There HAS to be a twelve step program out there..................

There HAS to be a twelve step program out there for terminally addicted perennial junkies. Thank the fairies it's the end of October and the garden center is starting to look like an "EVERYTHING MUST GO GO GO" sale...........yesterday was a total bust. I had plans to put down the 10 bags of 40# humus (cheap cheap stuff) where the tree peonies are going to go. Zip, nada. Didn't happen. I was going to pull up the false coreopsis aka Swamp sunflower.....zip doodle didn't happen..........was gonna PLANT some daisy mums into bare spots in the beds.........all together now....nada....................
Weeeeeelllllll, TODAY as I was moving and compacting landscape pots up closer to the front of the garden center's cash registers and main entrance, I was told by the plant specialist that "these three tables are half off". And he pointed to the Pieris (Dorothy Wycliff) and said "yew aught tew git yew sum of thaem Parises cuz I gut me tew of 'em myself fer a landscapin' jub, it wuz tew fer the prize uf won" (I just love his accent, he's so smart and sounds SOOOOOO Kuntry.......<G>) It'd make Jim Varney proud of him if he were still drawing a breath. "know whut I mean?" <GBSEG>
Well, since I apparently have KILLED two Chinese almonds or something has offed them and we no longer have them, I decided I'd take a chance and get two Peiris. Then I got two burning bushes. And a red Rhododendron, which I will plant next to the pink one that has died 3/4's back that I am relocating to a better spot. And a spider mum that was whispering my name. I even remembered the starter fuses for the aquarium light! It was a GOOD thing Squire wasn't home when I pulled up to the ongoing removal of one forsythia. I tucked the pots amongst the foliage of the emerging Zebrina malvacea, the Pieris almost totally hidden by the large scalloped leaves. The burning bushes I placed near the deciduous magnolia that was the inspiration for the removal of at least ONE Of those 30 year old forsythia's. The mum was tucked next to the quarter barrel that is planted in Eye of the Tiger Dutch iris bulbs and thread leaf coreopsis.
As I unloaded the car, I gave myself a firm chewing out loud as there was no one to hear me but me and remarked that the Itea was still in it's pot just a glowing red orange leaves and begging for a spot somewhere, please. I pulled down the driveway and turned around since I was the only one home and as I circled around the black cherry tree, the ten bags of soil jumped out at me and reminded me that there was something else I needed to do. Not to mention just making a mental note to WATER everything.
I hopped outa the car once I parked in front of the almost flattened Frakartii asters (they got wind whipped by wind sheers last week of almost 40 mph and now lean to the EAST and still are loaded at the top with those perky oversized blue aster/daisy flowers with the yellow centers) and went inside to let Sugar out of the cage Mike had placed her in before he left for work. She was grateful I was home and I decided immediately that if I was going to get anything done it was now or never as I'd had quite a physical day today.
Rose opened the screen door and went out with Sugar hot on her heels to avoid the door hitting her in the face, and I was behind them and encouraged them to go thru the gates and "pasture". Bad news for me and worse for Sugar....apparently son had let her out unattended and she had dug up the newly planted BLOOMING yellow and white iris that I had gently and successfully planted last week from Mary Emma's. Now it won't bloom for me for three years as the whole rhizome was up and the dirt ball was gone. I mumbled my aggrivation at the pup and stood the rhizome upright near the Stokes aster plant she missed (I woulda had to kill her.....) and decided while I was down there, I'd yank out the Bermuda grass that has snuck into the bed. It was almost a grass bed........
Once I got the fishing line grass out of the dusty dry soil, I decided this was a good spot to sink the spider mum and went and got the shovel and the mum. The soil was loose and easy to spade up, making the placement of the rootball easy. THAT will be a neat surprise next year when it returns.
Then I decided I'd at least water everything from the west edge all the way to the eastern boardwalk that leads to the nook. I had noticed those yellow daisy like plants (tag was lost, and if they aren't perennial, I enjoyed their perpetual blooming all this time) that looked suspiciously like lemon yellow pyrethrums but the leaves were wrong were drooping in the concrete planter that I constantly tuck things into when they don't set down invasive roots. Eventually something will take to these pots, including the one with one end missing to sort of seal up the open end and I will be happy. Or I will stretch a pantyhose over the end to hold in the soil and get it over with.........
Did I tell ya'll that I had one of those whacky moments last week? A customer came in last week looking for me and wanted to know if we had planting bags for mailboxes. ummmmm noooo, we didn't and I kinda knew what she was talking about, but she had seen them at some overpriced nursery somewhere and wanted to do something like it herself only not pay the exorbant price for doing it and thought mums would look neat draped over her mailbox. I thought that was a neat idea too and I decided to give her ideas of alternatives. How about an old pillow case sewed up on the end, slit open to slip soil and plants into the ends and draped over? No sewing machine. Ok, how about a polyester laundry mesh bag that was just cinched tightly with the rope at one end, two cuts on either end to allow soil and plants to be slipped into and it wouldn't rot and the water would leak out but the soil would stay....she wasn't keen on that either but we were getting close. In the mean time we had walked to the households aisle and were looking for laundry bags, mesh bags, something to plant mums into and drape over a mail box when we came across polyester clothespins bags that had rivet holes with wire hooks for hanging onto the line and the bags were rectangular, the openings stayed open because they had support in the edgings and the wires from the two rivetted holes could be removed and a nylon rope could be threaded into these holes, knotted and hung across the mailbox.
she was game. I liked the idea too, and picked up two bags of my own and a length of nylon rope I cut after I cut her some. We then made our way back to the nursery and she wanted me to help her pick out some mums for the bags. I picked colors she wasn't into (she was going for matching the trim on her house) and settled on some beefy plants that were a beautiful rust orange and a deep burgandy that somehow complimented the rust orange. I choose white and purple myself and placed my stuff in my stash place for when I clocked out and bought stuff.
It was a good idea, but it doesn't quite work the way we wanted it to. But that's not to say it doesn't totally work, because despite that my ropes would be too long and could just be shortened up with knots, the long bags DO hold the soil and roots of the plants very well, they're just LONGER than we anticipated and the holes turned out to be in the wrong place. they're on the side, and for the bag to hang right the holes would need to be at the front or back of the bag. After I put soil into the bags and slipped the mums (white and purple into each bag, making two bags of white and purple mums sticking out all obvious) into them, and watered them, I realized there was nowhere to hang them.
They wouldn't hang right over my huge mailbox, and I liked the idea of a bag of flowers so much I did something insane. I draped one set of ropes over the bars on the gate on my side of the driveway, looping the ropes over the bars and hung one bag over one bar, then I looped the other bag over another bar on the gate and adjusted the two bags on the gate and decided it was alright. Kinda OBVIOUS, but hey, I live on a deadend and no one hardly would notice. And next year since the mums won't have a prayer's chance of returning from exposure this winter, I will yank them out by their roots and compost them, and plant WAVE petunia's in the bags and THAT will look wild once they start growing..............
Now fast forward to now. A few days ago I was bouncing around under the scratchy leaves of my fig tree harvesting the most incredibly sweet figs I have ever in my life eaten or tasted. These have hung quietly for a few days in the cold nights and pleasant days and gotten a sweetness that is almost unreal. Even the wasps haven't discovered them and I was bending the limbs down to gently pluck them from the leaves they grew next to when I heard my girls barking. I peeked thru the leaves (you couldn't see me as the limbs of the fig were bent to where they obscured me from the driveway) and saw it was just the farquahar that lives across the driveway making his daily walk up the driveway to check his mailbox. He didn't see me but since his evil little rat terrier was walking with him, Peanut is such a little shit when he's around his "master" he tries to bite Rose or Sugar and acts all protective and jealous despite the neglect this guy puts on this little dog.
I hear Peanut attacking Rose, then Sugar and then hear my neighbor laughing at it all when he literally gasped and said "where the hell did THESE come from?????!!!??? She's got FLOWERS hanging off the GATE????? Good gawd the woman is totally flower insane" and I took that as my cue and stepped from out of nowhere and scared the bejezus outa him and said "why you KNOW you're living across from the madgardener.........and since I've planted up to the edge of the driveway much to your horror, I figure I will plant vertically now.........soon you will see all sorts of things growing almost out of midair.... PEANUT, get away from my Rose and Sugar!!" and I growled at the little bastage and ran at him and he booked off because he knows my foot is close behind his cahone's. I will drop kick the little shit for his biting and mean ways on my good girls. But I got a surprise. Sugar was RUNNING at Peanut and teasing him. I almost fell on the ground in laughter.
After Jerry got over his shock of seeing me appear outa nowhere, he grumbled towards me and I disappeared again, which unnerved him again. ahhhh I've discovered his Achilles heel!!!
He waddled on up the driveway, Peanut snarling and chasing Sugar back towards the gate until I called out to her to come to me, and I put the figs on the railing of the deck and went back to yard stuff. Fill up the trench with water that is along side the BBQ pit fountain, scoop out the pawlonia tree leaves and pods from the water. Then water the garden around the perimeter of the fountain. Pull the hose and water the Wide Brim hosta under the Vitex bush, water the Little Sweetie solidago I planted at the edge of the western lilac bed. Water the Diablos ninebark, the Wine and Roses weigelia, the Lorepedilum, the tired pot of orange zinnia angustifolia's, the crape myrtles I plugged under the other crape myrtles and zebra grasses. Drag the hose more and water the huge pot of mums that are finally opening up and wowing me. Water the magnolia and the pots of stuff I unloaded again.
Drag the hose around the fig tree out to the driveway and start watering things that are crispy. I have planted too many things and see it's overwhelming. Water the asters first. Then the other plot of Little Sweetie, and the Crispa spirea I moved. (which was a good thing or I would have lost it), move down a bit, tugging the 300 foot of hose out further to make it easier and water all the pots in the thinning jungle of Cleome and Helianthus that I can pull and cut down now. Water the pot of Tequila Sunrise coreopsis that has three flowers on it. The pot of Gaura, the pot of achillea, the broken pot of mums that are peeking out of the dry soil.....water the pot of sedums (yes, even they're dry) and the huge pot of three lilac's I planted together that sits quietly waiting until I cart it to a perfect spot next year and plug them all into a good hole and hope they all three grow into a strange and beautiful bush with three colors in it......
Drag the hose down the drive and water the concrete pot that was incredible this year. Water the fiberglass pot that has black eyed susan's in it still. Move past the car and water the containers and pots that line the sidewalk that leads to the wooden walkway. Find the peony that I forgot about from Mary Emma's, stop what I am doing (I am SOOOOO spacy!!<G>) go find the shovel, duck under the foliage of the Glory Bower, Sorbaria, Cornelian cherry, baby dogwood and Blue Egnima salvia and chunk a spot next to the other peony under all that and plant the rootball.
Go back to the hose and water the newly planted peony. Drench the bare spot where Sugar has dug out so much I fear the poor pulmonaria is long gone and won't ever return. Water the Pink Panda strawberry plants still in their pots. Find the varigated Weigelia that is hidden by newly sprouted Cleome and water it. NOW I am distracted and drag the hose back down the driveway, and stand looking at the tangle of fallen false coreopsis. My mind is made up.
Rose has long abandoned me as I'm obviously intent on messing with the hose and the water much to her dismay. Sugar has long abandoned me to do dastardly things that I should be watching out for to reprimand her, but I am now focased on the debris in front of me. I started pulling out the dry eight foot stalks of false coreopsis, hearing hundreds of seeds falling in the dry and crispy bed below. Oy vey, I will have millions of them sprouting next spring......... Now I am intent on just removing these things. ALL of them. I pull, bang their little fat roots against the landscape timbers to loosen any soil and lay them on the concrete sidewalk behind me. I find tired, red, knobby stems of 4's hiding under the tangle of these plants. I pull them out too and pile them up.
Discover a woody, resistant vine of trumpet vine, and it almost tears me in half pulling it out of the soil. I hear a sickening thunk deep in the raised bed, I have not removed it, I've only stimulated it for next rains.........sigh....Keep pulling and thunking soil and piling. Then I find the Korean spirea has shoots further into the eastern bed than even I realized and with a quick decision, I pull at the stem. GOOD LORD!! A runner root reveals itself and I get three seperate stems rising up from a root that lies just inches beneath the loose rich soil. This will take longer than I thought.
My hair has started coming down around the neck, and seeds and debris has begun attaching to the wisps. My hat is inside as I didn't feel I needed it, and the sweat is stinging my eyes. Ok, gather my faculties about me, step on the four foot pile of debris behind me on the dog run and see that a portion of the bed is bare. A HUGE portion of the bed. So I stop, gather up the pile of stems and branches and carry them to the pasture just past the fence and throw it into the weeds. There will be false coreopsis to spring up there next year and 4's..........good. They'll give the thistles and possible poppies (I doubt it as the poppies were all pulled up when they were thru) a run for their money next spring.
Grab another fig from the upper branches I missed and pop it into my mouth, drink some icy cold water from the hose and decide I've done enough for now. It's almost dark.
Sugar has gotten tired of her tirade and I hope she hasn't done any damage to beds in the back that I am working on right now. She comes inside without any pleading and begging, Rose looking at me like I'm insane and darting in front of us both almost causing us to fall onto each other. I look like some wild woods woman.....seeds, crispy leaves and twigs are entwined in my hair and braid and my face is streaked with dirt. I had to laugh. but now the bed has started to reveal that I have more room for plants than I would have figured, and I have decided to do something I haven't done in years. I am going to clean out the debris this year, and in the cleaned spaces, plant the asters that are in pots, up front. I am also pulling up on half of the Korean Spirea, checking on the life of the two Chinese almond bushes, rip out the spent stems of the Cleome, and after I move all the pots into the driveway, mow everything up to the edges of the raised beds. I am also relocating the stepping stones and rearranging the pots of dianthus and phlox and starting on the wisteria extension. When I am finished, I will have a pile of debris that will amaze even me, the beds will be naked for the first time in 8 years and I will have a better idea of what I can and cannot do from here.
Only then will I put those ten bags of soil in. I might even have room for the tree peonies up front once I clean out all the mess. This is going to be fun. I will keep ya'll posted on progress as it occurs. And there's still the hilarious episode that will reveal itself to me when I bring in the tens and tens of cacti, succulents and tropicals before the frost comes next week. Everyone has endured cold evenings and mild days, but the forecast for next week appears it might finally frost up here.
thanks for allowing me to ramble and talk about what I love. madgardener up on the ridge, back in fairy holler, overlooking English Mountain in Eastern Tennessee zone 7, Sunset zone 36
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MG -- Get help now, before it's too late!
Wait a sec -- it might already be too late. You aren't going to buy at the end of this season and then overwinter anything in pots are you? Cuz I mean, if you DO overwinter things in pots that you buy at cut-rate end-of-season prices, then it might be an indication that this is beyond any levels of professional assistance. I'll tell you the REAL sign of being beyond the assistance of a 12 step program or other such systems -- it's when you drive around your neighborhood, looking for bags full of leaves to toss in the back of the truck and add to your compost pile. Of course, just HAVING a pickup for your gardening hobby IS the same as a foot and a half on the other side of the line, you know.
If any of this applies to you, then there is only one solution -- you must move to a major metropolis where the only things green are the traffic lights, where the sun can be looked at directly due to the protective layer of smog, where "alive" is used to describe drinks... er, ahem, well, you get the idea. ;)
James
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James, it's already too late..................I have been driving around neighborhoods looking for bags of leaves for my compost pile since my boys were teenagers and they're 29 and 31............I used to stuff as many bags as was humanly possible, with the boys in their perspective spot in the old blue box (Dodge van with a 318 engine) and you'd see a van fulla windows with a smashed white haired kid in the shotgun seat (that'd be Damon, he never played fair with sharing the shotgun seat) and Mike behind me mashed against the window behind me. I'd be steering with bare foot propped up on the window by the rear view window, pigtails flying and unable to see out the rear view window because of the bags up to the ceiling. I've gone over the edge a few times and taken egg shells from the school cafeteria on days we had boiled eggs for breakfast for 289 kids, or carrot sticks and they made us peel the carrots........I'd bring home a couple of pounds of peelings. I remember there was a lesson I learned about burying old cottage cheese............the holes that it was in rose about a foot and exploded one day. I wasn't thinking, but knew not to put it into the working compost pile, so I dug a hole and dumped the quart of cottage cheese into it and topped it with the dirt. Four weeks later, I checked it and it was still cottage cheese...........forgot about it and noticed these wierd plugs of something at the back fence and when I went back to investigate, I remembered just about the time the last hole "popped".
I did this in Nashville....and I have had a truck now since 1994...........................<gbseg> madgardener

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Aw heck, MG -- I was really hoping there was SOME way to save you...something to be done to bring you back into the fold of the common citizen, but it looks like it truly IS too late for you. I mean, the whole thing with picking up leaves in the neighborhood was bad enough but even raiding the school cafeteria for food morsels to add to your compost pile? Forget it -- you're so far gone that a 96 step program wouldn't help! LOL
Hey -- wasn't it you who was telling me there's lots of land in Tennessee at good pricing? We're looking at moving in a few years (we DESPERATELY want to get away from the city!) and we're starting to look, get pricing ideas, area demographics, and so forth. Acreage is a prime factor, with cost being important of course, and although we want to be remote we'll need reasonable access to a city so at least one of us can work (I'm voting for my wife to work -- let ME stay home with the kids <Grin>).
James
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had compost piles to drool over.............. here I just go cow pie picking.....<g>

I'll give you an example of what's behind me up on the ridge behind where I am now. There is an older brick house, about 20 years at the most, has a driveway I'd sell my body for, it goes up thru woods with dogwoods, redbuds, ferns, tulip poplars, cedars, maples, pin oaks, etc... and hooks back and the house and 8.7 acres is on top of a ridge that has faces south. Well it's isolated. It has the top of the ridge. The house is five bedrooms, four bathrooms, two fireplaces (one is downstairs where an extra kitchen area with counter and chairs are). A garden shed that is huge, one car garage, enormous deck sits off the kitchen and master bedroom on a gently rolling hill top that has peach trees, apple, pecan, plum and lord knows what else. I'd sell my grandmother to have this house. They're asking $248,000 for the whole thing. The acreage alone usually sells for $10,000 per acre. Some of it (prime) goes for up to $15,000.
There are very nice subdivisions popping up all over the place around here because the older people with land and pastures and farms are dying and their kids are selling the land to be divided up into acre, 5 acre and such tracts. The Hammer farm has split the 104 acres of their family homestead into five acre tracts, with the house sitting on seven. A family from up east bought it and have almost finished renovating it and they didn't have to do much as the Hammer boys kept the house in top shape.
The people around here are nice, and things are still pretty good around here. We have crime, but so does everyone. Not on the scale of city. I'm from city. I don't miss it. I compare here to what I lived and grew up in and it doesn't compare. I even lived in Denver for five years so I KNOW when it's time to start moving. I feel secure and safe. There are plenty of churches, if you need to go "to the city" there's Knoxville 46 miles west with everything you'd want, including the airport. (McGee-Tyson), but the larger towns are closer, Sevierville, Morristown, Newport, Maryville. Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, and Gatlinburg are tourist oriented as it sits nestled against the Smokies. Cost of living is a bit more and the houses aren't cheap but since lots of people are moving in there, there are good schools. Huge amounts of people are moving to Dandridge and Jefferson City and Morristown. No state taxes, although the sales tax is high.....we just passed the lottery. Good roads pretty much, and it will still take a long time to fill up all the land around here with people. If you can't get cable or local t.v. then your only chance is DTV and little dish. I've had a dish since 1993 when RCA came out with the little one.
When I NEED city I run to Knoxville. But to make me appreciate what I have, I sometimes drive back thru Nashville when I visit my mother and the remainder of my family 5 hours drive away. I grew up in Nashville, so I don't miss city. I'm trying to get my daughter to move out of south Nashville now. I hate that the four girls are growing up there...........
If you want an idea as to what it's like here, look for the Knoxville Sentinel or even check out The Tennessean for real estate ideas and such. The Tennessean is Middle Tennessee, The Sentinel is the Eastern portion. I'm unsure about West Tennessee.
I also think you'd do well to check out the Western Carolina's, near Asheville, Charlottesville, and the like. I think property is still reasonable and you still have good land everywhere. I wouldn't mind living in North Carolina at all..........I hope I didn't overwhelm you about this. But I wouldn't wait years to decide about this area. The word is out and property is raising in price. I've seen it double and triple since I've lived here and we moved here in 1992. madgardener
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Mad, you mentioned loripetalum in there somewhere? Have you got any advice? How big does it get, what kind of soil and location suits it? I'd never seen one until very recently when a DIY "shed" put some out in the plant section which often has cheap lots of doomed plants but you know how it is, sometimes you just can't resist. It's got pretty purple red leaves and the label pic shows little red spikey flowers like hamamelis.It also says "requires some winter protection" .
I've planted it in a nooky sort of corner between two huge rocks, with sun, but it could be moved.
Janet
Isle of Arran Scotland.
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Yes I did. 4-6 foot tall and 4-5 foot wide when mature. It IS a member of the Witch Hazel family and blooms heavily when the azalea's bloom, and then on and off sporatically. It says it benefits from partial shade, but I've had people tell me theirs is fully exposed to sun. Mine is near the west chain link fence tucked between the Diablo nine bark and the Wine and Roses weigelia (hmmmmm you see a pattern of colors here???<G>) It's hardy to zone seven. It likes rich humusy soil and kept moist until established. Pam told me that mine might do better since we have more heat and it can get woodier for me than it does in the Pacific Northwest. I just want it to make it thru winter here for me. I LOVE those little string like blossoms! And the burgandy round foliage is awesome. The shape is going to be fantastic too, as it seems to have a character all it's own. If you have it planted in a southern or western spot, I'd say mulch it this winter if you think you're going to have a cold one.
Have you got any

if you think it's going to get really cold, why not put a couple of hay bales around it like a straw cold frame? I know it's not hardy past the cooler zone six. I had someone in North Carolina who has a zone 7 as well to tell me theirs is doing fine, so hopefully I will be able to report this next spring that it's healthy and leafing out for me!

got it. I'll keep you posted if mine makes it thru winter or not. <g> madgardener

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oops...:-)
It IS a member of

LOL. I love purple leaves and flowers too.
I know it's not hardy past the

I'll have to go and look up zones. Thanks for your help.
Janet
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" I LOVE those little string like blossoms!"
It's also called 'fringe flower bush', I adore mine!
Gloria
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I have Monraz, and it loves the heat of the Northern Central Valley in California. ( We have many 100+ degree days in summer.) It is in its third summer, and seems to be quite drought tolerant. It is in full sun and is 6 feet tall and about 6 feet wide, with a definite horizontal branching habit. It's blooming right now, but the bloom is nothing compared to its spring bloom, in March, which just about covers the entire bush! Gorgeous.. I just won another one, Fire Dance, at the garden club meeting. I think I will try this one with a little afternoon shade, and see what, if any difference it makes. Enjoy your new addition , Janet.
Emilie NorCal zone 8
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On 28 Oct 2003 01:09:50 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (MLEBLANCA) wrote:

this is a little late in responding Janet, but that's because I never saw your reply :( FIRE DANCE??? that sounds awesome. Pictures next year??? I just hope mine gets thru the winter. I may mulch around it if we get bitter weather. I'll keep you posted. It's just a little whipper at the moment <g> madgardener up on the ridge, back in fairy holler overlooking a foggy English Mountain in Eastern Tennessee where we got three inches of rain today!! zone 7, Sunset zone 36
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Hi Maddie It was not Janet who has Fire Dance, but mle. Cool name, huh, 'Fire Dance'. I do hope it is somewhat different from Monraz. We too had rain, 1 inch Sunday early am. and 6-8 inches of snow in the mts down to 2000 feet. Will let you know about Fire Dance. Emilie Norcal
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That's not my reply, Mad, it's Emilie's. But I'm awfully glad you reposted her message as it hadn't appeared on my news-server and I would have missed it completely without you. Janet
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:) I wish I had your garden. And your gardening talent :)
Shell

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Thank you for the wonderful post! Cheryl
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The only Twelve Step program I have found to be successful is; Six steps with the plant to the car....... Six steps from the car to the garden...... anything else is just an exercise in futility.
Val

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I LOVE reading what you write. The vincas had me down in the dumps, its rainy and cold and I had to pay bills, so I was really down in the dumps and then i got to read your message. It was truly inspiring and now I can't wait to get in my yard and work. I did pick up 2 purple cabbages and threw them in the ground as it started to rain. Guess I will need to join your 12 step (or 96 step as someone suggested) group!
loony
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