Gotta Garden

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Garden Education: Felder Rushing

On Friday the thirteenth (of July), it was not unlucky that I heard the famed Felder Rushing speak at last. He has been on my list of people-I-want-to-hear for some time. I approached the lecture with a smile on my face and left with that smile plus laughter in my heart. Now, that’s a great speaker!

You just knew it was going to be a good time. Take a look at this quirky planter (in a bag of mix) at the check in table. Someone won that, I think, at the end of the talk.

It looked to be a packed house and I soon learned why. I don’t know when I have laughed so much or nodded my head in agreement (even as I furiously scribbled notes). After a welcome that included learning that Felder’s sister was in attendance in the audience, Felder launched into his talk. I believe his topic was containers…and those were included, of course (and especially his famed tire planters…but more on that later), but his main topic was fun…fun in the garden.

There are three things essential to a garden, we learned, and they include a swing, chairs and a wind chime (or two or three or a dozen). The longer the chain on the swing (if you didn’t know this), the slower the swing…this way, you can indulge in slow gardening as you slowly swing. Chairs are necessary for a place to sit and those wind chimes are for your senses to enjoy and, hopefully, your neighbors, too.

He told us horticulture has rules (which he likes to break) but gardeners have rights and he believes those rights trump the rules. (Hey, he convinced me.) Herewith are those rights (with my apologies…I could only write so fast):

Gardeners’ Bill of Rights:

  1. You may have as many wind chimes as you can afford.
  1. You may mispronounce plant names (that’s a relief to us all).
  1. You may have no grass at all or a little patch.
  1. You have the right to garden from your own perspective.
  1. You have the right to prune or not prune your crepe myrtles. The plants don’t care. (Well….)
  1. The worse people can do is talk about you….There are sports and horts.

He is, after all, just a goofball trying to have fun. I must add that goofball is a favorite term of my husband’s, so Felder endeared himself to me here, if he hadn’t already. It would be remiss on my part, however, to not point out that although he may call himself a goofball, he is a plantsman through and through, and highly qualified. To learn more about that, have a gander at his website.

Felder told us that roses are not as hard to grow as people make out. After all, dead people can grow them (at cemeteries…joke!). It’s not what you have, he told us, but what you do with it. He himself is a turf specialist although he doesn’t grow any grass. As he says, a brain surgeon doesn’t have to have a tumor. In his words, just say no to turf grass. His favorite gardening tool, you ask? A rain gauge.

He has two easy rules for composting:

  1. Quit throwing that stuff away.
  2. Put it somewhere.

We were given his potting mix recipe: 50/50 cheap potting mix and pine bark. Felder likes Miracle Grow, Osmocote and Round Up. He did tell us how he plants a container and showed wonderful and funny slides of all kinds of containers (just use your imagination).

I had a Eureka moment when I saw his tire planter….do you remember when my sister and I visited Riverbanks and we saw this unusual planter?? The wild one?? Guess what it is! Tire planters are gracing botanical gardens all over as well homeplace gardens.

It was quite something to see Felder demonstrate how to make a tire planter. It didn’t look all that hard and with his tips (like not every tire will turn inside out; cut just the sidewall; and push it with your knee…), it looked like something we could do. You can paint them any way you want. Felder gives you permission! He has his own version of what to put in it, i.e., spiky, roundy, frilly, and floppy (as opposed to thriller, frillier, and spiller).

(Sorry these pictures are not so great, but you can get the idea.):

I think maybe Felder is a gardening guru. You know, free the inner gardener stuff. The rules are meant to be broken, he says (he even wrote “Break the rules!” in one of the books he signed for me. Did I mention just how nice he is?? He signed three books for me, let me take his picture and was just so doggone pleasant!). One of the things he told us was that lightening up doesn’t mean lowering your standards…but if you do, that’s okay! His main message was to just have fun in the garden…and you know, I think I will!

I hope you'll revisit Lewis Ginter with me in the post below. It's so wonderful to be able to follow a major garden through the seasons.


Pam/Digging said...

That sounds like a pretty fun gardening talk. I've never read Felder Rushing or heard him talk, but based on your notes, I think I'm following most of his rules already. ;-)

Entangled said...

Sounds like a great time! Felder Rushing is my garden hero. His radio show is a lot of fun too. I was downloading the podcasts of it in the spring, but got busy with other things and haven't listened for a while.

Andrea's Garden said...

I think I like this guy because of rule #3. :-) My hubby sighs when I make him give up more of the lawn in our garden. Sounds like you had a great time. Take care, Andrea

Annie in Austin said...

We now have one hilarious author, two books and one signature in common, Gotta Garden!

Felder Rushing may have been trying to look good for his sister in that cool white shirt - he wore denim in Austin.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Gotta Garden said...

Hi Pam: I was just reading your blog and enjoying it very much...and yes, you do look like you're having fun in the garden! I mean to comment, but I am a slooooow writer (and prone to say too much!), so I will be back to do that! Thank you so much for your comment!

Hi Entangled: Yeah, he really does put the fun back in, along with a pep talk, and it's all good. You know, I did take some fern pictures at LG (back when you were trying to figure out some ferns on your property)...but, I just haven't gotten to sorry! Good intentions and all that! Thanks for coming over and commenting!

Hi Andrea: It was a good time, even now, thinking about it, I just start smiling! We should all have such an effect, yes?! Thanks for your comment!

Hi Annie: Lol! I didn't think of that! His sister was sitting back in the audience among us folks, no special seat or anything...but, then, you knew they'd be like that. She did join him in talking about their mom a bit (he kinda called out to her)...made you feel like we were all just having this conversation.

Well, that's great share in common with you!

Thanks, everyone!

Catherine said...

I've never heard of Felder Rushing before, but after your notes on his talk, I like him, and I think I already have the rules down..:) I especially liked rule no. take on it being, a very little patch of grass~more room for plants!! Enjoyed your post..going to check his site out!! Thanks for sharing, sounds like you had a wonderful time!

Barbara said...

There was a smile on my face, reading your post! I guess, you've had a very interesting and amusing time, listening to Felder Rushing. I didn't hear of him (I don't think anybody here in Switzerland) but I am going to visit his website in order to get to know more of him. And I like the rules you should be fun...unfortunately it isn't always!
Have a nice weekend!

No Rain said...

Felder Rushing is new to me, but I can tell I would like this guy. Today I attended a meeting on Stapiliads, and although I was initially interested, the talk was so pedantic that I soon lost interest. A little Rushing humor would have helped tremendously!

A wildlife gardener said...

I must say he's my kinda guy! Do your own thing...and have fun! I enjoyed the trip through Lewis Ginter's garden too. Thanks for sharing :)

kate said...

Great post, GG! I haven't visited for awhile and I'm glad I did. This must have been a good talk - the tire photos were funny.

Now I'm off to read about Lewis Ginter.

Thoughts on Life and Millinery. said...

FYI: I just posted about British Columbia's Minter Garden. I guess Victoria's gardens are getting some competition! Enjoy a visit via blog travel. Can not beat the price or the ease visiting gardens through blogs.

Ki said...

With a name like that he must be funny. Sounds like my kind of gardener. What a mixed bag of plants for his quirky planter. A croton stuck in with peppers, coleus, zinnias, amaranth, ipomoea and you gotta love that blue mushroom. What a nut.

About #1 wind chimes. We just bought the biggest set of the Corinthian Bells which we heard while browsing through a garden center. The chimes were tuned so it would reverberate with a very long decay time. Quite impressive and not like the tiny tinkling one you normally encounter. The only trouble is that it weighed a ton. I had to build a special stand to hang the darned thing and had difficulty lifting it overhead to hang it.

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