In the past few weeks I've been tagged more than once to do a Five/Six/Seven Random Things About Me meme. (I've also been given two Thinking Blogger Awards, one by meresy_g at edge effect and one by Colleen at In the Garden Online, but I'm still a bit astounded by both to do them justice in a post just yet.) One twist I've seen on these memes is that each gardener has to relate every random fact about themselves to gardening. I enjoy thinking about things like this, and so I'm playing along. Each random fact below is followed by the gardening tie in:
1. You wouldn't know this to look in my closet, but I do know an awful lot about what's going on in the fashion world. (Learn how to tie a babushka for this winter!) In fact, my friend Jess and I have a standing agreement to buy each other something from a high-end fashion house if either of us should ever happen to win the lottery. (She will probably pick out something Missoni, and I will likely choose a sexy dress from Alberta Ferretti.)
I read avidly about garden "fashion," too.... new and (sometimes) improved plant cultivars! This season I've managed to resist a lot of "hot" plants but have picked up a "designer" portulaca called 'Yubi Red,' fell hard for the orange-y leaf heuchera trend, snagged two 'Midnight Reiter' geraniums on clearance, and used a 'Red Sensation' cordyline as my (container) accesory of the year.
2. Although my hair has darkened and turned me into a brunette, I was a tanned towhead of a kid and worked the blonde/blue eyed California Girl look all through high school. Yes, I even went tanning before my junior prom... and I shudder every time I think about it.
Older and wiser, I now wear a floppy straw hat and long pants/sleeves while gardening. I also religiously slather on my favorite sunscreen: Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry Touch. It comes in SPF 55 and SPF 70! As my slightly acerbic--and wholly amusing--friend Alli says doubtfully, with a resigned shake of the head, "Well, you look like a ghost now but I suppose you'll have fabulous skin when you're 60!"
3. I have a special affinity for the water. I spent countless hours during my childhood summers swimming in my grandparents' pool and waterskiing at my family's cottage at the river. When I found out that my maternal grandfather's family came from a Welsh seaport, that felt incredibly appropriate to me. I have had multiple dreams where I have died by drowning, and yet they have never been sad or scary--they felt more like "going home." I have been skinny dipping several times (always in a natural kind of setting, never really in an overtly sexual one.) And I love nothing more than to body surf in the waves of the Atlantic Ocean.
My affinity for water is one reason why I enjoy incorporating so many water-related and seaside garden plants in my dryland garden. I've posted pictures of my sea kale, crambe maritima, many times. Most recently, I added some catchfly, silene maritima, as a groundcover.
4. I used to paint and draw, and wanted to go to art school until my senior year of high school. Why I stopped producing my own pieces and destroyed most of my old work is a sordid tale of teen angst and young love (translation: it makes me look like an imbecile so I'm not telling it!) but I still have a deep love of art and devour books, museum exhibitions, art shows, and the like.
I have a sneaking suspicion that even if you deliberately abandon the regular tools of the artistic trades, art does not take its leave of you so easily. I sometimes wonder if my garden has become my canvas... but then I also wonder if I have delusions of (artistic) grandeur.
5. At one time, maybe 7 years ago, I weighed almost 80 pounds more than I do right now. I still cringe when I hear people make judgemental comments about obese people such as, "How could that person let himself get like that?" Getting "like that" certainly wasn't a conscious decision for me. I had always been athletic and mostly fit, so discovering I was overweight really surprised me. People are generally disappointed when I tell them how I lost the weight--no magic pill, liquid formula, or denying myself a taste of cheesecake if I was jonesing for it. The weight came off over the course of a year in which I concentrated on walking every day and made fruits, vegetables and whole grain foods a priority.
This is when I actually started to garden. I couldn't believe the price of "fresh" herbs in the grocery store--or how wilted they looked--and I knew how much better tomatoes tasted sun-warm and right off of the vine. In the beginning, there was "just" a veggie garden, but then an ornamental bed was created to add some color to the shady front bed of my north-facing house. At some point, I had an epiphany. Maybe mixing the edibles and the ornamentals would give me the best of both worlds: A beautiful garden that nourished both my senses and my stomach.
And thus the golden variegated lemon thyme came to live under the Japanese cutleaf maple and spills over a short retaining wall into the Japanese bloodgrass... and now the eggplants are sited where their leaves will add some chunky texture into a bed, contrast with the tall zebra grass, and compliment the purple tones in some self-sown amaranth... and so the fun (at least for me) continues...