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Ok, so I played a fun game on Monrovia’s website called What’s Your Style, where they tell you what kind of garden style you should have based on a brief personality profile. Unfortunately, they got me completely wrong. According to my answers, I would be happiest with a Zen Garden Style. The accompanying photos show a typical Japanese garden and the recommended plants are, not surprisingly, things like Japanese maple, Mugo pine, bamboo (eek!), and Japanese painted fern.

I’ve been to well-known public Japanese gardens in San Jose, San Francisco and Portland and each time thought, “Wow, this is really beautiful. This is really, um… Zen. This looks like a lot of work.” While I can appreciate the beauty and discipline and peacefulness of a Japanese garden, it’s just too damned coiffed. I’d be happy if I had enough discipline to rake a comb through my hair every day, let alone rake my rock garden. Also, I’m not Asian. Why should I feel an affinity with Japanese cultural and religious symbols when I’m a pasty, mostly-Irish girl?

And my Monrovia-recommended plant palette? Well, it’s mostly a bunch of Japanese plants! I could never, ever, ever restrict myself to such a narrow palette. Boring. I’m a typical haphazard plant collector who brings home plants in ones and threes and fives that I fall in love with first and worry about where the hell I’m going to put them later. If you had to put a label on my garden style, I suppose you’d call it “California Eclectic”. Or “California Eccentric”. Or “California Artistic”. Or “California Mediterranean Artistic”. How about “Artistic Califoranean”? “Eclectifornia Style”? “Artistic Subtropifornia Style”? My horticulturally conservative neighbors probably call it “Dirty, Lazy Hippie”. Whatev… They’re just lucky I haven’t splurged on one of those spectacular kinetic sculptures by Andrew Carson I see every year at the San Francisco Flower & Garden Show. Man, I want one. For my front yard.

When it comes to plants, I’m like Donny and Marie… a little bit country… a little bit rock-n-roll… with a little bit o’ Motown in my soul. Actually, my musical tastes lean toward a typical AAA format, but the Donny and Marie thing just popped into my head… which it will probably do from time to time for the rest of my life thanks to television. My point is… I like a lot of plants and a lot of garden styles but can’t really be assigned to a particular garden style. It might have helped if Monrovia asked me where I live. Knowing that I live in northern California, USDA Zone 9b, Sunset Zone 14… might have hinted at phormiums and lavender and cannas and roses and natives and edibles and…

So, what’s your Garden Style? Will Monrovia get you right or wrong?

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