Having many aspects, uses, or abilities

About two weeks ago, I received three Versatile Blogger Awards in seven days.  They came, most kindly, from Kevin at Nitty, Gritty Dirt Man, Jean at Jean’s Garden, and Angela at Bumble Lush.

Who started this award  and exactly what it means, I haven’t been able to find out. (I’m not really very versatile, just unfocused.)  But it seems to be a notice of esteem, and for that I’m very grateful to all three of them.

There are rules, however,  for accepting this award, including*

Share seven completely random pieces of information about yourself.

OK, here goes:

1)  I don’t like yellow daffodils.  Well, I like them in vases, but I think the color is just wrong for early spring in the garden.  I prefer blooms in what I think of as dirty white and dirty pink, although that doesn’t sound very nice.

2) My garden design style is deconstructed, naturalistic colonial revival.  Not sure what that means, but that’s what it is.

3) I am a sucker for really big plants, and if they’re old-fashioned or a little weird looking, so much the better — sunflowers, dinner-plate dahlias, angelica, Rudbeckia maxima, ostrich ferns, wild mulleins, giant feather grass, cycads, tree ferns, bananas.  I really want to try some hogweed and gunnera.

4) While I recognize its value, I still resist botanical Latin.  Also, je n’ai jamais pensé que j’aurais toujours besoin d’apprendre le français in high school. (I have lived in Madagascar, Togo, Morocco, Rwanda, and Niger.)

5) I’m a Law and Order junkie — classic L&O, not the others.  I pretty much know all the dialogue and, once, during a business trip to Albania, I watched several episodes in German with total enjoyment.  (I also watched two episodes of a British documentary series about the American revolution that had been dubbed in Albanian and then subtitled back to English.  If you go, take a Kindle.)

6) When asked to list my goals for being an Ambassador’s spouse (yes, there was a class), I started with, “stop going outside in my pajamas.”

7) I have really great daughters:  nice, smart, employed, and in their own apartments.  It’s because they have a great dad and grandparents (that’s their grandmother Lori’s arm and hand, at about age 12, in my header).

Forward the award to 15 fellow bloggers, and inform them with a comment on each of their blogs.  Fifteen!  This may have something to do with why I received three awards in one week.

Here are my awardees:

View from Federal Twist — His ‘New American’ garden in New Jersey is just stunning.  Click here and see 2011 at Federal Twist.  James is also sharing his process of creating a city garden in Brooklyn (and he answers all of us who have commented or given advice on his fence color in such a gentlemanly manner).

Pearled Earth — I just discovered this blog, which is written by a gardener in Scranton, Pennslyvania.  She really deserves the title ‘versatile’ because she is a talented illustrator as well as a gardener and writer.  See her charming story about Frederick, master of ambush, here.

Each Little World — She writes so well about gardening, ceramics, literature, movies, and Wisconsin politics.  And I love her blog’s header — and its name; see where it came from here.

Chicks with Ticks —  Girl Power goes outside in a serious way.  They are scientists (see here), plus they have tee shirts and, in a February 13 post, they really do tell you how to remove a tick.

Now, I’m going to fudge the rules and pass the award  to 11 garden writers who might be wonderful bloggers today, were they still alive. (Whether they will follow the guidelines where they are now, I cannot be sure.)

These first six awardees did  indeed write for those early collective blogs on paper called newspapers and magazines (R.I.P.):

Henry Mitchell:   He’s just my favorite, less for his advice (which was excellent, although he died planting daffodils, sorry), than for the way he conveyed the joy and aggravation (joy of aggravation) of being a gardener.  He wrote “The Essential Earthman” column in The Washington Post for almost 25 years.  His would be my first click every morning.

Elizabeth Lawrence:  She was the first woman to graduate from N.C. State University’s landscape architecture program, in 1932, and was a columnist for the Charlotte Observer.  She also wrote  the classic A Southern Garden.  Her blog could advice me on my D.C. zone 7  and my Africa zones 9 -11 gardens.

Vita Sackville-West, or rather The Hon. Victoria Mary Sackville-West, Lady Nicholson:  She made a super-famous garden at Sissinghurst Castle and wrote for The Observer.  Her blog would find its niche.  She wrote this in her column in 1952:  “It sometimes happens that people inherit, or acquire, an old dwelling house or cottage with a pool or even with the remains of a moat. Presumably, such surroundings are highly picturesque, and the fortunate owner wants to make the most of them. So I thought I would devote my next two articles to this rather special problem.”

Charles Dudley Warner:   “Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody ever does anything about it.”  He said that, not his neighbor, Mark Twain.  He wrote for the Hartford Courant.  He was funny, and he was interested in city park supervision and other public policy issues, so perhaps he would be a contributor to Garden Rant.

Gertrude Jekyll:  She stabbed the Victorian garden through the heart and wrote for Country Life, The Garden, and other magazines.  She was also interested in cottage furnishings, rural crafts, and country life.   I’ll bet that she would blog on those subjects, rather than on color theory and bedding plants.

Celia Thaxter:  She was a poet, gardener, and hotelier on the Isles of Shoals, Maine.  She wrote My Island Garden, but also a true-life crime story, “A Memorable Murder” for The Atlantic Monthly (they also published her poetry).  She might have one of those ongoing “Who killed .  . .”  blogs.

And these are my final awardees:

Emily Whaley:  She wrote, with William Baldwin, Mrs. Whaley and Her Charleston Garden at the age of 86.  She was said to have had “an opinion on everything,” and loved being part of the city’s garden festivals.  Perhaps she would have also enjoyed a “what’s blooming today” blog.

Elizabeth von Arnim, aka, Countess von Arnim-Schlagenthin, later Countess Russell.  She wrote lovingly of her garden and satirically of her first husband (she referred to him as “Man of Wrath”) in Elizabeth and her German Garden.  She also wrote Enchanted April, which was made into a gorgeous movie, with an Italian garden as the star.  She might write a “woman of a certain age” blog.

Russell Page:  He was one of the foremost landscape designers of our time and wrote The Education of a Gardener,  yet never had a garden of his own.  Perhaps he would continue to spin out ideas for his ideal personal garden in blog postings.

Edith Wharton:  She wrote Italian Villas and Their Gardens.  I think her blog would be about decorating, though, and she would probably enjoy Pinterest.

Derek Jarman:  He was terribly versatile:  film director, stage designer, diarist, artist, gardener, and author.  I would hope that he would also occasionally post about his garden in Dungeness, England.  It is, I think, my favorite; it has so much soul.  AIDS took him in 1994, at age 52.  This is part of the poem he nailed to the side of his cottage:

Busy old fool, unruly Sun,
Why dost thou thus,
Through windows, and through curtains, call on us?
. . . Love, all alike, no season knows nor clime,
Nor hours, days, months, which are the rags of time.

– John Donne, “The Sun Rising”

Derek Jarman's garden. Photo via Wikipedia, under Creative Commons license.

*The Versatile Blogger Award Rules:
1. In a post, you must display the Versatile Blogger Award badge and thank the blogger/s who nominated you with link/s back to their blog/s.

2. In the same post, share seven completely random pieces of information about yourself.

3. In the same post, include this set of rules.

4. Forward this award to 15 fellow bloggers, and inform them with a comment on each of their blogs.

Source and credit for photo above here.

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Filed under garden design, garden writing

15 responses to “Having many aspects, uses, or abilities

  1. Kevin

    This is such a beautiful and thoughtfully written post. I’m going to print it out so I can go down your list of fifteen. You are truly inspiring and versatile. Cheers!

    • Thanks! Start with Henry Mitchell, if you haven’t already read him. I think you’ll enjoy his books. Also, I didn’t list her, because happily she’s still in this life, but Jamaica Kincaid’s My Garden Book is wonderful.

  2. mommywritervkent


  3. Congrats on the multiple nominations! I think you have an interesting blog and you write beautifully. (And you’ve lived in so many interesting places!) It’s nice to get to know bloggers in a different way (I like your #6). Have a good weekend!

  4. Cindy, I’ve often thought that some of the great garden writers might have been garden bloggers if they lived today, so I love the way you developed this idea. Some of these are writers I know, but others are pleasures I need to check out. Thanks for all these wonderful recommendations. -Jean

  5. Zoe

    Thank you so much, Cindy. I’m honored to be mentioned in such a fun post… And I agree with you about the yellow daffies! I run right out there with my scissors when I see them pop out. They look much more at home in my kitchen.

  6. Amy

    My husband isn’t exactly the Ambassador but I should probably put on my fs wife list ‘stop walking the dog in my pajamas.’ Very funny!

  7. Congrats! I’ll have to check out the other blogs you nominated. Pearled Earth is the only one that I’m familiar with.

  8. Enchanted April and Derek Jarman at Dungeness, and Vita at Sissinghurst. Some old loves, and some fresh ones to explore!

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