Women we love: Linda Lehmusvirta

Linda Lehmusvirta l AnnDaly.comI promise, this isn’t just a shameless ploy to get my garden noticed by “Central Texas Gardener (CTG).” It’s an early valentine to the woman behind my favorite gardening TV show, Linda Lehmusvirta.

Linda began producing at KLRU-TV in Austin in 1983; she signed on with CTG six years later. She not only produces but also writes and edits the show, which is now broadcast in several PBS markets. And along the way, Linda has reaped awards from Garden Writers of America, Lone Star Emmy, and the National Educational Telecommunications Association.

Gotta say, Linda has the world’s greatest job. But it’s also the world’s busiest job. She’s in perpetual motion, putting the show all together. The only time I get to see her in person — once a year — is at the annual Mayfield Park “Trowel and Error” symposium, which she helps to organize. No wonder, as she says, she has “the metabolism of a hummingbird.”

I love Linda’s unfailing enthusiasm for all things gardening, her let’s-do-it attitude, and no-guilt point of view. She’s philosophical about the inevitable losses, and grateful for the successes and happy accidents. Linda helps me to keep on keepin’ on in my own garden. And in Texas, that’s no small feat.

Besides signing up for Linda’s CTG blog, check out her great advice about staying focused and staying connected:

Best advice received  From my dad when I was a teen: “Think in terms of a career, not a job.” Then, when it seemed my “career” was all about tedious tasks and rice and beans instead of instant fame largesse, an early mentor told me: Everything you learn, however trivial it seems right now, comes in handy.” So true! And I can’t forget a former New York Times editor who counseled me: “If you want to write, do it every day. No matter what you write, just write!”

Can’t-resist indulgence  Book, buttery salty popcorn, nap. In summer, a kiddie pool and glass of wine.

I suspect my first baby words were, “Note pad. File folder.”

All-time favorite super-heroine  Lady Bird Johnson. She never saw my garden, but she put her stamp on it philosophically, and on me. Jumping ahead to most prized possession, I treasure her hand-written note commending my KLRU endeavors. Daily, it inspires me to gear up and carry on her mission.

Most prized possession  Felco pruners, camera, sharp kitchen knives.

Top tip for keeping focused  Deadlines! I suspect my first baby words were, “Note pad. File folder.” Even though now most of that is via computer, I still rely on a written daily/weekly “to do” list. And to settle my spinning mind for the night, I make and prioritize the next day’s list per updates. I know myself: I’m easily distracted, bored, and love to juggle 10 things at once. Conversely, once I’m deep into a project, I enter tunnel vision. So, I attend to every “must do” before entering creative focus.

Sure-fire energy boost  Helping. Sharing. Changing. Inspiring.

Life’s ambition  Banish magazine-perfect conceptions that freeze new gardeners in their tracks. Promote expression through gardens that value resources, wildlife, and individuality.

linda lehmusvirta | AnnDaly.comSecret to success  Don’t count the hours. Stay in touch. I interact with CTG viewers in every way I can. No “canned” response, ever. I’m not a TV station or a TV show: I’m Linda. Viewers connect to me as a person and feel safe to share their troubles without feeling guilty, as they often do. I’m also thrilled that Central Texas Gardener’s Facebook page has become a trusted spot for gardeners to interact with each other. Many times, viewers report back —even years later—to show off their success. And that is my biggest reward!

Most recent accomplishment  Planning fabulous upcoming CTG schedule for gardens and guests. I curate lengthy spreadsheets for potential guests, gardens, viewer questions, and viewer pictures. Making the perfect match for each program can take a few thoughtful weeks.

Never-fail “power tool”  Food, especially high carb with cheese. Salty nuts and lemonade on location. I’ve got the metabolism of a hummingbird.

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