24 Feb Gidget Goes Green
By Nancy Crowell and Mike Carlisle
We have been looking forward to the Northwest Flower & Garden show for a month, so even though today turned out to be one of the best weather days of the year so far, we left La Conner early in order to get into the show before the crowds.
For the first time in the seven years I’ve been attending the show, I went in with a list. I needed four hostas and five dahlias. If there were gladiolas I liked, I’d pick up a few. And I gave myself permission to get another hellebore if I saw one I could not resist.
We got in early enough to see the incredible display gardens before the aisles were too crowded to breathe and, as always, were suitably impressed. Michael is a stone mason, so we had great admiration for the stone display friends had told us not to miss.
A quick stop by Fir Island’s Rosebar Metal Garden Art (booth #501) to visit Jan and Mary, then we bee-lined to the plants. I found my hostas, we picked up three more dahlias than planned, and I added a trillium and dropped the hellebore idea. No glads to be found, which was just as well since our bag was getting heavy with all the literature we kept picking up.
We finished shopping in time to grab some food and head to the Sally Field seminar on Gardening for Good Health. The crowd was large. Very large. People just kept streaming in. It was a polite crowd. People listened attentively as Dr. Andrew Solomon gave a basic presentation to define osteopenia and osteoporosis. They chuckled politely when Seattle Post Intelligencer garden columnist Marty Wingate came out and talked about why getting distracted while gardening is good for you, since it leads to a variety of activities. But it was clear the main attraction was Sally Field.
The speakers were clearly aware of this too, as they kept their comments brief and to the point. When Sally Field came out many people stood and applauded. She was charming from the get go, just as one might expect. After explaining why she became a spokesperson for osteoporosis awareness (she was diagnosed in 2005, despite efforts to stop it) and what she does to stay strong and healthy, she advised women to take action to insure their health as they age. All good information. She encouraged women in the audience to speak to their doctors about bone density testing and made a good case for taking care of it sooner, rather than later.
Then she talked about gardening. Sally Field is the antithesis of a movie star. Standing before the crowd in her blue jeans, with little makeup on, making faces and gesticulating just the way you have seen her on TV and in the movies, she comes across as absolutely genuine, animated and self-effacing.
Her stories about gardening were charming and amusing – especially her description of trying to cut down an unwanted a eucalyptus tree at her new Malibu home, where they “multiply like rats!”
With just a pruning saw, she spent the day working around the trunk, until she thought it must be ready to come down. Down it did – right on top of her car.
When her children came running out to see what had happened, she said, there she stood in her wide-brimmed hat, goggles, coveralls, handyman apron, gloves and covered in dirt. “Live and learn!” she said sheepishly, as her children looked from her to the crushed car.
She talked about being a 61-year-old woman who is a little bit rebellious and doesn’t always do things right; she compared her attitude to that of her untidy land and waxed poetic about just “getting out there and digging in the dirt.”
She was sincere when she expressed how much she loves to spend her days out there in her yard and you could feel the crowd right there with her thinking collectively, “We want to be your friend!”
The question-and-answer session revealed just how much the crowd loved her, including one flirtatious gentleman who complimented her eyes and told her what a thrill it was to see her.
Another fan recalled her now-famous Oscar acceptance speech, saying, “We like you, Sally, we really like you! No, we love you!”
When asked what three plants she would have in her personal Garden of Eden, she didn’t take long to reply: “Sweet peas, rhododendrons and roses.” Then, she turned the question on Marty Wingate, who admitted she could do without the rhodies.
Afterward a crowd approached the stage where she graciously autographed Garden show passes and booklets and talked about growing vegetables.
Boniva could not have chosen a better spokesperson. Sally Field delivered her message about osteoporosis and made the crowd feel like they were getting advice from an old friend. My guess is many of the people who heard the message will take it to heart and visit their doctors. Mission accomplished.
About the columnists: Nancy Crowell and Mike Carlisle live in La Conner, Washington. Mike makes his living as a stone mason, while Nancy commutes to Redmond where she works for a large software company. This is their seventh year attending the NW Flower and Garden show. They also blog about La Conner at http://98257.net.