by Carol Michel
Can you imagine visiting a botanical garden, a mystery writer’s garden, a retail nursery full of tropical plants, an arboretum / research forest, and a cemetery arboretum in just 24 hours? If you attended the GWA Region III meeting in June, you not only imagined it, you actually did it. There were highlights at each stop.
- Yew Dell Botanical Gardens featured an outstanding collection of plants and a castle to go with the plants.
- Brian’s Botanicals gave us all a chance to find the perfect tropical plants for our Midwest gardens.
- At Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest, we gathered in a LEED Platinum building before heading out to see the vegetable garden and a traveling display entitled Vanishing Acts: Trees Under Threat.
- At the historic Cave Hill Cemetery, we viewed a collection of unique and interesting trees, some of which are the largest of their species.
And typical of most GWA meetings, there was an “after-tour.” For those who were returning north, we were invited to stop at Hidden Hills Nursery and Sculpture Garden just over the Ohio River from Louisville in Utica, Indiana.
Wonderful though these stops were, the highlight for me and many of the others who made the journey to Louisville for the Region III meeting was the stop we made at the home and garden of mystery writer Sue Grafton and her husband Steve Humphrey. Both Sue and Steve were out front waiting for us as we drove up their drive. As the group gathered, Sue invited us in to the sunroom and gave a brief talk about her writing. She was a charming and inspiring hostess.
Sue takes her writing seriously, writing every day, first in one of her journals and then later on whatever book she is working on. And never in her jammies! She spoke of Ego and Shadow, imaginary personas that help her through the writing process. I don’t know that I can do justice to how she described them but I later found this quote from a 2010 interview with Writer’s Digest:
“My problem is I can’t get out of my own way. Shadow knows how to write books. Ego does not. So when I’m trying to put together a book, Ego is the one saying, “I’ll do it, I’ll do it, I’ll do it.” And I’m going, “No you won’t. You don’t know what you’re doing.” Shadow is just that still, quiet voice in your soul that tells you if you’re on track or off track.”
After she spoke to us and answered our questions, we headed out to tour the gardens with her husband Steve. We all know garden writers tend to stray off the path, but for those who followed Steve (which was most of us) we were treated to the kind of tour you can only get from a gardener who truly loves his garden.
Many thanks to Sue Grafton and Steve Humphrey for inviting us to their home and garden and to those dedicated plants and garden people we met at every venue during our 24 hours in Louisville. They brought each garden to life so we could appreciate how special they are.
I hope soon to return to Louisville on my own to further explore these gardens, nurseries, and forests. Thank you to the many volunteers with GWA who organized the Region III meeting. I also look forward to our next meeting…which I hear may be a rocking and rolling good time near Cleveland, Ohio sometime in Spring, 2017.
Meet the Author
Carol Michel is a lifelong gardener with a degree in horticulture from Purdue University and a passion for all things gardening. She currently writes for Indiana Gardening and regularly posts on her own garden blog, www.maydreamsgardens.com. An award winning writer, she draws inspiration and humor from old gardening books, old hoes, and her own adventures in and out of her garden.