Confusion over these two bonsai Marys happens frequently.
I recently registered at the front desk of a bonsai convention, the volunteer asked me if I had received the check for workshop plants. Since I no longer sell plants, I knew she meant 'the other Mary.'
Mary Madison and I (Mary Miller) both lived in Homestead, Florida, both had bonsai nurseries and we both traveled to speak (primarily on tropicals as bonsai.)
Although she has many trees, she is known for her buttonwoods.
Her Conocarpus are treasured by many bonsai artists.
John Naka declared her the "Buttonwood Queen" and Mary Madison is still discovering fabulous buttonwoods.
I, Mary Miller, was known for teaching at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden and writing about tropicals as bonsai in my own publications and national bonsai magazines.
(In addition, I cared for my retail/wholesale nursery, The Bonsai Bench.)
In 1992, we were both devastated by Hurricane Andrew.
(Not surprisingly, we both rode out the storm with our favorite bonsai indoors with us.) It was a life altering experience.
"The other Mary" soon moved to Lake Placid, closer to the center of the state.
I stayed put, and tried to recover in Homestead. I soon realized I couldn't do on one acre what I had been doing on six acres. (See my story here.)
Today, we see each other at conventions and joke about how folks still confuse us. During one such conversation, I told Mary about the time I stood up to give a program and someone shouted out:
"Mary, tell us one of your gator stories."
I wasn't quite sure how I should tell the gentleman I was not who he thought I was. I didn't have any gator stories. After a deep breath, I said "I'll leave the gator stories to Mary Madison, suppose I tell a tropical crocodile story?"
When I finished sharing my experience with the other Mary , she said "Now, I've got one for you."
"Someone came up to me and told me how much he really enjoyed my book."
Mary Madison hasn't written a book, I have. So I asked, "How did you reply?"
Her answer ... "Instead of explaining (again), I just said, 'Thank you very much'."
We both had a good laugh.
Mary Madison is still collecting and has trees for sale. You will see her at most Florida bonsai events.
Mary Miller (that's me) ... I had a huge bonsai auction before I left the Miami area and retired to a condo.
I'm busy keeping my website updated, publishing the monthly Bonsai
Banter newsletter, driving around the beautiful backroads of Central
Florida with the top down and enjoying the cafes, sunsets and peaceful
hills of Mt. Dora.
(I no longer have any trees, pots or tools for sale, but thank you for asking.)
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