Dave flipped feverishly through the plant catalogue while we sat in the basement of Krohn Conservatory. I watched everything he did when I could as a rookie gardener, realizing he is an artist of living texture and color. He called out cultivar names with fervor and sang them, even, as he went into detail describing or just pointing in exasperation.
Simple grasses could be illuminated with his words and through his eyes I would see other dimensions they had. Sometimes he would just say ‘Look at that!’ and I would. Eventually, I was trained to look deeper for something, and it was always there.
He landed on the page with the Black Cohosh, specifically Cimicifuga simplex ‘Hillside Black Beauty’.
He pointed, shifted with a wicked smile, paused then cried, ‘ISN’T THAT SEXY!?!’
I looked – surprised – and gave it a thought. It WAS sexy.
A plant, sexy?
It was. This plant was tall, dark, and handsome. It was mysterious, confident, and brash. It melted in with its’ neighbors but it also bustled up over them a bit, aware of its’ rich command. It was the plant you’d date with a daring anxiousness…if you were a plant or if it were human.
He was right, these living sculptures have flare and personalities, why couldn’t they be sexy? Dave made me think more playfully about plants in that way. In fact, I began to think of them in personalities as I might think of people.
That style took shape as I started curating plant palettes for homeowners’ landscape designs. No palette was the same, and each one had to reflect that person I was creating for. That made each project very special.
Years later I went to a networking event and under my name I wrote ‘Sexy Plants’. I wondered if that was too bold or confusing. It was a little baby step toward me getting out of a marketing box for designers and sorting out my personal brand. What was I selling anyway? It wasn’t anything tame or cookie cutter.
Someone hired me that night, and the tagline was well received.
It ends up I’m providing something people already have, I’m just showing them what it is. Their own flavor. People tell me how they want to live and I translate that in three dimensions so they can sit, look, and play in their own dream.
I don’t know about you, but I think that’s pretty sexy.
Getcha some sexy plants this summer.