Sunday, August 28, 2011

Big changes are coming.

There was a period in my life when I had more plans than time. I was on my game both in the house and the yard. I worked on projects because I wanted to, not because there was an arbitrary deadline chosen by someone who spent all their working hours thinking of ways to interfere with my life.

Eventually working eight hours a day outside took precedent over the things I wanted to accomplish from day to day. I fell into a rut. I came very close to mowing down the perennial bed by the driveway one afternoon in early summer. I didn't want to be reminded of what I left at work when I arrived home. If it weren't for sheer exhaustion and the very real possibility of a heat stroke, I probably would have done it. I got lazy.

Eight weeks ago that all came to a screeching halt when our store manager announced his decision to relocate seven of the twelve department managers in the store. When the final announcement was made, I have to say I was honestly excited to hear that I would be one of the ones being shifted to another part of the store. No longer in OSLG, there would be no ethical issue arising from the plans I had discussed with Todd on the front steps more than a year earlier.

For the past six weeks, I've spent my days inside where its 74 degrees year round selling lawnmowers, patio furniture, and garden trinkets made in China and Mexico. I've learned to slow down and I'm actually enjoying the change of pace.

I took over the Seasonal and Outdoor Power Equipment departments as the Garden Center became quieter each day from lack of foot traffic. Our mature clientel do not function well when the heat index reaches 105F for what seemed like weeks at a time. The younger folks spend the summer trying to toss each other from their waverunners on the two lakes nearby.

Ive stepped out of the proverbial frying pan and into a whole mess of firepits and kerosene heaters. We're in the middle of our fall resets. This morning, my manager, who used to work at the other end of the store in lumber, had plans to install the 16 beams and 32 pieces of decking for the Christmas lights already arriving a few boxes at a time every other day. I will find out Monday if he accomplished his self-prescribed task.

I've been working in retail for over three years now since the economy was wrecked by people whose sole existence is based on greed. Every week I print a schedule decided on by a person I've never met. I imagine he or she works in a cubicle a long way from any operating windows or doors. This person does not know that I function best when I follow the cyclical rhythms designed by Mother Nature.

In summer, I wake as soon as the sky is light. I go to bed not long after the Datura are fully open. During the cold dark winter, I prefer to sleep as much as possible. That's just a dream when you have to be at work at 5am on Tuesday, leave at 2pm, and return the following day for a 3 to 11pm shift. The body doesn't get used to a schedule like that.

For at least a year and a half, I've been dreaming of the day when I once again control my own schedule. I've logged hundreds of miles across the rough concrete in the Garden Center hauling and lifting tons of soil, mulch, and living materials.  It will become a reality sooner rather than later. At first it will supplement my meager wages with plans to transition to a career as my business grows.

At the end of July, I installed a small pond complete with stone and some plants purchased or dug from my own yard for Carla's neighbor. She's got friends that have inquired about my time and availability. I spent a lot of hot and cold days making a name for myself in this town. I sowed and planted. I read blogs and participated in online communities. I got sweaty and passed that information along to customers for less money than I made in a textile mill between high school and college in the early 90s.  It's almost time for me to claim what is rightfully mine. I've worked hard to learn what I now know.

To all those that have helped me over the four years that I have spent here transforming not just a yard and house, but myself as well, I can never thank you all enough for the knowledge I've acquired. Little snippets of plants and pounds of seed were shared and passed on to others with the same information given to me. I honestly cannot thank you enough fully aware that in doing so, I threaten the existence of the plants that were shared. There comes a time when knowledge must be separated from superstition.  That time is fast approaching.

I look forward to the next several years working to build yet another business from scratch. I wish you could all follow along but I've got to do this one alone. Good health, best wishes, and may all your dreams be realized whether in the garden or not.


Tom Gainey,  gardener

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A good day.

I had plans to hit the lake today, but with the temperatures being so nice Carla and I decided to spend the day working in our yards. I piddled mostly. I planted out all the things that had been accumulating over the past weeks. For instance, this Jane Magnolia. Some call it a tulip tree. It's the 12' variety.


Since I had to move a variegated holly like Osmanthus, I planted and moved a few other things as well. The ground is still moist from all the rain we've had. The cooler temperatures will help. I planted the rescued Texas Everbearing Fig. It was just a stick with a tiny leaf when I got it.


I installed lighting taken from the front of the house along the back side. I walk Koda out here and night.


It's nice to see he thinks he's helping by digging too.


He hauls sticks out of the wild.


Pays no attention at all to the fragrance of the hostas.


Won't let you take a picture of him for nothing.


And can be so freaking adorable at the same time.


Before heading in for the day, I took some cuttings of things that have a good chance of rooting in water. A friend has a birthday coming up and I think he would get a kick out of it.


It's only 84 degrees. Back down into the 60s tonight. The tomatoes are blooming again.

Monday, August 15, 2011

What is it?

I should know what this plant is. I put it in this spot. Now I can't remember for the life of me what it is. Anyone have a clue?

Today I am cleaning house from bottom to middle. No reason to touch the attic. The kittens left fleas on the basement. I've treated the space a few times now. I hope they're gone. It usually takes many weeks to break the life cycle. I need to do laundry. The machines are down there.

It's 68 degrees at 10 am. It feels awesome. Storms overnight sucked out most of the humidity in the air.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Sometimes, you have to do what works.

I've tried the newest technology and it really seems to be lacking something. So I'm back to my standard method of posting. I might use the technology from time to time, but it's not something I want to do every day.

The yard is doing its own thing this year. It's been too hot to worry about much. I cut the grass every two weeks. I could probably mow once a week. In one part of the perennial bed, the path has disappeared.


Little snippets of variety are what I love.


I didn't realize I had purchased a 6' tall variety of agastache. If anyone would like a start of this, please let me know. I've got to move it next spring. It's HUGE! There are butterfly bushes in there somewhere.


Lots of hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies.


The hosta are blooming in the shade on the north side.


Yep. He's a happy mutt.


In late spring, I took my ficus tree outside to the side porch. I did some major pruning taking it down to about 6 main branches. It's forgiven me with a vengeance.


It's 84 degrees and humid. Mid 90s with 100s heat index again. I've taken Koda out three times this morning. The figs are ripening one mouthful at a time.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Some flowers and stuff.

We had a lot of rain yesterday with a severe thunderstorm moving through. It toppled a lot of the weary plants. It's been ugly outside. I'm glad I work inside these days. The garden is dominated now by the yellow of two kinds of Rudbeckia. I have Goldstrum and triloba. Koda appreciates them.


He likes these too.


I like the Coreopsis in this bed. Full Moon. Blooms til frost from early June.


After the tour, we strolled home.

It's 84 degrees. The mosquitoes are bigger than the dog.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Meet Koda

He's about 8 weeks old and has a lot more energy than these tired bones of mine. I know I shouldn't have, but I kept him on the bed last night. I wanted to sleep. From 11pm til 3am, we slept. From there on out, he needed to go out every hour.

Yesterday, I taught him to carry his own leash. Beats having it wound around my legs. I'm still dizzy.

The training didn't go too well. Koda gave up a long time before I did.

"Hiding" from me right after I brought him home.

I kept him in the back bedroom away from the cat and got him used to me before bringing him into the house. For the next 4-6 weeks while he learns to control his muscles, he will spend days in the crate when I'm at work.

I thought the bones would be good for a teething puppy. Koda has shown very little interest in these. He prefers my toes and now a sock with more than one hole.

Koda comes from the Sioux Indians meaning "friend". My new buddy has fleas from being raised in a barn. I'm going to be bathing him once it warms up a little more. The grass needs to be mowed. The laundry needs to be done. And I will probably find myself driving into Charlotte this evening for dinner with friends. I'll take Koda with me to get him used to all the miles we'll travel. At 30lbs, he'll be a little small to ride in the bed of the truck, but the passenger seat is almost always unoccupied.

It's 72 degrees. Yardwork today.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


He needs a name. If I base it on what he's done for the past hour, it would be Pee, Poop, or Sleep.

The kittens are gone. The last two went home with the couple that gave me the puppy. Finally. I can clean the basement tomorrow.

Monday, August 1, 2011


The sun has set. It was a great day. The lightning bugs are out.

The first ripe fig...

was probably delicious.

~ I'm trying new technology...It will change the way I blog. Come along.

Home again

It's been a long weekend of traveling. I've been to Asheville, Charlotte, and heading to Badin this afternoon. It's good to be home. Heavy rains last night toppled everything. The backyard is lovely. It's 73 degrees. Hot again today.