Living and Giving-more than a plant shop-in Rome, Ga.

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, Rome, Georgia

Living and Giving, Rome, Georgia

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.’

Each display stands on its own while blending pleasantly with the others.

Each display stands on its own while blending pleasantly with the others.

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:

A pleasing display with Broad Street as a distant backdrop

A pleasing display with Broad Street as a distant backdrop

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.

It took my eye from bottom to top and then moved it to the center

It took my eye from bottom to top and then moved it to the center

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.”

"our best selling combination-a plant in a pot"

“our best selling combination-a plant in 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.

"Casting" a color"

“Casting” a color”

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.

Do I look at the "trees" or the "forest"

Do I look at the “trees” or the “forest”

I found that when I concentrated on a foreground, the background color changed.

A display that draws you into another

A display that draws you into another

Another of Ellie Mahon’s paintings intrigued me.

Butterfly by Ellie Mahon

Butterfly by Ellie Mahon

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.”

"We need plants to go in the pots"

“We need plants to go in the 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.”

"The store took on a life of its own"

“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.”

"I love these little birds"

“I love these little birds”

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:

I heard a bird chirping and found it in the fern foliage

I heard a bird chirping and found it in the fern foliage

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:

https://johntheplantman.wordpress.com/2010/06/13/hydrangeas-in-the-landscape-a-tour-of-a-beautiful-garden/

And you may see her back entrance being built here: (part one)

https://johntheplantman.wordpress.com/2010/02/28/building-a-flagston-walkway-and-garden-entrance/

And part two:

https://johntheplantman.wordpress.com/2010/03/07/building-a-flagstone-walkway-and-garden-entrance%E2%80%94part-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

 

 

**********

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6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Patsy Hubbard
    Jan 14, 2011 @ 13:17:54

    Good story John

    I will try to visit that shop when in Rome

    Patsy

    Reply

  2. Karin Byars
    Jan 15, 2011 @ 19:32:08

    You found my favorite store. But they have more than plants and pots. Their little pleasures can accompany you throughout the day. There are fine soaps from Thyme, a different fragrance for every room, jam for your muffin, candles to cast a fine light, books to teach you something new or to just get your imagination going.

    There are cocktail napkins to keep your fingers dry and a cast iron rats to guard the cheese on your cheese board. I have some boxwoods perched on cast iron urns that will never die and I love them for that. You see, unlike Ms. Haga I am not a Master Gardener!

    I think I’ll just visit and get inspired – Spring must be right around the corner.

    Reply

    • John Schulz
      Jan 15, 2011 @ 19:36:41

      Thank you Karin for giving the specifics. Like I said in the post, I couldn’t get to the trees because the forest was so well done.

      Reply

  3. Connie
    Jan 16, 2011 @ 21:51:36

    Well, how fun was this?
    What a good job on “Living and Giving”! I can’t remember not having this wonderful store in Rome!!! And wonderful neighbors!!!

    Also aways a treat to view Marian’s wonderful garden. She has the best display of hydrangea’s in town!!! Beautiful!

    Isn’t Rome a neat place to live? and you help with all your special hidden gardens all over town, John! Love ya, cb

    Reply

  4. Trackback: Adding Definition to a Shade Garden. « johntheplantman's Landscaping Ideas from a Veteran Gardener
  5. Trackback: Copper Troughs and Cancer Reports | Johntheplantman's stories, musings, and gardening.

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