Hi everyone, I’m giving away five copies of Leaf Your Troubles Behind this holiday season. To refresh your memory, this is my nonfiction book about how plants can help our mental health. With climate change, war, inflation, and all else, life can seem daunting and stressful. But the way to de-stress is often in plants. They’re simple, beautiful, and always there for us. What’s more, they’re free!
The book is divided into three parts: personal stories, scientific research, and fun activities. The personal stories are either from my life or from someone I know. They illustrate the experiences of how plants have improved people’s lives and made them feel better psychologically. The research section explains why and how plants do that, drawing on a rich body of scientific evidence from around the world. Lastly, the activities, nestled throughout the book, offer ways to relax, engage with, immerse yourself in, or even play with plants. Plus, decorative ideas! In the end, it’s really all about getting stress relief through plants.
Thanks, and happy holidays!
Recently, I wrote an article for The Washington Post on natural craft decorations for Halloween. It struck me afterward you could use a couple of these projects for Thanksgiving as well. Simply remove the ghosts and spookier elements to create nice autumn displays. Here are the basics of what I did.
My pumpkin vase was a fun, inexpensive project. Though the full directions are in The Post piece, I’ll share a bit about what I did to create this. I cut the top off a medium sized pumpkin and cleaned it out. Then I added pyracantha, mums, barberry, and grasses. My goal was to make a centerpiece that was nearly compostable. Outside of the water-soluble glue I used for the ghost’s head and the handkerchief, it pretty much is.
I thought it would be nice to make something with light so I created this candle centerpiece (see above photo). I started with a low basket to which I added black moss grass, gourds, pumpkins, and other assorted plants. I tucked in burgundy oak leaves for color and some structural interest. The prettiest part though was the beeswax candle in the center. Isn’t that fern pattern gorgeous? I love it. A couple in the Seattle area make these candles, which might still be available. Check out their website, Shipwreck Honey.
Natural Decor for the Holidays
These two projects, because they’re made from mostly natural materials, will last indoors for about a month. Afterward, if you remove the candle and glass, you can compost almost all of the materials. That was the idea, to offer an alternative to plastic, store-bought stuff.
Anyway, in a couple weeks, look for my article on natural holiday decor, which will also come out in The Post. Until then, enjoy your autumn!
Just a quick post to let you know my video interview on the “Let’s Get Growing” YouTube show is now available. I talked with gardener extraordinaire Enoch Graham about plants and wellness. The plants and wellness found, of course, in Leaf Your Troubles Behind. We touched on some impressive statistics about how engaging with plants lowers your stress. We also talked about easy activities you can do to get greenery in your life, and the positive psychological benefits of gardening. Plus, favorite plants!
Overall, the interview went great. I always feel self-conscious on video but hey, it is what it is. Goofy smile and all. My ring light burnt out during the last few minutes, so if you see me go a little dark, that’s why. Ah, technology.
Anyway, if you have 20 minutes, you might want to take a peek. I did the interview from my latest green sanctuary nook. It’s a very simple comfy chair, fairy lights, and houseplants arranged in the corner of my living room. A happy place. By the way, if you’d like help setting up your own green sanctuary nook or room, just give me a shout through my Contact page. I’m at your service.
In the meantime, here’s the show. Enjoy!
Hey all, just a quick note to let you know my latest article on when to toss a houseplant is now available to read. In January, I achieved a small dream I had of getting an assignment from The Washington Post on this topic. It’s one I’ve often struggled with as a longtime plant lover. Maybe you do too.
For those of you who don’t have access to the Post, in the article I suggest you ask yourself a series of questions. They include assessing the health of your plant and your own plant care knowledge. Also, you need to be honest about the level of maintenance required, the plant’s history, and how happy it makes you.
I won’t go into all the details here since they’re in the article. But if you’re wrestling internally with when to toss a houseplant, I suggest you deeply think about how committed you are to it. As I say in the article, I’ve revived plants from near-death and have also had to say goodbye to beloved specimens that broke my heart to put on the compost heap.
In the end, you really need to imagine how you’d feel not having it in your home. If you wouldn’t mind too much, it may be time to say goodbye. Otherwise, try nursing it back to health. You never know what might happen. In any case, I wish you houseplant luck.
Do you have a shady spot in your garden? An old established tree might take up an entire corner of your yard or a neighbor’s tall house might create a big cool shadow. You might feel discouraged and unsure what to do. Well, don’t worry because you can still grow a lot of colorful plants. If you mix in some fresh compost in the area and occasionally water, you can make several perennials for shade very happy. Here are six of my favorites.
Georgia Peach Coral Bells
Heucheras are wonderful because they don’t just bloom with color but sport colored foliage all season long. And is the orangey-red color on Georgia Peach stunning or what? This evergreen perennial grows to about 12″ tall and puts out tall spikes of teeny flowers that hummingbirds love. To keep it happy, give it a few applications of fish fertilizer in spring and summer. I grow it beside ‘Merlin’ Hellebore (see below) whose dusky rose-colored blooms recall Georgia Peach’s rosy foliage. Hardy to zone 4.
Hadspen Cream Brunnera
With its light blue flowers in April and spade-shaped leaves, Hadspen Cream Brunnera brightens dim areas nicely. It practically glows! I also like Hadspen Cream because the variegation is yellower than other cultivars and therefore, softer in beauty. I’ve also found it’s easier to design with in terms of perennial pairings. It grows to about a foot tall and flowers in delicate blue forget-me-not-like blooms. This photo shows it emerging, not fully grown yet. Herbaceous. Hardy to zone 3.
Fragrant Blue Hosta
I love hostas. They come in so many colors and sizes. And they’re tough. Yes, slugs might chew little holes in their leaves but a bit of Sluggo or beer will solve that problem. I have many favorites but one I think should be used more is Fragrant Blue. The large-ish leaves beam in the shade with a creamy, greenish-blue color, creating bold impact. The white flowers are fragrant. Grows to about ten inches tall. Herbaceous. Hardy to zone 3.
Blue Lungwort (Pulmonaria officinalis) cheers up a garden in early spring with delicate, two-toned flowers: pink and smokey blue. The white speckles on the foliage add even more interest, and once this plant takes off, you’ll have lots of babies to either cover your bare ground or pass on to friends. The foliage looks a little tired by late summer but you can cut down the leaves and they’ll grow back in a tight happy mat. Herbaceous. Hardy to zone 3.
Lime Rickey Coral Bells
Heuchera ‘Lime Rickey’ is worth growing just for that chartreuse foliage. It glows as if someone turned on a neon sign! This Coral Bells cultivar creates pretty scalloped leaves and delicate white flowers. Plant it beside a dark hellebore for a brilliant contrast. Works great in containers. It’s mostly evergreen but may be die back in some areas. Hardy to zone 4.
Merlin Lenten Rose
If you need a reliably handsome hellebore, consider Helleborus x ballardiae ‘Merlin.’ It grows unusual blue-green foliage with white veins for an almost variegated look. It also blooms for weeks with dusky rose-colored flowers that echo the Georgia Peach’s foliage nicely. Hellebores are classified as evergreen but their leaves often look brown and anemic after winter. You can remedy that by cutting them all off at the base in early spring. Fresh new growth will appear soon afterward. Grows to about ten inches tall, hardy to zone 4.