I think it is so funny that people who garden passionately automatically think we will have things in common just because I also garden passionately. Yes, I am a plant maniac and proud – but I am so far from the plant obsessed and jargon-spouting, horticulturally saturated lady who works at one of my favorite nurseries as to almost be from a different species. Like the difference between a Neanderthal and a Homo erectus. This is not a value judgement – it is a statement of fact. Our plant lust does not tie us together – we can’t go out to lunch and sit comfortably, discussing the merits of one variety of protea versus another – I would probably drown myself in my Moules Marinieres. She would most assuredly roll her eyes at me, questioning how I do my job effectively considering that I can’t tell the difference between a Geranium ‘Ann Folkard’ and a Geranium ‘Anne Thomson’. She would think I was shallow for wanting to talk about the Vogue cover featuring Kim and Kanye (otherwise known as Kimye). I would leave to get a pedicure and she would leave to sharpen her felcos.
Well – I thought I was different from her, until I was on site with a lovely hipster client-to-be, and while I was rhapsodizing somewhat floridly over the existing desert palms on the property (they were INCREDIBLE), I saw her looking at me oddly and I realized, oh wow – I’m that person. The person who just geeked out in a somewhat uncomfortable way in front of a “normal”. The plant lover who used botanical latin in front of someone not initiated to our brotherhood, and was promptly branded with an L-shaped finger-sign right in the middle of my forehead. Loser! Oh snap. Serves me right. Who am I to think that I am different? I am a Garden Geek to the core. I just sharpen my felcos after my pedicure.
We all geek out in very different ways – my way might not look very impressive in the world of hardcore garden geekiness. I am often at dinners with people who are incredibly hort-savvy, and they expect me to go toe-to-toe with them as they lay bare the ins and outs of successfully whip grafting a fruit tree. They are usually disappointed with my attempts at clever conversation. But put me in a garden like Ganna Walska’s Lotusland, in Monecito, CA, and I will become Maria Von Trapp, arms out and spinning in giddy circles, shrieking “Look at the BEAUCARNIAS!!! The stacatto rhythm of their layout is PERFECT!!! Check out the grove of DRACENA DRACO – a GROVE! How COOL is THAT? OMIGOD I have that aloe!!! And I have THAT aloe! Damn I need MORE of those aloes!!! WHY DON’T I HAVE A BROMELIAD COLLECTION?????” … and so on.
I am inspired by plants in dramatic collector gardens, where the narrative is clear and bold and on the edge of an Alice In Wonderland tale. Those are the gardens that make me weak in the knees – I become such a geek that even the docents get uncomfortable with me, especially since I will often interrupt them with my own comments about the plants and the gleefully strange story of the erstwhile owner of Lotusland, the glorious Ganna Walska. Read more about this amazing place and this legendary vixen here.
So what brings out YOUR Garden Geek, and how are you different than your other gardening friends? Are you proud of your inner geek, or somewhat sheepish? Do you hide it, like I do, or do you display it with an in- your- face braggadocio? I’m sure we come in all stripes – put your on a freak flag and let it FLY!!!!
Oh, ps – Let me take this moment to confess – I can TOTALLY tell the difference between Geranium ‘Ann Folkard’ and Geranium ‘Anne Thomson’. (wink!)