Monthly Archives: July 2015

The Five Secrets of a Dollar Table Gardener

Tips and Fun from a Strictly Amateur Gardener

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Each spring and summer, I cruise by the garden center several times a week to check out the banged-up plants on the Dollar Table. This year, eighteen of the twenty plants that I’ve babied back from their near death experiences are thriving, and adding real zing to the flower beds.

Here are my strategies for Dollar Table gardening:

1. Look for plants with potential. Spindly-armed, dried-out and twiggy – these are not good-looking plants. These are the ones that got caught in a too sunny position on the display table or missed being watered. Look for signs of life, though – a bit of green here, a crumpled bloom there. Once you get them home, you can usually revive them. Cut them back, soak them with water and Epsom salts or Miracle-Gro, and plant them in the cool of the morning.

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2. Lean towards perennials. These days, I’m looking for ways to cut back on the spring gardening chores. I’ll grudgingly prune the Nellie Stevens and spread mulch, but investing sweat equity in annuals that will revive, bloom briefly and then swan off… No thanks. I’m looking for stick-to-it-tiveness. The steady eddie perennials are the faithful friend plants who return to delight you, year after year

3. Focus on the hardy plants. Have you chosen a robust – looking bloomer and had it swoon and droop at the first heat wave of late spring? The easily bedraggled plants are on the Dollar Table, too. Know their names and steer clear, going instead for the hardy stock. Look for Hostas, Day Lilies, the delicate looking but bulletproof Pink Muhly grass, and the reliable guy with the homely name – the Joe Pye Weed.

4. Select ones that thrive in your soil and climate.  Southern gardens can turn into broiling ovens during the dog days of summer. No need to waste money on plants that would rather live elsewhere. Choose beautiful workhorses like Speedwell, Coreopsis, Verbena, and Black Eyed Susan’s. Some plants you love just won’t work in your soil. Sadly, Hydrangeas and Lavender aren’t happy in our yard, even with transplanting and the ‘Be well and prosper’ pep talk. So I just sigh and leave them on the Dollar Table.

5. Pick some plants just for fun. Usually, I pick some plants – annuals and perennials –  just because I like their names. Summer Daze Prunella made me think of Cinderella’s sister. Starsisters Dahlia and Superbells Lemon Slice Pinwheels were just too whimsically named for me to walk on by. The Gayfeather plants turned out to be like the good dancers with the megawatt smiles. They didn’t stick around long, but they sure brought flair and style while they were here!

Here is pic of an originally sorry looking Coreopsis just a month after being given a second chance.20150709_082437[1]

Hope you’re having a happy summer!

Susan Schild’s Southern novel, Linny’s Sweet Dream List, will be released January 5, 2016 and is available for pre-order on Amazon.

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reblog of post, Mississippi, Part II, by my writer friend Donna Everhart

Enjoyed this post by Donna Everhart about Southern cooking.


Have we talked about all the food and the eating while I was in Mississippi?

There is no lack of either when visiting the folks.  Matter of fact, I have to be really careful about portions, etc., because my mother-in-law cooks up these “to die for” desserts that make you want to go back again and again.  So, when we got there, what had she fixed?  Lemon pound cake, chocolate pie, and, as if that wasn’t enough, she had blackberries to make a blackberry pie – a dessert from my childhood, loaded with memories of my brother and I picking them by the bucket full from a field beside our backyard.  She made that the next day.  Then she baked “Cowboy Cookies,” which is just a fancy name for these super duper chocolate chip cookies – these GIGANTIC, almost saucer sized versions that have oh, so much more than chocolate…

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Summer Reading

A Summer Treasure Trove of Books

If you’ve ever been beach combing early in the morning after a storm, you know the treasure trove you can discover washed up – a pearly pink shell, a delicate starfish or a piece of soft-edged aquamarine beach glass. You marvel at your lucky find, take another few steps, and find yet another perfect shell.

A treaure trove of lovely new books have been released this year for your summer reading. Along with new reads, let’s not forget the pleasure of re-reading a favorite, picking up that classic you always meant to read, or of reading out of your usual genre. Read a slightly trashy memoir or pick up a book on a whim. Go ahead! It’s summer.

Summer reading can help us travel to exotic locales on a staycation budget, put down the rucksack of day-to-day worries so many of us carry around, and maybe even bring back some of that carefree, summer vacation feeling you got when you were a kid and the last bell of the school year rang.

If you haven’t already made your summer reading picks, you might add these books to the straw tote you carry to the beach/pool/Adirondack chair-in-your-own-backyard. Remember your sunscreen, good sunglasses, an odd-looking hat, and a cold beverage – like a glass of freshly brewed iced tea with fresh mint, or an orange-ginger margarita to protect you from scurvy.

On my list:

All the Single Ladies by Dorothea Benton FrankThe Rumor by Elin HildebrandThe Color of Light by Emilie Richards, andThe Idea of Love by Patti Callahan Henry. In the car, the miles fly by when listening to Stuart Woods Hot Pursuit, a suspenseful cat and mouse chase that takes place via private jet. By Disc 3, you’ll be pretty sure you can pilot a Citation, and that you need one.

What friends and colleagues are reading:

Southern author Scarlett Dunn is reading An Autobiography of Theodore RooseveltLegends and Lies by Bill O’Reilly, Radiant Angel by Nelson DeMille and Pioneer Girl by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Author Kristi Rose is reading women’s fiction – mainly Wendy Wax – and doing beta reads for friends in contemporary romance. (Beta readers gives a writer feedback on a completed manuscript before it is submitted)

Author Peggy Payne is reading A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore, The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins and Bossypants by Tina Fey.

Writer friend Donna Everhart is reading Coming Of Age In Mississippi, by Anne Moody and All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.

What the industry pros suggest:

To round out the list of possibilities, the editors at Garden and Gun recently tweeted their suggestions for summer reading, Publishers Weekly offers their tips for best summer reads and Deep South Magazine adds their picks.

So, what are you reading this summer? Leave me a comment below.

Happy reading!


Susan Schild‘s Southern novel Linny’s Sweet Dream List will be released by Kensington Publishers in January of 2016. This contemporary story features small town life, slightly crazy families, women friends you can’t live without, irksome men, and laundry stealing dogs.

CC License Photo Attribute: Josué Goge, Lectura Playa

CC License Photo Attribute: Josué Goge, Lectura Playa,

Leave a comment below and let me know what you’re reading this summer!