11.08.2006

The Heavy Petal Interview, and why Andrea Bellamy rocks

Andrea Bellamy, of the garden blog Heavy Petal, is hard core about getting dirty. She recently completed UBC’s Garden Design program, freelances as a garden designer and a garden writer, follows organic and sustainable principles, and attributes being her parents for instilling good gardening values in her.

When did the gardening bug bite and did you try any insect repellent?
(Andrea) I knew early on that resistance was futile. Gardening has been part of my life as long as I can remember. My mom is an avid gardener, and as a child, I was basically her apprentice. That mostly meant weeding, but she also taught me a lot about plants, design, compost – you name it. She also gardened organically long before it was fashionable. So by the time I moved into my first apartment with a deck, it was just a complete given that I would garden on it.

When all is said and done, Andrea doesn’t sit still, and this practice is reflected in her own gardens. Past gardens have been cottagey, with sunflowers, fuschia dahlias and pole beans, but Andrea reflects on the architecture of a space to determine the style she uses as an influence. Currently, she is approaching gardening with a more sophisticated, restrained palette to reflect the West Coast’s modernist vibe.

Okay, Andrea, a quick rundown of favorites and least favorites:
favorite plant purchase?
I have to pick just one? Oy. Okay, this could change tomorrow but currently I’m loving Euphorbia 'DIAMOND FROST®' . It’s not hardy, but I just love the airiness of its blooms. It contrasts beautifully with heuceras, hostas, or any bold foliage plant. The plant that is the bane of your existence? There are several plants I'm not overly fond of, but to be the bane of my existence, it must be creeping buttercup or morning glory (the invasive kind). Most expensive plant purchase? I haven’t actually bought it yet, but I’ve got my eye on an Acer palmatum ‘Firegold’ which is going to set me back a couple bills. Favorite (secret is even better) low budget resource? Free compost from the dump.

It is the flexibility and varietion that keeps her blog so entertaining and popular. Heavy Petal is full of great design, gardening experiences, and excerpts from a well-balanced gardener's viewpoint. I mean, really, how can you not love a blog with a name like that?!? Speaking of which, Andrea, how did you come up with “Heavy Petal”? It’s kind of a long, meandering story, so I apologize in advance! I started high school in the last days of the 80s. Heavy metal was well on its way out, but all the older kids still wore their fringy leather jackets and doodled AC/DC logos on their binders. I was never a part of that scene, but it fascinated me. So did Heavy Metal (“the adult illustrated fantasy magazine”) – it was all just so adult and strange – a far cry from my suburban life. So both of those things, coupled with my writing background (in which I’m always playing around with words) probably lead to the name. It just seemed to fit with what I was looking for in the gardening world – something urban, edgy, young. (I hadn’t discovered You Grow Girl yet!) I was tired of the “gardening industry” and my editor (at the gardening magazine I was writing for at the time) telling me that gardeners were middle-aged or older suburban-dwelling ladies – that just didn’t fit me, so I decided to write from a different perspective. The name Heavy Petal just kind of reflected that.

So aptly put! Heavy Petal echoes my own gardening sentiments, full of expectations and some disappointment, which results in empathizing and laughing. From a recent post: . . .they scream (albeit weakly) at you, "How COULD you? There's still time - save us!" and you're wracked with the guilt and embarrassment of it all (since you're supposed to be a gardener and gardeners just don't do that to plants!), well, it's enough to drive a girl mad.

Andrea, seriously, don’t worry. If my camera were working and there were no such thing as the Geneva Convention, we could compare tomatillo torture pics and you’d feel a lot better. I promise. So, besides avoiding future cruelty, what do you see as your future with plants?
I eventually see myself hosting a TV show on gardening. Or editing a gardening magazine. I also want to get more involved in community activism, and to me that involves gardening; guerilla gardening, community gardening, and gardening education and activism.

When stripped down to the essentials, Andrea stays armed with homemade compost and insecticide, Gaia Green, gloves, the Cobrahead, a shovel, wit, humor, and gardening savvy.

But, Andrea, what if you were stranded on a deserted island (any climate, you choose) with 5 packs of seeds and one garden tool, where, what and why?
I’d get stranded on a Mediterranean island preferably already populated with wild olive, citrus and fig trees. Ha. I’d have a hacksaw of some sort, and the following seeds: beans (protein, long planting season), potatoes (to keep me full through the winter), tomatoes (to keep the scurvy at bay, arrrgh), zucchini (high yield for minimum effort), and sunflower (to brighten my meager existence and for their seeds).

And lastly, one CD that would be considered your soundtrack to gardening?
"Throw Down Your Arms" by Sinead O'Connor.

There you have it, folks, Andrea Bellamy will help you find your own Heavy Petal heaven. Thanks for the chat, Andrea, and rock out with your compost stout! Okay, sorry, I'll leave the wit and puns to Andrea, she's much better at it.

(All images are from Heavy Petal, Originally posted on You Grow Girl.com: The Dirt)

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