When I went to school at UConn for horticulture back in the 70's, I was fairly new to plants. In fact, I had never had a garden in my life until I was 21. My first houseplant was given to me by my roommate Karen Bussolini, now a famous garden photographer, writer, and lecturer. She gave me a cutting of a coleus. My second houseplant was a spider plant. After that, I was hooked. I became intrigued with growing food when I moved next door to an old Irishman who had an amazing food garden. He built his house and root cellar from stone. His garden encompassed his entire backyard. I couldn't stop hanging out with him.
Pretty soon, I got someone to rototill a garden for me. Within a year, I was enrolled in Rackliffe Hicks with a major in floriculture! I had found my calling. I loved what I was studying and was a sponge for information. During the 70's, houseplants were hot. Since I had started with them and thought they were great, I sought out a houseplant course. There wasn't one. I convinced one of my professors to let me do an independent study. That launched me into a fascinating world of tropical plants.
When I got out of school, I took a job in a nursery and greenhouse operation. Within a year, I was managing a thriving houseplant department. I was sent to Florida on buying trips and arranged truckloads of tropicals to be delivered regularly. I became a houseplant geek.
It is now nearly 40 years later and my love of these warm loving beauties has never faded. Interestingly enough, I am now using them in all kinds of summer patio pots and planting them in my gardens. Gone are the days when planting annuals meant red geraniums, yellow marigolds, blue ageratum, and rows of zinnias. Now, we are embellishing our gardens with dramatic tropical foliage plants such as gingers, elephant ears, and cannas. Our container gardens provide us with an opportunity to experiment with a wide range of textures, colors, and fragrances and try new, exciting plants every year.
I have just spent countless hours deciding what tropicals and unusual annuals I am going to carry at Natureworks this spring. What a wonderful way to spend my winter days! We are living in amazing times. So many rare plants are available to us now. It is going to be a FUN year!