Interview the Gardener: Marina Tolmie

Interview the Gardener: Marina Tolmie

What is your favorite plant and why?

This summer (as well as for many years to come, I'm sure) all of my favorite plants have been perennials with aromatic, herbally fragranced leaves - agastache, monarda (beebalm), nepeta (catmint), certain salvias, Russian sage, and of course lavender. I love walking by any of these plants, running my hands through them, and deeply inhaling the wonderful scents that they emit. That instantly boosts my mood and puts a smile on my face, every time. Beautiful blooms that last almost all summer on these plants, the numerous pollinators that they attract, and the fact that they come back every year are great bonuses to them as well. 

What is your best gardening tip?

Always try something new and challenge yourself a little as a gardener. Of course everyone has their favorites that they'll want to grow year after year, and that's great, but every season I personally like to try to grow at least one vegetable, herb, and flower that I had never grown before. This year these were pole beans, shiso, and monarda for me. I had fun with all of them and feel like I've definitely grown as a gardener and have gained knowledge. I've now tried shiso in salads (it's different and interesting, and I love its flavor) and will be drying some for use in the winter, I got to enjoy so many hummingbird visits on the monarda and learned that the flowers also make a beautiful bright red herbal tea, and pole beans, besides providing food and fixing nitrogen in the soil, are also very attractive vines. Discovering this was enjoyable, and I will be growing all of these plants again. 
Not everyone will love every new plant that they try growing, and that's ok. I've tried some plants and gardening practices that I will either alter next time or won't be going back to at all, but that's still experience and knowledge gained, so it all gives you useful feedback. 


What is going on in your personal garden right now?

August is a great month for enjoying the fruits of your labor in the garden. My family and I are picking some apples, plums, pears, and tomatoes every day in the backyard now. Gladioluses, dahlias, sunflowers, and coreopsis are in full bloom. We're excited to see the birds eating sunflower seeds right off of the dry flower heads very soon. That's especially fun for the kids to watch. Salvia, agastache, and cuphea are still blooming as well and attracting hummingbirds regularly. 


What is your favorite thing about working at Cornell Farm?

The ongoing exchange of gardening tips and other plant related information with my wonderful coworkers and guests, the beautiful ever-changing environment, and being able to spend every day outdoors are my favorite things about working here.