A Visit to the CoonHoundCemetery

My wife, Dekie received a “thank you reward” from using her visa card and decided to use it for a September birthday trip for me. More specifically, she decided to use it for a room in a fancy hotel in Florence, Alabama. We enjoy adventuresome road trips together, and I am always happy when the lady takes me across a state line. Dekie researched the area and decided that we should visit the Helen Keller birth place and a home that had been designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. After a little more research she found out that it would only be a hell of a lot more trouble to go to Cherokee, Alabama and visit the Key Underwood Coon Dog Memorial Graveyard.  You see, we’ve had a registered coon hound to enhance our relationship since its beginning. Our coon hound, Speck is getting older but still kicking. Here’s a picture from a few years ago:

John and Dekie with Speck the coon hound

John, Dekie, and Speck on the Berry College campus, 2008

Now don’t take this travelogue lightly. One does not just drop in on the coon hound cemetery. It is located just a little past the other side of nowhere after turning off from the main road near Cherokee. The name of the location, though is cut in granite:

Chiseled in stone--The marker for the Key Underwood Coon Dog Memorial Garden

Chiseled in stone–The marker for the Key Underwood Coon Dog Memorial Garden

A sign on a tree lets you know that neither you nor your cocker spaniel are welcome to be buried here.

Sign for Coon Hound Cemetery

I guess your Shih tzu ain’t gonna be buried in this HERE cemetery

And I would be remiss if I didn’t show you the lovely plaque from the Friends of the CoonDogCemetery:

Dedication plaque from the Friends of the Coon Dog Cemetery

Dedication plaque from the Friends of the Coon Dog Cemetery

The feeling of love and caring that someone put into this headstone done tore at my heart. I bet Lulu Belle was a wonderful dog.

Here Lies Lulu Bell, Prize champion coon hound. Born 1945

Here Lies Lulu Belle, Prize champion coon hound. Born 1945

Dekie enjoyed walking around and reading the messages that paid tribute to all of the wonderful late coon hounds

Sweet Dekie paid her respects to hundreds of coon dog heroes that day.

Sweet Dekie paid her respects to hundreds of coon dog heroes that day.

Ruff was another special stone, name, and  memory.

Here lies Ruff Redbone, a most special and loving coon hound.

Here lies Ruff Redbone, a most special and loving coon hound.

I enjoyed the feeling of love and caring as I looked over the head stones, and the flowers in the cemetery.

Looking over the well tended graveyard tugs at the strings of one's heart.

Looking over the well tended graveyard tugs at the strings of one’s heart.

I’ve seen a lot of things cast in concrete but this was the first time I ever saw cement coon hounds barking up a tree.

First time I ever saw cement coon dogs barking up a tree.

First time I ever saw cement coon dogs barking up a tree.

To be specific, Speck is a “treeing Walker coon hound” named for Mr. Walker who started the breed. We tried telling Speck about the cemetery but she just said, “that’s interesting, can I have a treat now?”

Speck the coon hound speaks: "It's time for my treat now."

Speck the coon hound speaks: “It’s time for my treat now.”

Thank you for visiting John the Plant Man.

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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Planting a flower bed with leftovers, or, “Happy wife, happy life”

Planting a flower bed with leftovers, or, “Happy wife, happy life”

 She said, “I want my yard to look like a landscaper lives here.”

I replied, “It does look like a landscaper lives here. Remember the cobbler’s shoes.”

 I plant a lot of flowers every spring.  Actually, I plant a lot of truckloads of flowers every spring.  This year was rather hectic because I had to plant flowers for all of my clients before our May 14 wedding which was followed by a two week honeymoon trip. When you consider the fact that I can’t really start planting until April 15, it looks like an impossible task.  I did it, though-mostly. Before leaving for two weeks, I placed all of my leftover plants in what I call my “hospital” and left instructions with my neighbor, Marilyn, to keep them watered.

 There is a flower bed in Dekie’s back yard that is in just the right place, separating the patio area from the rest of the yard. It was ugly, though, and grown over with all manner of iris, daylilies, poison ivy, and all manner of other stuff, including one calla lily plant which is a treasure. We dug out everything but the calla lily and mounded up lots of compost that I get from Mike Hutchins in Menlo, Ga. It looked like this:

Re working a flower bed with compost and an eclectic mixed border

Re working a flower bed with compost and an eclectic mixed border

The house was probably built during the late 1920s or 30s and has obviously been inhabited by numerous gardeners. Dekie said that when she moved in, she found rocks and bricks everywhere she looked or tried to dig. We decided that we would keep the tradition of the yard and use bricks and rocks that she had found for the borders. I had packed the back of the mini van with flowers and it looked like this:

Leftover plants in the white Dodge mini van

Leftover plants in the white Dodge mini van

I use the mounded compost for almost every flower bed installation.  It is quick, easy, and it “really, really works.” There’s just something about growing in a raised bed that I like. After the compost is piled up, the earthworms go to work, tilling the good dirt way down into the existing ground. I tell people they can stick pencils in this stuff and grow erasers. It is wonderful.

A flower bed prepared with a mound of compost

A flower bed prepared with a mound of compost

Dekie and Speck, the coon dog checked out all of the plants as they were unloaded. Speck had a wonderful time sniffing the fertilizer.

Dekie and the coon dog check out the flowers and fertilizer

Dekie and the coon dog check out the flowers and fertilizer

Around the end of June, it is sometimes hard to find the material that you want for a flower bed. I was rather fortunate the day before to have a client complain that the dragon wing begonias in her window boxes were getting too big, so I took them out and replaced them with smaller plants.  I had cut the tops out of the dragon wings and they were ready to go into the bed for the background. I love dragon wing begonias. They are, in my opinion, one of the finest flowering plants to come along in a long time.

Dragon wing begonia pruned and ready to plant

Dragon wing begonia pruned and ready to plant

Since the plants had been sitting around for well over a month, they had grown sort of tall and leggy. Dekie took on the careful task of pruning each plant so that it could branch out and strut its stuff.

Prune the leggy plants before planting even if it means losing a few flowers. You will be rewarded with many more.

Prune the leggy plants before planting even if it means losing a few flowers. You will be rewarded with many more.

When we cleaned out the bed, we were very careful to avoid disturbing the calla lily.  My mother taught me about callas and they are one of my favorite plants.

I love the way calla lilies grow and form clumps

I love the way calla lilies grow and form clumps

We laid the dragon wing begonias out and tried to be very particular because they grow rapidly and become rather large. They will make a wonderful background for the bed.

I like to lay out the background first. Dragon wing begonias will do fine.

I like to lay out the background first. Dragon wing begonias will do fine.

I had saved a few plants of white and purple angelonia.  We thought that they would go well between the dragon wings and the fibrous rooted begonias. This will make a terraced effect that is so nice to have. Since the plants had been in their containers for so long, we had to break up the roots so they will spread.

Break up the root balls to provide for better root development and, therefore, better plants.

Break up the root balls to provide for better root development and, therefore, better plants.

We set up an assembly line. I would dig the holes (which ain’t much trouble in that wonderful compost), Dekie would then drop in the time release fertilizer, and I would finish the planting. We were finished in very little time.

I always use time release fertilizer when planting

I always use time release fertilizer when planting

The planting was finished and my sweet wife was grinning. I will probably go back and mulch the bed with either cypress chips or pine straw, whichever gets left over first.

The flowers are planted. My new father in law said, "Happy wife, Happy life" I'm listening

The flowers are planted. My new father in law said, “Happy wife, Happy life” I’m listening

 It was time to clean up the pots for recycling and then to water the plants in. I planned to use my syphonex (which is a wonderful way to apply liquid fertilizer through a hose), but I thought this may just be a job for Sunday. I like to use liquid fertilizer along with the time release to “fine tune” the plants. I think I will introduce you to the syphonex next week. It is one of the best gardening tools I know of.

The syphonex is the best, easiest, and most accurate way I've found to apply liquid fertilizer through a hose.

The syphonex is the best, easiest, and most accurate way I’ve found to apply liquid fertilizer through a hose.

We set up the wonderful flower bed sprinkler. It is built out of pvc pipe with rain bird irrigation nozzles. If you want one, you can read about how to build it here

a handy home made sprinkler with pvc pipe and rain bird irrigation nozzles from Home Depot.

a handy home made sprinkler with pvc pipe and rain bird irrigation nozzles from Home Depot.

I’m learning about this married life. I liked the flower bed all right, but more than that, I really liked the smile on Sweetie’s face as she said, “Well, that’s a start”

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You may also wish to check my article which tells about what happens when you prune a plant. See “The basics of pruning”

Would you like a consultation with johntheplantman in your yard? Contact John Schulz BY EMAIL

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?

A thank you and a love story

A big event in my life is rapidly approaching. For this week’s article I have decided to share my “thank you” to the Rome Area Writers group.  I have been a member of this group for over four years and they have helped me in many ways. Their motto is, “Writers helping writers.” This piece was written for my reading at the April 14 meeting.  I hope you will like it.  It is also a love story.

John Schulz, Dekie Hicks, and Speck the coon hound

John Schulz, Dekie Hicks, and Speck the coon hound

 Thank You Rome Area Writers

 This month’s prompt, I believe, is “why do I write?”  I have thought about this and the only answer I can come up with is that I often get little movies going on in my head and they develop over a period of time to a point that becomes interesting and I feel a need to tell about them.  So I sit down at my computer which has evolved from a word processor which evolved from an IBM Selectric which evolved from an Underwood manual.  I love the computer because of the back space feature which lets me delete and start over.

 The movies develop while I am writing and the changes rapidly turn the story into something I never thought of.  I love the mutability.  I love the way the story develops as I write it. I love the way I can think about it later and think, “I should of put a coon dog in there” and then go add it to the story.  It gives me a feeling of power, also.  Fiction is wonderful.  If I don’t like the way someone is behaving, I can change them or kill them off.

 It kind of reminds me of a John Prine line

“We talked all night ‘til you said something neither of us knew”But all of that is not my message tonight.

My message is to say thank you to RAW.

And to tell you that I will probably miss the next meeting.

 A little over four years ago, I was living by myself, changing my lifestyle into I knew not what.  I had decided a year before to spend some time writing that book that I had always wanted to write.  I had made a lot of changes in my life and I was casting about, looking for direction.  I had exorcised a lot of unwanted people, places, and habits. I was looking for a start on something different.  All I really had going for me was my landscaping and my book.  I had even gone so far as to throw the tv out the window. 

 I maintain the flower beds in the library garden in Rome, Ga, and one day while I was there, I saw a sign that read “Rome Area Writers meets Thursday.”  So I thought that would be fun.  I showed up Thursday and found nothing—no meeting—nothing.  So I researched it and found that the meetings were on the second Thursday and I had gotten the third.  I was ready the next month.

 I went to the meeting and enjoyed it so I joined.  I remember being extremely nervous about my first reading and saying something like, “I’ve never done this before” but it went well and the nice people made me feel good about myself and about my writing.  So I kept up the writing and the readings.  It felt good.

 But I was looking for an editor and thought, “what better place to find an editor?”

And I found one, too.  I met with her and we made a financial arrangement.  I will never forget the first editorial discussion when I showed up to find my manuscript red lined all over the place with some big yellow magic marker lines thrown in for color, interest and contrast.  It was worse than any graded paper I ever got back while majoring in English at the University of Georgia.  I was a broken man.

 The editor pointed out lots of flaws and things that needed changing.

I said, “But I like it that way”

She looked me straight in the eye and said,

“You ain’t Faulkner”

And of course, she was right.

 So I listened to the editor and made the changes and went through many more editing sessions.  It got easier and easier.  My work was turning into a book and I was excited.  I looked forward to second Thursdays at which I shared my progress and at which I received lots of helpful reaction. 

 I had explored many self publishing options and checked out companies like Authorhouse, X libris, and Trafford.  I decided they were rip offs.  I have always had a good talent for spotting a scam. I did more research and then more research and figured out that I needed to do it myself.  So the editor and I set up Wheredepony Press and began a learning process.  The learning process turned into a two year endeavor. The book was published. The book, Requiem for a Redneck received excellent reviews and won a first place award from the Independent Publishers Book Awards for “Best Southern Fiction.”  We were validated.

 Somewhere during all of the editing and publishing I had fallen in love with the editor.  I had started out to write a book and had ended up with a book and a partner.  I had found the direction that I had been looking for.

 One of those movies that goes on in my head still has me pausing in front of the sign that reads “Rome Area Writers meets Thursday night”

 That sign made a lot of difference for me.  I met wonderful, helpful people and entered into a new dimension.  I am happy for that.  That’s what I wish to thank you for.

 And next month’s meeting?  I don’t think I will be here because the meeting is on Thursday night and I will be preparing for a wedding which will be on the following Saturday, May 14.

 The editor and I will tie the knot.

Thank you, Dekie Hicks for giving me direction

And Thank you, Rome Area Writers.

 Thank you, Dear Johntheplantman Readers for all of the support you have given.  This site has become popular way beyond my expectations.

 John P. Schulz

 

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If you would like a consultation with John Schulz, Landscape Artist, in your yard,

Please contact me by email

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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