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On Monday, April 14, Living and Giving will open at its new location on the corner of Broad Streetand Fourth Avenue in beautiful downtown Rome, Georgia. Aside from the fact that the plant and gift items are appealing and well-chosen, and not considering the beautiful smiles that accompany the attentive help and service, I just love Living and Giving for the displays. The shop owner, Lisa Landry is a true display artist and the shop is her canvas.

I was delighted when Lisa asked me to help with a couple of projects related to moving the store down the street. I have documented progress that you may see by clicking HERE(March 16)HERE(March 23), and HERE (April 6). I stopped in a couple of days early to check out the progress. There was a sign on the door that nicely said, “Leave me alone, I’m doing my creative thing.” (Those are not the exact words, but that was the perceived meaning). I found Lisa working at the front counter.

Lisa Landry working on some unknown creation at Living and Giving

Lisa Landry working on some unknown creation at Living and Giving

I was greeted warmly and Lisa guided me back to her “plant area” which was developed around the fountain that we had built a couple of weeks before. I was pleased with the transformation.

The water feature looks different with plants around it

The water feature looks different with plants around it

When we first installed the fountain the water falling was too loud. If you look closely at the picture below you can see a piece of brown slate placed so that it will break up the water fall and reduce the sound volume.

Using a rock to fine tune the sound of water falling

Using a rock to fine tune the sound of water falling

Lisa had told me before that customers liked to come in and pick out a plant and then a pot to put it in. There is always someone available at the store to repot a plant in an artistic manner. I found a table of plants basking in the light from a high window with a tray of pots below it.

Pick a pot, pick a plant, walk out with something pretty and different

Pick a pot, pick a plant, walk out with something pretty and different

Lisa was tickled with the logo and artwork on the front window and she took me outside to check it out. I think Monica Sheppard did a wonderful job of conceptualizing and illustrating the store’s message.

A beautiful logo and window dressing by designer Monica Sheppard

A beautiful logo and window dressing by designer Monica Sheppard

A couple of weeks previously we had cut down a large boxwood bush. Lisa had picked out one of the pieces to place inside the store. She researched ways to preserve the leaves. Here is a picture of the ladies guiding the installation and pruning of the tree from the outside in

Lisa standing outside the shop telling me how to prune a tree

Lisa standing outside the shop telling me how to prune a tree

The boxwood display ended up looking like this. And she’s not finished yet.

building a shop display under a tree

building a shop display under a tree

I liked the blue fountain which made a subtle, muted sound.

Decorating with sound and color.

Decorating with sound and color.

I asked Lisa if she needed any help moving things and she said, “I just want to be left alone to do my thing.” I decided it was time for me to leave. I smiled as I passed a sign that was waiting to be hung.

"If we make each other smile then we just can't lose,"

“If we make each other smile then we just can’t lose,”

Living and Giving will be open at its new location starting April 14, 2014 from 10 until 6. Tell them John the Plant Man sent you,

As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what? usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?

This sign was awaiting placement as the Living and Giving shop was being moved down  the street in Rome, Georgia

This sign was awaiting placement as the Living and Giving shop was being moved down the street in Rome, Georgia

The big event is that of the moving of the wonderful Rome, Georgia shop Living and Giving from its current location on Broad Street to a new location across the street and a block down. The shop owner, Lisa Landry, had asked me to build a rustic water feature that would help showcase her plants. My two previous posts tell of the search for the right idea and the right materials. You will find these articles HERE(March 16) and HERE(March 23). I decided to use the feed trough I had found along with old brick, split-faced, concrete blocks, and an old lion’s head that Lisa had hanging around her house. It took a while to get the materials together but we were ready to start on a Saturday morning,

An old feed trough will be converted to a water feature

An old feed trough will be converted to a water feature

We placed a two-block high row of blocks along the wall and put caps on them to hold the brick and then another row of the split-faced blocks to the front. The fountain is waterproofed with a single piece of Firestone rubber liner. We laid the liner out and spent quite a bit of time thinking and adjusting.

A sheet of Firestone rubber will keep the project from leaking

A sheet of Firestone rubber will keep the project from leaking

I figured out where and how the liner would go. I glued one piece of liner to the wall and installed the plumbing that would take the water from the pump in the trough up and through the lion’s head and retuning it to the trough. We must take great care at this point to see that all water is contained within the system.

Finessing the guts of the water feature

Finessing the guts of the water feature

The rest of the project is to cover up the rubber liner and the pipe, making the fountain look like something that an old farmer had built to water his horses a hundred years ago. We are creating an illusion. I had decided to use a cement mix called Hypertuffa which is made by combining cement and peat moss. Using this material we will get an antique looking texture and a nice patina will develop over time. We mixed peat moss with the Sakrete product pictured here:

Half of the ingredients for hypertuffa. Peat moss is the other half

Half of the ingredients for hypertuffa. Peat moss is the other half

To make sure the hypertuffa stayed in place we cut and fastened chicken wire over the rubber being careful to avoid any punctures. Trial and error finally gave us the proper consistency and we stuck it on by hand, smoothing as we went. If you do this remember that gloves are essential. Here is what it looked like to start with:

Sticking hypertuffa mix with chicken wire

Sticking hypertuffa mix with chicken wire

We proceeded with brick laying and cement mixing for a while. Here is a progress photo:

vprogress with the cover up

progress with the cover up

I took a few days off from the project to allow everything to dry and set up. A few days later we installed the pump, hung the lion’s head and turned that sucker on. We will use some slate to do some fine tuning for sound and splattering. I am looking forward to seeing how Lisa arranges all her plants and goodies around the water feature.

It still needs fine tuning--but it works

It still needs fine tuning–but it works

As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what? usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?

I’ll get to the redneck report in a bit—first a report on the copper trough for the Living and Giving water feature. (click here to see the article) It seems like the copper was not all that difficult to find, but it cost a bit more than the perceived value of the show off effect. I went “back to the drawing board” and came up with some good ideas that I was pondering as I started a spring cleaning project around my junk pile. I had totally forgotten about the feed troughs.

can we turn this rusty feed trough into a water feature?

can we turn this rusty feed trough into a water feature?

Joel had asked me to haul these troughs to recycling, but it snowed that day and they never got further than my junk pile (which I keep well-hidden). So I started thinking about how to build a water feature (it will be against an old brick wall). I decided I could use pond liner for waterproofing and then make it look like an antique horse trough with old bricks and hypertuffa. Hypertuffa is a material made with cement and peat moss. I made a lot of flower pots one time using this process. They look like this:

hypertuffa--a mixture of peat moss and cement

hypertuffa–a mixture of peat moss and cement

I’m going to build the water feature next weekend so I will document the process. Stay tuned.

Did I mention that my junk pile is out in redneck country?  Every now and then you will see a book titled something like. “I Lived Ten Years With The (Indians, natives, pygmies, headhunters, etc.)”—Well I, John the Plant Man, lived ten years among the rednecks. I ate their chitlins and drank their beer (actually, it was more like they drank MY beer). I even wrote a book about the harrowing experience.

Bud and Travis are two of my favorite characters mentioned in the book. As I was pondering the feed troughs Travis rode up on his lawnmower. Here’s a picture of Travis from a couple of summers ago:

Travis loves his riding mower

Travis loves his riding mower

Travis is quite a philosopher. “Hey, John, you stayin’ busy?”

“It’s been slow on account of the weather,” I replied. “We’re getting pretty busy now, though.”

Travis said, “With all the snow and rain I bet you ain’t been making much money.”

“I been getting’ by,” I said.

“I don’t call it getting by,” Travis replied. “I call it ‘floatin.’” He moved his hand in a wave-like motion. “You just kindly float along as best you kin. Sometimes you get to sinking and you got to flay your arms around a bit and grab you some air.”

He took a sip of his Natural Light. “Yeah, I call it floatin.”

I wrote an article about Travis titled, “Pimp Your Lawnmower Redneck Style”

I mentioned my other redneck friend, Bud.  I wrote an article about him, too. Bud is one of the best gardeners I ever met. Click here to read about his garden.

If you want to know something about farming, ask your favorite redneck

If you want to know something about farming, ask your favorite redneck

 

As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?

I’ll start with the trough. My beautiful friend Lisa Landry owns and operates a delightful home décor shop on Broad Street in Rome, Georgia. She called me a couple of weeks ago and told me that she was preparing to move the shop to a location one block down and across the street.

The first thing she asked me about was a tree to go inside. It’s a neat idea and I have that one under control. The second thing was a water feature. We talked about all sorts of looks and then settled on using a water trough. Lisa looked at picture after picture until she found this one

A beautiful aged copper trough for a water feature

A beautiful aged copper trough for a water feature

The problem is that I know what the feature will look like and we have a lion’s head to put on the brick wall for the water to come out of—we just don’t have the trough, Can you help us find one? Email me at wherdepony@bellsouth.net, leave a comment on the blog, or find me on face book—John Paul Schulz (Rome, Georgia). Thanks in advance.

I wrote an article about Living and Giving the Christmas of 2011. CLICK HERE to see it. I’ll do another article on the shop after the move. I’m sure it will be amazing.

And on to the cancer report. For background, I have been fighting cancer for several years. I had a laryngectomy (voice box removal) in September, 2012 A few months later I was fixed up with a button in my throat that I could push when I wanted to talk. It’s pretty cool.

I am writing this on March 16, 2014, and a year ago I was going through radiation and chemo treatments for recurring tumors on my shoulder. Everything was tolerable and I got through it but it takes a long time to get over those treatments. I’m doing well but still recovering a year later.

On January 28 of this year Dekie and I went to Emory in downtown Atlanta for a CT scan. I got the scan and we had a wonderful snow adventure in the form of an eleven hour trip home.  (Click HERE to see the article about the trip).

I didn’t tell anyone at the time, but we got a call that same afternoon from the doctor’s office that there was a lymph node abnormality in the scan and that I would need to get a PET scan the next week. That sort of information is a little bit scary, but my reaction, as always, was “Oh, well. I’ll do whatever has to be done.”  The following week I had the PET scan and got the dreaded call that I would have to schedule for a complicated biopsy.

At this point I just accepted the fact that I would have to go through more chemo. Dekie and I started adjusting our spring plans around possible treatments. Another snow storm in the Atlanta area postponed the biopsy until March 12, and last week I went in for a “trans-tracheal ultra-sound guided biopsy.” It was a bit complicated. They put me out for a while.

The day before the biopsy, my friend at the bank said, “I sure do hope it comes out all right.” I told her that I was mentally prepared for bad results.

She said, “John, that’s not your usual positive approach.” I explained that I figured if I set my mind on good results and they were bad, I had lost something somehow but if I accepted that they would be bad, then either I would be right if they were or totally elated if they weren’t.

After the biopsy I was told that I would be notified in a few days. I had already accepted the possibility of chemo treatments.

And, Friday afternoon the phone rang. It was the doctor’s office.

“Mr. Schulz,” the voice said, “I have some good news. The report came back negative. You are clear of cancer. Congratulations.”

I could barely say, “Thank you.” Tears ran down my face. I am still going through the mental process of accepting the fact that the results were indeed good and that I do not have to take the treatments.

I have almost finished an inspirational book about cancer treatments and accepting them with humor, optimism, and a positive attitude. The proposed title is

Sweetie Drives on Chemo Days

–An inspirational approach to reducing fear by facing cancer treatments with optimism and humor.

As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?

What all can I think of to say about this wonderful plant that blooms for Lent, just as its name promises? It tolerates shade, deer don’t eat it, it blooms when the human psyche most needs it, it’s easy to grow, perennial, and it increases its population by free-seeding.

Lenten rose (or 'hellebore')--a true harbinger of spring

Lenten rose (or ‘hellebore’)–a true harbinger of spring

As the cold, the snow, the freezing rain and the dark days of winter begin to change to more acceptable weather, I look for the flowers of the Lenten rose—also botanically known as hellebores. In most cases the blooms hang down, preparing to drop their seeds at their feet. I stretch out on the warming ground to get a picture of the open flower against the sky

Looking up at the Lenten rose flower with the sky blue background

Looking up at the Lenten rose flower with the sky blue background

Lenten rose makes a very practical and pretty under-planting for plants that perform later in the season. Here is a grouping of hellebores in front of hydrangeas and acuba. The combination works well.

planting of Lenten rose, hydrangea, and acuba. A good mix for shady places

planting of Lenten rose, hydrangea, and acuba. A good mix for shady places

The hellebores also work well in larger natural areas. It is not common for a plant to colonize an ivy bed but the picture below is proof positive of the possibility. Lenten roses are available in several pastel colors as well as white.

Lenten rose naturalized in the middle of an ivy bed under a maple tree.

Lenten rose naturalized in the middle of an ivy bed under a maple tree.

A year or two after the initial planting of the Lenten rose you may start to notice the appearance of seedlings around the parent plant. The seedlings should be left in place for a while to mature and then may be transplanted. If you wish, however, you may just leave them in place and they will form a colony.

lenten rose seedlings appear a year or so after the momma plant is installed.

lenten rose seedlings appear a year or so after the momma plant is installed.

As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?

I call it “Stuff.” It’s all the stuff you have to do to get ready to do some more stuff so that everything will be ready to do what you WANT to do. In making a garden work, timing is everything.

Over the last year and a half (more or less) I’ve been working off and on with a large property out in the country, trying to turn a special place into an even more special place. Joel loves his farm, and over the years he has planted a large number of daffodils. These, of course, have multiplied and later this spring we will need to divide them. I will need to find a place to plant thousands of them. I’ve always admired pictures of “drifts” of daffodils around a lake, so we’re cleaning out around a small lake to make room for a couple of thousand daffodils. Here’s part of the site:

I want to plant thousands of daffodil bulbs around the lake.

I want to plant thousands of daffodil bulbs around the lake.

To get ready for the bulbs, we have cleaned out the undergrowth, small saplings, and vines. The next thing I will do is to clean out the edge of the woods here and there. That’s been an ongoing project, but here’s the last section that we need to deal with.

Cleaning the edge of the woods will make room for even more daffodils

Cleaning the edge of the woods will make room for even more daffodils

On another day, I drive up to check out “stuff” on the mountain work site. There is a bit of winter damage that has to be taken care of. We took the time to cut back the loropetalums and some other plants so that they will grow out nicely in the warmer months to come.

loropetalums after pruning off winter damage

loropetalums after pruning off winter damage

Another project that I am watching is the re-surfacing of an old gunnite swimming pool.  Here is a picture of Christian Esme’ chipping the old plaster off in preparation for the application of something new and better.

Preparing pool for re-surfacing. Lovely view of the mountain

Preparing pool for re-surfacing. Lovely view of the mountain

This year’s stuff is much different than the stuff I dealt with last year.

The funny thing to me was that as I was pondering on what to write about today, I decided to look back at my articles for March of last year. There were none. While I was thinking about that, Dekie showed me the desk blotter calendar from March 2013. She figured that we had traveled 3500 miles to Emory and back for cancer treatments in just that one month. The dates marked with an X designate radiation treatments. March promises to be much more relaxed this year.

Desk calendar for March 2013. The dates marked X are the radiation treatments.

Desk calendar for March 2013. The dates marked X are the radiation treatments.

As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?

If you’re knee-deep in snow can spring be far behind? The snow went away, the sun came out and we got busy. It’s time to get things done. Nelson Magee likes for his yaupon hollies to look good all the time. They were getting a bit shaggy.

Normally neatly kept yaupon holly needs attention in February

Normally neatly kept yaupon holly needs attention in February

We practice a modified version of “cloud pruning” in this yard and sometimes the growth gets pretty tight. This tightness keeps the light from entering the growth canopy which, in turn, forces all of the growth to the outside of the plant causing the inside stems to weaken. Every year or two I like to prune all the way to ugliness and open things up to let the light shine in. I guess that’s sort of what we need to do for our psyche as the end of winter approaches—Let some light shine in.

The yaupon holly is pruned in a manner that will allow light to the inside

The yaupon holly is pruned in a manner that will allow light to the inside

The pruning will grow out in a month or two as spring approaches, giving the plants the undulations and smooth curves that are so visually pleasing:

Cloud pruning on yaupon hollies will grow out to nicely shaped contours.

Cloud pruning on yaupon hollies will grow out to nicely shaped contours.

The two snows combined with zero degree weather have caused a bit of damage to the pretty loroetalum plants. Here’s a picture of the damaged plants. They get cut way back—again to let the light shine in. I scraped a bit of bark back from some of the lower trunks and everything is green instead of brown and mushy so the plants should come out all right.

Freeze damage on loropetalums. We need to cut them back so the light can shine in.

Freeze damage on loropetalums. We need to cut them back so the light can shine in.

If you haven’t pruned the Knockout roses they probably look like this, all strung out with dead leaves and dormant growth buds. Those buds need to be exposed. Pruning will help them to emerge when the time is right.

It's time to prune the knockout roses for shape and more blooms

It’s time to prune the knockout roses for shape and more blooms

When pruning the roses, I like to carefully reach in and cut just above a dormant bud. This gives strength and compactness to the plant. The more care I take, the more the job stays away from the bloody realm of self sacrifice.

Pruning the knockout rose. Be careful of the thorns!

Pruning the knockout rose. Be careful of the thorns!

Oh, yes—things to do in February—I need to finish up and make it to The Last Stop Gift Shop in Rome, Georgia for Dekie Hicks’ book signing (She happens to be my wonderful wife). Her book of poetry, “These for Me are Therapy” was published in January.

Dekie Hicks presents her recently published poetry book, "These for Me are Therapy"

Dekie Hicks presents her recently published poetry book, “These for Me are Therapy”

Here are some links that will help with your winter-time pruning projects

Deadheading and pruning hydrangeas—It says January, but February is all right, too

The basics of pruning—one of my most popular articles ever.

Pruning Knockout roses—This is more for summer time but the concept is good

 

As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?

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