The Theory of Hortonnection

Sculpture at the North Carolina Botanical Garden

I am developing a new theory, the Theory of Hortonnection.

My theory is that gardeners are more connected to one another than the general population is connected to one another. Maybe it’s because we all have a drop or two or gallons of chlorophyll in our blood, so we all hang out at the same places? Or maybe it is that phenomenon of “hortotropism” that attracts gardeners to each other and causes us to just strike up conversations with others who look like gardeners and if it turns out we were right, it takes off from there.

Soon we discover all kinds of garden-y connections to one another, which I call hortonnections. (Horticultural Connections)

For example…

Last week I traveled to Raleigh, North Carolina to attend my first Garden Writers Association Symposium. Like any good infrequent flier, I arrived at my departure gate at the airport with oodles of time to spare and after wandering around the terminal sipping my iced green tea and admiring how beautiful our new airport is, especially the mural of Indiana wildflowers in security that I didn’t take a picture of because my focus was on not looking like an infrequent flier as I navigated through the security process, I decided to sit down and not think about flying.

Ooommmm, I would think about the fun of meeting up with other gardeners, and not about flying. Ooommmm. Flowers. Ooommmm. Plants.

Sitting there at the gate was a woman with a bag imprinted with “master gardener”. Within a matter of a few seconds, the chlorophyll in my blood rushed to my head and I thought “gardener” “flying” “Raleigh”… could she be going to the same symposium? So I asked and she was! She was none other than Carolee from Carolee’s Herb Farm, which I had heard of but have not visited, yet. We introduced ourselves and talked a bit about going to the symposium, and Carolee talked about how she was going to meet up afterwards with one of her former employees who had moved to North Carolina.

Whatever mechanisms are used to determine seat assignments must have figured out we were both gardeners and put us in seats across the aisle from each other, giving us the opportunity to continue our conversation as we flew to Raleigh. While sharing tidbits of information about gardens, gardening, and gardeners we knew, we figured out that Carolee’s best friend lives next door to my sister’s sister-in-law and I had actually visited her best friend’s garden about ten years ago and had lunch with her.

And that’s a great example of a hortonnection between Carolee and I. It sure is a small gardening world.

I had a wonderful time at the symposium which included a brief stop, among many garden stops, at the North Carolina Botanical Garden. When I stepped off the bus there, someone saw on my nametag that I was from Indiana and suggested that I should find Sally, who was also from Indiana and now worked at the garden. After wandering around a bit, I happened to hear someone talk about her friend from Indiana so I stopped and asked her if she was Sally from Indiana, and she said yes, she was indeed Sally from Indiana. But she was not just any Sally from Indiana, she was Sally from my hometown, Sally from my high school. She graduated a year before me and we laughed about what a coincidence it was that we should meet some xx years later in a garden in North Carolina. Yet another hortonnection!

Now fast forward to earlier this week, when I got an email from Carolee about having dinner with her friend in Raleigh, her friend Sally, who turned out to be the same Sally I met in the garden, the same Sally I went to high school with. Yes, another hortonnection…

Have you got that all straight now?

So based on these meetings, and other meetings of gardeners, my theory, the Theory of Hortonnection, is that all gardeners are connected much more closely than the Six Degrees of Separation that we are all supposedly connected by.

Maybe these connections are because of the chlorophyll in our blood, or the tiny leaves entwined around our DNA? Or maybe it is indeed because our shared obsession with plants and gardening takes us to many of the same places? Whatever it is, I am no longer surprised when I talk to other gardeners and find out the close connections, the hortonnections, that we have in common.
My theory needs a few more examples to test it. If you have a story of a hortonnection, please let me know!


Thanks to Hoosier Gardener, Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp, I now know that the mosaic mural at the airport was created by Dixie Friend Gay. It is a beautiful mural! She sent me an email with this picture of it.

Autumn Prairie Morning


  1. I try real hard not to look like an infrequent flyer myself. But on the trip home I somehow left my cell phone in my pocket and set the buzzer off. Now that my worst nightmare has happened perhaps I won't be so nervous about airports anymore.

  2. The closest I have come to doing this is when I was touring Buchart Gardens in Vancouver and ran into a lady that worked at the same place I did. I didn't know she was into gardening and certainly didn't know she would be in Vancouver the same time.

  3. What a wonderful story. I think gardeners are connected with some kind of dirt magnet.

    I met up with my cousin in a horticulture class. We hadn't seen each other in years and neither one of us knew the other was a gardener. We see each other a lot more often now.

  4. I like your theory. I can't think of any examples at the moment, but I'm sure I've had some. The mural is wonderful. What a great thing to help calm the nerves of infrequent fliers.

  5. This is such a neat story, Carol! I can't think of any examples of hortonnections right now, but I'm sure none of them would be as close as yours. I wonder if the next time I get my cholesterol checked, I should ask the doctor to do a chlorophyll screening, too:)

    I love the new Indy airport--it is beautiful! But I didn't notice the mural--I'll have to check that out next time I visit one of the daughters. I try to fly out of Indy whenever I can--much, much more user-friendly than O'Hare.

  6. I think your theory rocks. Not only our chlorphyll and tendrils connect us, our roots intertwine deeply connecting us beneath the earth as well.

  7. Great post, great theory.I agree. I also love the mural!

  8. Wow, it is a small world. Those are big coincidences that might even be destiny. Very fun post to read. I love that mural!

  9. Well, I never ! If you were asked to make up the biggest whopper ever this one would be the winner. The fact that it's true makes it even more surreal.

    I think your theory is on the level of Einstein's. You may need a few more examples, but hey, thus far your experiences appear to be on track.

  10. What a great story! I can't wait to meet up with all the gardeners I'm secretly connected to.

  11. Love this theory and truly believe it! Just popped over to congratulate you on Blotanical's Best Writing blog!

  12. I love that mural! I'm glad all these connections were made, and you were able to get the photo.

    We know that people who are not gardeners really aren't interested in talking about plants and such, so whatever is in our blood, draws us to those who are interested. My new question now, is if a person blogs.

  13. The mural is beautiful! I can't think of any interesting connections but I do know that I am more likely to chat while in line at a checkout at a garden nursery than in line at a grocery store.

  14. That's a great new word you've coined Carol. Sounds like you had a wonderful trip. How fantastic to have had such good company in the airport and on the plane.

    Oh my gosh, that mural is so gorgeous! Thank you for posting the photo.

  15. You are so right concerning Hortonnection. Plant lovers love to share information. That is quite a beautiful mural. Maybe I will see it in person someday at the Indiana Spring Fling.

  16. Those ole hortonnections. Great word you've coined. The world becomes smaller, more manageable when we love the same things.


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