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In the Garden With: Princess Amanita & Dashka

Today  we have two ‘In the Garden’ guests….I would like to introduce you to Amanita and Dashka (Amanita’s creator).   Amanita it a percocious, plant-obsessed, princess who’s style runs towards the dangerous and dark (and after reading her story – I am sure you and your favorite child will want to meet her). Dashka Slater who is the woman behind the new book Dangerously Ever After (in which Amanita lives).   I’ve never had two guests at the same time…and even more interestingly….I’ve never had a real princess….so I hope you enjoy meeting both Princess Amanita and Dashka and much as I did. – Rochelle

dangerously ever after by dashka slater coverHow would you define your style?

Amanita: Dangerous.
Dashka: Eclectic. By which I mean that I like a lot of things that don’t necessarily match.

Do you have a garden?

Amanita: Not just a garden. The world’s most dangerous garden.
Dashka: If, by garden, you mean a section of land set aside for the cultivation of plants, then yes. If you mean something that’s been weeded in the past three months, then no.

princess amanita in her garden dashka slater

If so what is it like?

Amanita: It’s prickly, stickly, thorny, brambly, stinky, poisonous, and occasionally explosive.

Dashka: Pretty much what Amanita said, minus the explosions.

What would your ‘one day’ garden look like?

Dashka: It would be filled with enchanting little nooks and bowers for writing, and would emphatically not have any wireless reception. A bed would be nice. Writing is very tiring.

(You can see some pictures of Dashka’s ‘someday’ here.)

Amanita: It would have a large bog filled with a variety of carnivorous plants and a few more lethal poisons.

Do you have any favorite or sentimental plants or flowers?

Amanita: One of my sentimental favorites would have to be Amorphophallus titanum. I love it for three reasons.

1) Its bloom is wonderfully tall – about ten feet

2) It smells like rotting meat. A lot of rotting meat.

3) I carried it when I was a flower girl at my cousin’s wedding. She had another bouquet for me but it was boring so I threw it in the compost.

Dashka: I have a small collection of potted succulents that all have interesting histories. One sprouted from a cutting I found lying on the sidewalk while I was taking a walk. Another – an enormous flowering aloe – was left on a street corner with a “Free” sign on its pot. A third was an impulse buy by my late mother-in-law, despite the fact that she lived in Florida and had no way to bring it home from California.

princess amanita's heckleberries dashka slaterWhat is your earliest or favorite gardening related memory?

Amanita: I remember the first word my heckleberries ever said. Unfortunately, it’s one I’m not allowed to repeat.

Dashka: I had a very urban childhood and didn’t really have my first real garden until my mid-twenties when I bought a house in a formerly Italian section of Oakland, California that was blessed with wonderfully fertile soil and a history of backyard gardening. It had fruit trees of every kind, including a 40 foot tall avocado tree that a previous owner had grown from a pit. I grew tomatoes by the bushel there, as well as all manner of other vegetables, and learned how to make jam out of desperation when I found myself buried in peaches and apricots, courtesy of two very productive old trees.

Dashka Slater author

What are three cardinal design rules  that you think apply to outdoor projects?

Dashka:

  1. Thinking about it isn’t actually the same as doing it (this applies both to weeding and to writing.)
  2. Taking something out often adds more than putting something in.
  3. One idea at a time.

Amanita:

  1. Look out!
  2. Careful!
  3. I wouldn’t touch that if I were you.

princess amanita's ruby studded wheelbarrow dashka slater

Amanita Recommends….

  1. Steel plate armor or chain mail for weeding extremely thorny cacti. – The palace gardeners rely on this.
  2. Ruby-studded wheelbarrow. – You could just have a plain one, but why would you?
  3. Diamond hoe. –  I thought this would be decorated with actual diamonds, but it’s still a pretty good hoe.
  4. Cactus Jungle Nursery and Garden,  in  Berkeley, CA. – One stop shopping for plants that are sharp, poisonous, and carnivorous.
  5. Daitura discolor – Thorny and poisonous. My kind of plant.
  6. The Alnwick Garden, Northumberland, UK- A sweet little poison garden next to a castle, just slightly smaller and plainer than my own.
  7. Danger Garden blog – If I were to write a blog, it might sound something like this, except I’d write it with a pen made from a six inch cactus spine using ink made of poisonous pokeweed berries.

During the holiday season, Dashka is offering a signed bookplate for your copy.  To get yours, take a visit here to coordinate getting your bookplate as well as a bookplate for a few other great gift books.  – Rochelle

r-greayer_55a-short-253x253Rochelle Greayer is a writer, landscape designer, farmers market manageress, former physicist rocket scientist & founder and editor of PITH +VIGOR. Author of Cultivating Garden Style : Inspired Ideas and Practical Advice to Unleash Your Garden Personality (her first solo book) she also writes for Apartment Therapy and hosts garden related and floral workshops in her barn in Harvard, MA.  Want to know more?
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