All photos by Derek Powazek
I first came across the work of Derek Powazek online about 10 years ago when I was working as a graphic designer in the interactive department of The Place That Shall Not Be Named. Derek’s retired online public complaints machine Kvetch.com was a touchstone to sanity for me, a place where I could find solace in the sane (and sometimes not-so-sane) ramblings of others slogging away in poorly managed cubicle communities across the globe or post my own discontent. You may have heard about Derek via one or more of the myriad of awesome projects he has spawned since including the recently relaunched Fray, SF Stories, and JPG magazine. The self-described Author, Designer, and Troublemaker is internet famous as the online storytelling guy; he loves to tell stories and is always coming up with new ways to get you to tell yours.
But over the years he has dropped hints of a behind-the-scenes interest in plants. When he recently posted a series of photos showing the assortment of gorgeous and incredibly healthy orchids he is not only keeping alive but prompting to bloom in his San Francisco apartment, I knew there was more there than a passing interest in a couple of houseplants named Fred. Derek graciously agreed to entertain my questions about his orchid interest and success.
I took this photo back in October (Is it really very nearly the end of the year already?) on our trip to the Montreal Botanical Gardens. Unfortunately, I can not recall which plant this is. I might have known what it was when I took the photo having more of the plant for context. And there is always the possibility that I might have known it based on a photo of the flowers rather than the seed pods. I have never been very good about keeping track of the plants I take photos of, relying on what I always think is a good memory only to realize later that I have no idea what the heck this thing is.
I’m excited about a plan to add a regular photo feature to the site in the New Year as a way for me to actually use some of the countless plant and garden photos I take during the growing season. I am especially excited about showing more of my film photography because that is actually where my heart is. It is a big part of my life (and my gardening life) but has never really felt like it had a home here. I’ve got to do a separate design for it since I want to be able to post those photos larger than 450 pixels wide hence the wait until after the New Year.
I’ve been collecting patches, specifically vintage Girl Guide merit badges with a nature or craft theme for years and figured it was about time I actually, you know, did something with them short of keeping them in a box. It’s a nice box and all but I really only look into it approximately one to three times a year. I made myself a dandelion hat that I wear regularly during the really cold months and since I love mine so much I figured you might too. It’s certainly better than keeping them in that sadness box*. I’ve added five hats to the store, each bears a vintage Guide patch. Perhaps you have a farmer, dandelion lover, arborist, happy camper, or birder in your life? I only have one each so when they are gone that’s all she wrote.
*The direct link to the sadness bowl routine to which I am sort-of referring is here but just warning that it’s kinda work inappropriate.
Just a reminder that the deadline for the 2007 Warm Winter Wear Drive is approaching this week. Be sure to get your stuff in the mail before the deadline. I will wait a few days for any stragglers but please let me know if you have sent something so I can look out for it.
Details: Please mail your items by Dec 10, 2007. Email me at gaylaatyougrowgirldotcom for the address.
I have completed two scarves and started on a third last night. My goal is to finish 4 by the due date and maybe even five if I really hustle.
The Curious Gardener’s Almanac: Centuries of Practical Garden Wisdom
By Nial Edworthy
When I first sat down to review The Curious Gardener’s Almanac by Nial Edworthy I began in the most logical place, the introduction. I was immediately smitten. I found the author’s slightly dramatic, yet also dry and mildly self-effacing sense of humour to be immediately charming and easily relatable. Even more delightful was Mr. Edworthy suggestion to install the book in the bathroom where the reader can dip into it from time-to-time rather than reading in long sittings. By the time I got to his use of the phrase “sweet bugger-all” I was captivated.
Now, I realize these are all rather shallow ways to review a book — there is more to my assessment, I promise! Mr. Edworthy goes on to deliver a very hopeful and optimistic view of gardening as an act that has the potential to create positive change for the environment and in turn change the gardener. He writes about his early days as a gardener, discovering that there is no end to how much there is to learn about gardening and also discovering that the learning comes primarily from the doing, from getting down into the dirt and getting your hands dirty. By the end of the introduction I was more than ready to leap into the actual book itself, eagerly anticipating another 100 plus pages of charming, wittily told stories.
Unfortunately the rest of the book lacks the wit, sharp bite, and personal anecdotes found in the introduction. Which is not to say that the rest of the book is not good or interesting, rather it just isn’t what I had anticipated. For the purposes of description I would label the book a fairly traditional almanac in that it is comprised of quotes about gardening by all the famous gardeners, interesting historical facts, bits of wisdom, and chunks of gardening knowledge. The design is very much in keeping with the style of other well-known almanacs including vintage woodcuts and lithographs of plants, tools, and other gardening imagery. I particularly enjoyed the herbs section picking up a few new tips including using hops (Humulus lupulus) in herb pillows as a natural tranquilizer to help with insomnia. While I am highly allergic and do not have the space to indulge in an entire lawn of chamomile, the idea is not one I had thought or heard of. This book is loaded with great facts, tid bits, and inspiring ideas.
Unfortunately, what the book lacks is what sold me in the introduction, Nial Edworthy’s clever and very relatable voice. Instead the book takes on the slightly formal tone more closely associated with traditional almanacs. While I find these sorts of books interesting to read, I would prefer to read an entire book that takes off where the introduction ended. I want to hear more about Nial Edworthy the gardener and his exploits as a former city dweller who moved to the country and found himself drawn into the crazy world of gardening.