Nancy Lemann

Nancy Lemann

A weeklong electronic journal.
June 13 1997 3:30 AM

Nancy Lemann

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       And another thing. About gardening. Why do gardening experts always have names like Fausto Palofax and Damon Hedgpeth? Botanists and nursery owners and gardening experts always have names like that in San Diego. I mean, I'm glad they're so quaint. I'm glad someone is quaint around here. My own botanist is a little crazed. So far I have found that botanists are either quaint or crazed. But that's the way I like them.
       I went down to water my Beauty of the Night. I forget what the Latin name is. My gardening knowledge is incredibly sketchy. But the fanciful name that some demented botanist gave it, Beauty of the Night, now that's catchy. Apparently it is a constant bloomer, doesn't require much care. Like my husband.
       The bougainvillea, it is not surprising, is my personal favorite. It reminds you of the Mediterranean. There is this thing here in Southern California--the Mediterranean craze, the Italian Riviera craze. Also the Spanish Colonial craze. In the 1920s people suddenly remembered the Spanish heritage here and decided to feel nostalgic about it. So they created a Spanish-style architecture based on a nostalgic idea, a sudden remembrance, perhaps even a swift burst of scholarship. Then there was also a Moorish craze, an Egyptian craze, and in Hollywood, starting on the set of Intolerance by D.W. Griffith, a Babylonian craze. The Mediterranean craze was based on the weather, the foliage (bougainvillea and palm), and the coastline.
       Meanwhile, I guess I am acclimated. I have a botanist, a facialist, a physical therapist, a yoga teacher, a hair colorist. Actually, it's no joke. Since I never had a hair colorist before, I never knew that once you get one, you're doomed. You have to keep going to him or your hair is doomed. The same is true of yoga. If you stop going you get a back injury every five minutes. Then of course it's back to the physical therapist.

Nancy Lemann is the author of Lives of the Saints, The Ritz of the Bayou, and Sportsman's Paradise. Her new novel will be published in February.