Gardener Extraordinaire

Name: Clint Czupka (pronounced "Chip-ka")

Age: 35

Profession: Gardener/landscape artist. "I don't mow lawns," he says pointedly. His full-time businesses (Clem Home Restoration and Clint Czupka Landscaping) keep him perennially busy with garden installations, grounds maintenance, painting, tiling, stonework, and interior renovations. His client list ("I'm not taking any more," he notes) includes the blue bloods and nouveaux riches of Minnetonka, Kenwood, and even the St. Croix River Valley. A budding interest in horticulture became a lifelong passion for the Davenport, Iowa, native after meeting Neil Holland, a professional gardener, at his parents' summer resort in Nevis, Minn. "The guy became my mentor and friend," says Czupka. "Fourteen years ago, I came out, became a gardener, and moved to Minneapolis all at the same time."

Type of closet: Half of an aerie-like dormer in an airy, loft apartment on the third floor of a Victorian home. "I moved in here because it reminded me of a treehouse," says Czupka. The other half of the dormer is his office. "I'm very organized, but I don't have a computer. Or a cellular phone. Computers are the coming of the Antichrist, you know." Two windows (stuck shut) gaze out on a fugue of rooftops and elms.

Closet dimensions: 7' x 6' x 3'

Occupancy: One. Two, counting the avocado sapling that sits on his desk as a separate consciousness. "I am a tree-hugger," Czupka quips.

Average usage: 1 - 1.5 hours per day. "Mostly because I do my paperwork in here."

Color: Lychnis coronaria. The common name is dusty miller. ("Or you could call it really pale seafoam green.")

Organizational style: Flourescent. "I haven't finished unpacking, yet," says Czupka, waving at the banker's boxes in his hallway. A gorgeous, gray shaft of driftwood serves as a closet rod ("I found that piece at the North Shore two summers ago"). Radical Faerie garb (floral jumpers and tie-dyed gypsy skirts) vies for hanging space with vintage shirts and slacks. Chocolate suede loafers from a trip to Barcelona last February lie still in their box. "And all my bike stuff--shorts, helmet, jerseys, shoes--is somewhere in the hall." He and his sister Chip rode the California AIDS trek from San Francisco to L.A. this summer.

Most recent acquisition: Two vintage dress shirts rescued from an Elsie's Closet firesale ("A dollar apiece!"), and a yellow-and-green-striped Arrow and a Capezio in steel-blue silk.

Future yard-sale bargain: An azure retro Speedo swimsuit. "I only wear swimsuits half the time," Czupka grins.

 
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