Standing at the register, Bayview Farm and Garden Nursery:

J: Now remind me of  your company name?

Me: Proscenium Garden Design.

J: That’s right.    I’m sorry, can you remind me again about how to spell it?

Me: I’m sorry.  P,R, O

J: (scrolling through names on her computer screen) Oh, here it is.  Pro-see-ne-um.

This scene played itself over and over again, though I’ve shopped and known J. and all the great people at Bayview for years and even worked there for a time.  And you can be sure the scene was even longer and laborious at other nurseries, etc. . . The word proscenium describes the arch that holds a curtain in front of the stage.  In ancient times, it referred to the floor of the stage itself.  In 2002, it seemed like a great name for my new business since I’d spent a considerable amount of my life onstage and backstage and it was a good metaphor for the garden – a stage for outdoor events and memories.  But obviously, the name didn’t work if I had to repeat it’s pronunciation and spelling with every business transaction.

I also started noticing that here on the island we are more likely to refer to a business  by the name of the owner or other employees or the location of the business, as in, “I got this fabulous new geranium from Mary ( Fisher of Cultus Bay Nursery)” or “Amy (at the Colorbox Salon) and I decided I needed a new hair color for the summer.”  And if you’re from Central or  South Whidbey, you know exactly who I’m talking about without the use of the info in parentheses.  It’s a small town characteristic  that I love.

It’s spring and a good time to evaluate what didn’t work in my garden over the winter – the “hardy” evergreen shrubs whose last three leaves threaten to blow away in the wind like a six year old’s loose tooth,  or the groundcovers that protected a healthy crop of weeds.  I suppose it’s not nice to name names, but Cistus purpureus and Ceanothus ‘Pt. Reyes’ are plants that seemed good  in theory, but couldn’t deliver in the reality of my garden.

So I’m retiring Proscenium Garden Design and officially beginning the use of my new business name Deborah Smith, Landscape Design along with the launch of my new website, designed by my awesome son-in-law, Tim.  (More about my experience as a design client later!)  I hope you’ll enjoy poking around the site and come back often to read my thoughts about what it’s really like to be a gardener and garden designer on Whidbey Island.


  1. Looking good!!

    Comment by Rob — April 4, 2011 @ 2:19 pm

  2. Thanks!

    Comment by Deborah — April 4, 2011 @ 2:27 pm

  3. Nice website. Good name change; I could never remember it either.

    Comment by Sherry — April 5, 2011 @ 9:36 am

  4. Thanks – hope you’re both well. Looks like we may get some decent weather to catch up on the gardening this week!

    Comment by Deborah — April 5, 2011 @ 9:40 am

  5. Funny post! I could never spell it either. I’ll be checking often to see what’s up over on the “West side”!

    Comment by Amie — April 5, 2011 @ 12:21 pm

  6. Hi Deb,
    I liked the old name, but completely understand. How many times do I tell people its Brook E s. I can’t be found in the phone book unless you back up to Brookes, not Brooks. So, good luck with the new/old venture, I will enjoy reading your blog.

    Comment by Pat Brookes — April 6, 2011 @ 7:02 am

  7. Thanks Pat – I always look forward to your blog updates as well. Art inspires art . . .

    Comment by Deborah — April 6, 2011 @ 9:26 am

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment