Uncommon Garden and Gifts

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?

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Assignment: Build a Rustic Water Trough Fountain on a Brick Wall

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?

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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