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Patrick Blanc…The Michelangelo of Vertical Gardening….In His Own words

Thanks to botanist and designer extraordinaire, Patrick Blanc, vertical gardening has become one of the hottest trends in gardening. Patrick has transformed what Westerners used to think of as vines climbing up a wall into a mesmerizing and sensual tapestry of plants that titillates your senses.

Watch this interview to see some of Patrick’s creations and hear what this visionary has to say.

If you enjoyed this video, you might want to check out an earlier article I wrote on Vertical Gardening.


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What You Don’t Know About Saxon Holt: Reflections on His Childhood

Saxon has been contributing to Gardening Gone Wild for over 4 years…practically since its inception. As all of you know, he is a gifted garden photographer, a gardener, a fine writer, and a man with a gentle soul. You can see more of  Saxon’s work on his website: Saxon Holt and his personal blog, Mental Seeds.Fran Sorin

When pressed I confess to being more gardener than photographer. While I do love taking pictures and trying to figure ways to tell the stories I see, gardening is what drives me to pick up the camera. I rarely pick up a camera unless I am in a garden or exploring plants and ecosystems.

I come from a long line of gardeners. My great grandfather, John Sherwood, had a beautiful home in Baltimore Maryland with a huge garden that he left to the City of Baltimore. Sherwood Gardens is still open and famous for its tulip display. The enduring, classic azalea, ‘Sherwood Red” is named for him.

Growing up in Tidewater, Virginia, I became a gardener by osmosis. As the oldest of five kids I think my parents were eager to have me take up the garden chores, cutting the grass, pulling weeds, turning the compost. I don’t remember enjoying any of this. I do remember being paid a penny for every dandelion and thinking this was not much of an incentive.

Lawnboy - Saxon Holt as young child
Lawn Boy

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What You Didn’t Know About Debra Lee Baldwin: Reflections on Her Childhood

I asked each of our GGW Contributors– Debra, Saxon, and Noel– to write some thoughts about their childhood that left an imprint on them—–and how it led them to where they are today.  It will give you a glimpse into the backgrounds of three extraordinary individuals whose passion for what they do comes through in their outstanding contributions to the gardening world.  Fran Sorin

In Debra’s words:

“It’s a preverbal memory of bright sun, intense color and a tubular moving object ringed with black and white. I was 2, watching a kingsnake undulate amid geraniums. The flowering shrubs grew outside the picture window of my parents’ home, located in the foothills 30 miles north of San Diego.

Sometime later, my father expressed indignation than anyone would kill a kingsnake. Despite its impressive length (4 feet isn’t unusual) it’s a harmless rodent- and rattler-eater. He also felt sorry for hapless tarantulas, invented recipes for excess guavas, knew a cirrus cloud from a stratus, and could smell rain on the way.

Baby w sprinkler-debra lee

As a child I took his knowledge of the natural world for granted, but now it seems marvelous. He had earned a masters in business from Stanford, but chose to work part time as an accountant and full time as a rancher. I tagged along with him through groves and garden.

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What Our Mothers Taught Us About Gardening and Life

Benjamin Vogt lives in Lincoln, Nebraska where he writes and gardens and garden coaches. He has a little memoir entitled Sleep, Creep, Leap: The First Three Years of a Nebraska Garden, and blogs at The Deep Middle. Visit him at his main website,  bevogt

As a lot of you already know, Ben is an exquisite writer…both his poetry and non-fiction. I’m delighted that he’s participating in this series. Fran Sorin

Did your mother pass down any stories about herself,  family members, neighbors, etc. that have to do with gardening?
My mother loved to visit her grandmother’s home. There she learned to pick and can vegetables, admired morning glories, and swung beneath a large weeping willow. It is then no surprise that some of her favorite plants include morning glories and willows, which she has begun planting in earnest around her new home.

Mom and I at PhD grad (2)

Knowledge of the above certainly wasn’t just handed out. In my family, silence is the norm. Not library silence, but free giving up of information is something that is earned with age and time. But even more so, such stories and knowledge come from my mother connect—with a tough sinew—to a history of childhood abuse and poverty. I’m sure one reason my mother connected so deeply with the plants of my great grandmother’s house must surely be that it was an escape from her stepfather, and a home where she was a second mother to four younger siblings.

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What Our Mothers Taught Us About Gardening & Life

Steve Asbell is a writer, illustrator and photographer based out of Jacksonville, Florida. I’m a big fan of his writing and his love of gardening is inspiring. You can find more about him at his blog, The Rainforest GardenFran Sorin

In Steve’s words:

I’ve only been a gardener for the last three years, but my mother has been preparing me for a lifetime. It was only when she lost the ability to walk and became the proud new owner of a power chair that I planted my first garden. It was meant to be a gift to the woman who taught me to live and celebrate each day, but it was only through her garden that I was finally able to appreciate all of the lessons she’s taught me through life. Gardening was a little difficult for an army brat like me, but the lack of space never kept me from learning. ‘Bloom where you’re planted’ was a common saying among military wives, but for my mother those words stuck and became a mantra that defines and empowers her to this day. She didn’t teach me how to garden in the usual sense but instead gave me gifts much more enduring and profound. My mother taught me how to cultivate my sense of wonder into adulthood and to savor life wherever it can be found. She was teaching me to be a gardener all along.


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