“I’ve always felt that having a garden is like having a good and loyal friend,” says C.Z. Guest thoughtfully. Indeed this friendship has brought the celebrated fashion icon and social doyenne, international recognition as a gardening connoisseur. Through her nationally syndicated column, “Around the Garden”, Mrs. Guest has graciously dispensed her expertise to eager gardening enthusiasts. She’s also authored several books, including a children’s book dedicated to her grandsons, Tiny Green Thumbs. Her first book, First Garden, boasts an introduction by Truman Capote and drawings by Cecil Beaton. Growing up in Boston, Mrs. Guest learned gardening as a young girl, from the family’s gardener. “I learned everything by doing,” she explains in her no-nonsense manner. “My mother had greenhouses,” she recalls, “and that’s how I grew up, surrounded by beauty.”
While devoted to her gardens, Mrs. Guest counts amongst her other good and loyal friends a collection of canine companions that live with her on her Long Island estate, Templeton. Over the years she’s had many, often adopting strays from shelters and even from the streets of her neighborhood. “I’ve always had animals,” she says. “When I was a child, I had dogs and a pony and horse.” Mrs. Guest was particularly fond of riding and developed into a champion horsewoman. “My children had animals, too,” she explains. “It’s very important for children to have and to care for animals because it teaches them discipline,” as well as, “respect for and kindness toward them.” She insists, “When you have children, there is nothing more important than teaching them kindness toward animals.” In her spare time, which is rare given her busy lecture schedule, Mrs. Guest generously supports organizations that promote animal welfare.
Her love of both flora and fauna has culminated in a life full of pets and an environmentally friendly garden. She never uses chemical sprays, insisting that, “they kill the birds,” and other wildlife. In fact, Mrs. Guest promotes her own line of organic gardening products. “You must have respect for the environment,” she asserts, “and it will have respect for you.” And it does, Mrs. Guest, it does.