Debra Prinzing

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Inspiration for the mind, heart and spirit

October 3rd, 2009

Garden Writers Association Annual Symposium, Part III:

Lotuses thrive in the sultry Southern heat at the Sarah P. Duke Gardens in Raleigh

Lotuses thrive in the sultry Southern heat at the Sarah P. Duke Gardens in Raleigh

 Thursday morning kicked off with our keynote speaker Dr. Lowell Catlett, a fascinating economic futurist who really put things into perspective in his talk, “The Greening of America.” Dr. Catlett tailored his remarks to our profession and totally blew the audience away. We were inspired and challenged (in a good way) to rethink our definition of “green” and “sustainable” lifestyle choices.

You can find several clips of Dr. Catlett’s lectures on YouTube, so check him out. He ended the lecture with this charge: “Do not sell people products and services. Sell them dreams.” It resonated, because we know that seeking and creating beauty in our surroundings is a basic human desire. If you didn’t make it to the symposium, Dr. Catlett’s lecture is one CD to purchase and listen to.

Love the gothic gates at the entry to Duke Gardens; made of metal but inspired by stained glass

Love the gothic gates at the entry to Duke Gardens; made of metal but inspired by stained glass

After the morning workshop sessions and a working lunch at the trade show, we hopped on buses for the first of three days of garden touring.

Thursday was the hottest, most humid day during the conference, so I have mixed memories from our late afternoon tour of the Sarah P. Duke Gardens.

Canna tropicana and a cluster of coleus, backlit in the afternoon sun

Canna tropicana and a cluster of coleus, backlit in the afternoon sun

The 55-acre public garden graces the campus of Duke University and features several special areas, including a formal Italianate-style terrace garden planted with an explosion of colorful tropicals, annuals and woody plants. I spent a lot of time here and was drawn to the twin historic stone structures. Not quite sheds, but shed-like for sure.

I love the placement of these round millstones providing transit across the pond

I love the placement of these round millstones providing transit across the pond

I then escaped to the shade with a few friends walking through the understory of the H.L. Blomquist Garden of Native Plants. Filled with more than 900 varieties of regional natives, it was a beautiful and serene enclave. It was especially fun to hang out here with Nan Sterman, aka PlantSoup, my symposium roommate and Duke University alum. She spent a lot of time studying plants as a biology undergrad, so I had a personal narrative to connect to this amazing place.

We experienced that languishing, Southern state of mind, what with the heat, the humidity, the sun and the sleep deprivation from staying awake late the night before and getting up early in the morning.

Dreamy, visually restful: the Virtue Peace Pond

Dreamy, visually restful: the Virtue Peace Pond

A buffet dinner led to some fabulous conversations with new friends, despite the climatic challenges (it was all I could do NOT to throw myself into the “Virtue Peace Pond” to cool off – seriously). Those water lilies, lotuses and other water-loving plants looked so much happier than the humans seated around the pond’s perimeter.

Most memorable that evening were two conversations my good friend (and collaborator) David Perry of A Photographer’s Garden Blog and I had with Susan Reimer, garden and op-ed (!) columnist and “Garden Variety” blogger for the Baltimore Sun, and later with Rizaniño “Riz” Reyes , an up-and-coming plantsman, horticulturist and designer from Seattle. I recall sharing a table (and prior conversation) with Riz at a Northwest Perennial Association event several years ago. Inspiring to know him – and new friend, to be sure. Here are some more glimpses, faces and gardens from the afternoon’s event: 

Drifts of ornamental grass spill onto the path in the terrace garden

Drifts of ornamental grass spill onto the path in the terrace garden

Judy Lowe and Mary Ann Newcomer compared their nifty zipper-bags

Judy Lowe and Mary Ann Newcomer compared their nifty zipper-bags

Shed spotting: One of two stone structures in the historic terrace garden

Shed spotting: One of two stone structures in the historic terrace garden

The Plurkettes: Mary Ann, Carol, Cindy and Dee

The Plurkettes: Mary Ann, Carol, Cindy and Dee

Carol, Cindy and Dee photographing me, photographing them (silly, I know)

Carol, Cindy and Dee photographing me, photographing them (silly, I know)

Over-the-top tropical display (at the center of the rose garden!)

Over-the-top tropical display (at the center of the rose garden!)

I did grab the special take-home plant, a Japanese plum yew bred at Duke, called Cephalotaxus harringtonia ‘Duke Gardens’. It’s in a tiny 2-inch pot, but it will have fun living in a container on my covered front porch, a reminder of North Carolina.

2 Responses to “Inspiration for the mind, heart and spirit”

  1. Riz Reyes Says:

    What did we chat about at that NPA Event?? LOL

    What a treat it is to know you! **MUAH!** (online smooch….H1N1 free!!)

    I loved these gardens and that yummy, though overly sweet, lemonade!

    R
    .-= Riz Reyes´s last blog ..Brr…not ready for fall. But these beauties sure were! =-.

  2. Dee/reddirtramblings Says:

    Sometimes, silly is the best of all. I was so hot that day, and I don’t mean sexy. LOL!~~Dee
    .-= Dee/reddirtramblings´s last blog ..Do you know what day this is? (Hint: gifts are involved!) =-.

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