The challenge for me in writing a retrospective lies in preventing the exercise from becoming a self-aggrandizing litany of accomplishments. I'd be remiss to play the humility card and claim that I haven't done much this year. I'm certainly proud of what I've accomplished and appreciative of the resulting opportunities. It feels like I've found a stable niche and growing audience for my writing and photography.
But as I look back on the year, what stands out are not my personal accomplishments. The lasting memories of 2011 revolve around people -- from those whose paths I crossed only momentarily to those who walk with me into 2012 as my closest friends. It is these people, whose love for plants and passion for life gives us a common thread despite our differences and distance, that made 2011 one of the most satisfying years of my life.
|Dr. Michael Dirr, me and Chip Tynan|
|Louise Hartwig and Kylee Baumle|
|Laura Hayden, Shawna Coronado and me at Navy Pier|
|(Photo courtesy of the Garden Media Group)|
|Mike Rimland of Costa Farms|
|Kylee Baumle photographing Canada Anemone|
I know that I border on the edge of obsession at times; my wife and son are eternally patient with the amount of time and energy I expend working in the garden, capturing it with my camera, and sharing it via this blog. Some of my fondest moments this year have been the after-dinner flower walks with my wife, where we alternately admire our little slice of Eden and make plans for its future.
|Laura Hayden, Shawna Coronado, Kylee Baumle and me at IGC.|
|P. Allen Smith and Mimi San Pedro (Photo courtesy of Louise Hartwig)|
|Kylee Baumle and Laura Hayden|
|Bruce Bailey and Helen Yoest|
|Brenda Haas, Dan Heims and Laura Hayden|
I sincerely hope that 2012 brings me the pleasure of meeting in person more of those that I consider family -- Michael Nolan (@michaelnolan), Carolyn Binder (@cowlickcottage), Chris McLaughlin (@suburban_farmer), Chris VanCleave (@redneckrosarian), Teresa (@agardendiary), Annie Haven (@greensoil), Steve Asbell (@rainforestgarden), Benjamin Vogt (@brvogt), Carri Stokes (@betweenthelimes), Rick Schoellhorn, Lloyd Traven, Vice Grip, Barry Ruta, Joyce Grigonis, Anne Larson (@iowagardencoach), Katie Ketelsen (@ketelsen), Christina Salwitz, and William McClenathan. I'm not sure if they even understand how much insight, satisfaction and happiness they've brought to my life this year.
There are just certain things you know in your heart; I know that each of these people are my family -- my kindred spirits -- in the soil.
Happy New Year!