Friday, May 26, 2006

A Car Ate My Tree

This was NOT the blog entry I'd hope to do this evening. I'm fine - everyone is okay. No pedestrians, bikers, or other drivers were involved. The driver himself was shaken, but is physically fine - thanks to his airbag. By the grace of God, I was in the backyard during this incident. I heard it, but did not see it. What I did see was the look of horror on the faces of those who were looking in that direction.

I live on a very busy intersection and once before a car ran into the front yard hill and took out several of my lavender plants. They were easily replaced. This time though, the driver went over the sidewalk, past the border rocks, up a steep hill, through the groundcover rose bushes and completely demolished birch tree, before hitting the houses' brick wall and coming to a stop.

I loved that tree. Newly planted when I moved in about 5-6 years ago, it had just started to peel its bark in interesting ways. Pictured here is the car exactly where the tree used to be. I'm looking through my collection, but not many show the tree as I'd always focused on the perennials surrounding it or did tight close-ups of the bark.

Amazingly, the car looks pretty unscathed as does my house. Again, no one was hurt and it was quite the show for my surrounding neighbors. I wanted to kick the tow-truck driver who tromped through my perennial beds. Isn't that always the way? Why do the "helpers" actually cause additional damage!

I'll be contacting my insurance company shortly - at this point it looks like replacing the tree is the major thing - then getting the groundcover roses and perennials to fill back in as well. I may have lost an azalea or two - hard to tell as they are under the tree debris and I'll need a saw plus assistance to movie it.

Did I mention all this happened during my first "Open Garden" hours? Luckily my only visitors for it today were neighbors and a few passing motorists who saw the sign and asked where to purchase the magazine. I'll be doing the Open Garden again next week and keeping one eye on passing cars as I weed and tend my front yard.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Open Garden Hours

I had a brainstorm during the Faerie Fest this weekend - actually, it had crossed my mind before, but sitting in the strong winds and threat of rain really brought it to a point of action - we will now have "open garden" hours for the magazine.

Starting this week, anyone who likes can drop by to sign up for subscriptions or renew in person. Folks can also buy back issues, current issues, and gift subscriptions. Additionally, we will have various plants for sale (mostly sun perennials).

The hours will be Friday afternoons from 3:00-6:00 pm starting May 26 and running through August 18. We are located at 826 Philadelphia Ave (Rt. 410), Silver Spring, MD.

Should these hours prove popular, we will extend them through the fall or even expand the days/times of them. I'm really not anticipating many folks, just those who've called and asked when they can come by to purchase extra issues or were interested a look around my gardens.

This allows me to have a specific time to see these folks every week instead of one here and one there eating up my already overextended schedule. It also gives me a dedicated three hours each week to work in the garden, something that the garden and I desperately need at this point!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Diversify the Product Line

Because I'll be at the Maryland Faerie Fest all this weekend (their second annual event and my first), I'm not sure if that crowd will be into signing up for the magazine or buying individual issues. So I thought, why not make a little extra cash and having some fun on the side by potting up my tons of extra plants and by making little concrete word plaques.

Well, the plants are easy - just got to find a few hours between now and Saturday early AM to do them and label them well. The other project concrete word plaques have not been so easy - my first batch I followed kit instructions precisely and the concrete hardened up immediately - not a chance of pressing in words or scratching in letters! I had my sayings all worked out too! From "my herb garden" to "faeries welcome." I'm going to try it again tonight with a different concrete mix - this time not really for resale, but for some fun gift items. Will see how those do and how well they go over with the giftees.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Yes, That's Me

Thanks to Susan Harris aka President of the Takoma Horticulture Club aka The Gardening Coach aka The Takoma Gardener, I'm now famous in this section of the world. She did a profile of me that is in the current issue of both the Takoma Voice and Silver Spring Voice. It is now linked online here at:
http://takomavoice.com/archives/copy/2006/05/features_gardencoach0506.html

The Voice was delivered to all neighborhood households last week and is at street boxes all over town for commuters and other folks. I've gotten stopped so many times this past week by strangers and passing acquaintances that I've lost track. One person even accused me of wearing dark glasses and a hat to remain incognito. (Actually, that is how I normally dress on at Noon on sunny days with my fair skin.)

It is fun to see people's reactions to this piece - I get a lot of "you never told me that" - which is funny as I don't think of myself as a secretive person, but them again they never asked! :-) Nothing like a profile in the paper to break the ice.

I'm going to send out a press release today on the May/June 'Natives' issue and will include this profile reference. Not sure if it is a good or bad thing to tell other reporters of this piece - would it make them what to do one of their own more or less, if they knew one had just recently been done? I'd guess "less" as no one wants to copycat, but then again I've witnessed the herd-mentality in so many things in my life - that perhaps seeing someone else do it will give them the nudge to do it themselves.

So odd to me how folks are afraid to try or attempt something so benign unless someone else does it first. At my previous job in the school supply trade, there was one lady who everyone else worshipped - if she said to order a product for your teacher catalog or educational toy store, they all did. If she ignored something, they all did is well. She could really make or break a company. It was bizarre to watch and a bit frightening in a way to see so much power wielded by one person -- she truly was shaping the education of children and what their parents and teachers had access to purchase. If you ever wonder why every store seems to carry the same thing, you know now - people are just scared to deviate from the norm and lose their shirts in the process.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Banner Results

From the weekend test at Baltimore FlowerMart - I think the new banner worked well - the only drawback is that it is bigger and therefore had to hand from the front of the table rather than from the top of the tent - so it gets blocked when anyone stands in front of it. This happened often but we had another name banner across the tent top and it worked well.

We didn't win or place this year for booth decor - last year we placed 2nd in the commercial booth category - just think we had stiffer competition and some very creative folks out there willing to put a lot more into it money- and time-wise. :-)

Thursday, May 04, 2006

New Banner

I've ordered a new booth banner and hope to pick it up today for the shows this weekend. Our old banner, which I will still use perhaps as a table skirt, was simply the magazine's nameplate (what some folks erroneously call the *masthead*). The old banner was great, but I found that just "Washington Gardener" was not cutting it. I cannot count the number of times people walked by without stopping and maybe later came by again and in passing heard my spiel, then said: "Oh, this is a magazine?" That was not good for branding, to say the least. I'm not sure what people thought we were just from our nameplate logo (a landscape service? a local club?), but whatever it was it didn't interest them enough to slow down and take a look nor even to break their stride. The new banner will have the nameplate plus tag lines saying "YOUR local gardening magazine" and "subscribe today." I'm hoping this will at least save me some lung power and also some possible confusion as to what we are and do. I'll report after the next few events if there is any difference in crowd reactions.

*The masthead is that section of a mag/newsletter, "typically found on the second page (but could be on any page) that lists the name of the publisher and other pertinent data. May include staff names, contributors, subscription information, addresses, logo, etc."

Monday, May 01, 2006

Cover Girl

Is it bad of me to say I'm in love with our new (May/June 2006) cover photo? Here it is at left. First of all, it took me forever to find a photo to go with this issue's 'natives' cover theme. Every single photo that was submitted was not a native, too crowded, too dark/light, without vertical interest, or just not attractive. The cover photo I had first settled on - a bay-side house and landscape featuring natives went to the printer but turned out to be too low-res and would've been a grainy mess. Going back to my files - I searched and searched - almost giving up and going with one I thought was pass-able but not very nice, I stumbled across this shot I took in a friend's garden of her American Wisteria. It was probably one of the first ever I took with my current (Canon A90) digital camera and was pur luck that it came out so crisp and well-framed. The reason I love it so much is the colors are our Washington Gardener purple and green plus it is exactly what I'm now aiming for in covers - one strong, clear focal point to grab readers. Then there is the fact that it looks like the Asian Wisteria and for some folks will push a real hot-button with that "natives" cover tag - I can see the emails now! Can't wait to set them straight (and we do have a detailed "on the cover" cut-line on our table of contents page) that, "Yes, this IS a native and shame on you for not knowing there is an American variety of this hated invasive vine." Okay, that will be fun - but most of all, I just think it is a gorgeous plant and one I wish more folks grew in this area.