mother of two, Val has enjoyed travel throughout the Caribbean, Europe, Greece, China and Canada. In her working career, she developed the Topiary Department at Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida, and served also as the topiary supervisor at Cypress Gardens in Winter Haven, Florida.
As the author and recorder of her own story, as well as a collection of gardening books, she has also appeared on television and radio, and at schools, garden club, and civic club events.