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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Adding Definition to a Shade Garden.

It’s funny how things work out. I was just getting ready to write a series of articles about shade gardens when Lisa and Dick Landry asked me to come over and work on the yard at their new house which sits on the top of a big hill within the city limits. It may even be a mountain. The location is not listed as one of Rome, Georgia’s seven hills, but it looks down on a couple of them.

The yard is rather large and well shaded by numerous old, large trees. I entered through the back garden gate.

Shade garden entrance, "before"

Shade garden entrance, “before”

I found it interesting to walk through a shade garden that had been there for a number of years. I was looking to see what plants thrived in the environment. A lot of plants will live in the shade but few will actually “perform.” It appeared that someone had put a bit of thought into the original planting of the garden but then the landscaper seems to have changed to someone who just stuck things in the ground with very little thought. There are several Arizona cypress, for instance, which perform well in full sun but exhibit puny and straggly growth in the shade.

There are a lot of rocks in the yard which could be moved around. This delighted me. I grinned as I noticed one thing that thrives in the shade—moss.

no problem growing moss on rocks in the shade

no problem growing moss on rocks in the shade

Mulch and groundcovers are important in a garden of this size. I haven’t decided how to handle that yet, but I was happy to see a large expanse of vinca minor (periwinkle). Vinca is a wonderful ground cover for shady areas—but be sure to use the smaller v. minor and not the larger leaved v.major which will take over an area and become unmanageable.

Vinca minor--a wonderful groundcover for shady places.

Vinca minor–a wonderful groundcover for shady places.

I noticed a holly fern performing well in an alcove by the back patio.

Holly fern in medium bright shade

Holly fern in medium bright shade

The oak leaf hydrangea was doing well in one part of the yard. It was placed to get some late afternoon sun. I don’t think that this plant would perform in the deeper shade.

Oak leaf hydrangea in shade garden

Oak leaf hydrangea in shade garden

This gardenia seemed to be performing well. There weren’t any blooms on it but I could see evidence of flowers from a few weeks ago.

broad leafed gardenia in the shade garden

broad leafed gardenia in the shade garden

I decided that we would spend a day cleaning, pruning, and generally shaping up the yard. Something just wasn’t right about the plantings and I wanted time to think about it so as we pruned and cleaned, I had time to look at the garden from a lot of different viewpoints. I’ve always thought of gardening as a four dimensional art form—there are the ubiquitous dimensions of height, width, and depth—but the art of the garden adds the dimension of being inside the creation and looking out. I suppose that the changes of time would also give us a fifth dimension. It depends on one’s viewpoint.

As we were cleaning and pruning I had occasion to sit in a chair on the back patio. I noticed a place in what I would call the back “wall” of the plantings that looked interesting. I studied it a while and then did some careful pruning, returning to the patio periodically to check the progress. The pruning opened up an interesting window in the “wall” which looked way out over a house across the street and into a pasture in the valley. Here’s what I saw

A window in the garden wall

A window in the garden wall

A window in the back of your garden—how cool is that? I zoomed in on the window for another shot.

A rooftop view from the rear patio

A rooftop view from the rear patio

I had looked around enough to decide that the garden needed what I call “definition.” I really didn’t want to start moving those large plants on a hot summer day, so I decided to build the definition around them by using a garden path. Lisa told me about how much the grandchildren loved the hammock in the lower part of the back garden and I decided that this area should be a focal point.

The hammock area needed to be turned into a special place

The hammock area needed to be turned into a special place

There are a lot of rocks in the yard and a great number of them are in the wrong place. When I told Lisa that there were several thousand dollars worth of rocks, she told me that the lady who owned the house previously was 90% blind and that she had a chauffer. Almost every day, the lady would take the chauffer out Horseleg Creek Road and pick up a few rocks. That must have been before all of the development out there.

I appreciated the lady’s work, though, as we were easily able to move enough rocks around to form a double border for a meandering pathway which will provide logical places for meditative garden plantings. Dick and I talked about using pea gravel for the pathway but decided that the area wasn’t quite flat enough to keep the gravel from moving. We decided on ground cypress mulch. I like the way it looks. The mulch will fade out into a grayish brown as time goes by. Since this job will be done in stages, we included turnouts for extending the pathway or for adding benches or statuary.

well-designed pathways add definition to a shade garden

well-designed pathways add definition to a shade garden

The hammock area became the destination for the first pathway. We shaped the area to give space for a garden bench or maybe for a small table and a couple of comfortable chairs. The grandchildren will love it.

The hammock area is turned into a "special place"

The hammock area is turned into a “special place”

Everyone was delighted with the change in the yard. You may compare the following picture to the “before” picture of the entrance that I started this article with.

The garden entrance "after"  we added an ikebana effect with flower pots and St. Francis for a welcome sign

The garden entrance “after” we added an ikebana effect with flower pots and St. Francis for a welcome sign

This is going to be a fun project and will probably take several years to complete—one step at a time. If you want to keep up with all of the projects on johntheplantman, go up to the upper right hand corner of this page and subscribe. You will get a nice gardening article in your inbox almost every week.

Lisa Landry is the owner and operator of Living and Giving which is a wonderful shop in downtown Rome, Georgia. I did an article about the shop a while back which you may see if you Click Here. I probably need to update the article but you’ll get the concept.

And a Word from Our Sponsor:

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 want a consultation in your yard in N.W. Georgia, send me an email at wherdepony@bellsouth.net

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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