Living and Giving—A beautiful plant shop in Rome, Georgia.
NOTE: This is a good and popular article but Living and Giving has moved down the street. A more recent article can be found here:
I had been in Living and Giving a number of times—to do some shopping, make a delivery, maybe to visit or to deliver some copies of Requiem for a Redneck which sell well at the store—but I never really paid attention to the scope and detail of the inventory until the other day when I showed up to take pictures for this article. As I concentrated on light and composition I started noticing that the presentation of the store’s merchandise was a work of art in and of itself.
Living and Giving, owned and operated by Lisa Landry, is situated in a front corner of the historic Forrest Hotel in downtown Rome, Georgia. Windows that wrap around to the side of the shop look out on downtown through a small garden of azaleas and ginko trees. This forms an ever changing background for Lisa’s displays which she calls ‘vignettes.’
I worked on some photo composition and then finally noticed that everything was already arranged picture perfectly so to speak. Wherever I turned there was a decent picture all set up. All I had to do was get the light right, but the entire place was already beautifully lit. I studied this ‘vignette’ from several angles and chose this one because of the way it flowed into others:
I turned toward the window and my eyes were led from the red cyclamen to the really neat painting of peas (by Ellie Mahon) on top of the shelf. After making that transition, my eyes were drawn to the center of the composition. I loved the way it was backlit by the window looking out on Broad Street.
While I was studying the shop, Lisa had been listening to a customer who was looking for a gift. I watched as she listened to what the lady was saying, nodded her head, listened a bit more, asked a quiet question, and listened again. Lisa then picked up one of the best grown rabbit foot ferns I had ever seen—and I’ve seen a lot of them—It was perfect for the situation described by the customer! Next Lisa showed the client several pots that the fern would fit in. She moved to her work table in the center rear of the store. She asked, listened, and suggested, finding just the right items for a delighted customer. As Lisa worked, she paused, grinned at me and said, “This is our best selling item, a plant and a pot.”
While Lisa worked on her plant project, I started studying other arrangements. I looked at colors and found what I call a “study in lavender.” As a side note, an old rock man had told me long ago that instead of “giving a color” it was best to “cast a color.” It worked for rocks and I found that it worked for Lisa. I’m not artist enough to know why, but I did enjoy the way a number of associated and disparate colors had been combined to “cast” an envelope of lavender.
Over on the far left, I liked the gold accent with the sun coming through the bottles. I don’t know what was in them. I really meant to study the trees but I was enraptured by the forest.
I found that when I concentrated on a foreground, the background color changed.
Another of Ellie Mahon’s paintings intrigued me.
Lisa got some time to talk. I asked her about the name “Living and Giving.” She told me that the initial concept for the shop was to have items for home décor or “Living” mixed with gift items or “Giving.” I was told that flower pots were part of the original inventory and that Linda Haga was her first employee, hired to help with winter and fall sales. Linda came to her one day and said, “We need plants for these pots.”
Lisa said, “I found out that Linda was a Master Gardener. I didn’t have a clue as to what that meant. I didn’t have a clue about plants, and didn’t even know what a hydrangea was until later. Marion Shaw joined the team and added her extensive plant knowledge. The plants became a large part of our business. You might say that the store took on a life of its own.”
“As the store took on a life of its own, I found birds, too,” Lisa said, “I started noticing all kinds of bird related items that I thought would do well in the store—and I was right. I like these ceramic bird figurines.”
While Lisa was holding the figurines, I heard a bird chirping. I looked at the birdies in her hands and decided that the sound was coming more from her left. I looked through some plant foliage and traced it to this bird:
Lisa looked it and laughed, “It’s time to water. That bird has a moisture sensor that makes the bird chirp when the plant needs water. I’ll have to see to that.”
Lisa continued, “I got a dog a couple of years ago, and the experience helped me to notice and procure doggie items. The name ‘Living and Giving’ talks to me on a regular basis and leads me into areas that I never would have considered otherwise.”
I have a Lisa Landry story, also. During our interview, Lisa had said, “Everything I know about plants was taught to me by Linda Haga, Marion Shaw, and David Johnson.” David Johnson owns a wholesale greenhouse in Alabama. He is one of the most knowledgeable plant people I ever met-and I’ve met a lot of them. One day last summer I had gone to pick up a load of bedding plants from David and I saw Lisa there. I watched her as she picked up one plant and then another, taking time to examine them thoroughly to make sure she was getting the best. I was also impressed that she was hand picking her merchandise instead of just picking up the phone and placing an order. She was still picking as I was preparing to leave. Lisa looked up at me with her bright smile and asked, “John, do you have any more room on your truck?”
As we came near the end or our interview, Lisa said, “I don’t know what else to tell you other than business is really GREAT!”
Thank you, Lisa for an enjoyable Saturday afternoon visit.
Marion Shaw is mentioned in this article. You may see her beautiful gardens here:
And you may see her back entrance being built here: (part one)
And part two:
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 would like a consultation with John Schulz, Landscape Artist in the North Ga. area, contact John Schulz BY EMAIL