www.groovekorea.com / September 2014 84 N evada Rhodes wanders around his rooftop garden. He picks a weed from a pot, checks a wet spot on the floor near his pool to make sure it isn’t leaking, adjusts stems and checks on the tomatoes. He has an inability to sit still, and his mind appears to oper- ate at a constant, frantic pace. “I don’t even have to grow tomatoes,” Rhodes says, bleach- blonde hair gleaming in the hot sun. “They just pop up! I had the first one (of the season) three days ago. My mouth is watering just thinking of it!” Internationally acclaimed comedian Tom Rhodes (no relation) accurately described Rhodes on Tom Rhodes Radio as a “one- man volcano bursting with fabulosity.” Nevada Rhodes (age: “I don’t have an age, consider yourself slapped.”) is a character. He stands tall and speaks with an explo- sion of enthusiasm. He has been keeping Koreans and foreigners entertained for years, currently starring on MBC’s long-running television show “Surprise.” He is quick to offer a drink, lend a hand or tell a joke. He also happens to be an openly gay man who has turned his standard apartment with roof access into something more. To understand who Nevada Rhodes is, one needs to under- stand what his garden is. To say it’s just a rooftop garden would be doing the space a huge disservice. Rhodes and his guests instead refer to it as the Hanging Gardens of Fabulon. “I thought of that name after a margarita,” he says. The produce that can be found in his garden includes mint, squash (“or zucchini, I forgot how to tell”), two types of beans, broccoli, sweet peas, watermelon, at least two kinds of toma- toes, strawberries, two kinds of hot peppers, two types of bell peppers, kale, an avocado tree (“It’ll take seven years to get an avocado!”), red radishes, yellow melons, scallions, peanuts and potatoes. And those are just the things you can eat. JoshRoy and Ellie May, who both happen to be ducks, live un- der a bench in a corner. They share the space with Chickie-Poo, a chicken. Before the current couple of divers took up residence here, there was another duck named Tweets. Tweets vanished one day, having, presumably, flown away. “I was teaching Tweets to fly,” Rhodes explains as though it is a normal thing to say in the middle of Seoul. Rhodes started the garden as a simple way t o keep guests from falling over a gap in the rail on his balcony to a soju-in- duced death. Over the years, however, it has grown in tandem with his enthusiasm and knowledge. His learning has been ongoing, hard-fought through trial and error. This year he learned which plants would blot out the sun if put too high in a vertical garden. On the more experimental side of things, he’s dabbling with duck-proofing, making jury-rigged pool vacuums and using compost tea (a potent concoction that will let plants grow fuller and faster). He often lounges on a homemade hammock he made after studying knots on You- Tube. He also speaks seriously about forming a partnership with a person or group that could help spread the idea of vertical gardens as a sustainable source of food. “You could grow many plants without taking up much space,” he says. “I see the pots on the side of the road with flowers in them. I think it would be so cool to put them into a poor neigh- borhood with something useful, like vegetables.” Nevada’s Hanging Gardens of Fabulon A chicken, some ducks and a whole lotta fabulous Story and Photos by Tom Godfrey Local celebrity jack-of-all-trades talks about life after death and building paradise Edited by Jenny Na (jenny@groovekorea.com) COMMuNITy