ML Top 5 Flower Faves.

My TOP 5 Flower Faves.

When someone asks me what flowers would be best for the garden, and limit me to 5 of my favorites–it’s not easy to nail just five down!  I think about weddings when I think about flowers and gardens. What flowers, shrubs and trees are going to give me the most bang for my buck? The most snip time?

Here are 5 plants that flower that I adore. I depend on them a LOT as individual flowers, as filler and for visual appeal. I could add many, many more to the list and as soon as my swanky new website is complete perhaps we will do an early spring run through of this years fashionable garden must haves!

For now, here is an easy list.
















1. Hydrangea gives you tons of bang for your buck. Looks fabulous in the garden, people ooohhh and ahhhh over them no matter where they show up! They are just enough by themselves in a vase or when added with roses, snapdragons, and other beauties they make everyone else look good. There are many, many varieties of hydrangea–that gives me another blog post idea!!

2.  Camellia/sasanqua  have drop dead gorgeous blooms that you can either “float” in water or use as a star in flower arrangements. The leaves make excellent backdrops for boutonnieres and the buds can be added to arrangements too. Camellias are green all year long adding structure to the garden.

3.   Snapdragons are an old fashioned flower full of goodness. Buy only the tallest of the tall. If it doesn’t grow on a long stem, it’s usually not allowed into the club of cut flowers…

4. Hosta, you ask?  Flower?  I wanted to toss this shade loving beauty not only because it grows in the shade and several varieties have variegation which will add light to the darker parts of your yard BUT this flower will pay you back twice.  We all love the hosta leaf for sinking in that clear vase, but use it in arrangements to add a little freshness. I was amazed this summer after clipping the tall hosta bloom growing at Sam’s school. OMG—the beautiful flowers can stand alone, but the SMELL was so surprising. I had no idea.

5.  I shovel pruned about 12 hybrid tea roses after 3 years of spending my Saturdays spraying and fertilizing and babying those buggers. They went out and Knock Out roses moved in. Given some good soil, water and attention a couple of times a year, they will show off for you and you will thank me.


So there you go. Top 5. I am surprised by the list, but I wanted to give you some variety. And within each group there is a LOT of variety.

Next up, my favorite summer herbs, summer annuals , perennials, shrubs and trees. In my opinion they should all pay you back with food or flower.

See you.



“Out of clutter, find simplicity. “

                               -Albert Einstein

I am taking advantage of all this New Year energy to work on clutter. I’ve already started with my closet thanks to Allison Lumbatis over at Get Your Pretty On (GYPO). She is a style diva with lots of ideas for putting clothing and accessories together using much of what is already in the closet.

Our gardens can suffer from the clutter bug, too. As the yard starts to nap here in Augusta, Georgia, the garden becomes disrobed, stark. This is good because it allows us to examine the basic structure of the garden–the bones. It is time for my garden to grow up. I have removed the cutsie bug votive holders I bought at Joanne’s years ago, then painted a bright red. They have become lost as the garden has matured. There is still room for whimsy, but on a larger scale!

Tomatoes, Beans, chard lettuce in garden

This picture is of a garden that is beautiful and functional—where I want to be in the garden. Uncluttered, not too much to take care of but still productive and beautiful! Notice the whimsical topiaries to the right.

Continuing on with my de-cluttering of the garden, I also took some of the planters-I’ve collected many from your trash piles returning them to my trash pile for someone else to enjoy! Someone will have a nice surprise of about 10 amaryllis bulbs in bloom this summer!

There is peace in the garden. Peace and results. —Ruth Stout

On to my bedside where magazines sit waiting for me to peruse-again. This time they are going. I’ll pull out the pages, but the bulk of them must go! I need to explore some electronic gadget that scans my paper and organizes it for me! Do you have one of those?

I’ll report back. Meanwhile, while your garden is napping, take a look and see where you can remove some clutter and simplify.


500 Words a Day. the edit continues upstairs.


imageThe Edit Continues Upstairs.

I was feeling a little better this morning so I decided to start working upstairs on clearing out books. It is like a small library up here. I have a hard time getting rid of the books we read to Marianna and Sam over the years. Now they are 18 and 17 and I still have a sizable collection of Junie B. Jones, The Meaning of Poop, and the entire series of Amelia Bedilia. My thoughts over the years have been to keep them for our grandchildren, which, hopefully, will be a while!

The thing is we are about to place our house on the market in order to build a home that suits our stage in life. Marianna is off at college, Sam has one more year of high school and we also have a pretty big house out of town. Knowing that the kids will come back, bring friends and one day, families, I am ready for space that will accommodate the years ahead.

Back to editing.

The upstairs areas of our house contain the most stuff, so by tackling the most difficult areas first, the downstairs will be easy. The annual Masters clean up has made the downstairs spruce up a breeze compared to the upstairs. There is lots of storage space upstairs for seasonal decorations like Valentines Day, St Patty’s Day, Halloween and Christmas. And books.

Marianna’s room is almost just as she left it. She is a reader like her daddy and has a tremendous collection of books in that room. I suppose I will send her the list or a photo of the books so that I don’t sell or giveaway something she wants to keep! It is still not easy for me to spend much time in that room. Immediately after she left for UGA I cried for about 2 weeks just missing her being around. Even though when she was still living here she was hardly ever here! There are books and lots of clothes in that room that I have to do something with–edit.

500 Words a Day Challenge

I logged on to facebook in the middle of the night trying to forget about a high fever, chills and a tickly make- you- throw- up-cough. It is amazing that people are always awake at all hours of the night. Lucky me, some motherly Facebook friends were around when I needed them most! Encouraging words I needed to hear until the Advil kicked in and sleep ensued.

Awake at 5 this morning, throat very dry and sore. I stumbled in to the kitchen to make some coffee. Seems anything hot eases the pain of my throat. I had a text from my friend Mary Louise(yes, there is another one and we are good friends)asking what time we are going to the doctor this morning. Dang. She knows I get wiggie in confined places like the doc office. I knew I had to go to doctor today because I felt so bad last night I thought my throat would burst into flames.

I called the doc office and they would fit me in at 10:45. I told ML that she really didn’t have to waste her day waiting on me, but I am sure glad she insisted. Turns out the waiting room only had a couple other people in it, and I was called back quickly. I usually happen to be in the most interesting seats within earshot of juicy conversations either between people in the waiting room or the last conversation I could not stand to miss was with a woman on her cell phone talking about her baby daddy. What a hoot. Completely entertaining and makes me forget why I am sitting in the doc office!

Thank God for texting because once I sat down in that tiny exam room. I was acutely aware of how badly I was feeling. The nurse came in, weighed me, took my temperature and gathered info on my symptoms. She looked in my throat after I told her that was my main complaint and she said, “ooohhhh that is really, really red”. My mother would have popped her one. You don’t give patients any reason to be more worried, nor do you put ideas into their heads. I texted ML who was sitting in the waitIng room. “I am ready to bolt. She asked if I wanted her to come back there, and then I felt really stupid. Grown woman gave birth to a 10 pound baby with no anesthesia and she has to  have her friend come to exam room for hand holding because the nurse told her that her throat is red!?! Come on!!

i had no idea there was a such thing as a swab for flu. Yes, she swabbed the inside of both nostrils with what looked like the same mascara wand looking stick they use for Pap smears. Sorry.  It is true and it was just an intense tickle, no pain. The strep swab came next, and honestly, I would have flunked little nurse girl for what I think was poor technique.

The flu test was negative, and so was the strep test, but doc said it could very well be a false negative. He is treating me for it any way. I have no problem with that. I cannot remember the last time I took anything other than an Advil, much less a prescription medication.

While this has been fun telling my story, I am over 500 words and not getting paid for it either! It is time to pop open the spiced rum and get some sleep.

i hope you are well and this bug is not such a superbug that you get it through the computer!

See you tomorrow.






#500 WaD. Garden Club

Jeff Goins has a 500 word a day challenge and I am going to give it a shot! Blogging counts so hang on!

My garden club, Pine Needle, met today at the Augusta Country Club. After a quick business meeting and a little socializing, the program chairman introduced the speaker, Judy Kirkland. Judy presented a PowerPoint presentation on Hellebores, commonly known as Lenten Rose. I had to scoot out early, but learned that Hellebores are poisonous and not attractive to deer. I will pass that along to cousin Kathy in Virginia. The deer eat everything in her landscape!

There are many, many varieties of Hellebore. I found myself wanting one of each!  Hellebores are definitely a good investment as they make great cut flowers. The flowers dry beautifully, too, so you will have longer in vase and arrangements.

Are you a member of a garden club? I’ve been a member of Pine Needle for 15 years! I joined right after taking the Master Gardener class in 2000. Not everyone in a garden club is a true gardener, in fact, I would say 75 percent of the ladies in our group do not really put their hands in the dirt often! And that is ok!

Garden Club is like other groups, it gives us an outlet to socialize with other ladies who like to hear about gardening and topics related to gardening. Our club has a variety of ages and interests among our ladies. They are the nicest group of women though, all very supportive.

We meet on the first Tuesday of every month and our calendar year runs from September through May. We skip over April because of Masters week! Our program Chairman arranges to have someone speak each month on a topic related to gardening.

I have been a member of Pine Needle for 15 years! I have grown to love and respect many of our members. One in particular, Barbara Botts, was very special to me. she passed away a few years ago. I miss her very much. She was very straightforward in everything that she did. She shot from the hip! There wepas no mystery about Barbara. You always knew where she was coming from and what she was about. She owned The Green Thumb garden center for over 50 years. She would bring her newsletter in every month filled with ideas on what to plant, new plant varieties amped recipes. I think those really were the draw for us to pick up the newsletter! I recall that she was an expert on orchids, the in her later years she became very interested in hummingbirds. Barbara spoke to many groups about our little visitors. She was active in banding hummingbirds so that research information could be collected about their habits.

Barbara was very aware that her days were short. She passed away near the time of our big garden festival here in Augusta. i am sure her memorial service was delayed because she did not want to be the center of talk during the festival.  I loved that woman and miss her strength very much,

So there you go, so many reasons to become involved in a garden club. Lifelong friends, learning and lunch! Go visit.

2015. The Edit Begins Here

eBizElephant is renovating my website so that it will have a more professional look. The idea is to have a crisp look and streamline class and workshop registration. This process reminds me of redecorating a room that you do not enjoy being in! I am excited to get started with Stephanie with the end result being a happier place for all of us.

Stephanie has given me a couple of assignments for logo and website design that have made me take a look at how I present myself to you as readers. Part of the assignment was to list a handful of websites and the details I like about each one.

I think you would enjoy these websites, too. Here are a couple I listed. Will share more later.

Red Dirt Ramblings is hosted by Dee Nash from Oklahoma. Dee visited Augusta last year and was our featured speaker at the Sacred Heart Garden Festival. She has written ‘The 20/30 Something Garden Guide’, her first book.









Check out Dee’s new book on Amazon.

The second website (of many) is one that I stumbled upon recently–Northwest Edible Life. Erica is way more of a homesteader than this princess will ever be, but I appreciate her wit and no-nonsense if-you-don’t-like-that – i-cuss- too- bad attitude on her blog. Her blog is organized and I like her writing style, as if she is speaking to me.


Visit her Facebook page —Northwest Edible Life.

I will keep you posted on the blog progress.

The Edit begins!

see you.



Busy as a Bee!

Busy as a Bee!

Rosemary is one plant in the garden we can always count on. It is there every single season. Rosemary symbolizes “remembrance” and the aroma is known to help with concentration. These days I need all the help I can get with my memory and focus. Thus, the weekly, daily and sometimes, yes, hourly list.

Sunday is usually my day to look back at what I did not accomplish and tack on to the upcoming week. I keep large index cards to create my list for the week and the grocery list.

The grocery list is critical. It is awful to look in the fridge and have “nothing to eat” or even be able to creatively visualize putting something simple together out of just a few ingredients!

List Day

List Day

The second page has become the daily sub-list. Yes, I use my smart phone for my main calendar, but it helps to have a hand written in-my-face list to see and physically cross off.

A few ideas for this busy week of family, friends and food. 

**sub makings—shredded ham, turkey and roast beef, hoagie rolls, and hot/sweet peppers

** soups–making split pea soup again this week. package at Publix with the best little seasoning in it!

**exercise–get a walk/run in with a friend. much cheaper than a shrink. if you can’t get out of the house, Google “yoga video 30 minutes”. You will love it. I have my yoga mat next to my bed. Clears my head.

**flowers– they really do make you feel better. snip a few sprigs of rosemary for the aroma.

And remember this today as we head into the week…
















Mary Louise

State of the Nest minus 1

Well, the first week with our first born away from home has been rough. For me, at least.

I can’t go upstairs to her room without getting weepy. Are ya’ll going through this too?

Should I see a doctor for it?  Just kidding. I ramped up my exercise in an effort to release the “feel good” hormones.

empty nest

Trying to find focus during this almost empty nest period is difficult. I’ve been floating through the days without my usual gusto and getting very little accomplished. I feel a turn around though  after chatting with friends last night who are going through the same experience. We agreed that anticipating the four years of heading up to UGA for football games, tailgating, having Marianna home for special occasions and holidays will tranquilize my aching heart.

I turned to The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren this morning and opened the book where I needed help most–


This is good stuff. I’ve turned to this book many times over the years. Always helps to re-set my direction—God should be at the center of wherever we are headed.

“God intentionally allows you to go through painful experiences to equip you for ministry to others.” Rick Warren.

So for those of you in the same shoes, we are going to be just fine. Get busy with your ministry, whatever God put you here to do.

If I can help you as part of my ministry, just touch base. This “nearly empty nest” is not easy, but surely goodness will come out of it!!

see you.



It Takes a Village.

I thought the transition to being the mother of a college freshman would be much, much easier. Granted it’s just the first week, and I do feel better because she seems to be doing quite well.


I realized that it takes a “village” to be a parent. Especially the parent of a young adult. The actual parenting part for us has not been difficult, it’s the letting go that yanks the heartstrings. I am grateful for the texts from Marianna, the calls from my friends experiencing the same feelings, and the comfort from my buddies who have been through it! My buddy Gina has helped me in that way. Paving the road on what directions this journey may take.


Winter, 2013/Gina & ML

Gina and I had lunch on her outside patio today. Gina has been going through torturous treatment for lung cancer. Chemo and radiation. Today, she had a large patch on her chest near her collarbone to cover up an area literally burned from the radiation treatment. She’s lost about 20 pounds from not being able to eat. Her esophagus has been so burned up she was unable to swallow.

And here I wallow in sadness. She completely gets it. We all have our moments of misery going on and we need to acknowledge the feelings. There is no need to compare she says. We caught up after not seeing each other for a couple of weeks.

She confirmed that it’s going to be ok. Marianna is a bright young woman with lots of time ahead. So, if you are a parent who just moved your child into that small college dorm, I get it. Those of you who have been there, share your experience with those of us who are newbies.

It takes a village to be a parent.


Go Dawgs.




Strawberries for the New Dawg.

I was so excited to smell the fresh strawberries at the fruit stand this morning.


She loves strawberries. Plain. On her Saturday morning waffle.  Strawberries.

She is not here. I bought them anyway.

My heart aches. I keep telling myself this is a good thing, her going off to college, but I can’t deny the empty part that brings me to tears when I see strawberries.

This will pass. Texting and Facebook messaging will replace walking upstairs to wake her at 2 in the afternoon.

It will be ridiculous when she comes home, like the day she was born.

I miss my Marianna.