Wednesday, July 11

5 Random (But Garden-Related) Things

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...

33 comments:

meresy_g said...

I wear a floppy hat but I can't do the long sleeve thing. I should try. I will have old lady arms soon if I don't. How funny about the art thing. I think that is true of many a gardener. Thanks for sharing these things about you.

Annie in Austin said...

Who else but the BlackswampGirl could take a meme and make it speak Garden so eloquently?

Wonderful, Kim! I hope you do win the lottery - you'd have fun with the money, and we'd get to read about it.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

bs said...

wow! i've seen these memes on other sites, but they never inspired such a kinship before. i did study art in school and i do think of the garden like a giant canvas. not that i'd show it off to anyone yet, you understand... someone once described painting to me as "a process of constant correction" and that feels very much like gardening. thank you for sharing!

Kelly said...

What a wonderful read, and a delightful look at some of the fine detail—in you and in your garden. Thanks for sharing!

You know, I've been blogging since 1998 and have never been tagged for a meme. I don't mean that in a whiny, oh tag me! oh tag me! way...just in an interesting, huh...sort of way. I see memes just about every day in my blog reading. I enjoy the little secrets people reveal about themselves.

Colleen said...

This was a wonderful read, Kim...thanks for sharing these things about you. I had actually noticed a "sea" theme in some of your plantings, and now I know why :-)

It's funny that you mention gardening and weight loss together. After my 2nd daughter was born, I was 80 lbs overweight, too. I've lost forty of it, mostly through walking and gardening.

Oh, and I'm going to check out the Neutrogena....SPF 70 should just about do it :-)

It's true...you are the only one who can take a meme and turn it into something more meaningful.

Robin (Bumblebee) said...

How fascinating! I have enjoyed this particular meme (and done version of it twice myslef) because it gives me some insight into the person behind the garden.

I find the whole "fashion" connection very interesting. Like you, I am interested in fashion. But it hasn't translated to my old fashioned theme garden at all. I am, however, interested in trying some of the exotic plants at Hersonwood. Maybe that counts?

--Robin (Bumblebee)

P.S. I love Coco!

Blackswamp_Girl said...

meresy_g, I swear that once you get used to it the long sleeves and long pants feels more comfy in the blazing sun! (Provided you wear light colors, of course... I like plain old cargo khakis that I don't mind getting dirty because they're designated "gardening" pants.)

Annie in Austin, the garden twist wasn't mine--I forget where I saw it first, but I liked having to think about these things! (For the record, if I did win the lottery I would buy Jess her Missoni but probably wouldn't be able to spend that much on a dress for myself. Land for a teaching garden somewhere, maybe, instead?)

bs, I went to your blog just to check... I think that you should show off your garden. Your art skills with lacquer and paint on a bin lid are wonderful, so I can only imagine how cool your garden must be! You're so right about that feeling of kinship... I can't shake "A process of constant correction" because that's such an appropriate way to describe both painting and gardening. Another quote that comes to mind is about knowing when to stop editing--but I'm just not there yet. :)

Kelly, I've never done this before, but... consider yourself tagged!!!! (Seriously. I would love to see you do this one...)

Colleen, the other reason for the "sea" theme is my little imagination. I get a kick out of planting seaside plants--as if I'm really "on the shore" of Lake Erie instead of several long blocks inland--just like I got a kick out of planting tall grasses around my lion statues to make it feel like savannah. lol. (Hey, at least I'm easily amused!)

Robin, maybe you are where I first saw this meme, then? Could be! My interest in fashion hasn't translated to my closet at all... has yours, since it hasn't shown up in your garden? Just curious. (If you think Heronswood is cool, check out Terra Nova Nurseries and Plant Delights... yowza.)

Garden Wise Guy said...

Kim: I had you listed on my blog as a "meme" recipient, but since you've already taken the challenge, we'll let you off the hook. Thanks for keeping it going.

Mayhaps we can exchange links? Visit my garden blog, see whatcha think. I believe we share some similar thoughts about life, the universe, and everything.

Garden Wise Guy (http://gardenwiseguy.blogspot.com

Blackswamp_Girl said...

Garden Wise Guy, thanks for stopping by... and for following along for so long, too. :) As far as your blog goes, you totally had me at the picture of your favorite garden sculpture: "Maytag Washer as Fountain." NICE!

Layanee said...

Very nice post! What you learn from a meme...I really don't like that word! Art, fashion, water and skinny dipping, you are a woman of the world!

kris said...

Hi Kim - enjoyed your list and learning more about you. Loved the tie-in to the garden stuff. I can relate to several of the things you listed - especially the affinity for water. Thanks for sharing! (Congrats on the thinking blogger awards - your posts always make me think!)

Dawn said...

I'm new to your blog and have been meaning to post a comment... I too can relate to several of the things you listed. I look forward to reading more...

Garden Wise Guy said...

Kim: thanks for the link. I'll reciprocate at Garden Wise Guy tonight. Keep up the great stuff. Your writing style truly feels like it comes from the heart--quite a gift.

Kerri said...

I've just had great fun reading your last few posts. I can relate to so much that you say...and wish I didn't have to rush outside to the garden right now so that I could discuss these thoughts :) But the weather is perfect today and I mustn't waste it.
I too used to draw and paint...and now I garden! Yes, it's definitely a canvas, with lots of room for experimentation.
I'm glad you recently had a whole day in the garden and wish you many more!

lisa said...

Great read! I was hoping you'd participate in this meme, and after I read your answers I know why I like your blog so much! I agree that our artistic passions spill into other areas, especially gardening. I enjoyed art in school, too-along with photography (I was even a photographer for school papr/yearbook), journalism, etc. In fact, my job in medical imaging is an extension of a desire to be a photographer/artist. I like your seaside plantings, almost seems "subliminal" or even genetic for you, considering your family's ties to water. Way cool...

A wildlife gardener said...

I look rather like a ragdoll when I'm dressed for my gardening work, not glamorous in any way...old tatty trousers, tee shirt and jumper, if it's cold. But the hours pass and I'm so concentrated; and though tired afterwards, I'm as happy as can be.

Today is constant smirry rain, and though I've loads to do indoors, I feel my hands are tied behind my back, nose pressed to the window, longing to be free as a bird outide where I can commune with the insects and creatures who say hello to me as I work amongst them.

Your garden is most definitely your canvas, Kim, i can feel that coming across as I follow your posts. Happy gardening, my Dear!

The County Clerk said...

A very well considered set of revelations. Thank you for sharing.

Isn't life interesting.

And while I don't know much about fashion, I must confess that the Alberta Ferretti dress knocks me out. Jesus. That's GOOD.

Art is a part of humanity. 17,000 years ago, people sketched Aurochs on the walls of caves at Lascaux, France. Even before that.

In my opinion, we are all artists if we let ourselves be. Clearly you have put down the bush and picked up a hand spade. Of the great artists I know (I am not one) being an artist is not about the art they make (everything is evanescent, nothing endures), but about the way they live.

Seems like you are on track.

Water. Yes. My plan is, at the end, to sail a little single-handed sloop into a bad-ass storm in very cold water and see how long I can fight it. That's not for a long time yet. And life does not conform to my plans anyway. A stupid thought... but I think it none the less.

As for the weight thing... our society is screwed up about physical appearance. Not a good measure of our culture. Not good at all.

But... as I am a product of our culture, I must say, my primary thought is: where can I go to be around people in Alberta Ferretti dresses? That's GOOD stuff.

lisa said...

BTW...I used to be much slimmer (by @ 100 lbs.) even just 8 years ago, and I get disgusted when people act like being fat is the crime of the century. I mean, is that really the worst "flaw" a person can have? REALLY? For instance, I cannot think of a single fat serial killer, so I don't think an overweight person is the one you should really be worried about!

bs said...

thank you for your compliments bsg! that desire to continue editing feels anal retentive when i make objects, but somehow i forgive it in the garden. i believe that many of us have our natural creativity and empathy beaten out of us... in the same way that fat and sassy is rejected at large unless you're santa.

and lisa, i agree with everything you said, except: john wayne gacy.

http://www.serialkillercalendar.com

Dawn said...

Thank you for sharing your list about yourself. I especially appreciated your comments on gaining weight. I've gained a significant amount of weight since moving from Florida and am hoping to lose it as safely and permanently as possible. Your story gives me hope.

jodi said...

What a wonderful posting this is, bs; and you forgot one aspect of your artistic inclinations--not just your garden (which is five-green-thumbs up, of course!) but your marvelous way with words. You obviously have this effect on other reader-bloggers besides me, too. I'm glad you came to visit and prompted my (now regular) return visits.

Stuart said...

Kim, you garden has definitely become your canvas and you are quite the artiste. And , you certainly don't have artistic grandeur. I've really appreciated your posts regarding colour and texture of plants and how to balance them. They been very helpful.

Blackswamp_Girl said...

layanee, I think it's an odd word, too. And I don't know about being a woman of the world, but that comment/compliment made me smile. Thanks!

Kris, I would definitely hope that someone whose blog is entitled "Gardens by the Lake" would share my affinity for water. :) Glad to see you back, by the way.

Dawn, thanks for stopping by--I look forward to checking out more of your blog as well!

garden wise guy, thank you... sometimes I get a little self-conscious about how ridiculously long my posts are, but this is the only way I know how to write. (I lack formal writing training, unfortunately.) So I really appreciate the compliment there.

kerri, I hope that you took advantage of the beautiful day you had--partly because I agree that those shouldn't be wasted, and partly because I know that might mean more pictures and posts from you for us to enjoy later this week. :)

This whole used-to-draw/paint/sculpt-but-now-garden phenomenon is very interesting. Lots of us seem to fall in that category!

wildlife gardener, what a vivid picture that is--and I know the nose-pressed-against-the-glass feeling very well myself! You described my gardening outfits to a T, by the way, except for one thing: I almost always, no matter how careful I am, end up with a large smudge of dirt somewhere on my face. I generally don't notice it until someone very helpfully points it out to me, either... lol.

Hank, I love that... I have always thought that it would be wonderful to do something similar, only my thought didn't involve sailing. More like walking purposefully, with strong steps, out into a crazy riptide.

And that AF dress is definitely stunning, but some of her older dresses are even better if you can imagine. I have no lifestyle where this would be appropriate attire, but they make me drool...

"Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up."
Pablo Picasso (1881 - 1973)


lisa, it was definitely eye-opening to see how people, consciously or not, treated me when I was heavier than I am now. There were many times when I definitely felt like a second-class citizen. Interestingly, lots of people also assumed that I was not as intelligent... silly me, I had never realized that my IQ would decrease for every pound my weight increased. (rolling my eyes here)

bs, I think that you're so right about having our creativilty taken out of us. (See the quote I mentioned in my reply to Hank above.) And I can't believe that a serial killer calendar actually exists, by the way!

Dawn, if you put your mind to it I really think that you can do it! Just think, if you have the patience to garden, you should have the patience to lose the weight slowly and healthfully... from everything I've read, that's the key to keeping it off. :)

Jodi, thank you so much for the compliments... as I mentioned to Garden Wise Guy above, I just write as I think and sometimes get a little worried that I'm too wordy or that I digress a bit too much. So it's nice to hear that people are enjoying what I write anyway!

Blackswamp_Girl said...

Stuart, thank you. I'm glad that I am able to give you some ideas, too--your blog has definitely given me so much food for thought!

kate said...

I love your originality in thought, word and garden. Your artistic sensibility is part of your garden. Your sense of fun in your choice of fashion. Good going on giving this meme an interesting twist!

Kati said...

Kim, I'm standing up and cheering!!! As many others have already commented, you are creating a life, and that you have the courage to put it into words and share it with us is a creative act of ...what's the word??? It's more than a declaration of independence, it's almost revolutionary in a world where too many of us have forgotten that we are uninhibited creators as children. You inspire us to give ourselves permission to create again, playing with it and having fun by sharing your insightful thoughts.

Robin (Bumblebee) said...

I am going to Terra Nova now!

Yes, sadly, the fashion bug has meant my closet is full. A while back I tried to scale back, not by buying less, but by buying in consignment shops and otherwise second-hand. Problem is it's a hit-or-miss proposition. And it takes time away from a busy career to do all that hunting about.

Now the garden...not much second-hand you can get there, except for pass-along plants, which I have also found a hit-or-miss proposition. Perhaps it's the person who mostly passes them along. She rarely knows the name and often they turn out to be invasive.

Okay, off to Terra Nova now.. (I already love Plant Delights!)

--Robin (Bumblebee)

Karen said...

What a great post! I liked learning a little bit more about you, and not a bit of it surprises me.

~~ Melissa said...

I enjoyed reading that. Points 3, 4, and 5 would, to my family, sound like I wrote them about me! Spooky!

Blackswamp_Girl said...

Kate, thank you so much for the compliments! I must confess, though, that the fashion sense does not translate well to my closet. lol.

Kati, I'm blushing... mostly because as I read your words I keep thinking that they express exactly what your blog does for me, too. :)

Robin, you are dead on about the hit-or-miss nature of second plants and secondhand clothes! (That said, I so wish we had a good secondhand clothing store around here... *sigh*) You'll have to tell me what you thought about TerraNova's website--and if you have any similar gems in your bookmarks that I might enjoy!

Karen, no surprises?! I'm a little dismayed... lol... well, then again I guess maybe I'm not. As much as I would like to be a "woman of mystery" I do know that I'm pretty much an open book. Ah well. (My parents were a bit surprised, though... they asked me last night when I had gone skinny dipping! lol.)

melissa, really? We have more in common than I knew... spooky, indeed! (But in a good way. I take that commonality with you as a compliment.)

Me said...

I don't wear long-sleeves but I should - at least for the protection it would provide me from my squash and tomatoes which often cause me to break out in a rash.

Congratulations on the eighty pounds even if the loss is long ago. It is always a big deal - even if it is not recent history.

I have a banana pepper with a cornflower and it is lovely - I know that I will be doing more mixing and matching next year as you do give me ideas (probably to my husband's dismay).

David in Greensboro NC said...

I was fascinated to read about your recurring dream of drowning. I too have an affinity for the water (the ocean) and all my life I've had this dream where I'm in a house that is breaking apart in a hurricane. The "screen" goes blank, then I'm walking along the beach on a sunny day among the wreckage (and several bodies). Dreams are fascinating. Many of them seem to be just random images, but I suspect others are much more than that. Your blog is very thoughtful and insightful--I'll be back again to read some more.

Salix Tree said...

What a great post, loved discovering more of your personality.
And I enjoyed reading about how you started gardening. I too always thought store-bought herbs were expensive and wilty looking. I have grown herbs most of my life for that reason, plus I LOVE parsley! And fresh is oh so much better than the dried stuff in shaker-cans

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