This interview with Shirley Bovshow - Eden Maker is from the October 2012 issue of our GT News.
1. Tell us a bit of history of your journey from that beginning to where you are today
I was a new homeowner who up to that time, NEVER noticed plants, trees or flowers. Nada. As a matter of fact, I remember telling my husband while we were dating, “You’re so lucky because you’ll never have to spend money on roses because I hate flowers!”
The concrete jungle was my playground growing up and I wasn’t much of a “nature” person. When I noticed that my neighbor, Rob, was always in his front yard gardening, it caught my attention…but not for the reason you may think. It was his legs. Gorgeous! Muscular.
As Rob stepped on his shovel to dig, I saw the muscles pop and reasoned, “digging must be a great way to build muscle!”
You have to understand, I was a long-distance, (hobby) cyclist and biathlon enthusiast and took my training very seriously. The shame is that I would ride 100 miles and never look up from my odometer. I rode cross state in Michigan, from Sacracmento to Napa Valley, through the vineyards, never looking around to enjoy the breathtaking scenery. The only thing that took my breath away in those days was cycling up a 8% grade in San Francisco!
So, back to my story, I thought I’d try “gardening” for exercise, I didn’t know what I was doing and it showed. After planting my first pony pack of pansies underneath some 30 year old junipers in my front yard, I felt quite accomplished. No, I didn’t prepare the hard-packed, clay soil first. I just dug holes and stuck the poor pansies in. My heart was broken (and ego) when my muse, Rob passed by one day while I was “gardening” and said, “Shirley, do you have a horse buried underneath those soil mounds or do you have gophers?”
What did I know about grading the soil after planting? I didn’t know anything!
Rob gave me his dirty, well-worn Sunset Garden Book and encouraged me to read it.
I did. Every free moment I had. While the babies napped, when my husband went to bed, when I was in the bathroom!
I was obsessed and thus began my quest to learn everything I could about my new found passion-gardening. Fueled by pure interest and a desire to redeem the time I spent ignoring the most glorious “free art” under God’s earth, and to prove to Rob that I wasn’t an idiot!
Five years after beginning my hobby in gardening, I enrolled in landscaping school and attended my classes Monday through Friday, 8AM until 3PM for two years!
I left with a certificate in Nursery Practices and Landscaping and I opened my doors for garden design business and never looked back!
Today,(fifteen years later), I’m known as “EdenMaker” and the “Foodie Gardener!”
You can visit my blogs at www.EdenMakersBlog.com and www.FoodieGardener.com
I’m appear on television as a gardening expert, I co-hosted the garden makeover show, “Garden Police” on Discovery for a few years, and I produce garden TV shows for the web. I know a thing or two about horticulture and landscape design!
Boy, did my life change! Too bad my legs still don’t look very good.
2. What inspires you regarding additions to your gardens?
My garden has a theme: “Edible eden with low maintenance, low water plants.” When a plant comes to my attention that fits into this theme, I try to work it in to the landscape or plant it in a container. I don’t like my garden to look messy, so every addition is carefully curated and placed.
3. What are the greatest challenges that you have met along the way? (and how did you overcome them)
Space. I don’t have a large yard!
My biggest challenge and thrill is coming up with low space gardening systems that utilize vertical space. I plant one-dimensional trees such as espaliers, invented a “living spice rack” with 15 herb baskets that spin and are stacked within a two-foot square space and fun stuff like that!
4. What is the greatest reward that you have received from gardening? (personal or tangible)
The thrill I get from seeing my clients and family enjoying the gardens and landscapes that I custom designed for them is my biggest payoff!
Gardening also enabled me to “discover” that I was an artist after all. I was always envious of my brothers who could draw and paint, while I couldn’t draw a straight line with a ruler!
Gardening gave me a new career, a new identity, a new appreciation for everything under the sun!
5. What is your favourite tool that you use for gardening?
I love my pruners! I use them for everything- even digging!
6. What is your favourite creation in/for your gardens?
I have a lot of favorite creations that have come from client and TV projects. If I have to select one, I would say the “Living Tapestry Succulent Pillow” is unique and exemplifies my “off the wall” design style . I designed these planter pillows for my first presentation at “Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival” in 2008.
7. What tips would you give to someone just starting out or currently struggling with gardening?
Keep on digging, you never know what you may discover about yourself. Yes, gardening is about life not just making your yard look pretty. Enjoy the adventure, study plants, observe them, ask questions. Don’t give up. You may find a passion for a specific niche of gardening. Growing food, bonsai, container gardening, arboriculture, hydroponics. Gardening is a rich field!
8. How did you find GardenTenders and what is it that keeps you coming back?
I found Garden Tenders a few years ago when I was searching for plant information. I was unaware of the community and noticed all of the different resources there. From blogs to forums to photos and video. I liked that you could share your experience at Garden Tenders as well. Since I produce garden videos, I felt that the Garden Tender members might be interested in my videos, so I started to upload some. The members at Garden Tenders, especially the community leader, MsDebbieP have been warm and supportive.
Garden Tenders is a community that shares and embraces gardeners of every level and that is why I return time after time!
(Thanks to Shirley for taking the time to do this interview. ... and I’m still chuckling at the “I hate flowers”)
-- - Debbie, SW Ontario Canada (USDA Hardiness Zone: 5a)