Actors tend to keep their onstage and offstage lives separate. But occasionally the onstage life can inspire wonderful projects offstage. SuEllen Estey, an ensemble member in My Fair Lady, writes below about one such lovely endeavor.

By SuEllen Estey 

I grew up in “Laura Ingalls Wilder-like” winters, so the miracle of spring sunlight always revives my soul.

With spring’s arrival, I return to the ritual of digging in the earth and planning new seeds.

For years, I enjoyed a “potted” garden on the roof of my Upper West Side apartment building. But the day came when I no longer had access to that haven.

I took my passion to the street, where I have prevailed and persisted, between the sidewalks, garbage cans and more than a few mice, to create several small gardens.

In mid-March of this year, when our My Fair Lady cast was in the throes of our twelve-hour-a-day technical rehearsals, the lovely lavender rose bush, in one of my gardens, began to emerge from its winter hibernation. The color was exactly the color of our extraordinary Ascot Gavotte costumes. I’m wearing mine in the photo above.

In our opening Covent Garden scene, some of the Cockney population is represented by the “London Flower Girls.” Their baskets are filled with “bunches of violets,” plus the pinks, yellows, and whites of daisies and the like, which bring a flourish of color to the foggy, grey night.

I added these colors to my garden and created what I have called my My Fair Lady garden.

By mid-June, “volunteer” wild purple petunias had popped up to add their color.

In mid-April, I planted some zinnia seeds. Today, the seeds have sprouted into these blooms.

One last serendipitous note: After the last hard freeze, I added a small rosemary plant, which had survived the winter on my indoor window sill, to my outdoor garden.

It has flourished in the rich soil and sunlight.

And, now, we have added another lovely rosemary – Rosemary Harris, to our wonderful cast of My Fair Lady.  

“If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change.”
-Jack Kornfield