The Real Dirt On The Presidents — Part 1


presidential_podium 2

The next presidential election is still years away — and wannabe candidates, strategists, pundits, and newscasters are already weighing in on who will run, what the issues are, and how Americans will vote.

Lately, though, I find myself less concerned with taxes, Obamacare, and the economy and more curious about how the future POTUS will put his — or her — stamp on the White House gardens — and that’s all because of an amazing book, Presidents’ Gardens, by Linda Holden Hoyt.

Utilizing her passion for gardening and history, as well as her experience in the Reagan White House, Ms. Hoyt has delivered a book that is educational, fascinating, and entertaining.  Well researched and filled with photos, illustrations, and anecdotes, her work opens the garden gate on a world most of us will otherwise never have had the chance to enter.

Recently, Ms. Hoyt kindly agreed to answer the questions of a very excited gardener and history buff.  It seemed that with each response, I had more questions — resulting in a post so long that it needed two parts.  Part 2 will appear on Monday — and that’s also when the rules of the giveaway will be revealed.

And so, without further delay, I’d like to introduce you to Linda Holden Hoyt.

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Q & A: Down And Dirty With Dante


Dante 1With a name like Dante the Comic, it’s pretty obvious that he’s a funny guy.  The name, though, barely scratches the surface of all that he does on screen, behind the scenes, and in his yard.

Dante first came to national attention on season five of NBC’s “Last Comic Standing,” where he received each audience favorite award and a standing ovation in the semi-finals.  Ever since, awards and honors have continued to roll in, including the grand prize on ABC’s “America’s Funniest People,” the most comedy awards ever presented by BET, and performing for more US troops than anyone since Bob Hope.  And if this isn’t enough, he also writes for E Network’s “Fashion Police,” with Joan Rivers, and hosts a podcast, “Stimulus Package,” which is available through iTunes.

Dante’s newest project is co-starring in the film The InAPPropriate Comedy, slated for a March 22 nationwide release.  Directed by Vince Offer, the Sham Wow guy, this sketch-comedy movie follows the mayhem of a tablet computer fully loaded with offensively funny apps.  Taking part in the irreverent and raunchy humor is Academy Award-winner Adrien Brody, Lindsay Lohan, Michelle Rodriguez, Rob Schneider, and Dante’s girlfriend, Rebekah Kochan, an actress/comedian with her own loyal following.

For gardeners, though, the most impressive piece of Dante’s resume is the work he does in his yard. Dante the Comic, you see, is also Dante the Gardener.

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Wish I Was There . . . Again (Part 2)


Alhambra, Granada

A few posts ago, I shared some garden travel photos that I had found in a box in the attic.  They were from a time when photos were developed on film, the sort of pictures you could touch and flip through to relive the moments caught.

Today, however, I’m doing some digital cleaning.  There may not be any flipping through pictures, but there is clicking through snapshots of vacations gone by.

While I certainly love the hefty feel of an open photo album across my lap, any kind of photo can re-ignite the senses from a captured piece of time.  A picture is worth a thousand words, but so too is a pixel.

Like the photo above, for example, which was taken at the Alhambra in Granada, Spain.  Each time I see this photo, I can imagine trysts and stolen kisses, plots and deceit — all hidden from view by the thick greenery . . .

But I’m jumping ahead.  I wanted to save the Spain photos for the end of this post.

Our first stop, then, is a brief stop in the southern United States.

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Wish I Was There . . . Again (Part 1)


SicilyThere was a time when cameras used film, and that film had to be brought to a photo developing retail outlet, and that outlet would print your photos and supply a free second set.  One set for the photo album; another set for . . . well, I guess, a box.

That’s the box I recently came across while in the attic — for Joe and me, that’s 25 years of negatives and photos of vacations gone by, and so many “ahhhhh” moments captured — the sort of moments that begin with a single picture and then goes something like this, “Remember when we. . . and that’s when . . . and we saw . . . “

Soon, the moments are stitched together, like a verbal photo album.

In the photo above, Joe and I were driving through the heart of Sicily in search of the village from where my maternal great-grandfather began his journey to America.  At one point, there was a curve in the road and a view of the valley, orderly rows of olive trees caught in a game of hide-and-seek sunlight.

Join me as I take a walk down memory lane, or, rather, down the global garden path . . .

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