Tina and I got to talkin about Felder Rushing the other day and I decided I’d give him a proper introduction here. I think most southern gardeners are familiar with Felder, but a few of you Yankees might not have heard of this Mississippi garden guru.
I met Felder several years ago when our county Master Gardener Coordinator contacted him for a speaking engagement. At that time he was promoting “Passalong Plants,” a book he co-authored with Steve Bender and was giving talks throughout the country on garden art. It was five years ago, February 14, Valentine’s Day, when my wife and I sat down in the front row in our local high school’s auditorium. Felder walked on stage carrying a small shoot from a pussy willow shrub which I thought was strange (he heard me as I muttered rather loudly to my wife, “What’s he doin with that stick in his hand?”). I’m not sure but I think he said pussy willows don’t grow down in Mississippi. Felder talked about passalong plants and other ways gardeners do up their gardens, and to make a long story short, he was most entertaining throughout his presentation and heckling from a certain attendee didn’t faze him at all.
I felt obligated to make amends so I purchased a book and offered an apology for my somewhat rude behavior during his talk. Felder humbly said it didn’t bother him at all, and then asked what I was doin livin with a bunch of Yankees (at some point he noticed my Kentucky accent). After a short explanation, and a solid handshake, we bid each other farewell and I figured it’d be the last I’d hear from Felder, other than reading his published books and articles. Little did I realize what I was in store for.
After we got home that evening I opened “Passalong Plants” and read what Felder had said when he signed my book: “The Rules Stink (except of Ockham’s Razor) Have fun pass it along!” At that time I knew nothing about William of Occam so I emailed Felder asking for an explanation. I really wasn’t expecting to hear back from him but lo and behold I did, almost immediately. In his email Felder talked about the “KISS” rule and how it applies to gardening, and then asked if he could give me a call because he wanted to make me an offer. And this led to our becoming close friends as Felder decided to allow me to help with research on “Tough Plants for Northern Gardens” and I was honored further by being asked to author the foreword.
If you have a copy of the book, or decide to get one, you’ll see pictures of my wife, her herb club lady friends, and myself, and tire planters (I helped cut) each of us decorated. I am still in touch with Felder and we were recently seen together this past March at the Philly Flower Show.