why no one should shop at sears…EVER

IMG_9575

Meet our giant white paperweight.  Sears delivered a BRAND NEW BROKEN, yes BROKEN refrigerator.  They refused to come back and pick it up even though we called within MINUTES of the truck leaving our driveway.

Today was just a day.

From hell.

Our pretty Samsung refrigerator went on life support and repairs would have been easily more than half of a new refrigerator so we opted to replace it.

We have always done the bulk of our appliance shopping over the past few years from the Sears Outlet online.  My husband liked dealing with them…I had no issues until today, either.

Let’s back up to we ordered the new refrigerator.  Nothing fancy, a Kenmore side by side with ice and water on the door.  We figured we would go with something we thought could get repaired in case of an issue.

Up until a few years ago, when you got a new appliance, they took the old appliance away. Not anymore.  So we had to hire our favorite movers (Lite Movers of Wayne, PA and they are awesome) to come move the dying fridge out of the house pending pick up from PECO who does appliance recycling (it has to run when it is plugged in still, which the old one does.)

Fast forward until today.  They came to deliver the Sears refrigerator.  What they will do now is unbox it and move it into place, the rest is on the customer. It was quite the ordeal to get everything moved and prepped and ready as ours is an older home.

The delivery guys couldn’t have been nicer.  They unboxed it and pointed out a scratch in the white door.  That was no biggie as it was nothing a little appliance touch up paint couldn’t cover.

The delivery guys plugged it in and were on their way.  Then I went to open the refrigerator door.  It would not open.  The freezer door opened fine, but the refrigerator side? BROKEN.  Son of a bitch we just paid to have a dying appliance replaced with a broken appliance.  Yes, I am cursing, it has been a very special day.

Immediately we are on the phone to Sears. Only you CANNOT get a person in the US on the phone. All people in offshore call centers reading from scripts that tell you that they “completely understand” how you are feeling.  Uhh no, you couldn’t possibly understand. Trust me.

After four frustrating calls where all I get is the Philippines and they can’t help and they want me to talk to the outlet store in Norristown, PA.  Norristown isn’t going to help me, I ordered ONLINE. Oh and they keep mispronouncing my name. Which is incredibly offensive after the 6th mispronounce in one conversation.

These helpful offshore call center employees of Sears may be fluent in English to a point, but they are not native speakers.  English is a second language and they just aren’t comprehending what is being said, and can’t go off script.  They also can’t (or maybe it’s won’t?) transfer your call BACK to the U.S. Every other cheap American company which utilizes offshore labor has the ability to transfer you BACK to a U.S. call center if that is what you want, even Comcast, which I think has some of the absolute worst customer service ever.

I go to trusty Google and Google the corporate offices of Sears. Aha! An actual address and phone number with a recognizable U.S. area code.

But no.  You dial and you get…the Philippines. So I keep dialing.  ONE time out of about two dozen calls I get someone in Illinois.  I think they were related to the Seinfeld Soup Nazi of days gone by they were so rude.  “You listen to me,” the operator says. “I am going to talk and then you can speak. You are going to listen to ME. I am not listening to you.”

(SAY WHAAAATTT?)

I try to explain to the operator I would like to speak with someone in the Executive Offices specifically having to do with serious customer service issues.  The operator told me that essentially those people would not speak with me. I can’t remember the exact phraseology but it was probably the rudest switchboard operator since they first were handling one ringy dingy. They were so bad I wished I had recorded the conversation. I ended the call and tried calling back to get someone, anyone to help me.

Yeah…. so….. no…. just more  Phillipines. (And you know why these call centers are in off shore and third world countries, right? It is so they can pay employees super duper low wages and get away with it.  Cheap labor.

So I started looking around for other people to speak with.  They say Eddie Lampert is the CEO or President or Chairman of the Board.   Only you can’t speak with him or anyone in his office, all you get is a voicemail in Illinois that never calls anyone back.  I have to wonder if anyone listens to it. There is also this chick, Leena Munjal
Senior Vice President, Customer Experience and Integrated Retail.  She is unable to come to the phone as well. Very busy important people. Me the peon should just know better, right?

who to call

So I kept Googling.  Apparently Mr. Fast Eddie Lampert is just a hedge fund guy. Yep, just another hedge fund guy picking the carcass of a business clean for their own profits, right?

Here, I looked up Eddie Lampert and found this:

 

 

New York Times : Sears and Its Hedge Fund Owner, in Slow Decline Together By James B. Stewart
March 30, 2017

Hedge funds have been failing over the last year at the fastest rate since the financial crisis in 2008. Some crashed and burned after sudden reversals. Others quietly liquidated.

Then there’s Edward S. Lampert’s ESL Investments. It hasn’t failed, but may be setting a benchmark for slow, painful declines thanks to its outsize, long-term bet on two venerable retailers, Sears and Kmart.

Last week, Sears Holdings, the parent company, said what was becoming increasingly obvious to most investors, not to mention anyone who’s been in a Sears store lately: “Substantial doubt exists related to the company’s ability to continue as a going concern.”….Mr. Lampert was a Wall Street wunderkind, a Goldman Sachs intern whose intellect, ingratiating personality and prodigious work ethic attracted the patronage of some of America’s most prominent and successful investors…founded ESL in 1988 with $28 million in seed money … 

Sears’ reclusive CEO explains why he rarely visits the office — and instead lives at his sprawling $38 million estate that’s 1,400 miles away
Business Insider Hayley Peterson Mar. 27, 2018, 10:55 AM

“THEY COULD HAVE MADE A DIFFERENT DECISION”: INSIDE THE STRANGE ODYSSEY OF HEDGE-FUND KING EDDIE LAMPERT
In 2003, many were skeptical when Lampert married Sears to Kmart. Now, with hundreds of stores closed and thousands thrown out of work, Lampert defends his strategies in his first in-depth interview in 15 years. The author also tracks down the man who kidnapped Lampert before the Kmart deal went through.

bloomberg

VANITY FAIR BY WILLIAM D. COHAN
APRIL 2018

Aug 20, 2018, 03:23pm
Fortune: Eddie Lampert Just Can’t Stop Picking At Sears’ Carcass
Steve Dennis

There are many, many articles. I am not posting more. They are all variations of the same theme.

So I also decided to call up the ESL hedge fund so I looked them up on Bloomberg.

Yes really, I called.  So what?

Did I expect to get anyone to speak with me? No, but it has been the day from hell with Sears so what did I have to lose? I was kind of curious as to what they would say.

Years ago, I worked for a couple of years for a now-defunct hedge fund. So I knew whomever answered the phone would be snotty pants the receptionist.  She did not disappoint. She was superior to little old me in every way…on the phone.

 

Whatevs.  I admit I was unpleasant and irritating.  But in my own defense, I have a dying refrigerator outside pending pick up for disposal, and a giant white albatross paperweight of a broken yet new refrigerator in my kitchen, which I now have to pay to have moved out of my kitchen so Sears can retrieve it.  I cook, I like a neat house and everything looks like hell in a hand basket.

Apparently it is too much to ask to have a WORKING REFRIGERATOR DELIVERED BY SEARS!!!

I now know no more Sears for anything. I understand why so many Sears and Kmart stores have closed.  I understand why people said to me we should have called Queen, or D & K, or Gerhard’s  or another local appliance store…or even Lowe’s or Home Depot.

Sears sucks. I hope the hedge fund prince of an owner enjoys his lovely estates. I hope someone involves them and Sears in a giant class action lawsuit some day.  For the crappy customer service alone and the inability to talk to anyone pleasant in the U.S. they deserve no less.

Don’t buy a paperclip from Sears.

Sign me disgusted by yet another U.S. business that is being killed by a hedge fund.

requiem for a farmhouse

There she sits like a ghost on Bacton Hill Road in Frazer, East Whiteland Township. I I have photographed her in varying stages of decay over the past few years.

Her end is near, she lived a hard life, not sure it was a good life or not.

It is a crying shame no one loved her enough to keep her. She will be bulldozed soon to make way for McMansions. Because we all need more McMansions in Chester County, apparently.

Pennsylvania is a private property rights state, and it is just pathetic that the commonwealth isn’t a little more preservation minded.

suicide and depression

I am not even sure where to begin this post, so I am just going to dive in.

Suicide and depression.

NO NOT ME!

It’s the topic swirling in my mind since I was asked if I knew someone who had died over the past few days. Someone who had been clinically depressed and had committed suicide.

She was not someone I knew personally, but she was one of the thousands of members of my gardening group. She loved gardens and gardening. I am so sorry that gardening and other joys in her life like her children couldn’t keep her on earth for the people who loved her.

Suicide is something that touched me for the first time as a teenager and freshman in college. A boy whom I knew (and who was actually a cousin if a high school classmate) jumped out a dorm window a couple of floors above me. I remember it was the night before parents weekend started.

I still can remember waking up in my dorm room on the first floor to all the flashing lights and sirens. He was there, on the grass, outside my window a little bit away from it. The dorm was in like an “L” shape back there, so there was this bit of an open grassy area back there. I remember the student led memorial service with Genesis song Follow You, Follow Me crackling on a stereo in the quad area where the service was. I can even remember where I was standing.

I didn’t understand why then, I don’t understand today. Have I thought about what it would be like to NOT be here? Yes, when I was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011. I was newly diagnosed, not staged, and that combination of emotionally numb mingled with terrified. What I realized that fateful day was how badly I wanted to survive and live. So while I understand why suicide happens, I also don’t understand because I am not made that way.

I think of all of the women I know. Many I have known since early childhood. Some have had amazing and extraordinary lives and careers, others like myself, more regular lives. We have lived our lives. Sure we have all had regrets along the way, it’s what makes us human. Sorrow, joys, life in technicolor sometimes more black and white…but we live on. I am grateful for my friends.

Are our lives what we expected as children? Honestly? I don’t think so because I don’t think life is made that way. We have the paths we thought we would take, and they are often quite different from the paths we end up on. But we are alive and kicking.

As an adult, a friend from growing up lost their younger sister to suicide. It has been just two years since that horrible event. The younger sister left behind her own young family as well as her parents and sister and other relatives. To watch a family grieve like that was raw and awful. It breaks your heart.

So when I heard this recent news I was thinking about this topic no one wants to discuss. I am going to share something written by blogger Lynn Getz who blogs under Be Like a Mother. She also has a talk show type of a program called Mom to Mom on Radnor Studio 21. She had interviewed the person who died recently. Lynn’s words on Facebook this week were so heartfelt and eloquent so I am sharing the message she shared here, in the hopes it can help others to pay this forward:

One of my other projects was a local public television show called Mom to Mom with Lynne Getz, which focused on connecting local moms to local resources. The show gave me a chance to feature many of the wonderful women I met through networking and showcase their businesses in the hope of helping other local mothers connect with them.

On one show I interviewed a local mom, Heidi Diskin, who was finding power in her pain of dealing with depression and bipolar disorder by sharing her experience through her Silent No Longer Foundation. Heidi was passionate about ending the stigma around mental health, advocating for more focus on it as brain health, and giving help and hope to those affected by depression and anxiety.

Yesterday I learned that Heidi lost her battle with this disease.

When I learned of her passing, I went back and watched this episode, listening again to Heidi’s words of advice about being proactive, getting a “check-up from the neck-up”, and knowing the signs of depression in others so that you can reach out and help them.

Heidi’s mission was to #endthestigma and speak openly about mental health. We need to talk about depression, and how it affects brain chemistry, making people believe they are not worthy and not needed. YOU ARE! We need to talk about how it tells you that no one will miss you, or that your kids will be better off without you. IT’S LYING! We need to know that depression and anxiety aren’t character flaws, they are diseases and must be treated as such. We need more people to speak out like Heidi did.

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. If you or someone you love is suicidal, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

And in honor of Heidi, and all the brave souls who fight so hard against their brain disease, please take the time to watch Heidi’s episode, share her story, and reach out to that friend who has been on your mind that you haven’t heard from in a while. Know the signs of depression, and do not be afraid to ask for help or help someone who may be fighting this battle silently. For Heidi, and the nearly 45,000 other Americans who die by suicide each year, we must be silent no longer. https://youtu.be/OmpnjSbPQHY

Again, I did not know Heidi personally. But I have known women like her. And I know they feel isolated and alone, even if they aren’t. We need to take the stigma out of depression and mental illness. Maybe if we can have more open community conversations about this, we can all be the better for it.

Malvern Library in Malvern Borough on September 24th is having a joint event with Daemion Counseling Center that comes highly recommended . Reservations are required. Here check it out and thanks for stopping by:

9/11 : 17 years. never forget.

It’s 8:45 AM and 8:46 AM the moment of silence at the World Trade Center Memorial in NYC begins.

17 years ago today, everything changed. 2983 people lost their lives.

On February 23, 1993 there was the first attack on the World Trade Center. 25 years ago.

The years move away from the dates, but we never forget. They are literally dates which live in our minds in infamy. To paraphrase FDR, who was in his time, referring to Pearl Harbor.

The photo this post opens with is one I took this summer and it is the controversial 9/11 Memorial in New Jersey. Known as the “teardrop memorial”, it is located in Bayonne. I think it has a kind of strength and beauty to it.

On the anniversary of 9/11 in 2012 I was invited to ride in my friend Barry’s American flag hot air balloon over Chester County. As we left on our hot air balloon flight when I looked down this is what I saw:

This is what they were looking at and what I saw looking up:

I am forever grateful to my friend Barry because this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that was deeply meaningful and I shall never forget it.

In the last 17 years our country has gone through crazy times, perhaps none more so than today. But we have to take a moment and pause and remember all those Americans who lost their lives for our freedoms. Because even if they did not die on a battlefield or in combat, they died for all of us.

I will close with a reader’s editorial I wrote for the then editor of Main Line Life, Tom Murray. Folks in Chester County will remember him as the editor of The Daily Local before he passed away.

I wrote this piece in 2006:

Sept. 11, 2006, is the fifth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and United Airlines Flight 93’s crash in the field in Shanksville, Somerset County. This date has special significance to every American, and intense personal significance to far too many individuals who lost friends and loved ones.

But September 11, wasn’t the first time terrorists visited the World Trade Center. In truth, Feb. 26, 1993. was the date of the first terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York City. I worked in New York at that time at an office located downtown in the financial district.

On that day, I had accompanied an office friend to the World Trade Center to grab an early lunch and to check out some stores in the shopping concourse. We were back outside the Trade Center buildings, getting ready to cross the street, when suddenly the ground shook and moved. I remember that we were looking directly across the street at Century 21, a department store in Lower Manhattan. Then something happened that rarely happens in New York: Everything went eerily still and quiet. We looked up at what we first thought were snowflakes beginning to float and fall from the sky. After all, it was February. Then car alarms began to go off one by one like the cacophony of many distorted bells. The snowflakes, we soon discovered, were in reality ashes.

People began yelling and screaming. It became very confusing and chaotic all at once, like someone flipped a switch to “on.” At first, we both felt rooted to the sidewalk, unable to move. I remember feeling a sense of panic at the unknown. We had absolutely no idea what had happened, and hurried back to our office. Reaching it, we were greeted by worried coworkers who told us that someone had set off a bomb underground in the World Trade Center garage.

I will never forget the crazy kaleidoscope of images, throughout that afternoon, of all the people who were related to or knew people in my office who sought refuge in our office after walking down the innumerable flights of steps in the dark to exit the World Trade Center Towers. They arrived with soot all over their faces, hands and clothes. They all wore zombie looks of shock, disbelief and panic.

Of course, the oddest thing about the first terrorist attack on New York City is that I don’t remember much lasting fuss about it. I do remember that President Bill Clinton was newly sworn into office, but I don’t remember him coming to visit New York after the attack. Everything was back to normal in Lower Manhattan in about a month, maybe two. After a while, unless you had worked in New York, or lived in New York, you simply forgot about this “incident.”

So, on the morning of 9/11, as I pulled into my office building’s garage and listened to the breaking news on the radio announcing that a plane had struck the World Trade Center, tears began to run down my face unbidden. I knew in my heart of hearts what happened. I said to myself, “Oh no. They came back.”

I remember picking up my cell phone to call my father, whom I knew to be, at that time, on an Amtrak train bound for New York City. I remember him telling me it was fine and he’d be fine. I wanted him to get off in New Jersey and take a train back to Philadelphia. But the train was already pretty much past all the stations and getting ready to go into the tunnel to New York. That very thought terrified me. To this day, I still do not understand why Amtrak did not stop those last trains from going into New York City as the news of the World Trade Center attacks first broke.

I next remember getting in the elevator and getting off on my office floor to find people clustered around television sets and radios. And the news kept getting worse: first one plane, then a second, then a third, and then a fourth.

The images and news just didn’t stop. Camera cuts from lower Manhattan to Washington to Somerset County. They are images that have to be ingrained in everyone’s mind forever like indelible ink.

It took a couple of days for my father and brother-in-law (who had already been in New York on business) to get out of the city, but eventually they got home safely with many stories to tell of what New York was like in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. A lot of people weren’t so lucky. They never saw their loved ones again after that fateful morning. Many people in the Philadelphia and greater Main Line area lost friends, coworkers and loved ones.

On September 11, I knew people who were lost, but fortunately I didn’t lose any loved ones. I remember for a brief time it seemed we were all a little nicer to each other, and politicians actually seemed to come together as one and grieve as a nation grieved.

But here we are five short years later. I have only seen the site one time where the World Trade Center once stood proudly. That was about a year after the attacks. I remember a distinct pit in my stomach and looked away from the car window. This past June I was in Washington, and had the same intense, awful feeling in my stomach as we drove on the highway past the Pentagon.

Life must go on and time can’t stand still, but all in all I can’t help but wonder: What have we learned since about our country and about ourselves? Five years after 9/11 what have we learned and what have we forgotten? What do we need to remember?

freedom of speech upheld by superior court

Image result for first amendment

As of a few short days ago, Pennsylvania’s Superior Court dismissed  the SLAPP suit I have been a named resident in for quite some time. It has been over the Bishop Tube site in East Whiteland Malvern/Frazer. The original suit was filed June 27, 2017 in the Court of Common Pleas in Chester County by the site developer.

In August of 2017, Judge Sommers, the judge who presided over the case in Chester County dismissed the suit.  After that, an appeal was filed by the developer’s attorneys in Superior Court.

I have no idea if there will be an appeal by the plaintiff up to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.  Almost a year ago the Superior Court appeal was filed.  It was filed right around the time PA State Senator Larry Farnese held a press conference I could not attend on anti-SLAPP legislation. I sent in a statement. Here is part of what I said then (in italics):

As children we are taught how the founding fathers of this great nation fought, bled,
and died for our rights and freedoms. Yet today, in a modern world, it feels like we still
must fight against injustice and for our very freedoms and, in my opinion, freedom of
speech and expression is particularly threatened. As a native of Philadelphia, the
birthplace of our American freedoms, I find that deeply troubling.

As a blogger, I have been aware of SLAPP suits for years. This year, I became embroiled in one, in Chester County, where I live. The suit is over the potential development of an old factory site in Malvern, East Whiteland Township known as Bishop Tube. I am a  resident of East Whiteland Township.

I had written about the Bishop Tube site on my blog. I am not the only one who has
ever written about it or ever has had questions about it. The site has also been written
about in newspaper articles off and on for many years. According to the Pennsylvania
Department of Environmental Protection (“PA DEP”), there is TCE contamination on
this site. (Reference the PA DEP website’s Bishop Tube page).

I am a breast cancer survivor who underwent breast cancer treatment and, as a
survivor, a site like this should be a concern in my opinion. As a resident I should also
be able to express my opinions and/or ask questions. SLAPP suits are an invasive, fearsome kind of thing. Finding oneself in the middle of something like this feels like you are being bullied and harassed. It can also be unbearably costly. Frequently the suit bringer hopes this is what will defeat you.

Mostly, it makes you wonder about the good and honor of human kind.

Caring about where you live is not wrong, it is democracy in action. When people take
an interest in where they live, it is a powerful force. It is rarely easy for the residents
involved, and I think it does take great courage.

Our American freedoms are a real thing, not just lofty ideals tucked away in a 200+ year-old vault.  Think about that as we are also on the eve of 9/11.  Never forget September 11, 2001.  This is yet another date in the annals of U.S. history which will live in infamy.  Remember all those souls and first responders who lost their lives. They lost their lives because of our American ideals and freedoms even if they were not lives specifically lost on a battlefield in combat.

I can’t believe tomorrow it is 17 years already since 9/11.

I will close with saying thank you to Maya van Rossum and the Delaware Riverkeeper Network and their amazing lawyers, Mark L. Freed and Jordan B. Yeager of Curtin & Heefner LLP. I will also thank my own attorney, Samuel Stretton of West Chester.

Our inalienable rights as Americans exist for good reason.  Hopefully this issue is now at a close, but again, who knows? We live in strange times.

Here is the media coverage thus far along with what the Delaware Riverkeeper has said:

PENNSYLVANIA
State court ruling favors Chesco residents protesting brownfield development
by Vinny Vella, Philadelphia Inquirer

State Impact PA SEPTEMBER 07, 2018 | 05:48 PM
Court rejects developer’s effort to block protest against town homes plan
Delaware Riverkeeper Network says suit tried to silence its right to free speech
by Jon Hurdle

Daily Local News: Lawsuit denied concerning Bishop Tube site
Digital First Media Sep 7, 2018

Law360: Pa. Developer’s Defamation Suit Against Enviros Stays Nixed
By Matt Fair

Delaware Riverkeeper Network: SLAPP Suit Filed By Developer Against Environmental & Community Opposition Struck Down by PA Superior Court

in the garden: planning ahead

Gardens in our area have been tested this spring and summer. Lots of rain, with hideous heat and humidity in between.

I learned a lot about what my garden can and cannot tolerate with this weather. I lost almost all of the 60-year-old garden phlox because of all the rain. A gorgeous Blue Baron azalea survived my township snow plow guys to have its roots rot in all of the rain, and just today I noticed due to rain and borers I have also lost a David Austin rose, and a Blue Boy azalea out back. Even some of the ferns I sourced this year are starting to rot from the rain.

I hate losing plants, but I have learned to look at it differently instead of taking it as a personal failure. This is the natural attrition of nature, and if you lose something it’s an opportunity to put it back or try something different.

Weather extremes are also an opportunity to learn. I planted hatch green chilies from seed this year. I have grown them in pots and grow bags. I wasn’t sure how they would do given they are something I associate with New Mexico which is a climate different from ours. However, as I have known people who have lived there, New Mexico is a study in weather extremes. So my hatch chilies have done surprisingly well, even if I probably should have started the seeds earlier.

But now that the summer is drawing to a close I have done things like schedule my fall tree work. As we are mostly in the woods there is always a lot of trimming and tree maintenance that needs to be done. We are getting to a place where I’m hoping to only have to do tree work once a year, but it just depends. We had trees that really were not pruned about 50 years.

If you want to know who is doing our tree work, look no further than Treemendous Tree Care. They guarantee their work, they have safe and knowledgeable crews, are actual arborists, and they have the bragging rights to champion tree climbers. Because of the positioning of our woods, we don’t have woods you can take trucks into, we need climbers. They are also neat and careful with my gardens. They actually appreciate and know what I have planted.

Tree pruning is something a homeowner has to budget for. It’s necessary for your tree health, and it also is preventative given the way a good old Chester County winter can go (queue the infamous 2014 ice storm.)

This fall I am not only having pruning done, I am culling the herd as it were. We have an overabundance of different kinds of wild cherries which have grown over the past five years. They are a softer wood, and the rain and heat has caused some of them to get blighted. As they are also growing in the path of more valuable trees, I am going to thin out some of these young trees. However in our woods, we will also be planting saplings from Go Native Tree Farm in Lancaster, PA. I believe in restoration planting of woods. And I want our woods to remain predominantly hardwoods.

The trees I have chosen as saplings to plant in my woods are Amish Walnut, Burr Oak and Chestnut Oak. I fell in love with the leaves of Chestnut Oaks this spring at Jenkins Arboretum, the Arboretum I belong too. I have always loved the acorns of the Burr Oak. The Amish Walnut is basically a native cross tree which has occurred up in Lancaster County and no one has really studied but it’s a great tree. My tree saplings will be delivered after I have my tree work done.

Go Native is an amazing resource and I encourage folks to check them out. They also carry native shrubs I like including witch hazel and flame azalea.

Later this fall, bulbs will arrive. They will go into the back garden beds this year. I ordered bluebells and lots of different cultivars of daffodils. I don’t plant tulips because the squirrels just dig them up and eat the bulbs.

The other thing I am going to plant this fall are peonies for the spring. They will arrive in tuber form, or bare root. I am ordering from A & D Nursery and Hollingsworth Nursery. The ones I have chosen are Baroness Schroeder, Green Lotus, Duchesse de Nemours, Moon of Nippon, Immaculee.

Except for Green Lotus they are all white peonies. Yes it’s a little Sissinghurst white garden, but they will give pretty pops in my spring garden next year. My mother loves an all white garden, but I like white as an accent versus being the color anchor.

I also have a couple of hydrangeas left to plant, some echinacea, gentians, day lilies, and a new deutizia cultivar. In between the rain I have started to pull out the plants that aren’t working, or as is the case with the majority of my garden phlox, the plants that have drowned this summer.

I planted a Chicago hardy fig, and a native azalea (From Yellow Springs Farm) and something I am very excited about. A seven sons tree – a Heptacodium. You can read about Heptacodium on the Morris Arboretum website. I purchased mine from Applied Climatology at the West Chester Growers Market.

The garden is a constant evolution. Trial and error. A learning process. I still think gardening is one of the most rewarding things you can do for yourself. It’s connecting with nature on a basic level, and there is nothing better I think than digging in the dirt. It is truthfully therapeutic.

My garden has gotten big enough that I do need a little help every now and again now and I’m glad to have it. Another resource I have to share is Design Build Maintain, LLC. They do great landscaping and hardscaping work, and I use them for things that I need help with physically like all of the wood chips I put down in the back because it’s so shaded grass won’t grow. They will also be helping me down the road with a little grading back on the other side of our storage shed to help the rain water run off the driveway versus pool at the bottom of the driveway.

As I mentioned in another post, I have also had some folks from multiple organizations approach me for inclusion on garden tours in the future. After Fine Gardening Magazine featured some of my garden photos online this summer it seems people are truly interested. That is super flattering but I am not sure my garden is what they expect when they arrive.

My gardens are not formal. They are woodland gardens meet cottage gardens and they are layered. But I am not precisely David Culp’s Layered Gardens layered, either. I couldn’t be — his Brandywine Cottage gardens are a marvel and inspiring to me and my garden but his gardens are unique to his property. I still haven’t been there in person but I have studied his book extensively and love to check out his website . (Yes I have submitted a contact form a couple of times to ask if I could see the gardens in person, but haven’t heard back.)

My garden also isn’t fussy with fancy water features or a pool like I always see on garden tours. It is very individualistic and my personal vision. I have my inspirations as I have mentioned in the past, but my gardens are my own.

I also don’t label every single plant in the ground. That was a criticism of one group which toured the garden for a tour inclusion and I will admit that put me off. They also criticized how I hadn’t pruned a young Japanese maple. They didn’t seem to get that it did not have enough growth on it to be pruned at this point. When you prune something is very important to consider with younger plants in your garden. When you prune and how much you prune ensures whether it will survive and succeed or not.

I do not have a formal Arboretum, it’s my personal garden, and while I am happy to share, I will not plant a forest of plastic stakes for anyone. While I would be honored to be included on local garden tours, my garden is my garden. I want people to be able to just experience the nature around them. To be able to pause and enjoy it. To take a seat on a garden bench and just enjoy a garden.

A garden should be lived in. I love my garden for what it is and what it isn’t.

I can tell everyone what I have planted, can I remember every cultivar name? No, not at this point, and I’m fine with that. I want to inspire other gardeners, but in my opinion individuality is key in a garden and a lot of times people seem to forget that.

You put in the time, you put in the hours and you enjoy the flowers.

I will admit I am so over the rain. Everything is waterlogged. But when it finally stops it will be time to start the fall clean-up.

Thanks for stopping by.