Human Flower Project

What’s in Sarah Palin’s Garden?

Probing behind the soccer jerseys and handguns for the real Sarah Palin, the one with dirty fingernails.


The former governor of Alaska says she has a ‘little garden’—of what?

Photo: Bonazle

By Allen Bush


I don’t know why you didn’t strip the bark off of Joe McGinniss when he moved in next door this spring.  McGinniss came to Wasilla, Alaska, to dig-up dirt for your biography. Your Facebook response—uncharacteristically feeble and whiny – was, however, revealing: “Wonder what kind of material he’ll gather while overlooking Piper’s bedroom, my little garden and the family’s swimming hole?”

Besides the gossipy intrigue, the magic words “my little garden” caught my eye. I hadn’t imagined before, but now it seems possible that you might be one of us. May I welcome you into our big tent?  Any gardener’s sin can be forgiven.  Redemption is one glorious growing season away. (I have to confess, I don’t get your politics, but I don’t see any reason why we can’t be gardening pals.) 

imageFence at the Palin home in Wasilla, Alaska: good for butterbeans

Photo: MSNBC

Do you grow butterbeans?  I love them. (John Collins, a spokesman for Kentucky Attorney General and Democratic Senate candidate Jack Conway, called you and Conway’s Republican opponent Rand Paul “two peas in a pod.” Why argue the point unless you know Rand Paul doesn’t know beans.) My favorite butterbean is an old-fashioned pole lima bean called ‘Dr Martin’s.’ It’s an heirloom that I got years ago from a gardening buddy in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  I should have saved some seeds.  It’s scarce as hen’s teeth and it’s the best tasting of all butterbeans.—spare the butter! It’s too big for my small city garden. It’s meant to be grown on a tall 14’ fence like the one the First Dude, your husband Todd, put up to protect you from the prying eyes of your pesky neighbor.

I’m getting ahead of myself. I just learned you’d be coming to Louisville.


imageEchinacea ‘Magnus Superior’

Photo: Jelitto

I ordered a ticket for your September 16th appearance. The National Quartet Convention is expected to draw 40,000 to Louisville to hear some good gospel singing.  My goodness, I’d pay any day to hear Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver, but I was really excited when I heard you’d be here.  The ticket came with a bonus.  I could submit a question that you might answer after your presentation.

Here it goes: Across our beautiful American fruited plain, what are your three favorite plants?  I’m sure your handlers will look at this and wonder, “Who is this nut case?”  (Gardeners are pretty nutty.) It’s not a question designed to trip you up, but it probably won’t get a lot of political mileage either.  A question and rousing answer about your favorite handgun would be a much bigger crowd pleaser. (Of course, my preference would be Echinacea ‘Magnus Superior’ over a Browning 9 mm Hi-Power semi-automatic pistol.) I tossed in the portion of the question about the fruited plain thinking it might be best if you stuck to American plants, but if you want to go global, that’s ok with me. Don’t worry about Limbaugh, Hannity and Beck. They may try, but they can’t make a case against secular, socialist European plants. 

Or can they?

imageAlchemilla ‘Gold-Strike’
—Lady’s Mantle

Photo: Jelitto

I grow mostly ornamentals these days. You know – pretty things. (You’re kind of cute yourself.)  I have a pretty diverse collection of garden plants. Other gardeners prefer a single genus—Hostas or daylilies, for example.  That’s a little narrow and confining for my tastes. I’m not blowing my horn but I’m comfortable with plants of all stripes.

I’ve had great luck this year with a Lady’s Mantle from the Caucasus Mountains. What a thrill to have something grow so well from such a troubled hot spot.  If you’ve got any pals in Russia, Azerbaijan or Georgia (not Newt Gingrich’s Georgia) tell them their native, Alchemilla sericata ‘Gold Strike’ didn’t flinch in the summer heat. Most Lady’s Mantles melt faster in a Kentucky August than a double-dip ice cream cone.

You were a big hit in Louisville.  Of course, you were preaching to the white choir. You pushed all the hot buttons. You can make a lot of money working this crowd. It’s a bull market in God, guns and fear. You’d lose your fan base and go broke talking about Lupines and Liriope.


The crowd for Sarah Palin’s talk/performance/Q&A at the National Quartet Convention

Louisville, Kentucky, September 16, 2010

Photo: Allen Bush

You messed-up just once. I know you’re proud of daughter Bristol but you shouldn’t have gone on so long about her upcoming participation on Dancing with the Stars. (Sarah, this was a room of Southern Baptists who think dancing is the devil’s work.)  I had my fingers crossed that you might answer my garden question, but don’t worry about it. You can get back to me later. I’m sorry you had to rush off. There’s so much more to talk about.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/16 at 07:01 PM


Dear Allen,

Snap peas, it seems, in the garden of Sarah’s parents’  (the Heaths).

Not sure about the butterbeans.


Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/17 at 08:22 AM

Well, this is first thing I’ve read about Sarah Palin that made me smile pleasantly.

Given the height of the fence, maybe there’s a shady garden in the Palin’s yard.

Posted by Georgia on 09/19 at 08:04 AM
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