Monday, July 21, 2014

It's All In The Way You Present It

 This evening, after a dinner of salmon and asparagus perfectly grilled by the men in my house, I pulled out my new super zoom lens and started snapping photos from the comfort of my patio chair.
Pine cone clusters grouped like bananas at the top of my old white pine

Dahlias just starting to bloom among the tomatoes and squash.

Peeking over my fence into the far corner of our vegetable/flower garden. 

 And as I realize the ability to capture images in the far distance with this lens, I absentmindedly comment, "I would make a great stalker."

A cluster of containers going up my back stairs.

The pepper corner with Chili Chilly Pepper and Purple Flash Pepper. 

A comment to which my #4 son responds, "Mom, I wouldn't be saying that in public places." (Which is why I am so writing this on my blog.)

Oakleaf hydrangea "Pee Gee" 
 And #1 hubby chimes in with, "Maybe you can say you would make a great Private Investigator." He's always looking for ways to not be embarrassed by me.

Peeking through the Ginko tree at the neighbors crepe myrtle. 

 So I'm thinking I'll start the #1 Ladies' Plant Detective Agency. Yes, that would be Precious.
Spring and Summer I have to coordinate container plantings with our canoe's seasonal storage spot. 
Because you never know what may be lurking near where you store your canoe,  

Or what's coming up in your garden jungle.
So stop by for a cup of red tea and between my new powerful lens and a few years of plant nerdiness, let the #1 Ladies Plant Detective Agency work with you on solving the greatest of plant mysteries!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Garden Blogger's Fling 2014

I only have about 3000 more photos to go through from an incredible garden tour in Portland, Oregon. But one of the best parts of the tour is getting to know the other bloggers. So here's my trailer on the blogs to come about Garden Blogger's Fling 2014 - Portland!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Head To Kroger For Your Proven Winners Plants

"Honey, on your way home will you pick up some milk and eggs? Oh, and grab a couple of Proven Winners hydrangeas while you are there."
Proven Winners shrubs are as close as your local Kroger's grocery store. 
I grew this weigelia - pretty, long lasting blooms and needs some afternoon shade in Middle Tennessee. 

I'm going to try this hydrangea - any one have some experience growing it ?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Bringing The Tropics To Tennessee

This afternoon I was once again swept away to the tropics when I looked out my window at this beautiful hibiscus. I found this beauty at Lowes - one of Costa Farms' selection.

And check out this Abutilon 
Well, it feels like the tropics these last two   weeks, might as well look like it. 

Friday, May 16, 2014

All In A Day's Work

 Well, my job is to make other people's gardens look beautiful. But at night I get to take my garden and see what I can make it look like with photo editing.

 A different view of my peonies

On my front porch - red ivy geranium, euphorbia diamond frost, foxtail fern

 My day job is painting colors in the landscape -
 Angelonia Purple, Begonia Whopper Red, Sweet Potato Vine Dwarf Margarite, and Ornamental Peppers

Angelonia Cascading purple, Whopper Red Begonia, Rudbeckia Tiger Eyes, Verbena Bonariensis, Hibiscus Maple Sugar. 

I love this Marigold Solan 

So what did you do today?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Importance of Being Ordinary


I could tell when I looked at his face that he was not happy. Now, my boss is a very kind man and has a voice that works like Valium on a hectic day. But when his clients aren’t happy, those of us who are his underlings will be greeted with a thin lipped smile rather than his big toothy grin. And then the interrogation begins. Mine began with a drive around the city to look at competitors’ annual color displays.

Spring Trials - California 2013

Spring Trials - California 2013

Downtown Chicago 2013

Downtown Chicago 2013

 But maybe I should back up a little to bring a little perspective:
            I. Am. A. Plant. Nerd.  You see, this post is not about my boss. He’s a hard-working man that cares deeply about making his clients happy. It’s about what I am learning through the landscaping world about life. I love plants that are unique and I love creating displays that march to a different drummer and stand out when the summer heat rages. One of the problems this summer was that we did not have summer heat rages. The other problem was that while I and my plant nerdiness love unique plants displays, a large majority of people are really most comfortable with annual color displays that are…. Ahem… ordinary.
I once said that I wanted my annual color to be Begonia-free and Alternathera-free zones. But as I drove around the city with my thin-lipped now not smiling so much boss, and I strove to look through his eyes at the landscapes around me, I saw that the look that our clients kept pointing to as “what we want to look like” was the very thing that I worked hard not to look like. And you know what? It did look good. Deep into our rainy, cool summer those Begonias and Alternathera were showing off like bratty sisters and grabbing the attention from everything around them. And COLEUS, that multi-named marvel of horticulture displays, was often the queen of the show. All my heat and drought-loving Scaevolea, Angelonia, and Cuphea Flamenco Samba barely even moved past being green and languished in the liquid coolness of this summer.
Then I think I finally got it – the lesson that has been tapping at the door of my conscious for so many years. I was remembering the comfort of home-made spaghetti, the consistently blooming iris that my grandmamma would share, and the comfort of the simple tunes in an ageless hymn. These are the ordinary things that make me feel safe, that stand the test of time and present themselves as reliable.
As the middle child of a very large family, I understand being ordinary. With a big sister who was a nationally ranked tennis player, brothers who were stand-outs in just about anything they did, and younger sisters who were stunningly attractive, I found comfort and place in being the ordinary sister who was consistently reliable to be there when needed but never garnered the meteoric attention of a superstar.
Yes, I wrote a book. It has received an ordinary amount of attention. But you know who love this book? The new gardeners who need the basic, ordinary instructions on how to do container gardening, who write me to say that this is the first time they have ever been successful in gardening.  And I wrote some songs. They were ordinary songs that never garnered much national attention. But what made the effort of writing these songs were the people who would come up to me and say, “I keep thinking of  (….. lines in a song) and it has encouraged or help me in this way”. Ordinary songs but reliable to be helpful when needed.  
In a society that has an almost fearful aversion to ordinary, I am finding that ordinary is a powerful emblem of its own. Jesus took 12 ordinary fishermen, ordinary tax collector, and ordinary people to build a church that covers all nations today. Being able to turn on the lights and turn up the heat in the morning is an ordinary delight that many of my winterstorm-weary friends have learned to appreciate. There is something in the ordinary that makes us feel safe, that is reliable, that does not wax and wane with the popular opinion, that begs me welcome it though my pride would defer to the unique. 

Yes, I will continue my lust for the unique and exotic plant. But I am learning to appreciate and embrace the ordinary in horticulture, and in doing so I find myself embracing the other ordinary around and within me.  Ironically, my company’s motto this year is “Be the Best in 2014”. At first I thought that by being earnest in my ordinariness, I would be negating the company motto. But ordinary is not average, nor is it not being the best. Ordinary is better because it is something you can count upon.