No Good Weeds Go Unpunished

I'm feeling a little cynical today.
But that's not my default setting. So What can I do to get back to happy-go-lucky?
Do something for other people.
Go make something.

I had just the thing in mind:

This spring, I purchased this vintage, long, wooden WHO-KNOWS-WHAT at my favorite haunt, Two Peas in a Pod, for $5. I hoarded plain ol' jars alll summer and VOILA!

  • I used all the sizes of jars there are; baby food tinies to quart Ball jars. 
  • I loaded up each slot with 1 or 2 jars, depending on space. 
  • Then I filled each jar with water and proceeded to bring in armloads of Autumn flowers (also, 300000 spiders), dismembered them(the flowers not the spiders) and added them to the vases.
It was going well, then I decided to take out each "vase" and be sure they were all 360° of pretty.
Then I added a lot more stuff.

The Results


Bloody Dock
Bronze Fennel
Perennial Mums
Chocolate Eupatorium
Rudbeckia seed heads

Limelight Hydrangea
(and random gourds)

What will happen next?

please do not sue me, Donald Duck

Cynical side, still not vanquished: I wonder if people will take them? I wonder if my cool vintage holder will be stolen? What if my neighbors all have their heads up their asses and don't know a good thing when they see it?

Regular side, battling back: Even if no one takes a bouquet all day, then when the kids get home from school they load them up on a wagon and deliver them door-to-door spreading peace and well-being throughout the block. Therefore the WHOLE WORLD!

Would you ever set up jars for neighbors to take with fresh flowers from your yard? Would you ever take a jar of flowers if a neighbor was offering them?

I will update this post and the KMA Facebook page. 

18+ Things Garden Centers Should Always Buy At The Thrift Store

Garden centers can save a few bucks, add extra charm and do right by the environment by buying things to use, for day-to-day operations, from thrift stores or yard sales. I totally get that doing this bargain shopping comes at a cost, your time, as it's not always the fastest way to attain any one product. I do swear that if you apply yourself somewhat consistently, you'll be surprised at how easy it can be:

  1. Aquarium Gravel--You need all the aquarium gravel you can find for top dressing small planters, terrarium workshops, fairy gardens and for adding a few tablespoons to the bottom of a funky vintage ash tray or planter and adding a few Tillandsia
    White aquarium gravel at its finest
  2. Cake Domes And Risers (and cheese domes)-- Add instant oh-la-la to indoor displays. What can you display under a glass cake dome? You can make the whole dang thing into a terrarium. Or merchandise miniature plants, tiny terrariums, any gardeny jewelry you sell, Christmas ornaments or actual cake to share. Which will be a hit, I am sure.
  3. Coloring Books And Crayons-- Set them out for the kids, while their parents shop, and parents will weep with gratitude and probably remember you in their wills.
  4. Glass Containers With Lids-- Apothecary jars, candy bowls, coffee carafes, baby food jars and even regular canning jars all make great terrariums. You can easily host a terrarium class with a cost of under $10 a person if you check the thrift shops and garage sales first. (Check back for supplies at #1 and #12)
  5. Hanging Shoe Organizers--Fabric or fabric/clear vinyl shoe storage organizers are great for organizing plant tags, seed packets, infographic hand-outs or you can jam plants in them and you POOOOF have a vertical garden.
  6. Ladders-- Regular size and step-stool height ladders are great for merchandising, as well as for hanging/taking down 400000 hanging baskets. You can simply set things on the rungs or use shelves across 1 or 2 ladders. The old flat kind (not A-frame) can be hung from the ceiling and used to hang other stuff from (admittedly that's a lot of hanging). Small step-stool type ladders can have the treads drilled through and jewelry can be hung from them.The older and paint drippier they are, the better.
  7. Metal File Boxes And Old Cash Boxes--Old metal file boxes can be used to keep handouts, catalogs, seed back stock, signage and rolls of price stickers, maybe not waterproof but darn close. Of course you can use larger (and smaller!) file cabinets as planters, too. Old cash boxes are great for popup events (farmers markets and craft fairs) and in-store lemonade/pop corn stands during events (using them as actual cash boxes). They are also great for storing smaller promotional supplies (like punch cards, plant tags, pens, stickers or pins), first-aid kits, sewing supplies, as well as storing insect repellants and sun blocks. 
  8. Old Garden Tools--In winter, I throw a handful of painted shovels, rakes and hoes into a large decorative container and I'm done decorating. It actually looks terrific. Old tools can be painted, glittered, gold-plated, beribboned or decoupaged and be used as sign hangers, vertical accents or path markers. Why not?
  9. Ornaments and Ribbons--Stockpile all the holiday glam you can and host wreath making or simply wreath decorating classes. Wire on ornaments, ribbon, bows, old lights... whatever. (see #18)
  10. Percolator And Mugs--Coffee, cider or tea? Cocoa? Mulled wine? Hot chai lattes? Be ready for a crowd by snatching up all the good-as-new percolators out there for just a few bucks. And why not make the extra commitment to the environment and buy second hand mugs for serving, too. *Bonus- percolators make great planters (and so do mugs)
  11. Picture Frames--You can use them as succulent planters, accents and photo opportunities. I'm not going to elaborate,  just look!
  12. Plastic Dinosaurs--Plastic dinosaurs can be hidden throughout the garden center, then tell younger visitors to count how many they can find. They look super realistic (ahem) and at home amongst Hostas and ferns. Mini dinos (and other tiny toys) make great features in terrariums, too. 
  13. Raincoats and Umbrellas-- When it rains, it pours and your customers or staff may be caught off guard. Keeping extra raincoats, ponchos and umbrellas that cost little or nothing is a great way to go an extra mile for your customers, so that they can get to their car while staying relatively dry or continuing to shop in the rain. They won't ever forget it (and if you let them take the rain coat home, there's always the chance that they will endeavor to return the rain coat, then they get to shop AGAIN!).
  14. Shopping Bags (the fabric kind)-- fabric grocery bags/tote bags make excellent planters for vegetable when they outgrow their tiny cell-pack prisons, as well as a good thing to have around for actually, uh, shopping bag purposes. Pop for some personalized shopping bags for your garden center and let customers know they just scored a FREEEE grow bag. 
  15. Sleds-- Use the saucer or 3-kid shaped plastic winter sleds as drip trays for realllllly big plants, tropicals or trees/shrubs. They have the added benefit of being more transportable when sitting on top of a sled, too. Sleds are easy to come by all summer, virtually no chance of finding them in the winter. It's actually in the Constitution that every yard sale must sell at least one sled. That's true. 
  16. Vintage Planters-- Please check out #vintageplanters on Instagram to truly see what can be done with these super cheap, vintage beauties. They have a history and sometimes a story, they deserve to be reused and have new life and to be kept out of a landfill. 
  17. Watering Cans--It's good to always have a flock of watering cans, filled and at the ready, just in case something looks dry and needs instant relief. But what if you give little kids a watering can when they arrive, with as much water as they can carry, and tell them they need to water stuff and that's their job? I love nothing more than watching little kids struggle with watering cans. 
  18. Wreath Forms--Whether they are the flat metal kind or old, dusty grapevine wreaths, snatch them up and wire them up with leftover greens in November. It's amazing how fast they come together with just scraps. (then see #9)

That's my list! I encourage you to not pass any of this stuff up (because you just never know...) and when I see you at the thrift store, HIGH FIVE!

21 Garden Supplies You Should Always Buy At The Thrift Store

I am cheap and I like the environment. I also like to garden and make discoveries, therefore it's totally natural for me to find nearly all of my garden equipment at the local thrift store. I love the idea of getting stuff on the cheap and keeping old stuff out of landfills. I have a few suggestions on where to start, if you're interested:

  1. Ball or Mason Jars--Whether you're a canner or a hipster, you probably recognize the value of a good Ball jar. Stockpile them for pickles and jams or use them to keep smaller quantities of fertilizers and amendments sorted and dry. I love the diamond-cut look of old jelly jars and yeah, they look cute dropped over the top of a practically free, but lacking in charm, $2 solar light from Target.
    I obviously work very hard at setting up these photo shoots
    They also make good cloches in spring or for indoors. You can use them as flame-proof holders for citronella candles (with lids for storage). I like them best for super rustic, hand-tied bouquets and I don't care if that particular look has been done to heck. I think it's the LBD of cut flowers. 
  2. Baskets--Gardeners never have enough STUFF to hold the harvest of late summer (think zucchini). Baskets are so cheap at the the thrift store; you can hit them with a bleach spray, hose them off and let them air dry in the sun. Hoard baskets all winter so you have something worthy to give your harvest to friends all summer instead of an old grocery store bag (which I guess is ironic). 
  3. Blender--You can use an old blender to do a few gross tasks, like chopping up your compost until it's superfine so it composts faster (this also works with vermicomposting). OR you can collect those pesky Japanese beetles in a cup of soapy water and blend them up. Strain it and use that liquid in a spray bottle. It's gross but I've had great success with it. PS it'll stain your hands and gloves black 😬
  4. Bowling Balls-- Maybe it's not everyone's taste but hey, people complain their mulch doesn't last long enough. I say, when your mulch is bowling balls, longevity is NOT an issue. Also, there are a handful of bowling ball/garden crafts you can participate in. 
    I didn't even waste time removing the price tags
  5. Buckets--Never enough buckets! Use them for watering, harvesting, soaking dried out containers, water gardens, storing transplants (temporarily) and making compost tea

  6. Cargo Pants-- What? You won't wear someone else's old pants? Getta grip. It's just gardening! Plus, stuff made 15 years ago is infinitely better made and long-lasting than anything made today. I like to cut the pocket flaps off my cargo pants with scissors on all but one pocket, for easy access. The one pocket WITH the flap is for keys, wallet, bandaids and next of kin info. In case I keel over in the garden. The flaps that were cut off can be shoved into the bottom of the insides of the pockets, as extra lining for pruners or scissors. 
  7. Colanders--Colanders are great for harvesting and washing. You can make an outdoor wash station with 2 buckets and a colander. Fill one bucket with cool water, one drop of dish soap or Dr. Bronners and a few drops of white vinegar. The second bucket just gets cool water. Dunk your freshly harvested goodies (in the colander) in the first bucket, let it sit, maybe agitate it a little. Then shake it off and lower the colander into the second bucket. That PROBABLY got most of the soil and errant critters off your bounty! You can also use colanders as sweet hanging baskets, just line with a square of burlap or an old tea towel, thread some heavy-duty string or yarn through the holes in 3 spots to it hangs level, and load it up with soil and plants. Colanders are an Earth-friendly way to store transplants until you get to planting them, too. 
  8. Gloves--I frequently find vintage garden gloves in thrift stores, all floral and adorable, but other gloves are helpful to have around, too. Old ladylike gloves are great for gardening, too, especially the ones made out of polyester. They are thin enough that you can really weed like crazy but you still feel a little like Holly Golightly. You can throw them in the wash and they come out all...ladylike 
  9. via GIPHY
  10. Old Garden Tools--Seems simple but if you're like me, you can't find everyday tools when you need them, so it's nice to have a little stash here and there. I find rusty hand tools quite frequently in the winter and I often find hoes in a barrel with the golf clubs, too. There is no joke wrapped up in that sentence. I must be getting rusty. (See what I did there?😅)
  11. Old Rugs--If a rug is cheap enough and easy enough to transport, nothing keeps an area weed free like an old rug with a thick layer of mulch over it. Great for areas under patios, under pools and sandboxes and around playhouses. Basically places you REALLY, REALLY don't want to use herbicides. (Note: Herbicides are icky)
  12. via GIPHY
  13. Pantyhose--You're thinking "OH GROSS LADY, I'M NOT USING OLD PANTYHOSE!" but chill, there are ALWAYS new ones in packages at the thrift. Use them to hold up tomatoes and melons (like a hammock for heavy fruit), cut them in strips and use them to tie up branches and vines (especially great with tomato plants) and use them to make a boss outdoor hand washing station you can use all summer. 
  14. Pebbles-- I always find little bags of pebbles and aquarium gravel. This can be used as garnish in containers, water gardens and terrariums. It can provide a little drainage when you don't have any. 
  15. Pipe Cleaners-- Pipe cleaners are THE BEST for tying up tomato plants, fastening bird houses to branches, supporting flower heads in cut arrangements, cleaning water feature pumps and holding milkweed pods together until you're ready to harvest them/spread those seeds around the world, babay. 
  16. Punch bowls--Old punch bowls are a dime a dozen these days and make terrific cloches for plants in spring. You can also place pebbles and stones in them and a little water and create a place for butterflies to drink.
    It might be a cake dome, but you get the idea
  17. Sea Shells-- I never don't see sea shells at the thrift store. My friend, Jean Ann, swears they are THE ANSWER when it comes to keeping super aggressive, city squirrels out of her containers and gardens. She said they don't like how the shells feel on their paws and in that, they are not alone. 
  18. Sheets--Old sheets serve a few purposes in the garden. They are great protection from frost in early spring, late fall. Just throw them over your plants in the evening and off again in the AM. You can use them as a shade cloth if you have late-summer transplants, wet a sheet and spread it over the top of your pile of new plants until you're ready to plant them. Or, spread out a clean sheet and throw plants that you need to collect seeds from on them to dry them and shake out the seeds, for me that's fennel, bachelor's button or hollyhocks. I love using old bed sheets under mulch to keep areas weed-free, too. I find that polyester sheets work best, even though my common sense said cotton was best. It breaks down too fast. 
  19. via GIPHY
  20. Old Silk Shirts--Throw one on and get protection from the sun and the soil
  21. Sun Hats--I go through sun hats like they are going out of style, which is odd because often they are vintage hats and therefore, technically totally out of style (depending on who you ask). I like to keep on by the back door, one by the front door, one in the garage and one in my car. Also, one in the basement, one in my purse and one in my bestie's car. 
  22. Vases--Giving fresh cuts from your garden is THE BEST. Make sure you have plenty of vases so that when you give them, there's no reason to ask for it back. Sometimes I can even get them 4 for a buck. Check out Ball jars (back at #1), old pop bottles, vintage drinking glasses and beer steins. 
  23. Wooden Spoons--Hey, a little grease pencil and they make excellent plant markers
  24. Yarn--Old bits of yarn are great for tying up plants, staking, holding together bits of harvested herbs, trellising beans or other vines, tying together bouquets and as the base for a flower crown. 


The Very Best First Runner Up: NatureWorks Organic Garden Center

Last month, Healthy Grow fertilizers announced the winning garden centers from a multi-month contest that asked garden centers to #ShowTheirGrow by sending in photos of their Healthy Grow fertilizer displays. One of the prizes offered was a spotlight on my humble blog.
Pretty much the winning entry

NatureWorks in Connecticut (a state I can not spell without spellcheck) won second place... but it was super CLOSE. So they deserve a feature, too.

Especially because it turns out that they totally rock.

I'm already drooling

That's a heckuva selection!

NatureWorks is located a stones throw from Stars Hollow, which is totally not a real place with real people in it, but that's not stopping me.  I imagine Lorelei and Rory hitting up NatureWorks, leaving with faces painted like Monarch butterfly wings and a tray full of plants that never make it back out of the trunk, once placed in there.

Like, 3 years later, there's still a tray of dead plants back there.


Seriously, some garden centers are just special. NatureWorks is a hub of their community, a place for education, a place for happy employees AND happy customers. If you're able, you should check them out!
Here they are on Facebook                   Here they are on Instagram                     Here's their site

Plant This! Giant Red Mustard

I talk about Red Giant Mustard in presentations and classes that I give, but I can never find a photo on the internet that does it justice. I can't seem to take a good photo of it, either, because I'm not in love with some of the plantings behind it and there's always junk in the way (more accurately, my front door compost bins). I decided that stinkin' thinkin' needs to END. Of course any photo I take is going to be just good enough to get the point across. Uh, right?

This is a gorgeous and totally edible plant that is dang near fool proof and it isn't too late to plant it, this summer, for envious stares from passersby. It reseeds like crazy so before you know it, you can have a full-sized drift of it. If you throw some seeds down in late winter (yeah, I do mean THROW) you'll have a 24"+ tall flowering crop in June. That is, if you don't eat it all before it gets a chance to flower.
It's never too late to sow this stuff.

The young leaves are AWESOME in salads and instead of lettuce on sandwiches and burgers. It's shockingly tasty and, uh, mustardy. The color is badass. I think you'll really like it.

Let your spring crop go to seed, eventually it'll die back and then you'll get another crop once temps cool in the autumn.

You can do this. It's easy and tasty.
If I can post these substandard photos that make me feel all vulnerable and icky, the least you can do is give it a try?

And Now For Something Different: A Retail Display Contest from Healthy Grow

Heathy Grow is a fertilizer company based here in Illinois. They make a mighty fine chicken litter fertilizer that is the "end" product (ya know, manure) from the hens that lay the eggs I buy at the grocery store (or Target). I felt good about buying the eggs to begin with, knowing that they come from a farm that's focused on humane hen care and sustainable farming practices. When I found out they were composting and making a chicken manure fertilizer product available to gardeners (for me it's a local product) it just felt like the right thing to do. A no-brainer! Slam dunk!


Between now and May 1stHealthy Grow is hosting a contest for retailers. They want to see photos of your display(s) of their products in YOUR store! As a person with a passion for independent garden centers, neighborhood hardware stores AND visual merchandising, I'm stoked about this contest, I hope to sneak a peek at the photo entries too!

The prizes for this merchandising contest range from a 1K Visa gift card to a copy of my book. 

Now, I'm not going to give you any hints... that would be cheating. But if I was going to do that, I might whisper to you that using toy chickens, from something like this or even this is a funny/great way to start a conversation with customers about the how and why of this product. As the Healthy Grow peeps say, "The Way It's Made Matters" and there's no better way to explain that to customers than to start at the beginning!

Again, I'm not giving out hints, but if you had a bucketful of red wigglers on a display, you could more easily explain the value of Healthy Grow's worm castings. They could certainly start people talking, then you could mention how great worm castings are for plants. It's just too bad that when you compost with worms at home, sometimes the worms escape in the middle of the night and have a dance party in your bathtub or shower floor. You could then very easily explain the value of this worm casting fertilizer....All the fantastic fertilizer without any of the worms. 

I mean, I'm not going to help you with any helpful hints- but I could possibly let it drop that props, sometimes fun and silly ones, help start conversations and really sell stuff. 

You can find out more here:

Let It Begin: Planting Season 2017 Pep Talk

You might have killed a few plants in the past, maybe a lot of plants. You might think you have a thumb that is a color that’s incongruous with the rest of your body. You’re quite positive that gardening isn’t for you, it’s for old people that have time to dote and keep demanding greenery alive. It breaks your heart that you’ve killed every houseplant ever, even the “indestructible” ones. You tried to start seeds once but it ended in death and lots and lots of mold.

I’m here to tell you, real gardeners kill shit all the time. I, myself, have killed 8 things today and it’s only 10AM and it's February. The difference between you and a freaking FULL-TIME FARMER is that they didn’t give up and you backed down pretty quickly.
Now, I don’t mean to point a finger, I mean to pump you up so that you feel the need to germinate again. All you need is to…
  1. Let’s try looking at dead and dying plants in a different way
  2. Try, try again. Don’t be a quitter.
  3. Some advice on finding the right plants for you that isn’t too complicated. Talk to an actual salesperson that knows what's what.
  4. Understand that we’re all a generation or 2 away from people that grew all their food and it’s really in your genes to get back to growing stuff

Let’s start with #1...
When you compost (that’s the act of helping nature make decayed organic matter that one can use as fertilizer), every plant you kill becomes new life (fertilizer) for other plants that aren’t demanding little asshats. That’s right, if a plant wants to mess with you and let you down, they get thrown in a pile and eventually get fed to plants that think YOU ARE AWESOME and play by your rules.
What part of this doesn’t sound great to you? You’re the boss of your yard. YOU.

Your yard, your rules!

My guess is that you were missing the whole “compost” link in this chain and now the pieces are all coming together. Am I right? You were never to blame, gardening hasn’t been aimed at people like you for a long time, so bonus points to you for even trying in the first place. Now you are going to start your metamorphosis into a badass gardener that makes everything green by just sneezing on it.
And if it doesn’t work out, you just compost it.

You’ve got this.

Succulent Jewelry: Save Your Money and Make It Out of Crap You Find Around Your House

So, I made this succulent jewelry for the cover of this Month's Green Profit magazine. Now, I think succulent jewelry is on the silly side but they asked me to do it and I love a challenge. They didn't even have to doubledogdareme. 
In making it, I had so much fun that my cold, sad heart warmed a little at the idea. So I made a pro and con list as all totally normal people do. 

  • Succulents break like it's their job. In fact, it is. So if you have actual movement planned for the time that you're wearing it.... insert sad face
  • Most people aren't going to propagate the cuttings afterwards, or compost them. It just goes in the garbage after a few wearings, if it lasts that long
  • They are being sold for a shitload of money via Etsy and Instagram
  • Can't wear it if you are a person that experiences Winter, because booger-freezing temperatures kill plants

  • I made it with stuff I had lying around the house, so it ended up being FREE
  • I have a bunch of leggy, overgrown succulents and this was a PERFECT use for them. I just went around the house and clipped everything leggy or overgrown into a bucket and used that. If it was leftover in the bucket at the end, I set them up to be propagated
  • Better use them before the cat gets them
  • I love hot glue gun burns

So, it was as easy as this. I found an old necklace I wasn't wearing, glued a thin layer of dyed chartreuse reindeer moss down and added little bits of succulent cutting on top, with my hot glue gun. The hot glue doesn't hurt the plant, whatsoever, but it can hurt the living heck out of YOU so be careful. You may like to use tweezers to set the tiny bits into tight spaces.

I used some little chunks of gem stones that, no kidding, we got in one of those "mine your own gems" things for kids in the Wisconsin Dells. I took a larger stone, laid it in the driveway and whacked it with a hammer to get tiny shards. There were places were another cutting or hunk of moss seemed totally wrong, but the little piece of stone was just the right texture.

Once I was done, I kept them in the fridge for a few days to monitor any changes they might undergo. Nada!
Since I made one, I tried my hand at a bunch of other stuff. 

In the end, I made one necklace, one bracelet, a ring (LOVED this!) and one earring, since it was for a photoshoot and you wouldn't see both of the model's ears....
This is easy stuff, it would make a fun workshop or party activity, especially for a bridal party! Or maybe drinking a lot might be more fun for that. 
I forgot. 

It's Over Isn't It- Top 10 from 2016

Years ago, I took a ukulele class at the Old Town School of Folk Music. I would start a song, with the class, pretty well but before the end of the song I was just miming along like I was still playing when I had really been out of my depth for a few minutes.

That’s what this summer was like for me. It started comfortably, a soft trickling of flutes, violins and piccolos that have now Boleroed into timpani and trombones and tubas that I can’t keep up with.

So good riddance, summer 2016. I’m going to start fresh next year and I’ll race you to the finish line. Take that.

Here were my top 10 favorite garden things this year:
  1. A 5 gallon bucket of sand with a beach umbrella stuck in it: I could move this apparatus anywhere in the yard for some shade to work under. It was a VERY HOT SUMMER, so this helped enough to actually get work done
  2. MAJOR DISCOVERY: I thought corn gluten was just good for preventing weed seed germination in lawns, but I used a ton of Healthy Grow Corn Gluten in my pea gravel patio and it COMPLETELY prevented the usual crabgrass invasion I deal with. It cut my weeding time down to a sneeze.
  3. Chipmunk inhibitor: You know how squirrels will pull your tomatoes off the vine, take one bite, then reject it and leave it to rot? Well, I think I’d prefer that over the chipmunks that will just eat the whole tomato. I tried curry powder, because I was out of chili powder, and it worked quite well. Then I ran out of curry powder. So I used wasabi powder. I feel like I’ve unlocked some sort of achievement badge in tomato retainment! horror
  4. Variegated Pineapple plants! Who knew? I didn’t. They combine my love of all things Hawaiian with all things variegated. I popped it in next to my front door and I get to admire it all the time. I wonder if it would grow variegated pineapples??
  5. Free municipal mulch: I’ve preached this to others for years, but only figured out how to do it for myself recently. It made my heart beat faster. I just called and they plopped it down in my driveway the next day.
  6. Compost at the front door: Aesthetically not the best choice, but for me it's practical and has me composting absolutely every scrap, no cheating. I started with one bin, now I'm up to 3. No apologies.
  7. Zero end rot: I always get end rot, you know, in my tomatoes but not this year thanks to Healthy Grow tomato formula. I used a ton of it and had the best tomatoes of my LIFE.
  8. Black Mustard puts on a show! I threw some seeds down in spring and was shocked at how awesome (and flipping tall! 5'!!) they came up... and everywhere. They ended up looking very architectural and are definitely keepers. I couldn't capture their awesomeness on film properly so you'll just have to take their word for it.
  9. Pipe Down! Dan gave me dormant pipe organ tubers this spring and I planted them. Look what came up!!
  10. Sensual Touch tulips were the BIGGEST surprise of 2016. I can't believe I can like a tulip this much. I mean, I don't like tulips, but these were INCREDIBLE and looked really great with masses of Brunnera. It looks like a painting at the Art Institute. Uh, the flower, not my planting.... The name is a little icky but the bloom definitely isn't.


Monarda and Mommy Brain

I can’t remember the names of plants anymore. A few weeks ago, someone asked me what daylily that was in my garden and I had to make something up (I said, “Uh, High School Lipstick?” and they bought it). Don’t worry too much about me, there’s nothing wrong that a time machine wouldn’t help, not that I’d use it. 

I seem to suffer from an affliction called “Mommy Brain”. Basically, I lost my mind when I had that kid and it hasn’t come back. 
Maybe it’s like when you have a kid, you give them half your brain and half your heart. Then they have a brain and a half and a heart and a half and you’re left staggering in the corner trying to cope and still think of the word “oatmeal”.

Thinking I was losing my mind, I read a million articles about Mommy Brain and I make sure I go to therapy monthly so I keep it 100. My therapist promises to tell me if and when I’m even stupider. The great thing is that reading and talking to adults is the antidote to Mommy Brain, however they are also the hardest things to do. Here’s me: “No shit, I did 18 loads of laundry yesterday. Have you seen the most recent Paw Patrol? Isn’t it great that after 35 years of being creepy, Lady Elaine Fairchild is in a loving, stable relationship?” These conversations do not make for brain calisthenics over brunch.

I’m sure that currently spending 89% of my life talking to a kid* is to blame for my inability to speak to adults without getting stumped on normal, everyday words or my complete lack of focus for reading anything depthier than a shampoo bottle. Working from home probably doesn't help, either. Some articles **point to the cause of Mommy Brain as increased estrogen leftover from when all that obstetrical stuff went down years ago***, which means I’ve only got, what, 10 more years or so to go in that game. So 10 more years of losing my car keys, 10 more years of translating conversations spoken in English, back into English. Can’t wait to enter the CRONE ZONE!
Pre-Hazel, remembering plant names and having a rockin’ garden was the center of my universe, a real point of pride, and then I created a new center of my universe (with an assist from my husband). Now gardening just something I do when possible, as a luxury or treat. I used to walk my garden each morning, noticing growth and new blooms, now I notice growth and new blooms on my only child each morning, in the 5 minutes after she wakes up and is all smiley and sweet, before she starts whining. The garden pales to her needs and love, although it’s a lot less sassy and pees on me less. It’s a staggering change. It’s been 5 years and I’m not adjusting fast enough. Not that I would change a single thing...

Someone asked me which Monarda this was and all I could come up with was "Uh, red one"

*To be fair, her vocabulary is on point, but she’s still just five.

**I’ve read some articles that say that if my Mommy Brain has lasted this long, I’m doing something wrong. I should pull back, live more mindfully...basically get out in the garden more.
***I saved this particular article but now I can't find it (wah wahhhh)

Return of the Terrarium

Eight years ago, I blogged about my search for a vintage globe-shaped terrarium like my parents had when I was little. For more than EIGHT long years, I searched for one of these things,and I found some, but usually for about $225.

I only wanted to spend about $75, of course. I'm a thrift shopper and my sense of value is catawampus. It's so catawampus it's like my idea of what things should cost is permanently wasted on champagne from Target and dancing on a table.

After so many years, I started to accept moving out of my price range. I started embracing the fact that this endeavor was gonna cost me $200, or more.I had already worked through the other steps of vintage-terrarium-price-acceptance, denial, anger, Ebay custom searches and depression, so it was time. Now, Dan is always willing to pay to get things right, he likes nice things and thinks part if their niceness is what you pay, but hearing me give up and be ready to pay out the nose must have shocked him into action. 

Because he found me a terrarium. He was so stoked that he called me, everyone knows not to call me unless it's something HUGE. "Can you drive to Fort Wayne tomorrow?"

That's a 3 hour drive plus a time zone change. It's not totally abnormal around here to drive that far for renowned pancakes or a $6 Clematis. 

Me:"Why? I really can't drive to Ft. Wayne tomorrow, but oddly I'm speaking about 30 miles from there next week"

He tells me why:
It's $35 and 3 hours away! So he calls the people with the terrarium to offer to Paypal them the $35 right now and... will they hold it for a week? That is our proposed scheme. Of course they could say "no", they could take our money and sell it to someone else anyways, there's a world of messed-up that we are willing to enter at this point. 

Pretty much the worst thing that could happen is that they realize these crazies are willing to drive 3 hours (plus a time zone change) to get this thing, do some research and jack up the price. That would be un-Midwestern of them. 

But that doesn't happen.

They say that of course they would be willing to hold it for us for a week, they are wholesome Midwesterners, like myself, except they won't be home. They are going on a 2-week vacation. 

Yes, they are going on vacation. 
But they are flying out of Midway, approximately 14 minutes from MY HOUSE. 
AAAAAND they are willing to bring it with them from Ft. Wayne, Indiana and rendezvous with us near HERE!


And yes, it's not as white as it used to be and there's a crack that's completely impossible to discern while it's planted up. But, it's MINE!
Want to see how I finished it??
Live moss, a few tiny ferns and a early 2000s toy Yoda that I used to have glued onto the dashboard of my Toyota (get it??).

Like it?? Was it worth the $35?