Sunday, February 13, 2011

LONGWOOD GARDENS, Part 6: Oh, yeah. Julie.

Yes, that really is a purple Mac laptop on the podium... Hmmm.

I believe I've been sidetracked from my original purpose for heading to Longwood Gardens in the first place. The keynote speaker provided the spark, the symposium the tinder, the location itself was the fuel for the fire. (Um, what was that about my not using metaphors? Sorry.)

I have been lucky enough to have lived 40 some odd years successfully avoiding having to answer the questions "Who are your heros?" and "Who would you aspire to be like?". Those years have, however, given me the time to actually meet a few people who have provided real and sincere answers. I count Julie Zickefoose as one of them. You may hear her praises sung by any and all of those who have had the pleasure of meeting her in person, so I will merely say that hers is truly a delightful and talented personality.

Just a section of a nearly full house. The room was packed all day; I have no idea why there appear to be empty chairs. (Video of baby pileated woodpeckers certainly helped to keep everyone in their seats at the end of a long day.)

Longwood Gardens provided a questionnaire (as all good PR and program departments require) for symposium participants to voluntarily complete. An expected query was, naturally, how we found out about the program. I wonder how many other people listed "Julie Zickefoose"?

Ms. Zickefoose is so generous that when a Longwood Gardens Professional Gardener (event sponsor) asked if she would sign his book, she immediately and cheerfully agreed to do so, pulled out her pen, and used the closest support she could find: her own knees. (Keep in mind that we are outside at five in the evening with a foot of snow on the ground all around in about 32 degree temps… With a breeze. What a gal! Just look at that smile.)

Despite a ballroom full of professionals and talented amateur gardeners, professional growers and designers, Julie's talk highlighting her family's horticultural efforts at Indigo Hill--mostly involving native species-at-hand--was incredibly well-received, and in her turn she seemed quite happy and grateful for the chance to be there. The orchids certainly helped. JZ not only covets orchids, unlike yours truly she can not only keep them alive but actually thriving. A plane trip home secured her good behavior. Unless she snuck back into the shop after we said farewell… >:o|

(Ms. Z was quite tickled that that "Speaker" ribbon earned her a behind-the-glass trip into the bonsai room. Check out photos of her own bonsai on her blog; a search by keyword should turn up a post or two.)

All in all, a trip that was not to be missed. And one that really should be repeated sometime before twenty more years pass.