What’s filling my in-box
September 6th, 2008
Like many freelance journalists, I receive a lot of “goodies” in the mail. I love it when garden, design, and plant books arrive for me to review. And of course, I appreciate “plant booty” — those boxes sent by growers who want me to trial their new introductions (although it’s uncanny: the boxes of tiny annuals, perennials and the like inevitably arrive on the hottest day of the week when I’m away from home, making it very hard to quickly rehydrate and revive the contents once I return!).
Press kits abound (although many are now sent electronically), and since I belong to countless horticultural societies, I also receive colorful monthly newsletters. Hand-written notes from friends are highly valued, as are checks from publishers (yeah!).
Today, as I was trying to organize the piles in my office, I pulled out a few of the items in my In-Box that caught my attention. Here’s a list:
Personal notes come first:
My friend and former co-author Mary Robson, a faithful letter-writer, jotter of quick notes, and all-around dear friend, dropped me a note with a nice little story: “. . . an incident you will appreciate,” (she wrote). “I stayed over at a friend’s home, in their garden-shed turned guest house. And what should be on the bedside table – of course, your book. She bought it to show guests! Warm thoughts, Mary.” [Oh, I love it. . . Stylish Sheds as bedside table reading! Thanks for the imagery, Mary]
With a SUNFLOWER STAMP, no less, Julie Schoenfeld, she of my auction-planning days, sent me a lovely hand-written note on letterpress stationary from Snow & Graham. We recently enjoyed a Malibu breakfast catch-up/gab when Julie brought her son from Seattle to Cali so he could attend the same summer camp of her childhood. As a memento of our sunflower obsession (see my “Stamps for the Gardener” post on August 21st), Julie tucked a book of the current sunflower postage stamps inside her note. She knows I’ll use them! And her sweet sentiment cheered me up with wonderful memories.
Tory Galloway, who many Seattle plant collectors remember as owner of Piriformis Nursery in the Fremont/Gasworks Park district, wrote to tell me about a new venture. She and her partner have opened “The Guest Suite at Indianola,” a bed-and-breakfast near the Kingston-Edmonds ferry in Washington’s Puget Sound. I would love to visit for the promised sanctuary and a tour of her famed drought-tolerant Mediterranean-style garden. My interview with Tory, about her garden design philosophy, appears in my second book, Pacific Northwest Garden Survival Guide. [I’m thrilled to see that she has made the full-time move to her “early retirement” home, and hope to visit the B&B some day!]
My friends at the Elisabeth C. Miller Library (University of Washington Botanic Gardens) wrote their thanks for my donation of Stylish Sheds and Elegant Hideaways to their lending collection. “We already have it displayed on our new books shelf,” wrote Brian Thompson, Curator of Horticultural Literature and Interim Manager. Brian and his colleagues, Tracy Mehlin, Martha Ferguson, and the rest of the staff, are friendly, supportive and incredibly knowledgeable resources for lovers of horticulture and books. Make sure to visit the Miller Library and say hello to them!
Since I’ll be traveling (with hundreds of other gardening communicators) to Portland in a few weeks for Garden Writers Association’s 60th annual symposium, we’re receiving advanced notice from exhibitors who will be part of the trade show. Fiskars promises to release 17 new products for 2009, including what looks like a handy clip-on-the-belt-loop pair of secateurs (ooh, I hope I can snag one of those goodies to try out). Proven Winners sent a teaser about its new 2009 plant releases, including ‘Tuscan Sun’ Heliopsis (above left) and ‘Blue Chip’ Buddleia. (uh-oh, quantities are limited, so I better get there first. promised to send Kathy Purdy a box of swag, since she can’t come to Portland this year!)
Somehow, I’ve been added to a media list for a company out of North Carolina called “The Hammock Source.” I wasn’t especially wowed by their hammocks and garden furniture, but I do think the line of Sawgrass Mills Outdoor Rugs is quite eye-catching and exciting. They come in 5-by-8 and 8-by-10 feet sizes. “Color and fun are nothing to be afraid of!” says the press release. Oh, I agree. The product photos are enticing. Now, I need to lay my hands on one of these rugs, just to see how durable it really is for the outdoor setting. Apparently, the rugs are hand-hooked “in the traditional Eastern manner” using a synthetic, stain-resistant fiber. This fiber is supposed to hold its color and clean easily with soap, water and even bleach). Stay tuned for a report once I trial one of these rugs. And once I find out the retail price – prices do not appear in the press material…that’s a no-no.
Some PR people are worth their weight in gold. Even though she’s petite, my pal Susan Harkavy is definitely “good value,” as my husband would say. Susan knows how to spot great design, nurture talented designers, and help her media pals. She made the very important introduction for me in Santa Cruz, which led to the discovery of two fantastic sheds/shedistas that appear in my book. Now, Susan is representing a very cool design group based in the Chicago area. Prairie Arts, a trio of Gen XY entrepreneurs, has added a few more vintage-inspired styles to its Teco Art Pottery Collection of modernist ceramic vases. Teco vases were originally produced between 1899 and the end of the 1920s. Original Tecopieces are rare and pricey (and highly collectible). Lucky for those of us who have smaller pocketbooks, we can now acquire the reproductions. Prairie Arts has revived a selection of the designs (they sifted through several hundred vintage vases in private collections to come up with five historic silhouettes that will be reissued). In eight glazes, including green, blue, and yellow original colors and five contemporary shades, the shapes are gorgeous, architectural and I want them all! Even though I now live in a circa 1980 Spanish-style stucco w/red-tile roof, I still decorate as if I lived in that Seward Park Craftsman bungalow. This pottery fits my style – and at $60 to $195, if I’m in the mood for a splurge (and wanna pay lots less than what originals are going for on eBay, this range fits my budget.)
That’s it for now. I think clearing out the mail box is a good thing. I might make this a monthly feature~