So, I Got This Email from Bryan Adams

Or, I should say, someone claiming to be Bryan Adams.

hey there
cool site!
i came across your page while researching pineapple cultivation.
keep smiling

I wrote him back, because, COME ON, how could I not reply? I mean, I’m laughing at myself now, because you’d think I’d be cool about it, but instead my inner ten year old quickly and aggressively hijacked my emotions and was all, “Holy crap, Bryan Adams thinks my Internet Website is cool and wants me to keep smiling!

And he did write back from what appears to be a legitimate account. But who can say? I’m not going to waste time trying to prove the email’s legitimacy. It’s much more fun to just believe that Bryan Adams, a Canadian superstar and photographer that I associate with a certain period of my childhood, likes my Internet Website. I mean, why not? It’s plausible. If there is one thing I have learned from a brief, ridiculous addiction (in the 90s) to the “Inside Star Closets” feature of a now defunct tabloid, it’s that celebrities are people too.

You see, 10 years ago when I started the site, I quoted a phrase on the about page that I believe originated from an interview with Bryan Adams. It’s been a long time and about a million people have said it since, but what (I believe) he said was, “Gardening is the new rock n’ roll.”

And now, ten years later and a completely unexpected life and career switcheroo later, and I am conversing via email with the originator (or I believe to be) of that quote. How oddly full circle is that? Even if it’s not the real Bryan Adams, although he claims to be and the content of subsequent emails come off as sincere, it’s still oddly surreal.

This morning, the newest email in my inbox was from The Person Claiming to be Bryan Adams, stating that he might have said that at a time when he was “…obsessing over Gunnera.”

Bryan Adams is a gardener.

It never ceases to amaze me, the people who turn out to be gardeners. Ten years ago we really wanted that quote to be true, although at the time I preferred to think of it as the new punk rock… subversive, D.I.Y, and artistic. Because when I say “punk rock” I don’t mean messy, pissing all over the place Sex Pistols type punk. I mean the punk rock of my teenage years: Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr., Husker Du, Big Black…. By the shear volume of people who are saying it, people still want it to be true. Perhaps it already is. These days, my generation is gardening more than anyone ever expected. And I like to think that the way we are doing it is all of those things I mentioned above. But of course, every generation thinks of themselves in that way, don’t they? We’re all the most authentic and the most subversive in our own minds.

Back to the Gunnera. Last night I had a dream that I was visiting San Francisco. I’ve been itching to visit my favourite spots there recently. And we still flirt now and again with the idea of trying to move there permanently. But I digress…. Then I woke up to an email about Gunnera. Not an obvious connection there for you, but the only times I have seen that plant in person was on trips to the Botanical Garden in Golden Gate Park. I’ve made trips specifically to see that plant.

Have you ever seen it?

This is me in the summer of 2006, standing in front of a Gunnera at the Golden Gate Park Botanical Garden in San Francisco. As an aside, rolled up pants make me look stunted in the leg region. Dully noted. Also, what am I doing with my arm there? Pledging allegiance to the Gunnera with the wrong arm?

Gunnera is a massive, prehistoric botanical mammoth. I can’t help but associate it with heavy metal. And this is what I said to The Person Claiming to be Bryan Adams in a subsequent email. And amazingly, there was a brief email exchange. I will say this for The Person Claiming to be Bryan Adams: he’s very diligent about responding to email.

“Gunnera is an amazing plant. The name alone always seems to conjure up the idea of a Metal-themed garden. Sort of like the Bach-inspired garden here in Toronto, but the inspiration would be Slayer’s “Seasons in the Abyss” or Metallica’s “Fade to Black”. Oh dear, now I am off on a mental tangent planning this ridiculous garden.”

Now, whenever “Run to You” comes on the radio or “Heaven” turns up in a random dramatic television series, I will think about Gunnera, a brief, like minded exchange with someone who may very well have been the real Bryan Adams, and the imaginary Metal Head Garden.

And I will smile.


UPDATE: It’s the real Bryan Adams. For a garden writer, I’ve received some pretty odd, and at times downright creepy email so I was pretty skeptical that these emails could be from the real Bryan Adams. Why anyone would go to the trouble of pretending to be Bryan Adams (and creating a pretty convincing email account) is completely beyond me, but I just don’t know anymore. As Tess said in the comments, one of the beautiful things about the Internet is that it is in some respects a great connector, a democratizing force of sorts. You never know who you’ll run into and what you’ll learn about them. But there’s a lot of crazy, too. Still, I was too skeptical. And Mr. Bryan Adams is clearly a friendly fellow and a genuine person who also happens to be curious about growing a pineapple. At the very least I should send him a “Plant Geek” button as a peace offering because he is clearly one of us.

Well that was fun. So what should we do today?

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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27 thoughts on “So, I Got This Email from Bryan Adams

  1. We have gunneras here in the Portland area that are so huge and massive, the leaves can support the weight of small children. I’m constantly imagining babies sleeping in them, a la Anne Geddes photos, but now thanks to this story, they’ll all have Bryan Adams’ face in my strange imaginative head.

    I love that you’re corresponding with him!

  2. I love this! I saw your tweet about Mr. Adams last night. So exciting. My first {and second} concert ever was Bryan Adams. Happy to know he’s an inquisitive and adventurous gardner.

  3. Way cool! My first real CD ever, when I switched from cassettes, was Waking Up The Neighbours.
    We sell Gunnera as a ‘tropical’ pond plant where I work, and there is a massive plant that’s been overwintering in the store for 4 years. Now every time I walk past it, I’ll be thinking of Bryan. Thanks for the story!!

  4. They also grow in one of my favorite spots in San Francisco, around the pond at the Palace of Fine Arts. After my last trip to San Francisco I became briefly obsessed with them too. I kept wishing that I had found them when I was a kid because I thought they’d make an amazing fort.

  5. Totally OT: aha! I think the Chinese Garden in Vancouver has/had a Gunnera. I saw it on a trip about 5 years ago, and none of my friends (including the locals) knew what it was. Memorable plant, though!

  6. You never know who is following your blog. I know my blog is being followed by aetherborn, a Canadian rock/metal band. When I found out that they were following me, I wanted to shoot back a message and say, “Thanks for following, but why?”

  7. loved your story, that plant is beautiful, do you think it can be grown here in houston, tx it does get over 100 degrees for a couple months, can it be grown inside. thanks

  8. Lorie: I’m afraid I’m not at all familiar with the needs of this plant. I’ve stayed away from it because one plant would pretty much be the whole of any one of my gardens.

    I think of it as a temperate region, wetland plant. Its standard is zone 8 but I know it can be coaxed to survive in a colder zone. Hotter regions on the other hand… I’m not sure.

    Anyone here familiar with what it needs?

    Lelo: I’ve been to Portland twice and have never seen one there…. wrong time of year I’d guess.

    Val: I knew people were growing it in Vancouver…been to the Chinese garden but did not see it. It was winter though so that was likely a factor.

    Susan: I love that!

  9. that story makes me smile at the wonder & beauty of the interweb!

    we’re planning a trip to Northern Califoria next month, Golden Gate Park is one of my “must see” stops on my wish list

  10. Hi. That’s really cool that you got a message from Bryan Adams. He is a gardener and a vegan. He actually tweeted about planting broccoli just a few weeks ago. Keep on smiling, girl!

  11. Fantastic post – what a wonderful story! I’ll agree with the gardening/punk rock connection – at different times, each has served as a wild, heart-strong and earth-connected outlet for me… There is an anarchistic feeling involved in growing food/flowers/medicine, all by oneself :)

  12. I’ve been a fan of Bryan for years and years. The way the email reads to you, that very much sounds like it is indeed coming from Bryan himself.

  13. This isn’t a very business-like way to start my day, but I loved the account of the Bryan Adams exchange. As many know, Bryan Adams is from BC and no doubt this is where his awareness of Gunnera comes from. Most of us on the coast have a Gunnera if we have a larger garden. I live on southern Vancouver Island. Its a big glorious specimen, look-at-me type plant. But, it needs wetter conditions and is happiest on top of the septic tank, near an underground stream or right at the edge of a pond, river, lake, (you get the picture). What I find astounding is that it is entirely herbaceous and goes down to nothing during the winter. Most of us take one of those big, prehistoric leaves and puts it upside down on top of the crown for protection during the winter. Its also a big feeder. We take an entire bag of sheep manure and upend it on the crown each spring for a little wake up. Like many of us, I had ‘Heaven’ played at our wedding. How excellent to learn our hometown boy is also a gardener!

  14. Taryn! I was thinking of you when I was searching my backup for old photos of Gunnera. Some of these pics were taken on the trip to San Fran when we met up. I think I went to the garden the next day. There is also the heavy metal connection…

  15. Wow. But wow! I suppose we know that people who are stars are also likely to have interests like the rest of us, but to be contacted by one of them is pretty amazing. And Gunnera … there’s a vast one a Kew Botanic Gardens and the common name here in the UK is Chilean rhubarb, which is a little mind-boggling but also somewhat racist, I can’t help feeling.

  16. I really enjoyed this post….I mean really enjoyed it. I smiled the whole way thru….That’s cool that the (famous) can be cool too. Bryan Adams was my first real crush….I am from the deep South, and fell i love with him on Summer vacation in Maine. My first bought tape was his, I can sing the tape back and forth. I hauled a concert poster (I was 11) on the plane from Maine to Alabma trying not to crease it. It hung for years….

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