Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Ready or Not...

The prince has this idea that I should start gardening, or creating gardens, since it appears I'm alive and will probably remain so for at least the near future. To that end he's signed us up for some minor league expo at Eastern Market that's being sponsored by Frager's, our local hardware and garden emporium.

I was not asked my opinion of this.

So I am thrust into considering what sort of garden I might design for someone other And the photo at left precisely illustrates what I will never do: train a strand of ivy up across a wrought iron railing.

And not just one railing, as you can see from the next photo, this railing surrounds an enormous house, a house that also has
gardens with tiers of plantings that look as though someone stood in their midst and cracked a nasty whip and they all stood up and splayed their limbs in utter terror.

The only part of this arrangement that I find agreeable is the absence of rail road ties.

So there we go! Marketing point Number 1. Just like the very pricey designer of this very fabulous Georgetown garden, you will not find me using rail road ties. Or if I do,  you sure as hell won't see them.

Now what.

I'll require a persona. A very special persona, with one of those vaguely European accents like the one Madonna has cultivated. I don't think I need to be too thin if I have one of those. Otherwise I shall have to starve myself and wear a bee keeper's veil and heavy black liner around my eyes.

I certainly can't go about as I did today, in an outfit sloppier than my pajamas.  I was actually embarrassed to be with me.

Now. My clients really can't expect too much. [Let's see how this plays]. What I do is HIGHLY experimental, experiential, it is ART. [Oh, this is good!!] And nothing should be expected to live. It is the life cycle that we are observing, survival of the fittest, the sturm und drang...

How's that?

Some years ago I read about a garden designer who landscaped (skyscaped?) a penthouse in Boston and he was in his fourth or fifth year of replacing all of the plantings. Well, he said, the wind, the rain, the snow, the hail...

Do I have the nerve? Methinks, this is where the bee keeper veil comes in. You wouldn't see my eyes shifting about in terror.

Really Greg, I'm thinking. Who else but me would want so many vines to thwack back, and mortally ill caladium, and black spotted roses gasping in the shade.

Who else would make up for such deficiencies with Chinese lanterns as hanging distractions, a clutch of silk orchids where the day lilies refused to bloom, and dead boxwood spray-painted a healthy shade of green.

Would someone else appreciate objects that aren't flowers but behave as if they are, like hot pink chairs, and big glazed pots in colors that clash with the flowers they hold.

And things perhaps strange to gardens like mirrors and paintings and chandeliers and umbrellas.  

And gardens that appear absolutely unplanned. Not in the least what Prosperous Adults are supposed to like. Not stuffy and prim and neatly groomed.

Really Greg.

Back story: I ran into trouble when I moved from New York to Washington, 30-odd years ago. I got my first job as the store designer at Vanleigh Furniture in Bethesda, and I immediately set to work dismantling every room setting: mixing contemporary and traditional; stirring up the color ways; and most definitely ditching the colored paper napkins in the martini glasses that adorned every cocktail table. I was out on my arse before the day was over. "We don't do eclectic in Washington," I was told. 

Well, burned once, I say. This town hasn't changed all that much, has it?

And then I bump into Julie in the Safeway, and she asks me what I'm up to and I mention this blog and the expo she tells me how much she loves my garden, it's so wild. 

And so I am heartened. Maybe I can do this.


  1. You may want to print this and show it to daddy because it's a rare thing for such a thought to come out of mine head...

    He's totally right.

    AND YOU KNOW IT. Look at it this way, in any case:

    At worst, the expo thinger will be an entertaining experiment -- and something new to write about.

    At best, you'll find that people like your stuff a lot more than you think (which, DUH. Please refer to your writing and everything else you do that you never have any confidence in for God knows what reason *&^@#*&%@*@) If [WHEN] that happens, it'll open up a new and exciting avenue of possibilities that you can choose to go down. Or not. Though if you don't, I expect a very, very, very good reason. Or else I'll lecture you from my diamond-studded waitressing pedestal. And you know that'll be incredibly irritating and not at all worth it.

    Also, "...plantings that look as though someone stood in their midst and cracked a nasty whip and they all stood up and splayed their limbs in utter terror.plantings that look as though someone stood in their midst and cracked a nasty whip and they all stood up and splayed their limbs in utter terror."

    Am almost finished reading Alice, and this is perfect! I love, love, love it.

  2. (PS I don't know why that quote pasted twice. Bah.)

    (PPS Whenever I read over my comments once they're posted, and I see "Baby said..." at the top, I start singing Dance Magic from Labyrinth in my head. "...and BABY saaaaid! Dance magic, DANCE MAGIC, dance -- dance magic!)

    Ahem. The end.

  3. Dance Magic Dance!! and reading Alice????? Oh yay yay!!


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