Article: Spotlight: Zuzu: Hello, Zuzu!

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Image Spotlight: Zuzu
By Sharon Brown on April 26, 2010

♪♬ Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens ♬♪....when I think of Zuzu, I always think of these words by Rodgers and Hammerstein. I know no one else who lives in a paradise of roses surrounded by kitteny whiskers, no one but Zuzu. Come with me and let's spend some time with this very special lady....

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Apr 25, 2010 8:21 PM CST
Name: Nancy
Buffalo NY
This was extremely interesting, Zuzu! I am so happy to know you better. You've had a lot of varied experiences in your lifetime. And I wish I could be your next door neighbor. I would love to have all your flowers creeping over my fence....and your cats too!!

So you actually have roses and irises in bloom at the same time?? How long of a growing season is there in Northern CA? Here in Western New York at this time (April25th) we are just growing out of daffodils and into tulips. Irises are weeks away, and roses will be a month or more beyond that. Your climate is much better suited to bloom-time than mine.

Anyway, thanks for being our interview this week. We are so happy to have you!
Apr 25, 2010 9:14 PM CST
Name: Zuzu
Northern California
zone 9
Hi, Nancy. I wish you could live next door to me too. The poor woman next door has a full-blown cat phobia. She's terrified of even the little kittens. She can't come outside without banging pots and pans together to scare away all the cats.

I rearranged my photos by date and found that I started taking pictures of irises in the middle of March -- first the Pacific Coast hybrids and then the others. The last of the tulips here are dying down, but they and the daffodils did put on a great show in February and March.
Apr 25, 2010 9:42 PM CST
Name: Becky
Florida Zone 9b/10a
Zuzu you are a fascinating gardener, cat lover, and woman. I knew there was more to you than just the few posts I have read. California is such a great place to grow plants! I'm on the opposite side of the USA and have a hard time growing anything in the ground. Clay and knot-root nematodes seem to be the most common garden challenges here.

How big is your property? It looks quite large. So beautiful all the plants you grow in your yard!

Your story of Millie broke my heart. How sad of a life that cat had until she came to live with you. I loved your brilliant idea of installing a glass door for her when you first got her. Do you still have her? All your kitties are so precious! Your world seems to be very sheltered in a great kind of way! Lucky you!

I can related to your working indefinitely. Maybe you will hit the lotto and can retire completely. We can all dream, right?

Thanks for sharing a little about yourself here on cubits! I really enjoyed reading about you! Thumbs up
Another Day in Paradise!
Apr 25, 2010 9:58 PM CST
Name: Janet Colvin
Z8~Beaumont~Southeast Texas
Proud member of
Hi Zuzu,

We haven't met, though we've hung out on the same site(s) for some time. I really enjoyed reading your story and enjoyed seeing your gorgeous flowers and your handsome kitties. I love the riot of color you have blending in such beautiful harmony. I'm like Nancy, would love to have it spilling over my fence.

Thanks for sharing so much about yourself. It's a pleasure to meet you!

Apr 25, 2010 10:04 PM CST
Name: Zuzu
Northern California
zone 9
Thanks, Becky. California is a gardening paradise. I have a half-acre lot, but I feel as though I'm growing 5 acres' worth of plants here. Sometimes, when I'm watering all the container plants, I start thinking I must have half an acre just in hanging baskets.

Sadly, Millie died a short time ago. She had a very happy life at the end, playing in the garden every day and snuggling up with the other cats for naps. I wish her life had been longer, but she'd had too many traumas at the start to ever be completely healthy. She just faded away at the end. One day she asked to go outside, but only went as far as the sunporch, curled up on a pillow, and fell asleep forever.

My lotto dream is even bigger: I want to retire, but I also want to buy some of the houses around me and move my friends into them.
Apr 25, 2010 10:05 PM CST
Name: Zuzu
Northern California
zone 9
Hi, Janet. We cross-posted. Thanks so much for the kind words.
Apr 25, 2010 10:52 PM CST
Name: Brenda Essig
Rio Dell, CA
Hi Zuzu. I really enjoyed getting to know a bit more about you and your life. Your gardens are beautiful. I love roses and much prefer them in less formal gardens than the formal rose gardens I have visited over the years. The cats are very lucky to have such a wonderful garden to explore .

I had to laugh about your poor neighbor beating pots to clear the cats away because that is how call the Ferrel cats here to let them know that food has arrived. They hear the sound of a spoon on a pot and come running toward the noise not away from it.
Playpen of Graphics FREE graphics, FREE Jigsaw puzzles!
Zany's Playpen
Apr 26, 2010 4:16 AM CST
Zuzu, now Zany, must be the gathering thread for Z's!
Very nice garden Zuzu and such an interesting view of life. I much enjoyed
reading your interview and look forward to more pictures of your garden.
Nice to meet you!
Apr 26, 2010 7:00 AM CST
Name: Candyce Fulford
N of MA, E of VT, W of ME, S o
Grandmother Extraordinaire
Zuzu, it is so nice to really meet you! Now, that I've read your story, I can see how you and Kassia have become such good friends! I'd love to be able to stroll through your half-acre gardens one day.

Your stories about the cats have touched me as well. Such patience you displayed, allowing Millie to approach life with you and the other cats on her own. And what a touching end to her story.

Zuzu, you are a very, very special person. What a great story!
Homemakers' Haven Come Join the "A" Team!
Apr 26, 2010 7:07 AM CST
Name: Nancy
Buffalo NY
Maybe you should change your name to Zeeds! I could be Zap!
Apr 26, 2010 10:20 AM CST
Name: Susan B
East TN
Hello Zuzu,
What a wonderful life you've had, I've really enjoyed reading about it. Your garden is just beautiful, and I LOVE LOVE LOVE that Phormium, it's huge!
Milly's story brought me to tears, I have a real soft spot for animals, and I'm so happy she found peace and a happy life with you.
Very nice to meet you
Susan (or Zusan, hee hee)
Apr 26, 2010 10:46 AM CST
Name: Rannveig
Hafnarfjörður, Iceland
Zuzu - you are such an inspiration to me :-) I just love how independent and free-spirited you are. Your cat's are so lucky and blessed. I too was touched by Millie's story - it's good to know she had a chance of a happy life in the end. Your gardens are amazing, I love that crammed, chaotic style just bursting with flowers. Looks like paradise to me :-)

Thank you for sharing a glimpse of your life with us, and Sharon - thank you for writing it down :-)

Apr 26, 2010 10:48 AM CST
Name: Sharon
My pleasure... Smiling
Apr 26, 2010 11:06 AM CST
Name: Vicki
North Carolina
Oh Sharon, what a wonderful story and what an amazing lady.

I would love to meet you Zuzu. Your gardens are stunning and "ten" thumbs up (if I had that many) for all you do for the kitties.

I first "met" Tasha Tudor about 5 years ago through my librarian. I've shared many of my plants with her and she knows I love flowers and one day she said, I have a book I want you to read. It was more of a picture book but it was by Tasha Tudor and her beautiful gardens and home "The Private Word of Tasha Tudor". I read everything I could get my hands on about her and didn't know until I did that she even wrote children's books. She was a beautiful woman and I'm so sad she is no longer on this earth. I share your admiration for her Zuzu.

Thank you Sharon!

NATIONAL GARDENING ASSOCIATION Purslane & Portulaca ~ Garden Art
Apr 26, 2010 11:14 PM CST
Name: Zuzu
Northern California
zone 9
Thanks, everyone, for being so kind.

Zany, I actually have a couple of cats that can hear a can of tuna being opened from across the street, and I use a manual can opener.

Vicki, I'm thinking of getting a goat to walk on a leash through my garden, just to emulate Tasha Tudor. I already have the right clothes.

Susan, the Phormium is not mine, unfortunately. Kell took that picture of me on one of our trips to Western Hills, a fabulous nursery not far from my house. She took photos of me next to gigantic plants to illustrate their size. The other photo by Kell in the article was cropped. Here's the original, providing a better view of the scale of the Bamboo grove.

Thumbnail by zuzu

Apr 27, 2010 5:17 AM CST
Name: Chris
Wisconsin z4
Zuzu, you are such a fanscinating, zealous and compassionate person. Thank you for sharing your story with us. Bless you for your kindness to animals. How wonderful that Millie had the opportunity to enjoy life at the end - you make the world a better place!

Your gardens are gorgeous!
Apr 27, 2010 9:05 AM CST
Name: Susan B
East TN
That was my second favorite photo. I walked through a grove like that at Marie Selby Botanical Garden in Sarasota, FL. When the breeze blew they made a most wonderful noise- like wind chimes!

Sharran, I forgot to thank you as well for the great article... sorry!
Apr 27, 2010 10:31 AM CST
Name: Karen Allen
Fredericksburg, VA
Great article! Loved your beautiful gardens and your cats!

Instead of running after perfection, why not simply walk in faith?
Apr 27, 2010 5:11 PM CST
Name: Sharon
I'm glad you all enjoyed the article. I really enjoyed putting it all together.
Apr 27, 2010 7:54 PM CST
Name: Zuzu
Northern California
zone 9
Thank you, Chris and Karen.

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