I was thinking back this evening to when I attended my first Garden Writers Association symposium back in "the aughts", as in '09, and remembered that is the year I met you in person.
Two years before my first GWA meeting, I met Mary Ann from Boise, Idaho at the first Garden Bloggers' Fling in Austin, Texas. She suggested I join GWA and go to one of the symposiums. Wait, I think she insisted, not suggested. Anyway, I was resistant, though resistance was futile and short-lived. You know how Mary Ann is. If she decides something is going to happen, by golly, it is going to happen.
So I registered to go to the symposium in Raleigh. Then Mary Ann insisted I should meet you in person before going. After all, you are "it" when it comes to writing and speaking about gardening around here.
Long story longer, we met and I've now been to GWA symposiums in Raleigh, Dallas, Indianapolis -what fun it was to help you on the local organizing committee - Tucson, Quebec City, Pittsburgh, and soon I'll be heading to my seventh symposium in Pasadena in just a few weeks.
And all through these seven plus years you have been the best supporter a fledgling garden writer and speaker could ever have.
Most of my opportunities to speak to groups have started as an email that began with "Jo Ellen suggested..." How can I even begin to thank you for all your support?
And it isn't just me. I could name many others in Indianapolis and elsewhere whom you've helped along the way, suggesting us to others for speaking and writing opportunities, introducing us to people who could help us, and in some cases pushing us out of our comfort zones.
Don't get me started about my comfort zone. I am very fond of it.
And when I said I thought I needed the help of a garden designer. Boom! You knew the perfect person and she did a fabulous job with my garden.
Jo Ellen, your well is deep and you draw from it often to help others. You are always ready to help answer a question, source a picture, find a plant, provide encouragement, offer advice, visit a garden... I couldn't even begin to thank you in a letter for everything you've done for me, but thought I would give it a try.
Oh, I meant to mention, too, how much your column in the local paper and published in a sometimes longer form on your blog, The Hoosier Gardener, is a part of my weekend and I know it is part of required weekend reading for many, many gardeners across central Indiana. I am in awe when we attend different garden shows and the local spring garden clinic how many people know you, admire you, and have you to thank for the information you've provided and the connections you've helped them make in the gardening community and beyond.
Thank you for all you've done for me to extend my reach in this world of gardening.
With a shared love of gardening,
P. S. I've enclosed above a picture of Lablab purpureus 'Ruby Moon'. It has a nice purplish cast to it, the color of royalty, because you are gardening royalty around here.