Just Another Adventure: Expectations Gardeners Grabbed by Life-Altering Events

Just Another Adventure: Expectations

Gardeners Grabbed by Life-Altering Events

Winter blooming witch-hazel beginning to bloom in mid-December in my garden.



Good Intentions

New Year’s Eve is usually a beginning of a process of promised change. I have a birthday in mid-January, so it is both a time of looking back over the expired year and the beginning of new opportunities in my life. There have been times when it has been downright depressing, but most of the time it is a time of promising myself the coming year will be different. In the coming year I will do this or that, I will stop doing something else; all with the best of intentions. By mid-March most of my good intentions toward my life are fast fading memories. I’ll get back to that one later is a favorite promise to myself.



This is the time of the year when I find myself becoming parental toward me. My parents have been departed from this world for many years but their voices remain in the attic of my mind. There are times when I can distinctly identify the voice as my mother, my father or a past authority figure. I know they are there when I begin to hear “You should”, “You oughta”, and “You must”.

That is when I begin shoulding on myself; becoming my own critical parent. On occasion it becomes their past expectations speaking to me rather than who I need to hear from for today’s decisions.


Period of Change

My parents cannot change their messages to me; the script they wrote for my life’s stage production. It is now up to me to write my own lines, create my own vignettes with an eye on the final act. When I listen to the parental part of who I am I tend to create expectations: often unrealistic ones. It is when I think and act in the adult that thoughts become realistic actions.


No Resolutions but One

Jelena Witch-hazel in full bloom. will last into last of March.

I suppose you would call this one a resolution: my intention to not make a resolution this new year.

Instead of resolving to do, or not to do, in my behavior I am punching a hole in the bottom of my bag of expectations.

In the past year I had major surgery and was told it would take a minimum of a year to recover. I resolved to do better than that. I could and would do all that was asked of me, take all meds as prescribed, go to rehabs and go beyond their forecasts for my future. I would go further than what was prescribed, take long walks and go to the Y for exercise. While I do not regret any action I took to better my health, I did set up unrealistic expectations.

When I did not reach my idealistic goals, to fulfill my expectations, due to several setbacks frustration, disappointment and depression set in and it was even more difficult to recover both mentally and physically. By having unrealistic expectations, I set myself up for disappointment, even when I was within the realm of doing well in my recovery.



Because of all that transpired in yesteryear I know this coming year will be filled with action, decisions to be made and met. Many people from my past will be making an appearance in the coming year, along with new acquaintances and business partners. Major decisions need be made effecting the rest of my life.


This Year

This year I am endeavoring to let go of expectations. In doing so perhaps I will be able to see reality as it unfolds, live in the here and now, turning loose of expectations of the tomorrows. For an individual who loves lists, notes, projects and details expecting certain results, planning tomorrow, and having expectations is a “natural.

Yoda said it best: “Do or do not. There is no try.”

Time to book Gene for your next garden event is growing short. Email now to arrange your preferred date.


Just Another Adventure: No Rest Gardeners Grabbed by Life-Altering Events

Just Another Adventure: No Rest

Gardeners Grabbed by Life-Altering Events

Hardy Cyclamen with dusting of snow

No Rest

I am sure you have heard the old saw about “no rest for the wicked or the weary”. I would like to add gardener to that list. Not that gardeners are any more (or less) wicked than any other individual. At spring planting and fall cleanup gardeners may, indeed, be wearier than the average person. I am referring to some of my experiences of late.

Thinking Again
Here I was thinking again. The weather had turned cold and we had our first taste of snow. Christmas was around the corner, so I “gave up” gardening in favor of the coming holidays which I enjoy almost as much as gardening. In any case I do get the same feelings of discovery, of giving, excitement and fulfillment. I had thought to myself, gardening is over for the next month or two, so let’s take a much-needed break before growing weary of each other. There I was thinking again.


Emerging snowdrop foliage

While checking my Facebook page I saw a post from a fellow Indiana gardener who belongs to the same woodlands group. He only live a couple of hours drive from me and has many of the same plants and a strong bent toward shade gardening. Since his garden is in a protected environment he can sometimes boast of blooms before me.
This week he posted a photos Snow Drops (Galanthus) pushing of little green noses of up through the mulch. Now, snow drops are normally early risers, but not due up in my garden until early February, occasionally January if we have a long warm spell in the weather.
My reaction to his post, before thinking, was to comment on how early there were and certainly nothing like that in my garden. All without checking my garden to see if there were indeed still dormant. My friend wrote back to go check and let him know when they made their first showing.

Winter Garden
Well, you know what comes next. I went up the hillside to my garden and looked at all the locations where snowdrops were growing. For the first time in 15 to 20 years of growing snowdrops they were showing ½ to 1 inch growth any place the mulch was light. This in mid-December. I was amazed at their early emergence. Now I need to go back on Facebook and the woodland group to let him, as well as other members, know snowdrops are pushing up in my garden as well.


Bearpaw Hellebore

No gardener can simply take a walk to their garden, take a look at one plant and walk back out. I tend to get lost. I checked the snowdrop locations and while walking the paths picked up some fallen limbs. Got distracted by a tree creeper bird and watched it look for insects for a while, being sure to remain still. Wandered if the hellebore had any plump buds as yet so went checking the Christmas roses (Helleborus niger), then looked at the Helleborus foetidus and its new growth. The only thing saving me from myself was the lack of weeds. Had there been weeds I would have ended up pulling them until the misting rain chased me back to the house. Small wonder gardeners become weary.

Siren Call
It does not take much to respond to a call only gardeners can hear. Just when I think I have had enough gardening, moved to a distraction giving both the garden and I time out, I believe it misses me and calls me back, weary or no. Now I will be returning frequently to the garden to check on the progress of snowdrops growth.


Time to book Gene for your next garden event is growing short. Email now to arrange your preferred date.

Just Another Adventure: Taking Time Out. Gardeners Grabbed by Life-Altering Events

Taking Time Out

Christmas tree by the fire.

Time Out
No. I do not have to stand in the corner for that kind of time out. I believe I outgrew that one. I am referring to taking time out from, or stepping back, from gardening. No matter how much you love gardening and your garden there comes times when it is healthy to think of something else. Here in the mid-West Mother Nature has a tendency to assist in getting between a gardener and his garden. We are experiencing our coldest day time temperatures of the year with snow slurries. Now that will put some distance between a gardener and his garden.

For me, there is a diversion that comes to the rescue. Christmas holidays captures my full attention until after somewhere around mid-January. When it comes to Christmas I will forever remain hovering at the age of eight years old. I never get enough, I never tire from year to year, of the expectations and excitement of all the special activities arriving with this time of the year. The little boy gets to come out and play.

Play Time
A special mood setting in this household is listening to my wife practice Christmas hymns for church organ. At first new music may be stopped and restarted, or a single note searched out, but with each practice the flow gets smoother. Close to Christmas each piece of music will be as she plays at church. While she plays her electric piano I will be decorating inside and outside our home.

The tree
Each year I try to have a different tree, but still maintain two elements that are critical to me in what I feel makes the perfect tree. The tree can be any size or species such as fir, pine, spruce or artificial. To make it a “real” Christmas tree it must be decorated with bubble lights and completed with tinsel just as the trees I remember from my childhood.
Most years I have a model electric train running beneath the tree, but most importantly gaily wrapped presents, each one a surprise to the recipient.

More Mood Setting
Don’t let this aged and wrinkled facade

Birds looking for food at bottom of feeder in snow

fool you. On the inside I remain young enough to watch all Christmas specials on TV. There is Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, and of course the Grinch. Scrooge and Scrooged, A Christmas Story, A Santa Clause and since I like trains, Polar Express. There are others, but these are the “must watch” of the holidays.

Food & Friends
What would the holidays be without food and friends and relatives visiting to see your decorations? To share a good home cooked dinner with all the trimming, a glass of wine or two and a decadent dessert. Fruit cakes are mostly at the butt end of a joke today, but my mother once baked fruit cakes for the town and we children shared the less than perfect. To this day, as holidays begin to draw near, I think of her jam cakes with caramel icing along with her fruitcake. Not to neglect the inner child, cookies with lots of chocolate must be baked so two or three can be eaten warm. Finally there is home make fudge, your choice of recipes.

Can you believe it? I only spoke of gardeners and their gardening in the first paragraph. There may be hope for me yet. I can think thoughts other than….well, you know.

Tiny Tim from Dickens’s Scrooge said it best. “A Merry Christmas to us all; God bless us, every one!

Just Another Adventure: It Finally Happened Gardeners Grabbed by Life-Altering Events

It Finally Happened

Monk’s Hood, Aconitum Bakeri


And When it Did

And when it did happen all turned out to be somewhat anticlimactic. Perhaps even underwhelming. First of the plants in my garden were dug and began their journey to a new home. I had thought I would need a special ceremony to mark the event, perhaps something akin to a funeral or wake.
As it turned out, the emotional aspect was simply not there. My best guess is over a period of time I shared all my grieving with fellow gardeners, adjusting to the concept of one day that move would actually happen.


In Spades

The crew from Yew Dell Botanical Gardens. Photo taken by the director

Early one recent morning two vehicles pulled into my driveway. The executive director or Yew Dell Botanical Gardens, dressed for digging, came forward to shake hands, and introduces me to the rest of the crew. There was the all-important person with the clipboard who would take notes and record each plant as it was dug and placed into a container for moving. Two nursery apprentices filled out the crew. All were gardeners, so I felt all would be just fine.

It was interesting to watch the dynamics of the group as they went about the task of the actual manual labor of digging individual plants. The director must have been close to withdrawal symptoms for a gardening fix. He took possession of the spade and pretty much did all the digging. Could also have been he wanted to be the one responsible, reassuring me, as the plants were dug. Whatever the reasoning it worked.


Comfort Zone

I had thought that there was no way I would be comfortable with some else sticking a spade in my garden soil or only I had been allowed to perform that ritual. Could I have done the digging differently? Probably. Would I have? More than likely. But, leaving all the uneasy nick picking aside, he did the deed just fine. Also I was not as anxious, did not have to close my eyes, or cringe as he dug. The apprentices were just as careful in how they handled the plants. The lady with the clip board had lots of questions and made sure all was recorded properly. No plant would be lost in the move.


My Task

I could not physically do the deed myself and spent the morning with my own clip board. Before they came I went through the garden making notes on what was to make the first journey. The morning was filled with my making suggestions and defining areas safe to dig. There was one moment when I grabbed a spade and tried to dig in a touchy area, but mostly I worked on staying out of the way of those doing the manual labor.

Evergreen plants were obvious choices for they were in the process of going dormant, but above all, they could be clearly seen. All I had to do was remember what I used as companion plants and their location. Epimediums were the number one in sheer number of plants moved. I knew Polygonatum or Solomon’s Seal, was big on the director’s lust list so those were placed on the to-go list. Most had dead stems above the mulch line so there were brown flags to mark the locations. Rohdea japonica Sacred Lily of China, were dug on the way out of the garden as an afterthought.


Stiff Upper Lip

When we had collected all that the two vehicles would hold it was time for lunch. We reached a consensus on which location best met the wants of five individuals. While at lunch the topics ranged from local hort rumors to latest technology, just as gardeners do at a gathering. No emphasis was made of my garden or the plants.

We said our goodbyes and each headed for their vehicle. I to return home, the others back to Yew Dell with the plants. On the drive back home, I found myself being rather pleased with me. No “sticky wickets” were encountered, no need of “stiff upper lips”, for I was comfortable with all that had transpired.

It remains to be seen how I react to the rest of the digs until the garden no longer exists.

Time to book Gene for your next garden event is growing short. Email now to arrange your preferred date.

Just Another Adventure: Third Time’s a Charm Gardeners Grabbed by Life-Altering Events

Just Another Adventure: Playing Favorites


Gardeners Grabbed by Life-Altering Events

Third Time’s a Charm

Cyclamen hederifolium, long leaf form, with Christmas ornaments


Third time’s a charm.

The old proverb “Third time’s a charm” has proved itself to be true. I mentioned before that I have, in the recent past, placed one half of my garden up for sale.


First Time Around

I was so sure of myself that first time offering my plants to a historical home in my area. I felt before making the offer known that it had to be a sure thing. My plants would have gone to a woodland garden that I have known, donated to, and walked numerous times. Their remaining incomplete space and future projects were perfectly matched to the plants I was offering. I also happened to like and appreciate the knowledgeable managers who were also gardeners. We were such a dovetail fit for each other I could not see how the offer could not be taken.  We discussed the details and the offer was declined. That was a major disappointment and I almost stopped making my offer known.


Second Time Around

The second time I was contacted by an individual wanting to start up a small family nursery. We met, had dinner together and discussed the details. The second time around I felt was a  sure thing as the individual wanted the plants and we got so far as discussing how and when to move the plants, along with a startup date for his adventure. Soon after our meeting he returned home, and after thinking over the deal, wrote it was not a good time financially. Needless to say I was disappointed as I enjoyed the individual and felt we would have had an interesting relationship.


That Charm

Putting the word out a third time around I used a different approach. I knew the director of Yew Dell Botanical Garden and was aware we both had a good friend in common. I spoke with our mutual friend and he, in turn, talked to the director. Within a couple of weeks I sent a follow up email and Paul Cappiello, Executive Director, of Yew Dell Botanical Gardens came for a visit. We walked the gardens discussing details, and as we talked I had the feeling that he had said yes before he arrived here. We had lunch, talked more details and shook hands on the deal. At least one half of my garden now has a new home. The third time was, indeed, the charm.


Snow covered Guardian of the Steps. His expression says it all.


Sitting in front of a window, sipping my cup of afternoon hot tea, looking out over my water falls, I began reflecting upon the events of recent past and the resulting future for both me and my garden, for each individual plant.

I believe that all of life is a flow. The difficult part of life is recognizing and following that flow. While the first two attempts to sell a part of my gardens were a disappointment at the time of failure, the results were actually creating a resounding success. Those two failures formed a flow to include what was best for me, my plants, and sale of my garden. Now that the handshake has taken place I see that my children of thirty plus years could not have found a better home than Yew Dell Botanical Gardens.


Time to book Gene for your next garden event is growing short. Email now to arrange your preferred date.

Just Another Adventure: Playing Favorites Part 2 Gardeners Grabbed by Life-Altering Events

Just Another Adventure: Playing Favorites Part 2

Gardeners Grabbed by Life-Altering Events

Dicentra eximia and Epimedium Pink Champagne


Top Ten Plants 

If I could only select ten plants from my garden which ones would I choose?

I have attempted to follow my emotions rather than the dictates of good garden design. No thought is given to what goes best with what along with bloom periods. Simply what treasures come to mind as I walk the garden. Plants I have formed a fond relationship with over the years. In no special order, I give you my top ten plants to ponder.

Trillium nivale

From the beginning of my gardening activity I have held ties to trillium that began with our local native species T. nivale. While walking the woods along the bluffs of the Blue River one sunny March I discovered the Dwarf Snow Trillium growing in pockets of leaf mold. About four inches tall, its three leaves were large for the height and shaded blue over green. The snow-white three-petaled bloom hovered centered just above the substantial foliage. I later learned it is the first species of trillium to bloom each late winter.

I have collected trillium over many years, and of the fifty-plus species, I have many of the species east of the Rockies along with some natural hybrids and selections. Of all the special trilliums in my collection I could not part company with the colony I grew over the years.

Hepatica transsylvanica, is my filtered down and special selection among the hepatica I have grown in my garden. I began collecting hepatica with our local native H. americana, acutiloba, but then became aware of the non-native species from Japan and Europe. Of all collected and grown the H. transsylvanica is my favorite for the three lobed foliage that resembles polished clover. The two I have successfully grown have blue blooms and one is a special double form. This species is from Transylvania and Rumania and, for me, grows much better, having a better survival rate, than Asian or European species. I almost chose our local native that I discovered walking the forest close by my home, but I could never find one that bloomed in blue, only white and pink. Blue blooms are special to me.


Walking Fern


I have long been fascinated by ferns and have one or more in every part of my shade garden. I walked through my garden several times trying to make a final selection of which one would make the move with me to a new garden. I stopped at the garden entrance and once again admired Woodsia polystichoides in a hypertufa container. Only six inches tall this species is one tough survivor in pale whitish-green. Asplenium trichomanes ‘Cristatum’ is so tiny and neat with its crests at the end of each frond in deepest green, it resides near my fairy house. Adiantum pedatum is our native Maidenhair fern and draws me to it like a magnet with it wiry stems and lacy leaves.

Then I pause by the Walking fern, Camptosorus rhizophyllus where it is growing on a mossy rock. Long slender fronds touch tips to the moss, take root, and grow another version of itself. It is my pride and joy for it is not easy to establish and I have been so successful.



Spotty Dotty Podophyllum, Asian Mayapple

Early on I discovered our native Mayapple in our woods and a start was transplanted in my garden. While it was not exactly a knock your socks off perennial, it was a native plant and I found it quietly appealing in foliage and perhaps a bit for the single bloom. Then came the distraction. Podophyllum ‘Spotty Dottie’ Mayapple caught my attention and it was love at first sight. I had to possess Dottie. The lobed and mottled leaves are up to twelve inches across, have an outline of a fancy beach umbrella, in pale green with chocolate spots. Blooms are tassels of garnet-red beneath the leaves resembling something belonging on velvet drapery.

I went on to order other Podophyllum species and hybrids, but Dottie always held my attention.

Gaultheria procumbens

Gaultheria procumbens with winter berries and frost.

Wintergreen is my favorite creeping shrub all twelve months of the year for it always gets dressed up for each season. New growth is copper-red and absolutely stunning with the sun behind the new foliage. Blooms are white hanging urns and in fall the blooms have become scarlet-red berries lasting through the winter for ice and snow to enhance. All the while having small rounded leaves of heavy substance that can be picked and chewed from their wintergreen fragrance and taste.

Many companion plants have come and gone in the bed with wintergreen, but it has become a groundcover fit for a Christmas card.


Epimedium Pink Champagne foliage


I have long been unable to resist the next new epimedium described by my favorite nurseries, and as a result, have quite a few of them in my garden. I don’t believe there is such a thing as a “bad” Barren Wort or Fairy Wings, but I have developed my favorites over the years. If I could only take one with me it would be Pink Champagne Fairy Wings. Of medium height with long leaves it has pink blooms in abundance and foliage that is always changing color. Not only is it beautiful it is among the easiest to transplant, performs year in and year out, and just happens to be a jewel among other epimediums in my garden.


Polygonatum multiflorum ‘Blue Wings’


I have been a collector of Solomon’s Seal since the first year of gardening in shade. I began with the most common local species P. biflorum, then found the Giant Solomon’s Seal P. canaliculatum. From there it was on to the non-natives. If I could only have one it would have to be P. ‘Blue Wings’. I receive my start in a trade with a fellow gardener in London, England.

The slow creeping rhizomes form a tight colony and top one third of the eighteen inch stem arches. Blooms are white bells and they hang beneath glorious glaucous powder-blue leaves. I have it along a path where I can look down into the clump as I descend steps on the hillside.




Hellebore thibetanus


What is there to not like about a hellebore? Evergreen foliage, winter blooming, lots of species and hybrids to choose from, and readily available. While I very much enjoy all the colorful H. x garden hybrids, my first temptation was to choose the Christmas Rose, H. niger. Then H. foetidus almost won the place on my list. After much discussion with myself I chose H. thibetanus, the Himalayan hellebore.  Difficult to find as teeth in a rooster, it is a most prized plant with blooms of pale pink having darker veins having large bracts behind each flower. It comes up a bit later than other hellebores, and goes dormant early. Very captivating.


Always my first snowdrops to bloom.



Snowdrops gets an opportunity to become a travelling companion based upon bravery. This little bulb is the first up and in bloom every late winter with no concern for the local weather. The blooms are some version of single hanging white bells at the end of a green stem separate from the foliage which is grass-like. There are tall ones, short ones, double blooming and named cultivars with special marking on the blooms. Of all the snowdrops in my garden my favorite is Galanthus elwesii, or Tall Snowdrop. Among the tallest at five inches or more, it has green inner segments and the foliage is broad with glaucous coating and happens to be a good “do-er”.



Cyclamen coum

Cyclamen hederifolium

While I have four species of hardy cyclamen doing well in my garden, it is Ivy leaf hardy cyclamen that wins out over the other three. It emerges in September just as other perennials and bulbs are getting ready to go to sleep. Blooms resemble shooting stars of pink or white, but it is the foliage with fascinates. So much breeding has gone into developing leave colors and patterns it is hard to stop ordering just one more. I could be happy with the all pewter colored leaf or the ones with a dark green “Christmas tree” pattern in the center and shading to silver to the edge of a leaf. And, they grace the garden all winter.


If you could have only ten plants from your garden which ones would you choose?

Time to book Gene for your next garden event is growing short. Email now to arranged your preferred date.


Just Another Adventure: Playing Favorites Part 1 Gardeners Grabbed by Life-Altering Events

Just Another Adventure: Playing Favorites Part 1

Gardeners Grabbed by Life-Altering Events

Gentians saponaria with falling leaves



In spite of, and because of, the condition of my garden I recently had two gardeners came to visit. Gardeners both who have been long time visitors and among my favorites as individuals. They came to pick up the last of my plants for sale and to help with weeding in my garden. We placed lunch at the head of the day’s schedule and once there enjoyed warm soul food on a chilly day, a great view overlooking a bend in the Ohio River, and conversation better than the desert served. Needless to say, no time was left to weed in the garden.


Walking and Talking

We had time to take a short walk in the garden and as we approached the entrance I was asked “What is your favorite plant?” Goodness! That is akin to asking which of my children I love most. I simply cannot do that either with my children or my plants. However I did get to thinking along similar lines. First question to myself was if I could only take one plant from the garden when I move, which one would it be? Try as hard as I could imagine, I was not able to select only one from thirty-plus years of gardening. My next thoughts were OK if I could take only ten plants from my garden would I be able to make the selections?

Not entirely sure I could actually reach a final selection, dig only those plants and pot up for when the moving van backs up to my belongings. After all, each plant in my garden is there because I chose it, transplanted and nurtured, admired and photographed, it over the years. How does one select only a piece of their soul and wave a fond farewell to those who remain?


Water feature

Fall foliage at the header of my water feature

It would seem we all desire most what we cannot have. Before selecting the first plant in my garden it comes to me what I desire most from my gardens. My water feature will be the most difficult to leave behind. Difficult to put into words just why I am so attached to my water fall.

When I was a small boy I ran away from home and played in the woods. Many of my days were spent wading in a small stream where I constructed dams and caught minnows. At the top of the hill that provided background to the stream there was a sunken area with a solid sheet of greenest moss imaginable. Many is the day I spent laying on my back in the cool moss watching the clouds form Rorschach tests on their way to another small boy.

I designed my water feature to resemble my experiences as a small boy. There are large moss covered stones forming the sides of the stream, the bed and falls are all solid stone with algae forming green strings for frogs to lay their eggs providing tadpoles for play. Plant used in the landscaping along the stones place an emphasis on the color cool green. Even the sound of the water brings back another time and place of peace.

But, one cannot pick up a water feature.

Next week: If I could only have 10 plants from my garden which ones would they be?

Time to book Gene for your next garden event is growing short. Email now to arranged your preferred date.


Just Another Adventure: Winter’s Arrival Gardeners Grabbed by Life-Altering Events

Just Another Adventure: Winter’s Arrival

Gardeners Grabbed by Life-Altering Events

Wintergreen berries, Gaultheria procumbens

Winter’s Arrival

Oh No!

Of course we all knew it was coming. Says so on the calendar. Robins are flocking together, ready to do the migration thing, butterflies disappearing, and wooly worms giving their winter forecast on the way under a log are all obvious indicators. Persimmon pits tell of the severity of the winter to come. Nut trees are hanging heavy this fall providing substance for squirrels in the coming bad winter. All the indicators are there yet I end up surprised and unready when first hints of winter arrive.

There is nothing drastic in weather thus far. Only the drama of my reaction. Our usual heavily overcast gloomy-grey skies are so thick they could be cut and spread like jam. The extremes thus far are temps in the mid-30s at night. Daytime highs are too low to be outside. We had one day of wind and rain mixed with wet snow. No way even a dedicated gardener would walk in that weather. But, when my old bones call for firing the woodstove up I know my days outside in the garden have limited possibilities. Even though it is temporary is any gardener ever ready to be separated from their garden.


Aconitum, Monkshood seedling in garden

An annual battle is with summer annual weeds in my garden. This year I made myself a promise their eradication was priority number one. Get them removed before they set seed into the mulch for next year’s invasion. Now that winter has arrived my number one priority has morphed into my top failure. In spite of help from fellow gardeners and some attempts at weeding by myself, it turned out to be too little too late.

There were two species of weeds I do battle with most. The native Jewel Weed (Impatient capensis), which is almost as tall as it is prolific, growing up to overshadow the rest of the garden plants. They are very shallow rooted so I easily pulled many of them. For some reason unknown to me the deer decided jewel weeds were desert this year and kept them eaten back to about six inches, along with an absence of bloom or seed. Thank you deer. Not 100% eradication, but at the least some sense of control.

The bane of my garden is Mulberry Weed (Fatoua villosa). This weed is so rampant it forms a groundcover. It absolutely loves the shade of my garden, the mulch and good soil. They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions and my eradication of this weed turned out to be my path to perdition.  I pulled the shallow rooted weed, my friends came and pulled the little evil sprouts, and yet they proliferated, maturing to spread seeds for next year’s battle renewed. Even the deer would not touch this unholy nuisance. The only good in this story is gardeners always look forward to the next year for it will be better. I can only hope.


Gene’s eBook tells the rest of the garden story

Most of the leaves have been picked up, chopped and dumped in piles on bare spots in the garden. I still need to spread the leaves into groundcovers. When a good frost arrives the remainder of our leaves will drop and need to go through the process of becoming potential food and mulch. All that one takes is a couple of dry sunny days. There is always a sense of accomplishment when seeing the lawn green and leaf free, the garden all beneath a brown blanket.



The paths are littered with collected limbs, the remains of dead trees sawn into pieces-parts. Weeds have been pulled and piled into paths to become mounds of brown to trip over. The intent was to get them into containers when dry so the weight would be much less carrying them down the hillside. They were rained on and now lie there a sodden mess. Again, a couple of sunny dry days and some effort on my part will take care of that one.


All did not turn out as I had hopped for this year in the garden. But, we usually receive some sunny dry weather before winter comes in earnest. There may be hope yet. There may also be a lesson in the illusion of control.

Time to book Gene for your next garden event is growing short. Email now to arranged your preferred date.

Just One More Adventure: Success Breeds Success Gardeners Grabbed by Life-Altering Events

Just One More Adventure: Success Breeds Success

Gardeners Grabbed by Life-Altering Events

Japanese bridge at Memphis Botanic Garden

Success Breeds Success


I gave my last scheduled talk of the year to the Mid-South Hosta Society in Memphis, TN. It was another trial for me and my stamina levels over a four day trip filled with activities. Also learning to control oxygen supply I would need for a day of on the move. Turns out my concerns were far larger than the reality of my journey. The taste of success in my last talk in Evansville, IN went a long way in reassuring me this presentation would be just fine. After all, nothing breeds success like a previous success.

Booster 1

My sense of success actually comes from others and the boosts they gave along the way. My hosts were among the most gracious, the friendliest, I have had the pleasure of meeting in many a moon. They were the most welcoming to their neck of the woods from the moment we arrived until we performed those southern good byes in the parking lot. How can you not feel great about meeting new gardeners?

The audience were the warmest and attentive. Everyone had a friendly smile on their face, words of welcome, and I simply knew and felt that I was among family. A family reunion of gardeners. The comments after my talk certainly were a boost to the ego.

Memphis Botanic Garden was toured in a golf cart driven by my host. There is no way to describe all that we saw in only a half day tour.  The amazing plant collections, the exhibits such as the Japanese style garden were even more exciting than the one I saw at St Louis Botanic Garden. The traditional spirit bridge and red arched bridge alone were worth the drive to Memphis and its botanic garden. I do hope to return and spend more time there.

The facilities and buildings were clean and neat, landscaping of note. Someone(s) must work very hard on the landscaping. Certainly a “shot in the gardening arm”.

Company I was Among

Lunch was outdoors at the Dixon Gallery and Museum. The first words that come to mind are southern hospitality. The light lunch and service was above expectations, but what stood out most were the gardeners at the table. They knew every nursery owner and their reputation, all the speakers, and the latest gossip. It did not occur to me until later that I was among extraordinary company in knowledge and experience. The speakers mentioned in conversations were only the best and most sought after names. And here I was seated at the table with all these exceptional gardeners. Could there have been unspoken expectations?

After lunch we received a private tour of the woodland gardens at Dixon. Being a shade gardener I could not help but note and regard with plant envy all the shrubs and perennials I cannot grow in my garden. An exceptional garden with an exceptional tour guide. My only regret of the day was not having the time to explore the gallery and museum exhibits.


The toad abode at header of my water feature

I felt as though my presentation flowed. I was in my groove and relaxed. Everyone in the audience was an old friend I had come to meet. I looked out over the audience and saw eyes looking back at me, smiles and heads nodding in recognition as opposed to nodding off after dinner. Mingle before and after the talk was very satisfying. Couple more compliments added to all that were given and I would need a larger size hat.

Energy Boost

The one thing all the activities and new gardeners met had in common was the flow of positive energy. I felt as though I was being fed the energy rise above any obstacles either real or perceived. With the flow being fed how could I not be successful? I look forward to continuing my flow of success in 2018.


You can help continue my flow of success by booking me now while I still have dates open.



Just One More Adventure:Changin’ Gardeners Grabbed by Life-Altering Events

Just One More Adventure: Changin’

Gardeners Grabbed by Life-Altering Events

Sassafras fall foliage




Individuals have a wide range of reactions to change. Some seem to be reluctant to change, some enjoy change, others abhor and resist. Much research has been done, especially in the business world, and the information available on the subject is as wide and deep as the ocean.

One of the better examples I can think of is back when I was employed for a large organization. Our supervisor would begin a talk with “I know you do not like change, but. Yesterday we did it one way, today and forever more we will be doing it a new way, until such time as we do it differently”. No doubt about it; we would all be doing it the new way, for there was no choice. However, no matter how big or small the change there would always be grumbling and mumbling.



Gene’s eBook tells the rest of the garden story

I love my routines and my schedules. I find a profound sense of satisfaction, comfort and contentment, security and serenity in knowing what comes next and when. So, when my schedule is disrupted by anyone or anything I usually not appreciative, to say the least. Forced change in my schedules are not something to obsess over, but I seem less resistant to changes in my routine than when younger.

Illness, some disabilities new to me, and all that goes with medical issues, certainly has taught me some patience and adaptability. I must confess the older I become the less I appreciate change, but the more changes I find myself making.



Twenty, perhaps twenty-five, years ago I received three dogwoods trees as a gift. They were to be two pink blooming and one white. They were transplanted along a path about twenty feet apart and I waited to see the first blooms. Turns out the trees were all white blooming, but too late to dig them up and take them back, plus they were a gift, do I accepted three nice looking dogwood trees in my garden. After all, dogwoods have long been a favorite tree.


Three years ago one of the trees died. While I did mourn the loss of the tree I also saw an opportunity to use the standing dead as a support for clematis vines. Two different clematis vines were ordered and transplanted at the base of the dead dogwood. They quickly scrambled up the trunk and branched on to the limbs for a design I was rather pleased with.


Things Change

Another sign of fall, Cyclamen hederifolium with Christmas Tree pattern in the foliage

The garden I once walked for serenity at every possible opportunity I no longer seem to travel as often. A few days after a storm I went into the garden and found the dogwood tree had been blown down and was laying across the path, reaching into a mature oakleaf hydrangea. The tree had rotted at soil level. There went my clematis support. Or had it?


Looking at the damage I believe I can unravel the clematis from the fallen tree. Once that is accomplished I can swing the base around and align it with flat stones arranged along the path. I am looking at cutting the limbs from one side so the trunk will lay in the mulch while some branches stick upward. Once stable my intention is to rewrap the clematis among the branches and perhaps laying along the stones for close-up as I walk that path. Who says clematis must always scamper upward?


My garden and my world seem to always be changing. I am not always overly fond of the change that is asked of me, but I suppose most of the time I have a choice. I can spend my time and energy fighting and resisting changes or take them one piece at a time until a whole is solved. My routine can change, my habits reformed, my schedules amended; I can adapt. I can change.

Invite Gene to speak at your next garden event before all dates are taken.