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.


Just One More Adventure: Ta-Da! Gardeners Grabbed by Life-Altering Events

Just One More Adventure: Ta-Da!

Gardeners Grabbed by Life-Altering Events

Aconitum, Monkshood, blooms with Japanese maple


Ta-Da indeed! You do know that ta-da is an expression used to substitute for the sound of a fanfare.  Dictionary reads “and exclamation of triumph or pride accompanying an announcement or taking a bow”. All of which is right on cue as I exit stage left from my most recent accomplishment. A feat of which I am most proud of myself.


In August I received an invitation to speak at a regional meeting of Great Rivers Holly Society in Evansville, IN. The presentation was to take place in a new facility within Mesker Zoo and Botanic Garden. I was relieved the booking was only a couple of months from the speaking date for that gave me much less time to wonder and worry; to anticipate the event. My last speaking engagement had taken place well over a year ago. My surgery was six months back and I was still experiencing some ”technical difficulties” with my health.  Could I make the trip and did I have the breath to talk for over an hour? Would I be able to produce as promised?

Guinea Pigs

I did not think of my accepting a speaking date was using my hosts as Guinea Pigs, but, in a way I suppose they were.  They had not an inkling of my health problems when they emailed me to ask if I would speak to their group, and I did not try to dissuade or give warnings. As with Captain Jean-Luc Picard of Star Trek, and the British naval officers he borrowed the phase from, I began my new journey by pointing my imaginary finger and saying “Make it so”. I would begin and then deal with the details as I went.

Good Times

Gene’s eBook tells the rest of the garden story

My wife, JoAn, drove me to Evansville which was about a one and one half hour drive. We arrived an hour earlier than planned for we forgot they were in Central Time zone. A cup of hot tea at the motel where we were booked and they day began, before long we went to lunch and from there drove on to Mesker Zoo where me met for a tour of exotic trees, shrubs and animals from Amazonia. Did not know if I could finish the up and down hill walk, but when I though no one was looking I leaned against various supports. Bu the time we ended up at the hall where I was to speak I was exhausted from the first half of the day.

With only a few spare breaths it was time to set up and give my talk. After an introductions and I began my presentation titled “Ten Months of Bloom in the Shade Garden” I caught a second wind and feel that my bad jokes were just as bad as in the past, and the audience moaned in all the appropriate places. We still had a short break to check into the motel then prepare for a drink and dinner.

After dinner there was an auction and temptation beyond belief. I decided that I really did not need to bid on any plants for my garden and the best way to do that was to leave. I find it hard to give up my old plant lust. We made our good nights and went up to our room.

The Price Paid

I made it through the day and managed to come through as was expected of me. However, the hangover on the day after was a day of recovering from exhausted. Mostly I slept all day, and in between naps and sleep wandered around in a bleary-eyed fog.


But, bless my shinny buttons, I did it. The next presentation should be a touch easier and the ones after that just like in the old days.

Book Gene now to speak at your next garden club meeting.


Just One More Adventure: Looking Up Gardeners Grabbed by Life-Altering Events

Just One More Adventure: Things Are Looking Up

Gardeners Grabbed by Life-Altering Events

Aster and Goldenrod Combination in the garden

Looking Up

Reality and attitude are not always in alignment, but attitude usually rises above. I do feel as though things are looking up. If I am looking up just in time to see rain falling, or a bird shit as it flies over, or a crick in the back of my neck from looking up too long, so be it. I am feeling ok with the possibilities for they have not happened and more than likely will not. Those are just fears of being happy. Rather than watching for bird poop I am looking at what is satisfying to me in the here and now. None of my friends get everything they want the way they want it when they want it, so would hazard a guess that I will not either. Meanwhile there are other things in my life that I can be thankful for and appreciate so I can find contentment and happiness in the life I am living.



I can get by with a little help from my friends. Remember the lyrics from the tune Little Help From my Friends from Beatles and Joe Crocker? Been wandering around flowing my bellybutton with the tune cycling in my head. With good reason, for I am finding myself more and more appreciative of my friends who send poetry and compliments reminiscing over our past.  Others come visit and weed in my garden, sit on the front porch and revisit as we enjoy each other’s company and catch up on who is doing what in the gardening world.



Well, not just yet. I did finally make a decision to have one of my books published. Completed a prospectus for the company and sent it off for a friend to edit for me before submission. (There is that word Friend again). I have been putting this action off for years now, and feel like now is the time to make the leap holding a life saver of confidence.



As I take my walks I watch what is in bloom in the fencerows along the road. Now I am blessed with an abundance of asters. There are two species in particular at this time. One I cannot locate a positive ID on. It is about 2 to 3 feet in height with multiple branches reaching out from the central stem. Usually it is leaning over or laying on other plants. Right now it is covered with tiny white daisies, each with an egg yolk-yellow center. The blooms are so crowded along the branches that the foliage cannot be seen. Makes me think of as star filled night only in the daylight, and I feel I should pause and see if I can locate my zodiac sign in the patterns.

Blue wood aster, (Aster cordifolius) or Heart Leaved Aster is my favorite. The color of blooms range from a pale lavender over snow white to deep blue with a yellow center. It, too, is covered with blooms along the woodland edge and in shaded fencerows. It may be common in numbers but there is nothing common when it is in bloom.

Raydon’s Favorite and October Skies have formed colonies in my wife, JoAn’s, shrub border. October Skies with its lavender-blue blooms has a bottle tree for a companion. Insects buzz the blooms fattening up for fall and winter (I use cookies to fatten up for fall…. Or any other time of the year).


Happy Anniversary

Hemiboea henryi, the glossy groundcover

Before the next week is out I will have had my open heart surgery 6 months behind me. Now on top of the bell curve and a high. I count the months until a year has passed and I realize a promised recovery, gaining back my strength and stamina.


I have now completed 36 sessions of Cardio rehab and that is the end of my trips to the hospital 3 times a week.  The trips only morphed into the same number of tips to the Y each week. The rehab my end, but the exercise and routine never ends.

I have become more accepting of my oxygen bottle. I have quit fighting it and in the process of making changes so it can be stumbled over less when I am working. Mostly I am simply admitting to myself that it is not going away any time soon and let it be a partner in my health.

I have extended the length of my walks once more. Beginning in October I now cover just under 4 miles each walk. Walking up and down the hills along the Blue River has been a challenge, but the walks are becoming more enjoyable as they become easier. I am finally remembering breathing techniques learned in rehab and using them at the right time as they are needed. Does make a big difference in strength to go on.

Overall I would say things are looking up.

Let’s talk plants and gardening. Book Gene now for 2018.

Just One More Adventure: Green Acres Gardeners Grabbed by Life-Altering Events

Just One More Adventure: Green Acres

Gardeners Grabbed by Life-Altering Events


Andy, my assistant with the chore of picking up the leaves for mulch.


Green Acres

Green Acres was a TV sitcom airing from 1965 to 1971. That is back far enough to have begun broadcasting in black and white and ended up being seen in color. While I did not watch every episode I would, on occasion, tune in for the comedy that poked fun at rural life. Something I could understand well for I came from a very small rural town.

If you are not familiar with Green Acres, the sitcom featured Eddie Albert as a city-slicker attorney, Oliver Wendell Douglas, who purchased a sight-un-seen rundown farm to fulfill his dream as a farmer. In the process he dragged along with him a glamorous wife Lisa played by Eva Gabor who dressed as though she was on the way to a Whitehouse Gala ball and Douglas wore his suit and tie while on the tractor. Neither knew what they did not know about rural life.


I Resemble That

There was a time when I probably resembled the sitcom circumstances for I moved to the country from the city somewhat on impulse. In spite or originating from the country I lived in a city most of my life. Whatever I thought I had known about rural life I seemed to have forgotten, but I was about to learn what I thought I knew.


My Country Estate

I purchased a small hillside home with 5 acres surrounded by mature trees. There was American Elms, Sugar Maples, Tulip Poplar, Green Ash and Shagbark Hickory to name a few. The home went back to the 1860’s before air conditioning, so trees surrounded the house providing shade. I learned that trees drop their leaves each fall and someone has to get them away from the foundation of the house and off of the struggling grass.

The first few years I was out there with a hand rake for almost 2 solid months raking leaves up, carrying them to the edge of the woods and dumping them. I stumbled into vegetable and later perennial gardening which led to subscribing to gardening magazines. The ornamental garden grew like, well, a weed and began to take over the hillside. One evening after dinner I was reading an article about mulch and a light went off. I had been discarding the leaves and purchasing hardwood mulch for my garden. I could have been using the leaves as a mulch in the perennial shade garden and composted leaves in the vegetable garden. Shades of Green Acres. Creating brown gold from leaves is like learning an amazing alchemy.



Now I use a blower to move the leaves and a lawn and garden tractor with an attachment that chops and picks up the leaves filing up 3 baskets. In September and October, sometimes into the first part of November, those baskets are carried one at a time up the hillside and spread about 3 inches thick around all the plants.  This year the leaves are falling early, skipping the fall colors.



Arisaema dracontium seeds

There was a time when I did the raking and moving of leaves by myself. But those days are now long gone. I spend an hour or so each day with my blower moving leaves out on to the lawn to be picked up with the tractor. After a 10 hour day at her employment my wife, JoAn, then drives the tractor picking up the leaves, then walking up the hillside with baskets of leaves and taking them to spread in the garden. I actually miss not being able to have the process all to myself, but still do not have the stamina to carry the baskets and walk up that hill repeatedly. Also managing my oxygen bottle on one shoulder while trying to carry baskets simply does not work, or if it does, as yet I cannot find a way. Although she is perfectly capable of the task and willing to give me a hand with my garden, I nevertheless feel lacking or inadequate.


Perhaps in the not too distant future I will find my next dream, my next Green Acres and gather baskets of epiphanies in that new vision.

Gene still has some openings for giving presentations to garden groups in 2018

Just One More Adventure: Surprise! Surprise! Gardeners Grabbed by Life-Altering Events

Just One More Adventure: Surprise! Surprise!

Gardeners Grabbed by Life-Altering Events

St. Louis Botanic Garden

Surprise! Surprise!


Jim Neighbors

In the immortal words of Gomer Pyle “Surprise! Surprise!” Perhaps a “Sha-zam!, or a Gall-lee or still yet a Garsh” should be thrown in for good measure. I had no idea what to expect when I sent out a call in my last blog for help in the garden. I suppose I was more or less trying not to have expectations; perhaps a bit of holding my breath in anticipation. Whatever I was, or was, not expecting, I certainly was surprised at the results.


Past visitors

Looking over the names of those who contacted me to volunteer weeding in my garden I see familiar names. Gardeners I knew from visiting my garden while my nursery was in operation. Some names stretched back over many years. Each year I could count on most of the names showing up more than once during a gardening season. It was not that I had forgotten any of the visitors, just the nursery had closed and I could not maintain the garden, so I withdrew.


Should-a, Ought-a

Seeing those names again reminds me that I should not have withdrawn from my old gardening friends. I suppose I should not take on the critical parent role and ought-a, should-a on myself. Sooner rather than later would have been much friendlier on my part if I had invited them all over for a drink on the front porch. It would also have given me help in maintaining my garden, and all I had to do was ask.


Promises Made

The volunteers have let me know they want to help out. It will be interesting to see who can make it for a visit. Lots of promises get made in an emotional moment. It is so easy to say yes when you mean maybe, or I don’t know. (I am hedging my bets here). It is not that their caring and good intentions are not there, it is simply reality rears its head under the best of circumstances. He or she wanted to help but life kept interfering.

The lady who has showed up on two Saturday mornings promptly at 8:30 has been a godsend. She is knowledgeable, dependable and follows instructions to a letter. I do not have to concern myself with what she removes while weeding. She weeds until just before noon, comes down off the hillside and washes up. We have lunch on the front porch and catch up on who is doing what in the local garden world along with memories of our past relationship. Then she heads home to the tune of a 45 minute drive leaving me to my afternoon nap. What more could a garden pal ask of another gardener?

More than Weeding

I think I am looking forward to the social aspect as much as the weeding that desperately needs to be done. I have neglected my contacts with other gardeners and now that a gardener has come calling, I realize just how much they are missed. It would seem just as the garden needs maintaining to stay healthy, so do I. Perhaps the visits are fertilizer to my social life. (There is a lot of bs gets spread about when we get together).

You all come now, you hear? Saving up to purchase that Pepsi for sharing on the front porch when you get here.

Don’t forget. Gene can be booked to speak at your next garden event.

Just One More Adventure: Help! Gardeners Grabbed by Life-Altering Events

Just One More Adventure: Help!

Gardeners Grabbed by Life-Altering Events

Lobelia cardinalis, native Cardinal Flower


I have mentioned before why I did not ask for help with my garden maintenance. I always told myself that tomorrow my health would be better and I would get out there and get caught up. The weed eating, the mulching, pulling weeds, the paths cleaned and the limbs picked up. All that good “stuff” that I once did to groom my soul mate. Well, of course, tomorrow never arrived.


Now I am admitting to myself, and to you, that not much is going to change any time soon. Certainly not this fall, nor well into winter. I simply cannot stand by and watch my thirty-plus years of gardening slide down the slippery slope of neglect.


Just One Thing

My garden needs attention in quite a few areas, but first and foremost is the problem of weeds. Over the last past couple of years weeds have enjoyed my dedication to soil improvement. Their very nature is to be aggressive and to dominate and they are certainly living up to their calling. Finding good soil has enlivened weeds far beyond their usual nature. One can almost stand and watch them rub their leaves together and drool over territory to invade and conquer. A bit like an old Dastardly Dan figure in a black and white cartoon, but lacking the humor.



I most aware that while I do not live and garden in the middle of nowhere, I do reside right next to nowhere. On occasion even I have a hard time making myself drive to the nearest town. I understand that everyone has busy lives in today’s world. There is hardy time left over to enjoy an afternoon cup of tea, much less take on a volunteer project. Even Master Gardeners has trouble finding gardeners for projects and they are located in the middle of a town with decent population. Having acknowledged all the reasons why not, I am still asking for your help.



Fall blooming anemone “Anemone Pamila”. Tall and tough.

Whatever time you can spare in your busy lives would be very much appreciated. I only ask that you weed in the garden. All the other needs can wait for another time. Perhaps in spring when I am much improved in health (hopefully that is not another tomorrow). For now, bring your favorite weeder and a pair of gloves, perhaps your kneelers.

You are welcome to weed all day, half a day, morning or afternoon, weekday or weekend. Your choice on what is convenient in your busy schedule. One trip to my garden or several. No commitment, nor pressure to do more than what is comfortable.



There will be rewards other than my heart-felt thank you. I will share my Pepsi and water with you to keep you hydrated. And, I am sure you and I can find a plant or two for you to take home. You will be weeding in a shade garden with rare and unusual, native and non-native, perennials. Surely we can find a suitable reward for your generosity.



Please email meat gene@shadegardenexpert.com to volunteer your time and efforts. Please also feel free to call me on my cell phone 812-572-8516. I am looking forward to your company in my garden.

See you in Evansville, IN October 7th. Ten Months of Bloom in the Shade Garden is my topic. Holly Society, so will be fun.


Just One More Adventure: Tooth Ache Gardeners Grabbed by Life-Altering Events

Just One More Adventure: Tooth Ache

Gardeners Grabbed by Life-Altering Events



Ever have a really bad tooth ache and the pain would not go away? You take three Tylenol, wish you had something stronger. You can’t sleep, napping does not last long or give you the rest you need. It is a form of torture and your regular dentist cannot work you into his schedule for another three days. You consider other options such as the clinic over on the other side of town, but want the dentist you know and who knows you. What to do for three days?

You move up to Tylenol extra strength and take the maximum dosage, then you walk the floor. When not walking the floor you try to watch old westerns in black and white. Anything to distract yourself from the discomfort and pain. The day before the dental appointment all the pain stops and you feel just fine. Do you cancel the appointment? Maybe the dentist will not find anything and you will look foolish, then have the privilege of paying for an unneeded appointment. In any case, you dread going to the dentist.


Funny how the pain can go away just before the cure so you will not have to experience the immediate discomfort coming. I believe my ‘toothache’ of facing the loss of my garden just got better. The closer I come, the less pain I feel. Of course I have not given up my garden as yet, but the thoughts, the discomfort, the aching in my heart, have become a bit easier as the concept gets closer to becoming reality.



Anticipating turning loose of my garden there are numerous “things to be accomplished” before I must actually let go. A list that will probably take months to ‘geterdone’. First up will be to get all my ducks in a row. I do want to see at least half my garden sold to a good home so I can afford those retirement trips to other gardens both public and private. From there every inch of the property will have to be as neat as possible. The garden will need complete and through weeding, paths restored and fresh mulch throughout. Then comes the nipping and pruning, last minute touch-ups before calling the appraiser. Once a value is set I call a realtor. The house and garden then go up for sale and we wait until someone more addicted to gardening than I comes by with a good line of credit.


Green Apples

Tricyrtis blooms

Just as sure as god made little green apples I know in my heart what comes next. Wishy-washy sets in with a vengeance. Once the garden and property is completely cleaned up and looking its best, why would I want to walk away from it? Isn’t getting everything back to normality, looking its best, all the more reason to stay where I am? Short term thinking, but then I am dealing with emotions more than my head and future reality.


Charlie Brown

I realize I am seriously afflicted with Charlie Brown syndrome and it will only grow worse over the short term.  I am aware of being as wishy-washy as humanly possible, but circumstances will cure that over the next few months. Even Charlie Brown finally went to the dentist.

See you in Evansville, IN Saturday 7th of October for Great Rivers Holly society. Title will be 10 Months of Bloom in the Shade Garden. Call Karen at 618-643-4249 for more details.

Still some open dates remaining to book Gene for your next garden event.