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All About ME (me)

by germinatrix | August 31st, 2009


can you say 'ham'?can you say ‘ham’?



My sweet friend Sarah from Toronto Gardens has bestowed upon me the honor of a MeMe – I am now charged to do the following:

1- Link back to the person who gave me the award (DONE!)

2- Reveal seven things about myself (EASY – j’adore to talk about myself!)

3- Choose seven other blogs to nominate, and post a link to them (how will I CHOOSE?)

4- Let each of your choices know they have been tagged by posting on their blog (will do)

5-  (for the tag-ees) let the tagger know when your post is up on your blog (out of my hands)

Okay! I’ve decided to add random pics I love to add to the visual panache of what could be a totally verbose post. Bear with me, everyone – get to know your blogger! Here we GO!!!


who wouldn't love these amazing plants? colors, form, texture - perfection!who wouldn’t love these amazing plants? colors, form, texture – perfection!

Thing About Myself #1 – Everybody who reads this blog knows I am wild about succulents, but I have a shameful secret – I wasn’t always. As a matter of fact, I was ANTI-SUCCULENT! I know, I know … what was WITH me? Well, as a baby gardener, I was so taken with the work of Christopher Lloyd and the complicatedly colorful English cottage and estate gardens – THAT’S what I wanted! I was deep in zone denial, and I spent so much money to chase a look that would never be totally achievable in my garden. And local nurseries were only too happy to sell me plants that wouldn’t thrive. WHY would anyone sell me PEONIES? I was desperate to have drifts of Alchemilla mollis mixed with Heuchera ‘Palace Purple’ (this was a long time ago) – I’d buy them and they’d fry. I’d try again … same result. I would see these thriving stands of agaves and aloes and think ‘NEVER!’ I won’t give in and become one of those desert gardeners! HA! Little did I know then of the joys of the whimsical combination of succulents and drought tolerant perennials. And look at me now – totally smitten.


carving pumpkins with friends is my favorite thing evercarving pumpkins with friends is my favorite thing ever

TAM #2 – I am a fiend for Halloween – it is my favorite time of year. Not only does it start to get cooler here in Los Angeles around that time (you lucky people who are starting autumn NOW make me so jealous!), but suddenly it is appropriate to be dark. I am ALWAYS dark (not in disposition or mood, but in sartorial choices), and I am very pale, so Halloween is a time when I have a leg up on the Southern California girls with their blond hair and tans. Sure, they can dress up like sexy fairies or pirates wearing lingerie and heels or mice wearing lingerie and heels or whatever that can be combined with lingerie and heels – but there is NO WAY that can be as convincing a vampire or witch as I can be!


my kitchen is my world; I design, blog, cook, talk, plan, chill - all from heremy kitchen is my world; I design, blog, cook, talk, plan, chill – all from here

TAM #3 – If  I could, I would probably sleep in my kitchen. I love this room! The kitchen is generally the heart of any home – here it is the heart, the lungs, the stomach, and also the uterus. Everything happens here, so much so that Jan and I have to FORCE ourselves to use the rest of the house. We have a lovely library with a big tv – but we’d rather watch videos on our I-Mac in the kitchen. We have a comfy dining room, but when friends come over, we always end up clustered in the kitchen. Last year the Minion built me a beautiful office – but I still do all my work on the kitchen table. I also LOVE to cook (doesn’t every gardener?) so maybe my creativity is sparked by the proximity to food and cooking utensils. Maybe I just don’t want to be too far away from food. I’m sure many people have a similar sense of being kitchen-addicted – should we form a support group?


my beloved tile wall, my first, biggest, and most important piece of artmy beloved tile wall, my first, biggest, and most important piece of art

TAM #4 – I started my adult life as an actor, and that totally informs the way I design gardens. I see spaces for their theatrical possibilities; I see plants as characters. Some are stars, some supporting cast, many extras … but all are an important part of the story. The gardens I love are settings where people can play and explore, and I credit my background in theatre for helping me to understand how to create spaces conducive to play and experimentation. I am constantly finding analogies between acting/theatre and designing gardens! Maybe it’s weird, but like a good actor, I always try to follow my impulses.


I am married to a man! Jan is a man, not a married to a man! Jan is a man, not a woman…

TAM #5 – My wonderful husband is named Jan – very common in Europe (he grew up in Switzerland), but here, Jan is usually short for ‘Janet’ or ‘Janice’ … so sometimes, if people don’t know us personally, they assume we are a lesbian couple. Which I think is kind of hot. Jan is also a writer – he writes art criticism for various magazines, and we think he got certain jobs (when he first started out)  because people assumed he was a woman. We always get mail addressed to Mrs. Jan T____.  Sometimes, when he doesn’t want to deal with telephone bureaucracy, I become ‘Jan’ (short for Janet) T____ and deal with the issue at hand for him. (we’ve only been caught once)


sadie and dexter, the most troublesome little devils you'll ever lovesadie and dexter, the most troublesome little devils you’ll ever love

TAM #6 – I don’t have kids. Jan and I decided early on that we were looking for a different kind of family, so when we are ready, we’ll be adopting. Until then, Dexter and Sadie are our children, and I must say, if you’re going to use a dog as a baby substitute, look no further than French Bulldogs. Full grown, they are the size of a toddler, they have a big round head like a baby, they can easily be held in your arms baby-style, and they rule your life much in the way a small child does. Dexter (the dark one) is an evil genius, and is about one brain cell away from speaking. To this day, I swear I heard him say “Art Garfunkel” once. Sadie (blonde and silly) is pure crazy dog. She adores Dexter and does whatever he does – which made for the most painful episode in my life to date. Last October, Dexter snuck out of a side gate (accidentally left open by garden janitors) and dug his way under a fence to go wander the neighborhood. Sadie followed him. I had just gotten home from a hard day, let them out in the yard, and was getting a drink when I heard the sound I will NEVER forget in my life. Sadie was hit by a car (who didn’t stop) and her sweet big head was severely injured – she came very close to losing one eye. Despite being very badly burned by the muffler, she proved to be the toughest little champ! Emergency surgery fixed her right up, and all she has is a black patch over one eye as a reminder never to leave the yard again! She looks like a little crazy pirate. And even though the vets said she would probably not see out of that eye – she can! She runs and jumps and wrestles Dexter with a gusto that is nothing short of inspiring. The readers of my old Domino blog were crucial in helping me get through that emotionally devastating time. The power of this online community cannot be underestimated … I felt so supported, and it helped me care for Sadie. I know she’s only a dog, but like I said earlier, for now, she and Dex are my babies, and I couldn’t love them more.


my favorite flower - if I had to choose only one, euphorbia wulfenii is itmy favorite flower – if I had to choose only one, euphorbia wulfenii is it

TAM #7 – Many of you will think this is totally strange – but I almost NEVER cut flowers from my garden. I know so many people go into their gardens every day and bring in little bits of loveliness to brighten up their homes – me, nope – not so much. I’ll do it sometimes if people are coming over, but I’m not the type that perks up over a little bud vase posie. It isn’t that I don’t have things to cut – even though I don’t grow many flowers that one would think of for bringing indoors, I prefer leaves and grasses anyway. I just don’t think of it. And if I did, I have no doubt that Jan would consider it unnecessary visual clutter. Maybe there is just so much in the garden, and it is so easy for us to be out there, that we don’t really  feel the NEED to bring bits of the garden inside.

So if you come over and you see bouquets on side tables and flowers in vases, you know I’m just faking it – but hopefully, I’m faking it with a little style!

Now – I am going to award MeMe’s to the following, because I think they are fantastic and I want EVERYONE to read them and enjoy them as much as I do! Awardees – you are now charged with the task of doing just what I did and move it forward, but you know … do what you can! If it becomes a chore, just a big Hi-5 to your favorite bloggers will do!

One of my very favorite blogs is East Side Patch – I consider ESP a true kindred spirit, and I often feel guilty for the long comments I inevitably post on his site … I don’t want to be a blog hog! But his enthusiasm is infectious, and his pop-cultural references are so right on target, I have to just go on and on …

I also have to MeMe Loree from Danger Garden – she is fearless! I was talking about my own zone denial earlier – well, Loree taks Zone Denial (notice the capitals) and turns it into a beautiful thing! I love watching her defy the odds. Gardening is an activity of the heart, and she has alot of it!

I can’t mention Loree and her big heart without tossing Megan of Nestmaker into the fray! Here is a beautiful garden, with fantastic plant choices, so every post is a treat. But wait – she is also an animal lover, and often features beautiful dogs that she has rescued are waiting to be placed with loving families. I am always moved in many ways by Megan.

Ever since I started my adventures in blogging, one of my heros has been Andrea Bellamy, whose blog Heavy Petal is so super-cool. She is effortless, fun, and breezy – but she has a mission and a point and she gets it across with the casual tone of a best friend who you can’t wait to talk to. I love her.

I want everyone I know who loves gardens to start reading garden writer extraordinaire Stephen Orr’s blog What Were The Skies Like . It is an incredible treat to walk into Steve’s world of  exquisite gardens, beautifully photographed – it’s like being in the spaces with him. He is the real deal – I first met him when he was garden editor for the erstwhile and much lamented House & Gardens, and his knowledge is vast. I feel like a fawning teenager around him! Do yourself a favor and follow this link!

Willi writes Digginfood – and she is a wonder woman. Like one of those people who you suspect don’t sleep, like Martha Stewart. Her thing is growing organic food and cooking it with style – she also raises chickens and has embarked on an adventure in beekeeping. The images on her blog are out of this world good – like a studio photographer was hired to snap every shot with special lenses and filters and shiny things to bounce light off of. I’ve also cooked many of her recipes, and she only posts the best!

I love love love Jenny’s garden, and Rock Rose is an incredible blog for a plant maniac to linger on. I swear, I re-visit her posts time and time again, gleaning tips and sucking up the inspiration. My heart lives in Austin, I know I was meant to live there and this life in Los Angeles is a temporary pit stop. In my Austin dreams, my garden looks like Jenny’s!

Of course, I adore so many blogs – my fellow MeMe awardees from Sarah’s blog are also my girls – Laura from InterLeafings and Alice of Bay Area Tendrils are at the center of what I consider my ‘Twitter Possee’, as is Blue Planet Garden Blog‘s Susan. Amanda of Kiss My Aster is super famous now, as is Billy, the unforgettable Garden Wise Guy.  So this was a tough choice, but here at The Germinatrix, there is LOTS of blog love to go around!

10 Responses to “All About ME (me)”

  1. Love the Pumpkins, Germi! I’m huge fan of Halloween too – First date with the hubby was on Halloween, then I married him 6 years later on Halloween! And you might have sold me on French Bulldogs – So cute!!

  2. Hi Ivette.

    I have to say what a great insight into your life, lifestyle, pets, and gardening philosophy, (past and present). I was laughing out loud numerous times reading your “from the heart” accounts. The “Jan is a man” paragraph killed me, I have to say what a great “lesbian” couple you make!…I also totally relate to his style of “handing over the phone to his wife “in the face of adversity and telephone bureaucracy”, I do exactly the same thing! Perhaps I should try using the pseudonym “Phillipa” to obtain some quality design jobs?

    Your picture of the kitchen, where you spend your time online, blogging and commenting gave me a great idea for an on-line question…”Where do you do your blogging?” wouldn’t it be great to actually get a visual, personal insight as to where all of our blogging friends actually execute all their writings? A table? A tree-house?, a favorite, squeeky lazy-boy perhaps (in my case). It would make for insightful reading, wouldn’t it, or am I just a tad too nerdy?

    Poor Sadie, but what a pirate trooper, so happy your dog made it through the accident and ordeal, do you now call her Jack?…Jack the “Bulldog” Sparrow?

    I can totally relate to dogs being kids, we used to have two springers, springing around in the patch before they got old and died, forcing us to make the jump to real kids:-) We went reluctantly into parenthood where we unfortunately found out the hard way, that the “one brain cell away from speaking” actually was a really good thing! – Our youngest right now, goes around saying two words…”It’s mine”(repeat 50 times)…believe me it is a lot more annoying than saying “Art Garfunkel”!!!I do not know if you have seen the “Nemo” movie, but he sounds exactly like the seagulls on it!

    Don’t you ever feel guilty leaving long comments on my blog…your comments always give me a laugh and brighten up my day…they always do!

    Great funny read Ivette… I could have said so much more, but I don’t want to come across as a blog-hog myself!
    My Regards,

    Oh, what am I supposed to do with my MeMe award? Tell me I do not have to do this myself? :-)

    Love yr post / want yr kitchen / super cool partner… albeit a MALE species (that’s o.k., I’ve got one of those, too. Swiss, tidy? Wish I could say the same for my Germanic redhead – who shall be known as Tomas) / those precious pups!

    Geez, I coulda memed u despite having already been memed?
    Next time round I’ll understand that the rules are hard/fast.
    Sweet Ivette, thanks for the mention…. you’re the bee’s knees ;~D

  4. What a great list! Love your kitchen and those punkins are out of this world, I hope you had a wonderful scary party going on that night! I especially loved learning that you too are a Euphorbia nut!

    And thank you so much Germi for the vote of confidence in MeMe’ing me. And I love the word ‘fearless’ – I’m going to use it to describe my gardening and plant buying, especially when my husband is using another (not so nice) word.

  5. Germi, thanks for the honorable mention! A pleasure to be considered a part of your Twitter posse – I like to think we set the tone for thoughtful and erudite discussion (okay, does ANYONE reading this believe that?!)

    Wonderful meme post; one of my favorites so far. I was going to blow off doing one, but yours inspired me! And the next time I read one of your delightful tweets, I’ll picture you happily typing away in your charming cocoon of a kitchen.

  6. Thank you Germi for such kind words. Oooh. 7. Things. OK, I’ll put my thinking cap on. Your gardens have been an inspiration, but your puppies have totally stolen my heart, I never get tired of their sweet faces.
    It’s fascinating how you use your acting experience as a metaphor for your garden design process. I haven’t given it much thought, but I wonder if I do the same with my totally different line of work-I’ll have to give that some thought and see if anything shakes out.

  7. Jean Prescott says:

    What a delight…so nice to “meet” your husband and little ones. Love the tile wall. I think your joy and delight are quite contagious to me. Cannot fathom why I haven’t visited in weeks, but today’s post was a shot in the arm. Thanks for being your lovely talented self and sharing. It’s always so genuine, never strained. And, oh, my goodness, I do love Halloween. Halloween and Thanksgiving are my faves. Christmas is OK…for the children…but I’m an autumn girl. Thanks again.

  8. Loved reading about you and the pics are great! Thanks for sharing!

  9. Wicked! You and I are bonded deeply by our love of Halloween – but YOU WIN! You are the MOST hardcore Halloween lover! I wish Oct 31 could be my anniversary … that is just too awesome.
    btw, on the frenchie front, another great thing about them is how easily thy take to dressing up for Halloween. This year, Dexter is going to be a bumblebee and Sadie is going to be a Baked Potato w/ sour cream & chives!

    Hey there ESP! How could I NOT award you a MeMe? You are a revelation – everybody needs to read East Side Patch!
    Yes, my ‘lesbian’ husband Jan takes very well to me taking over his identity whenever the need is present. He is so funny … hey, maybe you could shorten your name to something totally sexually ambiguous, like “Pip” (that could be hort for either Phillip or Phillipa, right?) and then you could see if there is an uptick in calls for landscape design services! And then you meet them and rope them in with your brilliance – alls fair in desperate economic times!
    I would love to know where people do their blogging – I’m nosy that way. I want to know every little thing! The fact that your blog headquarters is a comfy, squeaky lazy-boy is perfect! You need to relax and kick back after a hard day in The Patch!
    Sadie is MUCH more a pirate than even Jack Sparrow, although they have the same eyeliner. She has a wild look in her ‘bad’ eye and has fun making crazy faces to scare the ‘natives’ (we have a tribe close by) We call her The Potato – Shaped Terror of the Fourth Sea (not really … but we DO call her ‘Potato’).

    Oh, Tendril – the Swiss is not only Swiss – he’s a VIRGO. In this house, a ‘fun’ Saturday night might mean we are re-organizing the library or thinking up a new system for cataloging his records. I am a patient woman – and he is also VERY patient with my general disarray. I was sent to him to bring balance to his life!
    Believe me, cherish your Germanic redhead – I’m sure you two have other, more interesting ways to spend the time we spend ‘organizing’!

    I love the MeMe! We all know so much more about each other now!

    Loree, the Pumpkin Carving Party is always SO fun! Most of our friends are very into carving, so we often have 30 or more pumpkins decorating the front yard, and LOTS of empty tequila bottles!
    How can ANYONE design without Euphorbias? I adore them! I recently took a bunch out of my front yard because I thought they were overwhelming the space – and I miss them SO MUCH! Thank GOD I have seedlings coming up, or it would be back to the nursery for more. And you ARE fearless! You are The Mistress of The Danger Garden!

    Susan – I knew you were already Meme’d otherwise I’d have given you a third! I have to say, your MeMe was such a great post – you showed that we can take this down any road we want to. There’s a reason we are twitter BFF’s (aside from our … um … elevated horticultural discourse) – you always have something cool and different to ‘bring to the party’!

    Hey Megan! I thought you’d love Dex and Sades, being the dog fan I know you are! You have a short face pup … once you love a face with a tiny snout, your heart is captured by every pug, frenchie, or boston terrier you see!
    I’d LOVE to read your 7 things – you have such a layered life, and I’d love to know more!

    Expat! You are always so welcome here! I should really post more, I’ve been slacking a little – but I’m trying to remedy that! I always et such a boost from YOU … such kind words and enthusiasm from an old friend (even though I’ve never wet you!). Isn’t the internet great? From one Autumn girl to another, XO!

    Hello Wendee! It is so much my pleasure to share, and I’m happy you enjoyed! It was fun, especially listing all the cool blogs I love – and reading other pople’s MeMe’s have introduced me to a SLEW of new ones! I am going to be a very busy Germinatrix, what with all my new online reading!

  10. Belated congrats, and may I ask what the flowers are in the succulent picture? I’m guessing Gasteria. Great photo; they look like candy. MMMmmm.

    If it makes Jan feel any better, I am married to a man named An. An-Hao, actually, but it frequently gets cropped. In fifth grade, he picked out another name so people would stop butchering it.