Tag Archives: women

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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Happy Father’s Day to the Stepfathers, Too!

Recently, I searched about one hundred eighty cards in two giant retail stores looking for the Happy Father’s Day, Stepfather! cards, and found only two. In May, I found the same slim pickings where the Happy Mother’s Day, Stepmother! cards should have been. Empty as a ghost town. Tumbleweeds rolled by.

With recent Pew Center research suggesting that four out of ten marriages these days are remarriages for one or both of the spouses and that many of the newly married couples are forming step-families, these retailers are missing a huge market segment.

At the big stores, we need two sets of cards.

1. One could be from the wives, and would say things like:

Thank you for:

  • stepping up to this role and putting your shoulder into it, even though it’s not easy
  • insisting my daughter learn how to change a tire
  • reminding me to stay calm and cordial with my ex
  • helping me hold the line when the boys are late for curfew

2.The other cards could be from the children. At their mother’s urging and probably with their mother’s money, the kids would buy the cards and hand them to their stepfather with a mumbled, “Thanks.”  But, there would be digital subtitles to the cards like in the foreign films that would interpret what the kids really meant, such as:

Thanks for:

  • treating Mom and us so well
  • not trying to replace my real Dad
  • not letting me push you away when it probably wasn’t you I was mad at
  • taking me to the Father-Daughter Valentines Dance

With or without the cards, this year let’s make a bigger deal out of the stepfathers.

Bake him a red velvet cake or a bacon-wrapped meatloaf. Fry him up some chicken like his Mama used to make. String a “Thank you for All You Do” banner across the kitchen.

Remember to say Happy Father’s Day to friends and colleagues who are stepfathers. Send them this link. Biological Dads, you might thank your kids’ stepfather. After all, raising good kids these days takes the efforts of every willing and able step, ex, and biological parent.

Next Mother’s Day, we’ll go bigger for the stepmothers, too. Maybe we can get the Blue Angels to fly over our houses…

Drop me a line, below, and brag on your stepfather. Tell us what you do celebrate him on Father’s Day. I’ll share your stories, and maybe we’ll do an even better job of thanking him now and in the future.

Happy Father’s Day, Stepfathers!


CC License Photo Attribute: Sudanshu Goyal

CC License Photo Attribute: Sudanshu Goyal, A kid’s Sunday morning at the beach!