Before and After—Revisiting the Sites of Articles Past

I think my adopted art form has five dimensions. There are the usual three—depth, width, and height. I like to add the dimension where you stand inside the creation and look at it from that viewpoint (I’m not sure, though, if that is a dimension or a perspective). The next dimension is that of time. If the plants don’t croak they grow and change the total feel of the project as time goes by. My main professional compensation other than making a modest living is to visit the projects after a period of time and enjoy the changes. This past week I said, “Wow” several times.

Several times this past week I found myself in the presence of sites that I have written articles about. Everything has changed—as gardening projects have a habit of doing. At any rate, here are some pictures of my visitations during the first week of December, 2013 and the links to the articles that tell about the inception of the projects.

I think one of the most significant projects was the Boys and Girls Club vegetable garden that we built in spring of 2009. Diane Harbin and Rome, Georgia’s Three Rivers Garden Club were the moving factors behind the project. After four years the garden needed a bit of physical reworking and maintenance. We tackled the job. Some of the timbers had rotted out, and there was a significant amount of weeds that needed removing as well as some irrigation concerns.  Jobs that are right down my alley. Here’s a picture of one of the main problems:

Weeds and a few rotted timbers in the garden

Weeds and a few rotted timbers in the garden

Here is a picture of this delightful garden after the clean up and rebuild.

Rome, Ga. Boys and Girls Club vegetable garden after clean up and repair

Rome, Ga. Boys and Girls Club vegetable garden after clean up and repair. December 2013

You may click to visit The Boys and Girls Club Vegetable Garden Project. The article was written Nov. 29, 2009

A year after the building of the vegetable garden it was added on to. Go to: The Garden Gets a Gazebo from May 9, 2010.

I started this blog series in 2009 and one of the first articles was about building a portable rock garden. I presented the finished rock garden to my future father-in-law for his birthday. He has kept it alive and asked me a couple of weeks ago to take it and shape it up. All I’m going to do is give it some light, fertilize and prune it, and it should be all right on its fifth birthday. Here’s the “how to” article: How to Build a Portable Rock Garden from Jan. 17, 2010. And here is a picture of the garden on December 8, 2013.

Portable rock garden from one of my first articles

Portable rock garden from one of my first articles

I have probably been gardening for Betty for thirty years or so. I took this picture of one of her bonsais on Dec. 7, 2013.  Then I remembered that I had written an article including this plant on August 13 of this year that contains a picture of me pruning this very same tree about 20 years ago. See if you can find me. Here is the article—Pruning For Betty from Aug. 13, 2013.

Betty's bonsai

Betty’s bonsai

Just yesterday I had to go see Mabel and I noticed a little cedar tree that I had pruned a year ago and that was doing well.  The article is Mabel’s Topiary from Feb 26, 2012

This tree started as a weed but then a weed is only a plant that's in the wrong place

This tree started as a weed but then a weed is only a plant that’s in the wrong place

And, Oh, over the years, Patricia’s landscape garden in Buckhead is looking better and better. We did some clean up work and pruning Dec. 6 and 7 2013 and I took the picture below. There are two articles that relate to this garden: Making Stepping Stones With Whiskey Barrel Rings from October 2, 2011 and part two of the project, Patricia’s Side Garden from October 9, 2011.

Patricia's shade garden with hand made stepping stones and pea gravel

Patricia’s shade garden with hand made stepping stones and pea gravel

 Thanks for visiting John the Plant Man. Remember the next time you want a good read you need to try “REQUIEM FOR A REDNECK”, a kindle ebook from Amazon that features John the Plant Man with his Georgia mountain friends. It’s quite the adventure. Check it out, buy a copy, and tell ALL your friends about it.


My self publishing experience part three-Turning it into a book.


Mrs. Garnett Cobb enjoys the book

Mrs. Garnett Cobb enjoys the book

The editing proceeded. Make changes, submit for editing, correct the manuscript, make more changes. I called the process polishing. I realized that when the final draft was completed and printed there would be no going back for changes. The funny thing is that in the final draft of Requiem for a Redneck,- the one that was printed- there is a glaring mistake. I never told anyone about it and only a few people noticed but I knew it was there. Can you find it?

To read part one of this series CLICK HERE

To read part two of this series CLICK HERE

 During the editing process, I was doing a lot of research trying to find out just what a “publishing company” was. I had pictures in my head of big offices that rose over a printing press. I read the offerings of a number of print on demand (POD) publishers that promised me fame and fortune if I just sent them some money and a manuscript. These companies make some mighty fine sounding promises, too, but something about them didn’t seem quite right and so I continued my research, looking for the overall concept. I found it, too.

 I found that I could use my personal computer as my publishing company. I just had to put everything together. I studied it some more. Dekie studied it with me and we realized that we could set up our own publishing company to produce the book. This turned out to be a really good move in the long run.

 My son, J.R.Schulz is a gifted graphic artist and I asked him to do the book cover for me. J.R. is the one who introduced me to the word “formatting.”

I asked, “What does that mean?”

He replied, “That means producing a pdf that is print ready. Everything has to be the right size for the book and laid out just as you want the inside of the book to look. You must select the best fonts to use and take such things into consideration as indents, headers, footers, margins, and more. Everything must be just right.”

I learned that just submitting a word document would never work. The document had to be fine tuned using a program named Indesign that was developed for just this process. J.R. and Dekie worked on the cover, formatting and other considerations needed to get the book print ready. The research continued. Here’s an example of the formatted interior:

spread scan for Requiem for a Redneck from Indesign format

spread scan for Requiem for a Redneck from Indesign format

 We needed an ISBN or International Standards Book Number, a registered copyright and a Library of Congress Book Number. We needed to find a printer. Over a period of time all of the considerations were taken care of.

 J.R. finished the book cover and we were all delighted. The book cover had to be formatted to exact dimensions so that it would fit the book. The part I found most interesting was the manner in which the spine width was determined. The spine width, of course, would change with the number of pages in the book and had to be accurate within thousandths of an inch.  Here’s what the cover looked like when it was formatted.

Requiem cover, formatted to exact specifications

Requiem cover, formatted to exact specifications

 I studied print pricing and found that the price of each copy goes down as the number of copies is raised. My research told me that the best price break came when quantities of 3,000 or more copies were ordered, so I decided to order 3,000 books. I know that sounds like a lot of books-and it is-but I had confidence in my product and in myself. Everything has worked out well in the long run.

 The formatted book was next sent to a printer. A proof copy was sent to me for approval and then the print order was completed. A couple of weeks later, boxes and boxes of books were delivered to my office. I eagerly opened one of the boxes and removed a copy of the book. I will never forget the feeling of wonder and pride that I had as I held that book in my hand for the first time. That feeling was followed later by one of, “What happens next?”

 The book was well received and even though I made many marketing mistakes, I feel that I have done rather well with Requiem for a Redneck. People sometimes asked me about my marketing plan and I thought about it. The marketing plan became:

“Write a good book, learn how to publish it, learn how to market it, and then write another book knowing what you didn’t know from the first one.”

 This would be similar to going back to school-to a school of one-a school based on self reliance. It seems to have worked so far. Now, I have finished writing the second part of what I will call “The Redneck Trilogy.” The book is titled Redemption for a Redneck and it is a love story. I plan to end up with a multi generic trilogy which will consist of a tragedy, a love story, and a mystery.

 Has my writing career started? I don’t know, but the process has become interesting and fun. I have developed a following, even if it is a small one in the grand scheme of things. People ask me every day when they will be able to read the next book. I have had a good time.

 After the production of the Requiem, we found that there are lots of people who want to self publish a book without getting ripped off by the big guys and Dekie has been busy taking care of several of these.  You will find the website for Wheredepony Press if you CLICK HERE

 You may ask, “John, did you make a profit on the book?”

And I will answer, “I sold close to two thousand books which I understand is pretty good. I covered costs and turned a dollar profit, but it turned out that money wasn’t the real profit.”

 The real profit from my book came in most unexpected ways.

I got to meet a lot of nice people.

I got to go to a lot of wonderful and enjoyable events.

I became known as a writer and as a humorist.

There are more ways I profited from the book, but the main profit is related in an article that I posted on this site last April.

In case you missed it, it is titled “A Thank You and a Love Story” You may CLICK HERE to find it.

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



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?


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:

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




Louann wins the lottery

In this weeks article I will share a nice story.  Relax for a few minutes and read about the indomitable Louann.  This is one of my favorite chapters from the book Requiem for a Redneck. Enjoy-share it with your friends.

Chapter ten, Requiem for a Redneck

Chapter ten, Requiem for a Redneck

Louann was a victim of numbers. With five more years of public schooling, thirty more points of I.Q., and eight more teeth, she could have been a movie star. She was all right to look at when she kept her mouth shut – which was rarely. She could also look halfway intelligent under the same circumstances. Louann could talk more and say less than any woman I had ever met. Her vocabulary was limited but she made up for it by using the word “like” and the phrase “don’t youknow” quite often. A sample sentence might be:

“I like caught this don’t you know fish and like I pulled it in out of the don’t you knowwater and like it was slippery. You know what I mean?”

When I met her she was in her late twenties. She was about five feet six inches tall with long straight mousy brown hair which she always said used to be “you know, like it was blonde, don’t you know.” Louann wore cutoffs and a t-shirt in the summer and jeans and a sweatshirt in the winter. She was barefoot unless it was really cold. When it was really cold she wore work boots.

Louann was rather uncommunicative around men, so I only knew her from observation. After she got to know Marsha, though, she told Marsha everything in the world about her life, her activities, her ways of getting money, and her alcohol consumption. Marsha, of course, told me everything. It was much more than I wanted to know.

My observations were that Louann was very gentle and understanding when dealing with animals and plants. She could communicate with the animals on their level, and I once watched her squatting and staring at a tomato plant for hours. I asked her what she was doing and she replied, “I’m like watching it grow, don’t you know.”

The dogs might have barked the first time she came to the house to go fishing, but after that, they started wagging their tails when Harce’s truck pulled into the driveway. If Louann wasn’t with Harce, they would bark at him, otherwise they would come sit in front of Louann and let her pet them and talk to them.

Louann helped grow Harce’s animals. There were always chickens, hogs, and a cow or two around “the property.” Harce and Louann never had to buy meat or vegetables. She saw to that. But she told Marsha that even though she loved watching the animals grow, she never named them because “You can, like, eat a piece of you know steak but only if you don’t know any names, don’t you know. It’s like,you can’t eat Herman, but eating a don’t you know stranger is all right. See? That’s like why I don’t never name none of them, don’t you know. See, it’s all right to name a tomato plant don’t you know because you are only eating their babies, don’t you know and you don’t name their babies. You know? I name all my tomato plants, but like, I don’t never name a chicken. Not around here. You know?”

Louann was never idle. The deal on the firewood was that Harce cut and split the firewood. Louann used a hatchet to split wood scraps into kindling. Splitting kindling is a dangerous art form. Louann could patiently cut strips of wood to an amazing degree of exactness without ever cutting herself with the hatchet. She separated the kindling into two piles: hardwood and heart pine. She tied the kindling into separate bundles that were about eight inches in diameter and ten inches long. The heart pine kindling was in big demand at the Magic Market.

While Harce was away looking for any possible way to make money other than get a job, Louann kept things together at home. She grew and canned vegetables. She fed and cared for the livestock with no names. She split kindling and picked up beer cans for recycling. One of Harce’s friends had built her a beer can crusher which consisted of two tires with an electric motor and a chute that fed the cans between the tires and spit them out into a barrel. There was never a shortage of beer cans around the sawmill. When Harce built the brick barbecue pit, she had him set a couple of mailboxes into the chimney. This way, when the chimney got hot, she could bake bread in the mailbox. It was the best bread anyone ever ate.

She gathered eggs. She used a homemade broom to sweep the front yard, just like her mother and grandmother had done. Louann stayed busy.

Louann was a closet alcoholic. She loved to get drunk, but she had certain restrictions. You see, as much as Harce drank, he didn’t like her when she was drunk. He threw violent fits when she got drunk. I guess I could understand. I only saw her really drunk twice and I really didn’t want to be anywhere near her at those times. She was a wild, incomprehensible, screaming banshee when she was drunk. Obviously she knew this also and she did a really good job of getting just the right buzz and maintaining it throughout the day. She had to be very devious, though, in getting alcohol. Harce would bring her a six pack of Keystone beer every three or four days and he thought that was all she drank. She wasn’t above drinking up the vanilla extract, but she didn’t really like the taste.

So Louann learned to scrounge money. She couldn’t drive because she got in trouble every time she tried to drive somewhere and Harce never left an operational vehicle on the premises when he was not there. If he drove off in one truck, he had the coil wire from the other truck in his pocket. But Louann could scrounge beer money better than anyone around The Colons. She sold kindling to the Magic Market, she sold eggs to the neighbors, she cheated on the recycled beer cans, she made kudzu vine wreaths at Christmas time. She was full of financial schemes – all centered on buying beer.

Since she couldn’t drive, she had to share her largesse with her friend from down the road, Mary Sue, who had the use of a 1979 Chevrolet Impala that ran most of the time. For two dollars worth of gas, one can of beer, and three fresh chicken eggs, Mary Sue would drive Louann to the Magic Market whenever she wanted to go. Louann had to be careful to keep any indication that she had any money from Harce or he would take it. He knew why she wanted money. If he didn’t think she had any, he would just think that she was only drinking the beer that he brought her. That’s what she wanted him to think. That’s kind of how she won the lottery.

Louann told Marsha about winning the lottery but swore her to secrecy. Marsha, of course, told me and swore me to secrecy. If Harce had ever known, his wrath would have been legendary. I sure as hell wasn’t going to tell him. The story went like this. I think it was Harley Johnson, I’m not sure, but it really doesn’t matter, who came to see Louann to buy a piece of cured ham. She wanted five dollars for the ham but Harley only had four dollars and an unscratched lottery ticket. Louann didn’t really want the lottery ticket, but Harley was nice and had a nice smile and he also threw in a can of Budweiser so she took the deal. She put the ticket in with her financial stash and forgot about it.

A couple of days later, Louann counted and found that she had saved up ten dollars. Harce was gone to cut trees so she got some eggs and walked down the road to fetch Mary Sue. They cranked the old Chevy and headed down to the Magic Market. Neither of them had drunk a beer in two days and it wasn’t that they really wanted a twelve pack, they really needed a twelve pack. Louann had stuffed her money in her pocket without looking at it and when she reached in to hand Mary Sue the gas money, the lottery ticket fell out on the floor of the car.

Mary Sue looked at it. “Where did you get the lottery ticket?”

Louann told her about Harley Johnson pawning it off on her.

Mary Sue was incredulous. “And you ain’t scratched it yet? I ain’t

never known nobody that didn’t scratch them even before they got

out of the store.” So they both huddled over the Lucky Seven card

while Louann took a dime out of her pocket and scratched.

She scratched the covering off of the first block. “What is it?”

asked Mary Sue.

“It’s a by damn seven,” Louann replied. “All we need is two more

sevens. Fat chance, don’t you know.” She scratched another one.

Mary Sue yelled a modified rebel yell. “Look, it’s another seven.

Scratch the next one.”

Louann hesitated. The tension built. She slowly scratched the

third block. There was silence.

“It’s another seven, that’s three of them,” Mary Sue whispered.

“Scratch that box down there. That’s the one that tells you what

you won.”

Louann scratched it.

There was dead silence.

“My God,” whispered Louann

“Oh, oh my God,” whispered Mary Sue.

“It’s five thousand dollars,” whispered Louann. “That will buy

beer for the rest of my life.”

“What are we going to do?”

“We can’t let Harce know, he’ll take it.”

“We can’t take it into the Magic Market. Harry will tell


“Let’s buy some gas and go to town to the Indian store. He cain’t

tell nobody we know ‘cause they won’t go in there.”

Louann tried for a straight face and went into the Magic Market

to pay for the gas. Harry asked her about her beer, but she told him

she “wouldn’t be needing any today.” She ran out the door.

The Chevy was still running because Louann and Mary Sue had learned not to cut it off when it was away from home. They headed into town to the Indian store, which was the largest lottery purveyor around. They ran in and set the ticket on the counter. The clerk took the ticket and studied it carefully.

“You mus’ go to Dalton for a prize this size,” he observed. “Dey

only let us pay out up to one t’ousand dollars here. You mus go to

Dalton for dis one. Sorry.”

Outside, Louann and Mary Sue huddled together. “Damn, we got

to go to Dalton,” Louann said.

“It’s OK,” said Mary Sue. “I think the Chevy will make it. It’s only

70 miles. But we’ll need about fifteen dollars for gas. See what you can

get and I’ll rob my change jar and we can go tomorrow.”

Louann got up extra early the next morning and fixed a big breakfast for Harce. She wanted to get him out of there. The minute he was out of the driveway, she took off her bathrobe which covered her jeans and sweat shirt. She ran to Mary Sue’s house. The Chevy was already running. They stopped at the Magic Market and bought fourteen dollars and eighty six cents worth of gas and they were off.

They only had to stop and ask directions six times, but they finally found their way to the lottery redemption office. Mary Sue gave her rebel yell and Louann’s long hair flew in the wind as they ran into the office. Louann ran up to the counter and slapped the ticket down in front of a nice grey-haired, grandmotherly lady who was obviously used to excitement. The lady studied the card. She entered the serial number into the computer and got a studious look on her face.

“It looks fine, ladies.” She beamed. “If you’ll just let me see your

driver’s license, I’ll do the paperwork and give you your money.”

Louann looked at Mary Sue.

Mary Sue looked at Louann.

They both looked at the lady behind the counter.

“We ain’t got no drivers license,” Louann said.

The lottery lady gave them a sweet smile. She had seen this before.

“I’m sorry. Without a driver’s license, we can’t honor the amount on

the card. Perhaps you have a friend . . .”

Louann and Mary Sue almost cried. They went out and sat in

the car.

Louann thought for a while and asked, “What are we like going

to do?”

“I don’t know.” Mary Sue replied, “That lady said maybe if we had

a friend . . .”

Louann brightened, “Like, what about Leroy? Has he got

any license?”

“I know he does. He just got out of DUI school and got

them back.”

“Reckon he’d do it and keep his mouth shut?”

“Reckon he would for a hunnerd dollars.”

“That’d be worth it. Let’s go get Leroy. He lives in Sugar Hill. That

ain’t but twenty miles.”

“I hope he’s home.”

“I bet he’s home, he’s laid off and he’s getting unemployment.

He’s probably out of beer. He’s home.”

Forty-five minutes later, they pulled up to the front of Leroy’s trailer. It was easy to find. It was the first trailer in the second row of the trailer park on Highway 27 in Sugar Hill. Leroy was sitting on the porch.

Louann hollered, “Hey, Leroy.”

Leroy grinned and waved. “Hey Louann. Hey, Mary Sue. What

y’all doing here?”

“We thought you might want some beer.”

“You got that right.”

“You got any drivers license?”

Leroy took a drag from his Marlboro Light. “Yeah, I got them

back the other day.”

“Well get them license and get in the car and we’ll go get

some money and we’ll get you some beer and we’ll give you a

hunnert dollars.”

Leroy really didn’t understand, but he had a chance to ride around with a couple of good-looking women and he really didn’t have much else to do but sit on the porch, so he got in the back seat of the Impala. They explained the situation on the way. They were careful not to tell Leroy exactly how much money was involved until they had made a deal and shook on it. Leroy said he would be happy with a hundred dollars and some beer. He didn’t have nothing else to do.

Back in Dalton, the ladies grinned big as they walked in with Leroy and saw the same nice grey-haired, grandmotherly lady behind the counter. She looked at the ticket again. She punched the numbers in the computer again. She entered Leroy’s driver’s license number in the computer. She got a large smile on her face and said,

“If you will wait a moment, Leroy, I will have a check for you. The Georgia Lottery

appreciates your support.”

She turned to a printer which was already processing the check.

The grey-haired lady tore off the check and brought it to the


“Here you are, Leroy. One hundred and twenty six dollars

and forty two cents. And congratulations Leroy, your child support

payments have now been caught up completely.”

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?

Copyright 2009 John P. Schulz

Accent plantings in the landscape garden

Special places in the landscape garden

“Let’s do something special over there”.  That phrase always delights me.  As a “landscape artist”, I love seeing and creating distinctive spots in the landscape garden. Today, I will share some of these with you.

A place to sit and think while enjoying the azaleas and oak leaf hydrangeas

A place to sit and think while enjoying the azaleas and oak leaf hydrangeas

When I told my mother, Jane B. Schulz, what I was writing about, she quoted a poem right off the top of her head.  She said she had to memorize it in school as punishment for some wrongdoing.  I loved it. Jane is into SHARING, click on her name and check her blog.  Here’s the poem–

Flower in the crannied wall,
I pluck you out of the crannies,
I hold you here, root and all, in my hand,
Little flower -but if I could understand
What you are, root and all, and all in all,
I should know what God and man is.

–Alfred, Lord Tennyson

The rock led my attention through the lenten rose and threadleaf maple to the pagoda.  serendipity

The rock led my attention through the lenten rose and threadleaf maple to the pagoda. serendipity

Anyway, somehow that poem reminded me of a picture I had taken of a secluded bird bath back in early March.  Here it is—

This birdbath was a visual treat in early march

This birdbath was a visual treat in early march

I knew about where the bird bath had been but I couldn’t find it.  I looked for a while and, there it was, stuck back in a hydrangea planting.  I love it and I really enjoyed the floating blue flowers.  I’ll bet the birds don’t have any trouble finding it

I knew it was there.   It took a while to find the bird bath nestled in the hydrangeas.

I knew it was there. It took a while to find the bird bath nestled in the hydrangeas.

At another location, I walked around to the pool to see one of my favorites—It’s sort of like an outdoor dish garden with an ikebana flair.  Ikebana design usually features three levels which represent heaven, man, and earth.  Here we see a black pine that I have been pruning for years, a variegated juniper, and a really neat sedum with its yellow flower..  St. Francis seems to approve.

beds raised with compost, bordered with rocks, and planted with an ikebani flair

beds raised with compost, bordered with rocks, and planted with an ikebani flair

Walking around the corner from St. Francis, I found a beautiful break with raised beds, rock borders, and crape myrtles underplanted with “Endless Summer” hydrangeas

"Endless Summer" hydrangeas under a crape myrtle planting

“Endless Summer” hydrangeas under a crape myrtle planting

Oooooh, I remembered another one.  I was having fun on a cloudy Saturday and the light was perfect for finding hidden treasures.  Here’s a picture of a specimen contorted filbert hiding a small fountain and fish pond.  I think I might do some pruning here next week.  Dr. Harbin agreed

water feature and fish pond under a specimen contorted filbert

water feature and fish pond under a specimen contorted filbert

In one of the chapters of Requiem for a Redneck, I tell about Harce building a bridge in order to pay for his DUI.  The bridge actually exists and the memory of poor Harce is always there.  I think it is a masterpiece.

The story of this bridge is related in chapter 13 of Requiem for a Redneck.  I miss ol' Harce.

The story of this bridge is related in chapter 13 of Requiem for a Redneck. I miss ol’ Harce.

And in memory of Harce, a few years ago, I built this fountain in memorial.  Patsy looked at it and told me that she had pictured a little girl pouring water from a pitcher, but I replied that “every garden needs a little redneck”.  When the people from Atlanta Magazine came for a photo shoot, they featured it.  Harce would have been proud.

My version of a "redneck waterfall"

My version of a “redneck waterfall”

And here’s a great story about hidden delights.  Before the original house was added on to, there was a big hillside of ivy and weeds.  Cleaning it up was quite a job with lopping shears and pruners.  At the end of the first day of cleaning, I found a lamp post and said, “something special is going on here.”  The picture below is what we found and polished.

We found this walkway under 6 feet of ivy and virginia creeper

We found this walkway under 6 feet of ivy and virginia creeper

I like it when you walk down a path and go around a corner and find a surprise.  This part of the garden is special because the plants follow the light, going from ferns and lenten rose to nikko hydrangeas, and furnishing a view of the more light tolerant Annabelle hydrangeas just before the path goes around another corner.

Around a corner and into a garden

Around a corner and into a garden

I was running out of time when I rounded that last corner and found that I was not the only creature to find a special place in the garden.  I call this picture the “organic cat feeder.”

I hope you got some good ideas, or at least enjoyed the tour. Is it any wonder that I love my job?

Got Questions?  Enter a comment.  I always try to answer.

I try to put up a new article every Sunday. Stay in touch.  Share it with your friends.

If you live in or around the northwest Georgia area and would like to have a consultation with johntheplantman, you may contact John Schulz by email at .  Do not send pictures or attachments as they will be deleted.

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?

or the print version:

Try “see inside the book” Harce’s picture is on the cover


Choosing the right fertilizer

How do I choose the correct fertilizer?

 “What do I feed my plants?”  “What is the best fertilizer?”  — I think that in my experience as a plant man, these are the most frequently asked questions, and everyone seems to want a concise, three word answer.  Here’s the concise answer:  “It all depends.”  Read on to learn how to choose the best fertilizer for your particular needs.

Basic 10-10-10 fertilizer.  What do the numbers mean?

Basic 10-10-10 fertilizer. What do the numbers mean?

 I will approach the topic with a series of pictures of fertilizer labels and an explanation. The most widely used (and usually cheapest) product used is the basic 10-10-10 fertilizer pictured above.  All fertilizer bags will have a complete analysis of ingredients.  This one shows us that we are getting 10% nitrogen (N), 10 % phosphorous(P), and 10% potassium(K).  This means that 30% of what is in the bag is actual fertilizer; the rest is filler.  N, P, and K are the symbols for the chemicals from the periodic chart of the elements.


Basically, nitrogen promotes green, vegetative growth, phosphorous helps the plant to develop a good root structure, and potassium promotes blooms.

My friend Mrs. Shaw said she remembers it by the use of

“Shoots, Roots, and Fruits.”

 Vegetable growers know that if you put too much nitrogen and not enough phosphorous and potassium on the plants, you will get beautiful plants but the fruit production will be diminished.  Grass growers know that too much of the last two numbers and not enough nitrogen will not produce the desired results for them. Note:  If you are dealing with centipede or St. Augustine grasses, do some research, they are different.

 Plants also need something called “trace elements.”  These are: boron, copper, iron, manganese, molybdenum, and zinc.  Better and usually more expensive fertilizer mixes will contain these trace elements.  Look at the label below for a grass starter fertilizer:

A good fertilizer formulated for a specific growing purpose

A good fertilizer formulated for a specific growing purpose

A well formulated fertilizer.  Note the inclusion of trace elements.

A well formulated fertilizer. Note the inclusion of trace elements.

 Note that this starter fertilizer for lawn seeds and sod includes high nitrogen (18%) for the green, vegetative growth, high phosphorous (24%) for developing root growth, and relatively little potassium (6%) because blooms aren’t really necessary for turf grass.

As a corollary, one of the best plant foods for tomatoes which is no longer available was Dr. Chatelier’s plant food which contained an analysis of 8-8-20 plus trace elements.  It also grew magnificent roses.  I have always tried to find a fertilizer like this for use on vegetables and flowering plants.  There are some products with this or a similar imbalance on the market—they’re just hard to find.  Remember, the numbers don’t have to be exactly the same, just the ratios.

 In my rambling through the fertilizer section at Lowe’s with my trusty HP digital camera, I found some very interesting products.  If you wish to remain organic and chemical free on a small scale, there is an organic fertilizer:

Organic, Anyone?  Check the numbers and the source on the back of the bag.

Organic, Anyone? Check the numbers and the source on the back of the bag.

An organically formulated fertilizer.  I like the use of bone meal for phosphorous

An organically formulated fertilizer. I like the use of bone meal for phosphorous

 There is a wonderful product called Ironite.  The need for iron shows up as a yellowing in the foliage.  This happens commonly with gardenias.  One time, a little old lady gardener (she was little, and definitely old, and she wore white gloves in the garden, but names will not be mentioned because she would slap me) told me to sprinkle Epsom salts around the roots of the yellowed gardenias.  It worked.  Ironite does it even better.

Ironite is a good supplement for trace elements

Ironite is a good supplement for trace elements

Look at all the good stuff in this formulation.

Look at all the good stuff in this formulation.

 The acid balance of the soil (Ph) is important.  Azaleas and Rhododendrons among other plants like an acid soil.  Others like a balanced Ph.  One of the most overlooked chemicals for success in plant growing is lime.  If you notice a failure to thrive or burnt leaf edges, you may wish to have the Ph of the soil checked.  This is easily done through your extension service.  The presence of moss is usually an indicator of an acid soil.  Pelletized lime works quickly and rather well.  Stay away from “hydrated” lime. Look at all the good stuff in a bag of lime

Last year when Sweetie asked me to fertilize the grass, all I did was put lime on it.  The grass was greener than ever!!

Last year when Sweetie asked me to fertilize the grass, all I did was put lime on it. The grass was greener than ever!!

 One of my favorite and most often used fertilizers for ornamentals is Osmocote.  This is a time release fertilizer that breaks down over a period of 6 months or so and offers continuous feeding of the plant.  I use a time release fertilizer whenever I plant flowers or shrubs.  It gives good results.  There are many time release fertilizers on the market, so you can compare the ingredients on the label.  Always be sure to work the time release fertilizer well into the soil. These products usually come with a formulation for either flowers and vegetables or for foliage plants.  Read the label.

Time release plant food makes for outstanding flower beds

Time release plant food makes for outstanding flower beds

 Tree spikes are a very effective product for feeding your prized trees.  These are made to be driven into the ground around the “drip line” of the tree and they feed it throughout the growing season.  There will be different formulations for regular trees or for fruit and flowering trees. 

I like to poke a hole in the ground with a digging bar before driving in the tree spikes.  It keeps them from breaking.

I like to poke a hole in the ground with a digging bar before driving in the tree spikes. It keeps them from breaking.

 Professional greenhouse growers usually use a liquid feed for their plants.  A lot of these growers use the liquid feed at every watering.  I personally like to use it every week or two during the growing season.  There are many brand names, Peter’s, Schultz’s (no relation, note the t.), Miracle grow, and many others.  The liquid feed fertilizers come in a number of formulations.  Here again, read the label. If you are a serious plant grower, you may need several different kinds.  Remember—“SHOOTS, ROOTS,FRUITS”—(first number, middle number, third number).  I always liked Peter’s 20-20-20, but I can’t seem to find it any more.

There are many brand names and many more formulas.  Read the label.

There are many brand names and many more formulas. Read the label.

 As I was finishing up my exploration of the fertilizer section at Lowe’s garden center, I noticed a fragrance that is common to the hills of north Georgia.  I looked around and found two different brands of Organic Fertilizer.

Not to be used for making chicken soup.

Not to be used for making chicken soup.

 I read the label and found that it was composted chicken feathers and manure—and it was only $8.98 for a 5 pound bag.  A little rich for my blood in more ways than one.

 Takeaway:  1. Read the label.  2 Shoots, Roots, Fruits. 3. The three numbers stand for percentages of nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium (NPK) in that order.

 Johntheplantman appears in the book Requiem for a Redneck, by John P. Schulz.  Now you can go to Amazon and see inside!

Available as an ebook:

Any questions about fertilizer?  Leave a comment.

Christmas tree or holiday tree? What to call it.

Christmas Tree or Holiday Tree?

Every year about this time there is a discussion about whether we should call it a Holiday Tree or a Christmas Tree.  John the Plant Man not only has an opinion but also a defense for that opinion.  Read on…

A Douglas fir tree carefully decorated for the Christmas season

A Douglas fir tree carefully decorated for the Christmas season

 I guess it doesn’t matter if someone wants to call it a Holiday Tree, but it does make me wonder about their understanding of word meaning and logic. I might even worry about their intelligence, but not to a great extent.. For myself, I choose to refer to it as a “Christmas Tree”.  In this debate, I am however, more concerned about the abuse that we heap on semantics and the English language

For example, you have heard the age old question:  “If a tree falls in the forest, and no one hears it, does it make a sound?”

The answer is different than expected.  It depends on the definition of the word “sound”.  If the definition of the word “sound” requires a sonic disturbance as well as a receiver, then it doesn’t make a sound.  If the definition requires only a sonic disturbance, then it does, indeed, make a sound.

Definitions answer many questions.

This is a frazier fir.  If it fell in the forest, would it make a sound?

This is a frazier fir. If it fell in the forest, would it make a sound?

It follows, therefore, that the tree decorated for the holiday observed on December 25 every year should be called a “Christmas Tree.”  It’s as simple as that. Of course, it has to be decorated for Christmas to be a Christmas tree.  Otherwise, it would be a fir tree or a pine tree or a plastic tree, etc.

The definition in the Merriam Webster dictionary appears as:

“n  A tree, usually evergreen, decorated at Christmas time”

You have probably heard of a “Yule log”

This is defined as “a large log formerly put on the hearth on Christmas Eve as a foundation for the fire.”

That’s what that particular item is.  It is a yule log.  That is its name by definition. We wouldn’t call it a “holiday log.”   Heck, Mike, a log is a log.

President Lincoln was once talking with a farmer about whether or not to call a territory a state.

Mr. Lincoln asked the farmer:  “Sir, how many legs does the cow have?”

The farmer knew the answer:  “Why, Mr. President, the cow has four legs.”

Mr. Lincoln then asked:  “And if we call the cow’s tail a leg, then how many?”

“Why” answered the farmer:  “Then the cow would have five legs.”

“That, sir is where you’re wrong” replied the president.

“Merely calling the tail a leg doesn’t make it one.”

So, taking all religious arguments out of the question (just to level the playing field):

A tree, usually evergreen, decorated for the Christmas season is defined as a “Christmas tree”

You may call it anything else

For instance,

You may call it a “holiday tree”

But that doesn’t make it one.

Here are the choices, side by side:

This would be a Christmas tree.  Any other name would be incorrect.

This would be a Christmas tree. Any other name would be incorrect.

This is a frasier fir tree.  It even has a botanical name for exactness

This is a frasier fir tree. It even has a botanical name for exactness





Now what will you call a tree that is decorated for Christmas?     

   A Christmas tree, a holiday tree, or a  fir tree, or a pine tree, or a plastic tree ?

Join the discussion, leave a comment

John P. Schulz

And for a wonderful present to put under your Christmas tree, Get an autographed copy of the book that is all about the adventures of John the Plant Man and his acquaintances and friends–The outrageous “Requiem for a Redneck” Now available as an ebook

also available at


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