A little while ago I talked about the virtues of hauling home oodles of books from the public library. It's a super way to explore a new hobby in a cheap and satisfying way. One of the things I'm always on the lookout for are fabulous authors whose voices speak to me. And I found just that in the books by Cassandra Danz.
Now when I first picked up Mrs. Greenthumbs Plows Ahead: Five Steps to the Drop-Dead Gorgeous Garden of Your Dreams, I glanced half heartedly at the cover. Surely this frumpy lady in an 80s style dress could teach me nothing about gardening. But oh how wrong I was! Not only did she teach me gardening know how, but she made me understand it. I couldn't believe it. All my life I've been looking for a gardening book to explain just how to make a garden in a way that I could understand. She articulated my needs and explained just exactly how to meet them. I was amazed! And I was converted.
I set about to acquire all the books that were written by this fabulous female gardener. And that's when I discovered to horribly sad news. Cassandra Danz, the person who finally made me see the gardening light, died at age 55 from breast cancer. I was crushed. How devastating that such a lively, energetic person could succumb to such a horrible disease. Damned unfair. And I'm not the only one who misses this enthusiastic personality. I was pretty bummed that just when I'd found the perfect gardener's voice to guide me through my horticultural adventure, she was snatched away.
What makes me love her books so much? Her voice. Her style of writing is quite conversational. It's a lot like a blog, really. She talks to her reader as if we're sitting together chatting over a cup of coffee. And she's funny too. Oh yes friends, she is indeed funny. We're talking Stephanie Plum funny here.
I never thought I'd ever laugh out loud at a gardening book. I thought the only kind in existence were boring, lecture type books that extolled the virtues of plants using horribly boring black and white charts. You know the ones I mean, the kind that state you "must" do it this way or else. Or else what?! I always wondered. Or else you'll come over to my house and march into my backyard and set the place on fire? I always wondered.
But Mrs. Greenthumbs changed all that. She changed my whole gardening information world. She made it ok not to have all the answers. She made it ok to make mistakes. She made it ok to go ahead and try my hand at gardening, even though I didn't know everything. All those other books put the fear into me that I had to memorize all that stuff so I would know it all and avoid mistakes. Oh the horror of mistakes!
I think the reason I didn't get serious about gardening before was because I never felt I knew enough not to make mistakes. But gosh darn folks, ya know what? Everyone makes mistakes! And we new gardeners are bound to. Mrs. Greenthumbs made me realize those things. And for that I will forever be grateful. So thank you Cassandra, for all of your words of wisdom and laugh out loud funniness that helped set me on my gardening path. Even though you've gone to the great big mulch pile in the sky, I take my sun hat off to you and will plant a fluffy flower in your honor.