Some of my FB friends might recognize this picture as the banner on my wall. Some have even asked about its provenance.
The little toddler on the porch is my dad and this is the home of his grandparents, the Browns of Seattle, Washington. When I first came across this picture, not too long ago, I was stunned by the climbing roses. You see, I thought there were no gardeners in my family! Maybe it's in the genes after all.
This post was inspired by a request from Carol Green, editor of the Marion County Rose Society newsletter. Since I will be a guest speaker at their 2012 Festival of Roses, she requested a bio. I dug deep into the archives and came up with enough for about three posts. Thought you might enjoy.
I was born in Portland, Oregon (I won't tell you when, but the picture kind of gives it away doesn't it?) I'm three months old and in my daddy's arms.
I have a sister two and a half years younger and two brothers born when I was eight and ten-years old. My father was a cabinet maker and my mother’s lovely homemaking skills included fine sewing. (She made the dresses we have on.)
When I was 5 yrs old we moved into one of the first houses in a large suburban development called Cedar Hills. In those early days, there were still fields with patches of trees. I loved exploring, making hide-aways in tall grasses, climbing trees. A strip of conifer forest (it’s still there) became a refuge whose dark pathways and fern and trillium dotted undergrowth held my interest for hours.
As houses were built, along came gardens. I can remember most plantings at our house- lavender rhododendrons, a cherry tree (until it died), peach gladiolas on one side of the house, calendulas on the other, a spirea- these plants along with seasonal geraniums and petunias gave an acceptable image from the street. The back yard, however, was a wasteland to me. Images of grasshoppers, brown clover and dandelions come to mind, while across our three property line fences, neighbor’s gardens beckoned me with pretty shrubs, raspberries, irises, roses . . .
From age 5 thru 12, I was a budding artist (and dare I say ballerina), spending hours, pencil in hand, drawing female figures dressed to the nines. I dreamed of being a fashion designer until I was embarrassed to say so by the eighth grade. Graphic designer sounded better, so after flourishing high school years in the theater and art classes- I applied for and won a scholarship to study at California College of Art in Oakland.
Once in the heady atmosphere of art, artists and art students, commercial art seemed not so cool. Fine art won out and from that time what I value most were the art history classes required each semester. A strong understanding of what came before me in the arts has always been a rich foundation for inspiration. I soon learned that a background in art and design is a benefit in all fields.
I’m an Aries, a bit headstrong, with an eagerness to pursue and learn about what interests me. In today’s world, one of the many thrills are the opportunities for learning and study way outside of school.
The next 20 years included a short foray into hippiedom; marriage to a fellow artist; a few years (before motherhood) as a dress designer (after all) at a friend’s shop in Berkeley; mothering two daughters; going back to work part time; and then starting my own fashion design business. After all that, roses eventually took over with a plan of their own.
Before we get to roses though, my background in art, the impact of my surroundings, both natural and tamed, skill as a seamstress, and above all- love- love for the beauty in all these elements- and a longing to experience and even share more beauty are what make me tick. What about roses?