Peter D'Amato, Owner and Founder
Peter has been growing carnivorous plants for nearly 50 years and opened California Carnivores nursery in 1989. Co-founder of the Bay Area Carnivorous Plant Society and frequent contributor to the International Carnivorous Plant Society's Carnivorous Plant Newsletter, he has written and lectured on the subject in many magazines and at various gatherings over the years.
Peter has spoken to groups all around the United States, including numerous zoos, horticultural societies, universities and botanical gardens. He has appeared on many television shows, including several Home and Garden Network programs, Martha Stewart Living, and various travel and garden shows from CNN to local California news programs.
In 1997 Peter was approached by an editor of Ten Speed Press, after the editor heard people at a party speaking of his strange nursery California Carnivores and visiting the real-life Little Shop of Horrors. The result was the book The Savage Garden: Cultivating Carnivorous Plants, which was written long-hand in ten months and published with the help of many friends and customers. The book has received rave reviews, and won two Book Awards, one from the American Horticultural Society and the other from the Garden Writers Association of America. Published in 1998, it is now in its eighth printing.
Peter says, "I have been thrilled with the popularity of California Carnivores and the success of The Savage Garden, and even after all these years I'm am still in awe at the beauty and sinister mystery of carnivorous plants, just as much as the day I first lay eyes on them. Nothing is more gratifying than to hear of happy people who have had just as much fun growing these marvels of nature as I have."
Damon Collingsworth, Owner and Manager
Damon purchased his first carnivorous plant, a Cape Sundew, from Peter in 1988 at a local flea market and he has collected them ever since. He was one of our first full-time employees! After working at California Carnivores for a few years he got the once in a lifetime opportunity to live in Borneo and manage the nursery at Malesiana Tropicals with Ch'ien C. Lee. Upon his return from Borneo Damon focused on building California Carnivores into the largest carnivorous plant botanical collection and nursery in the country.
Damon has contributed articles to the International Carnivorous Plant Society Newsletter and collaborated with many Botanical Gardens around the country on large scale carnivorous plant installations and shows. Most recently he designed, built and installed a permanent exhibit in the San Francisco Zoo. He makes yearly pilgrimages to see and photograph carnivores in the wild and has had the privilege to visit many different sites all over the South Eastern United States. Damon's photography skills have also been an asset. He coordinated all of the photos for the Revised Savage Garden and most of the photos were his.
Norma has worked at California Carnivores for many years. She meticulously packs each plant for shipping and carefully boxes them up. She also does much of the potting and maintenance of the plants around the greenhouse. Norma is really the backbone of California Carnivores and we could not run without her!
Daniela helps out in the nursery with re-potting, propagation, weeding, customer service and has a personal collection of carnivorous plants at home.
Mike Wilder began growing carnivorous plants in 1995. Adrian Slack's “Insect-eating Plants & How to Grow Them,” as well as helpful advice from Peter D'Amato, inspired a lifelong passion for these fascinating plants. By 2000 he began hybridizing Mexican Pinguicula and sowing seeds in vitro. He continued plant cloning research in graduate school, while amassing a large Heliamphora collection. After several years managing Bob Hanrahan's Carnivorous Plantation, Mike has returned to California to operate our tissue culture laboratory. 20 years after buying his first Nepenthes from California Carnivores, Mike is delighted to be producing rare species and hybrids for the next generation of carnivorous plant growers.
Luke grew up in the deserts of California chasing reptiles, learning about wildlife, and tripping over cactus. He has multiple degrees in the sciences, and also works as a science journalist. His fiancee brought him to Sonoma County and the allure of carnivorous plants brought him to Cal Carn where he pots up plants, helps customers and widens his wealth of knowledge everyday.