Speaking at the Denver Botanic Gardens

Hello. How are you? It’s been quiet here for a bit. Deadlines and such. I will probably be a little light on posting for a while longer, but I am just over the hump. I’m gonna make it after-all! Perhaps when this is all said and done I should make a trip to Minnesota just so I can toss a hat into the air and really drive the point home. Or I could just sit and DO NOTHING. That would be nice, too.

Oh yes, before I move on to the topic of this post, my third book is now available on Amazon. It won’t be out for another eight months, and they are yet to include the cover, but there it is with an ISBN number and everything. Yep.

I’ll wait at least until the cover is available publicly before writing more on that.

Next week I am traveling to Denver, Colorado to speak at the Denver Botanic Gardens. I’ve been looking forward to this one since the opportunity came up last year. I’ve heard such good things about the gardens, most especially the alpine collection and the hike at Mount Goliath. I am getting the cameras packed and ready in anticipation.

I’ll be giving two talks on this trip. The first is a visual presentation on growing food in difficult spaces. I hate to give the same talk twice, so if you’ve seen me lecture on this before, you can expect some new photos and ideas. The second is a more intimate conversation for and with garden writers. I’ll be sharing some of my experiences and the lessons I’ve learned along the way.

This last year has been a particularly busy one. When I set out to prepare for this second presentation I began to feel like a fraud. It felt like the expectation of this particular talk was one in which I should be giving advice that I had learned and had moved past. ….And, now everything is great and my professional life is perfect! I am perfect and my teeth are extremely shiny!

“I don’t like people who have never fallen or stumbled. Their virtue is lifeless and it isn’t of much value. Life hasn’t revealed its beauty to them.” – Boris Pasternak

No, as the realization that I would be giving this particular talk crept up on me, I began to feel very vulnerable. And lame. The truth of the matter is that recently, I haven’t been following my own advice: play has completely fallen to the wayside in favour of long hours at my desk; I’m horribly out of shape after months and months of parking my ass on this chair; I’m failing my friends who never see me and only hear complaints of how busy I am when they do, and I’m failing my partner who has to deal with my constantly cranky demeanour. Based on my own personal measure of success, I’m a complete and utter failure. Fail, fail, fail. D- in life.

My teeth have never been shiny. They are actually quite crooked and a bit of a mess, really.

On the plus side, I’ve been doing a lot of re-evaluating these past months and had already come to the conclusion that I needed to go back to these old, hard won lessons and reassert them into my life, hardcore. Looking back on my past as I put this presentation together really drove the importance of these ideas home. I made certain choices for a reason, and I’ve suffered recently because I wasn’t putting enough of them into practice. I am tired, overworked, and have lost all perspective.

This experience has made me wonder: When we go to hear people speak, do we want to hear from shiny people with perfect teeth who have it all together, or do we want to hear about the struggles alongside the successes? For those of you who are planning to come out to this talk, expect to hear from someone who is slightly (very) dishevelled, fallible but honest (mostly), and still figuring things out, especially when it comes to being a writer.

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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24 thoughts on “Speaking at the Denver Botanic Gardens

  1. Aww! Well, I love your blog (and books) and wish I could make it to Denver to hear you speak. When you have rested and reclaimed happiness and fun in your life, come give a talk in Santa Fe! :)

  2. I think you’re heading in the right direction with pulling the curtain back on the realities of life. How can anyone succeed without learning a few lessons along the way. The real success is that you keep going, you’re not a D- you’re just in a lull on your way back to a peak. Head up! We love your work!

  3. I am in Denver and while I plan on going to the lecture about growing food and not the one for garden writers, I will say that I would want to hear about the struggles alongside the successes. I like to know that people are human and I am not the only one that does struggle. I think getting over those things are where we really learn the most anyway.

  4. Perfect people have nothing to offer me. There – I said it. I can only speak for myself, of course, but there is a real air of bullshit in the crisp and flawless presentations of the likes of Martha. I want the nitty gritty – validate my struggle! Tell me I’m not the only one who makes mistakes! I think that you do this brilliantly, Gayla, and it’s a large part of what makes you so engaging.

    Congratulations on the completion of your new book! I can’t wait to hear more.

  5. I can’t wait to see you at the gardens. I think you will love it, the place is magical AND they make their own ice cream. I hope you enjoy your visit :-)

    Lastly, I love hearing about real people and real experiences. Otherwise I am prone to start comparing and thinking everyone else’s life rocks and poor me… That’s why I try not to read blogs anymore.

  6. Hi Gayla. I heard you speak in Toronto two years ago and you inspired me to create the very productive garden (both flowers and veggies) that I have today. You certainly seemed to me then as if you had it all together. (How on earth does she ever keep all of those plants constantly watered on the roof?, I wondered to myself.) But do we ever really feel like we have things together? Your passion for all things gardening was evident to me that day when I was first introduced to your work, and I know that that passion whether boxed in a shiny package or in a perfectly imperfect one, will inspire others too!

  7. I soo can relate to your post, spending my days juggling time between gardening and Important Things ™. It’s easy to overdo the hard work, especially in a world that glorifies it. Sometimes you just need to steal some time off for fun.

    Good luck on the talk!

  8. Your talk sounds like one worth showing up for. “Perfect” is boring — we have magazines and other airbrushed matter for that. I like hearing people be real about their successes AND struggles. Both are inspiring b/c they’re thought-provoking. But I think you already know this! Wish I could hear this talk in Denver. Oh, and yay for another book!

  9. I just got Grow Great Grub yesterday and I’m so glad I did. What a beautiful book! I’m already excited about getting your next book.
    Re: Hearing about failures.
    I don’t want to learn from someone who’s perfect with “bright shiny teeth”. I want to learn from someone like me: a regular run of the mill quirky person. Someone who’s going to shed a tear over my dead plant with me and then help me form a plan about how to do better next time. Not someone who knows it all, making me feel inadequate because I don’t have monogramed gardening tools. I want to hear that it’s okay that I killed my first tomato crop because that happened to you once and you lived to grow again another day! The “underdog” stories are always more exciting then the hail the conquering hero ones.

    I wish you were giving a talk in Toronto. I’d gladly come out to listen.

  10. I like the Pasternak quote. I too, distrust the Teflon people, nothing sticks to them (apparently).

  11. … do you remember you pulled up stakes and moved … a garden and a home, you got a book out, another garden’s in … you’ve been to Thailand, Disneyland … you’re expecting your first almost ripe tomato already (you’ve had, eaten & written about an office tomato) A+++

  12. I just moved to Denver myself, and into my first apartment (from a farm, with gardens that produced lots of food). Hopefully I can make your talk!

  13. Jenni: I’d love to go to Santa Fe! I’m dying to visit the desert.

    Rachel: I talk about failures in the food growing presentations so don’t worry about that. It just puts me into a more vulnerable position talking about more personal work-related issues. I’ve got no qualms with talking about gardening mistakes.

    Suzan: I live in Toronto.

    Corvus: Introduce yourself if you make it.

    Randy: Ain’t it the truth — growing pains.

  14. Bravo! An honest person! Thank you for being real. When I go to hear someone speak, all I really want is a real person, someone with whom I can identify. I don’t like to feel intimidated. Your website and the way you present yourself is so welcoming and encourages me to try my best at this gardening thing regardless of my lack of knowledge, time or money. Honestly, if you were claiming to have a perfect life, with perfect teeth and that you were never cranky towards yor Partner, I’d never continue to peruse your books and blogs and find the camaraderie I get in these pages.

    Go do your thing in Denver. Have fun with it. Be yourself. Look at the pretty mountains. Breathe.

    It’s all good!

  15. It seems I timed my vacation wrong – I was in fact IN Colorado’s Denver area just last week! Booo. I would SO be there! [you are probably already there, or already spoke! -_-;] for some geeky reason I am trying to imagine what your voice sounds like, hehe! Maybe there’ll be a recording of your presentation?
    Honestly I like the sort of real, raw gardener… I would be a bit weary getting gardening advice from someone with perfectly manicured nails showing off a perfect pink petunia… It doesn’t matter what you look like – it’s the final product that counts.
    To which I must add – that tomato looks SPLENDID. ?

  16. I attended the workshop this morning here in Denver — Gayla was GREAT!
    Gayla, thanks for not pandering to us about the glamor of a garden writer’s life! As an “outsider looking in” I appreciated your honesty and your journey. Gardens, like life, seldom go according to a plan, sometimes they turn out better! Keep on growing girl!

  17. Hello. I’m late to this post but I did read it & all the comments, which leads me to say…

    I first came to YGG because of the gardening, I continue to read it regularly (although sometimes belatedly) because of the stories, and admire & trust you because of your authenticity & perseverance. (Oh, there are other qualities I admire about you, but those are germane to the post’s topic ;-).)

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