BY CATHERINE BALLMAN – Plantsman and unfettered raconteur Kent Russell will speak to the Boca Grande Garden Club on Wednesday, March 4. His presentation for Garden Club members is slated for 2 p.m. at the Boca Grande Community Center.
“Candy in the Garden” is the tempting topic. He promises to dazzle members with assembly of an entire garden during his one-hour show. Melding Perennials and annuals together, the creations will showcase Mr. Russell’s trademark mix of rich color and unexpected combination. He plans to mass plants by color, with a pink/purple/blue garden and a corresponding oasis of orange/red/yellow. Studded throughout will be Hellabores, a favorite of four-season gardeners.
Topping off this display and turning it into a genuine extravaganza will be selections from Russell’s personal collection of 78 pairs of Louboutin shoes. It is a witty marriage of his two favorite things: Plants of unusual texture and structure, with the equivalent bestudded and bejeweled loafers, adds color, charm and chuckles.
Russell will deliver all of the presentation’s plant material to Boca Grande directly from his Pennsylvania base. The return trip up I-75 in his big red van will be much lighter – all plant material used in the show will be available for purchase by club members afterwards. Best of all, Russell commits to hand-deliver all purchases anywhere along the East Coast.
Russell is no stranger to Boca Grande. He was here as guest and friend of the late Dodo Hamilton for Boca Bloom’s grand opening celebration in January 2015.
He and Mrs. Hamilton bonded over plants. Upon their first meeting, she proclaimed, “You’re a hoot.” Thus was their friendship born with Russell providing the doyenne of the Philadelphia Flower Show with plant material and genuine affection for the remainder of her life.
The self-styled celebrity gardener, akin to a celebrity chef, he says, lectures widely. He has presented at the Newport Flower Show, a personal project of Dodo Hamilton, and has been a guru on PBS’ “Garden Guru.” His client list is dotted with big-name clients up and down the East Coast.
Renny Reynolds, the celebrated event-planner and florist, gave a giant break to the then-19 year old Kent Russell. Reynolds hired him to convert a Pennsylvania cornfield into a flower garden of bold creativity and lush beauty. His imagination unleashed, Russell installed 3,000 hydrangea bushes in a winding ribbon pattern, segueing from red to pink to white. This proved to be the foundation for the famed Hortulus Farms Garden and Nursery (https://www.hortulusfarm.com) in Bucks County, PA and for Kent Russell’s career.
His Instagram page, The Sole of the Garden (@thesoleofthegarden), spotlights how he has grown this chance and built a stellar career bringing drama, beauty and magic to the garden. Of particular interest are the remarkable container gardens for which he is well-known but make a point of checking out jack o’ lanterns from a competition he judged. They do not scare but they do startle with unparalleled carvings.
Garden Club events are a key benefit to membership. The annual series of programs by nationally recognized gardeners and designers are open only to members and invited guests. Depending upon space availability, nonmembers may attend for $35. To find out about space, nonmembers can email email@example.com. Interested gardeners are welcome to apply to the Membership Committee and can be added to the Wait List by sending queries to the same email address.