It doesn’t matter that my review was mild compared to some reviews out there. Apparently I am public enemy number one. My lot in life as a blogger, especially as a female bloggeress, is I am a baaaad person for having any opinions.
Female bloggers especially are supposed to be seen and not heard. We are supposed to stick to safe, pre-approved topics like trips to Disney and diapers, what we are making for dinner, and similar topics. (You know, the theory of bobble-headed, barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen.)
Never, ever are you supposed to write about how you honestly feel about anything. Never are you supposed to utter a contrary opinion about the sad state of affairs of national politics. Or criticize LuLa Roe. Don’t ever criticize LuLa Roe.
Oopsies. I am just bad I guess?
No, not really. And if a local restaurant wants to crucify a now former customer, that’s on them.
The way their owner and staff reacted on their social media pages is unacceptable and it casts a pall on the entire business community that they are part of. And I am entitled to that opinion and many concur with that opinion. And people who wrote comments stating they thought the restaurant’s behavior towards me or any less than satisfied customer had their comments removed. Or snarky comments were left in response assuring people they could just call or stop in so why then did no one return my call? Their victim? Because I have stopped being their mere former customer and am a victim of their poor behavior aren’t I?
This behavior sends and reinforces a clear message that the customer is always wrong. Is that the message you want people to associate with the businesses in that area?
I feel sorry for these people in a way but not enough to allow them to just harass me via the comments of their followers. My opinion won’t make or break this business but sadly, their attitude and the poor way they have responded might. And that is on them. Sadly.
Anyway, where I was going with this today was in the middle of this swirling mass of bull twaddle something so incredibly nice happened.
Someone left me the beautiful bouquet of flowers you see in the photo above.
Because I had helped them with their garden and they wanted to show me what had grown.
I think this is one of the nicest things that anyone has ever done for me. And it’s so simple. It’s sharing your garden with a friend. And this is a friend I made because of gardening.
This of course reinforces to me the type of people you want to fill your life with. And the ones you should pass on by.
A quote from Gertrude Jekyll comes to mind:
“A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust.”
She also said:
“The lesson I have thoroughly learnt, and wish to pass on to others, is to know the enduring happiness that the love of a garden gives.”
Through gardening I have truly been blessed to meet some amazing people. And now having been in Chester County a few years, I can also say that I am very fortunate to have met some wonderful people just by living here.
Yes life throws you the occasional curve ball and grows a few weeds that require pulling, but the universe has this weird balance to it. Part of that balance is when something unpleasant happens, there is a reminder that for the most part people are good and decent and we should ignore the static.
Terrain is doing these gardening-centric events. Yesterday at Terrain Devon Yard was “What Makes Your Garden Great with Annie Guilfoyle”.
Annie Guilfoyle is an amazing British horticulturist. An award-winning designer and an RHS Chelsea Flower Show medal winner. For 18 years she was the director of Garden Design at KLC School of Design at Hampton Court Palace, Surrey, where she was instrumental in establishing their highly acclaimed garden design courses.
Those who know me well know that I am a total garden geek especially when it comes to my British horticulturalists. Like did you know Monty Don was rumored to have been at Chanticleer recently? How I would have loved to have even just watched him work!
My list of UK citizens I would love to listen to lecture on all things gardening are Monty Don, Adam Frost, Alan Titchmarsh, Joe Swift, Carol Klein, Helen Dillon, and Annie Guilfoyle. Yesterday I got to listen to and meet Annie!! I knew who she was because of her garden course at Chanticleer, which is as follows (and on my to do list except WOW it is really EXPENSIVE):
Learn about designing gardens with highly acclaimed British designer, Annie Guilfoyle. This carefully crafted course will guide you through each stage of the design process, beginning with the fundamentals of surveying and site analysis. Followed by essential techniques of how to initiate the design, where to find inspiration, and how to develop a creative concept into a stunning garden.
Together with the Chanticleer staff, Annie will focus on ways of achieving imaginative ideas for hardscaping, along with how to perfect dazzling planting combinations and realize innovative designs for original furniture and sculpture.
This course is ideally suited to students of garden and landscape design and people working in the garden industry, or for those who simply want to redesign their own garden capturing the essence of Chanticleer under Annie’s guidance. The course includes practical studio sessions, lectures and demonstrations, garden walks, and critical analysis. Annie will be including up-to-date information and inspiration about what is happening on the UK garden scene.
$675.00 – Price includes garden admission, breakfast and lunch each day, and an opening reception.
To be honest, I know how to make my garden come to life and evolve, but the ability to be able to learn from an expert like Annie would be priceless. And it would give me a more formal background to what has been instinctive and trial and error in my garden through a lifetime of just loving to garden.
Terrain had these Coffee + Conversation garden talks, and launched an additional series of garden “guidance” with each conversation led by a horticulturalist. Each Garden Guide conversation they do will feature an esteemed speaker in the horticultural world who will give tips, tricks, and valuable plant knowledge across a variety of garden topics. Each session will focus on a new area of exploration. And did I mention to be able to hear Annie was only $5??? (And they are having an awesome one in Glen Mills in August but I digress.)
So I was like a kid waiting for Christmas yesterday and Annie did not disappoint. I do not know what it is about British horticultural experts but they are so NICE and welcoming. And they share their knowledge without artifice. It is so refreshing.
Annie opened with what she was about: Worked at Hampton Court for years. Did a garden at Chelsea while a student. Did a BBC show small town gardens. Wears several hats and is also a garden writer. Teaches garden courses and loves teaching. She judges garden shows all over the world as well.
Other things she said which resonated with me include: You can’t be a garden designer without being a gardener first. In that vein, her students were sent to work in nurseries and gardens to learn.
Annie said gardens are a sanctuary from what is going on in this world. How true is that? It’s like I say everything is better after I have been in the garden digging in the dirt. Annie also believes the arts and horticulture have a strong connection.
When it comes to garden design, Annie is old school. She feels you can’t design gardens without looking at the proportions. People should draw out a garden plan or build a little model- don’tuse computer software. So I guess my caveman like plot plans over the years are a step in the right direction after all!! (Yes I have notebooks here and there with little rudimentary sketches.)
So how do you make a great garden? What are your influences? Architecture? Other gardens? Other gardeners? Look at the links between architecture and landscape design and remember art, architecture, and gardens are inextricably linked. Remember that landscapes should influence you.
Like many of us not so expert gardeners, Annie Guilfoyle believes a garden can change how people behave, and how they view the world. Gardens are happy places. Relaxing places. Contemplative places. Natural classrooms.
One thing that Annie remarked on was Dumbarton Oaks in Washington DC. I have been there but literally not for decades. Harvard owns it apparently? I do not know that I realized that when I was more frequently in Washington DC many years ago but I was sad to learn last night that the gardens are in disrepair? They were so beautiful, how can that be? I mean come on it’s Harvard and they have the money, right?
Sigh. That’s the thing about gardens sometimes in the USA. They aren’t treasured enough.
I have a bucket list of garden things I want to do. Among them is hit the flower shows in England and tour great gardens and small gardens and wander through UK plant nurseries which apparently for the most part have show gardens so customers can see the plants in situ.
Annie explained she doesn’t have a definitive style per se, she designs for her clients’ sensibilities. She also believes focal points are an important concept in garden design and they draw you in.
Annie also stressed it was important to celebrate all elements of the garden, even the functional bits like sheds. She apparently has a love affair going on with this enclosure for her trash cans!
Annie encouraged us to create a sense of journey in a garden. And if you aren’t designing your own garden by yourself make sure you take interest in it so the end result is your personal vision.
She gave us a list of things to follow:
Key design ingredients should include:
Vertical and Horizontal gardening
Somewhere to sit
Art in the garden is a wonderful thing.
Annie also suggested we do our garden homework- where will the plants go? Know the ideal environment for the plants you plant. And don’t forget the structure. Structure as in not just flowers, don’t forget shrubs and trees and seasons. (You know how I have said the late garden writer and American horticulturalist Suzy Bales influenced my desire to have a garden for all seasons.
Her final advice? Don’t be afraid to be individual in your garden. And how true is that? You garden for yourself first. Annie also reccomended a book on landscape design written by John Brookes called The Book of Garden Design. I picked up a copy of this inexpensively on Amazon.
I had the best time last night and my inner gardening geek was on overload. And the space at Terrain was so lovely besides. And the staff at Terrain are so welcoming. After the talk I got to meet Annie and some other gardeners and wander around Terrain outside. They are so creative with their plantings especially containers that it is truly inspirational.
I look forward to more lectures in this series and I hope I get to listen to more talks by Annie Guilfoyle some day. She is the kind of person you would want for a friend.
Thank you Terrain at Devon Yard for the opportunity you gave all of us!!
The place is HUGE. And they put money into it. It’s very cool looking. And very clean.
The staff is nice and even on a Monday the place was hopping. I will note it seemed like they did need more floor coverage.
We were seated at a little deuce and that was fine. What wasn’t fine was there was seriously the LOUDEST woman behind me ever. I am not exactly quiet, so that’s saying something. This woman because she was so loud was in EVERY conversation at every table around her because she was so LOUD. I really did not need to know about her life. I couldn’t easily have a conversation with my husband until she left.
My husband ordered a burger and I had the buttermilk chicken sandwich.
Both were meh at best.
The burger was supposed to have a pepperoncini relish. Either they were the mildest pepperoncini ever or the relish was missing.
The chicken sandwich had serious potential but the chicken was over cooked sadly. It had this slaw on it that I could have had an entire separate order of it was THAT good.
I don’t really find the food to be that exciting. It needs work. It has potential but it needs work. And they need to ditch the special homemade ketchup. I am not going to sugarcoat it, it’s gross. It doesn’t taste like ketchup and it looks like barbecue sauce but doesn’t taste like barbecue sauce either. It’s thin, salty, and essentially flavorless.
This is a really cool looking place with I am told great brews (I don’t drink beer) but the food needs fixing. The menu has gotten smaller since they opened I am told. But I think they need to tweak it some more and cook the food more consistently.
The bar seems packed and they are packing them in so business is good. Once they work out the kinks, we will give it another try.
I received a little slut shaming via the pub’s social media pages. I could’ve been a lot more harsh with my review. But I was honest. And if you go to Yelp or any other place that allows reviews of restaurants and includes this establishment you will see that I am not alone in my opinion, and in a lot of cases I was a lot nicer than a lot of other people.
As someone who wrote this perspective as a customer, I don’t think I will ever go back because if they don’t like my opinion as a customer and they are going to try to slut shame me on social media for having my opinion, why am I going to go back in and spend my hard earned money in their establishment?
Some people who wrote comments stating they thought the restaurant’s behavior towards me or any less than satisfied customer have had their comments removed. Or snarky comments were left in response assuring people they could just call or stop in so why then did no one return my call? Their victim? I guess their doing this makes them feel better. Which is kind of sad and pathetic.
My opinion is my own. We went in for dinner like everyone else. I am sorry my review isn’t 100% but it just doesn’t live up to the hype. But the place is new and I am hopeful they will improve. I however at this juncture given their social media hissy fit will NOT be going back. Nor will I recommend it.
If this social media hissy fit is their example of customer service well it speaks volumes.
This will be a post that I am sure I will get criticism for. It’s a ramble. It’s more of a flowing stream of consciousness, and doesn’t really have purpose it’s just my thoughts jotted down. But I write when the spirit moves me, and sometimes the writing spirit sort of chooses me. So….here we go…..
I was out in the garden early this morning. The sounds of late summer have arrived. The hum of the cicada orchestra is the first sound. Followed by the Catbirds calling and Carolina Wrens scolding. A hummingbird darts around, completely unmoved by my presence. And hummingbirds they will bop you if you’re near their chosen food source. It’s actually pretty funny because you don’t expect a bird that small to be that aggressive.
As I look around, the butterflies dance. Monarchs and Swallowtails bobbing on and off the Joe Pye Weed, garden phlox, and swamp milkweed. To me, this is a slice of heaven. I’d rather be here than anyplace else.
There are of course other kinds of butterflies. Human ones. Social butterflies. They flit from party to party, wanting to belong. But that theory of belonging doesn’t just depend on attending a party and having a photo taken.
And maybe that is because the concept of what defines society has changed? Society used to have rules and lines one just did not cross. People you see today in “society photos” would not have even been invited to a lot of things even twenty years ago.
I put “society photos” in air quotes because essentially the era of the true society press has passed. When we had many newspapers once upon a time, we had many society editors. But they weren’t just taking photographs of people at the events they covered, they were telling you about the parties. Who was hosting them, why they were being hosted the charities involved, the decor, the food, the flowers.
That’s not what goes on today and of course when I look at social butterflies in current summer event photos I have to smile. That used to be there weren’t so many “events” in the summer because society went away in the summer. Much the way society escaped to Palm Beach or Palm Springs for a midwinter break. And you would look at the society photos from the away summer and mid winter black ties.
When I was in my 20s, a lot of summers some of my friends and I would go to Newport, Rhode Island here and there. For parties like Newport Night in White and the Gatsby Society. Here we went to summer parties at the Mann Music Center or proper garden parties here and there — some private, some to benefit a non-profit.
These parties were amazing. It wasn’t necessarily easy to find yourself on the invitation list, but if you did, these were parties that were so worth going to. We all dressed in appropriate summer black-tie or semi-formal attire. Dresses were pretty. It wasn’t about flashy or showing lots of skin or a designer label bag or how high were the heels you wore. It was civilized. They always had great music too. And if s party was casual, people still dressed well.
So now the idea of summer parties and gala events have changed. Just like the people who attend them. I look at the photos and wonder who are these people? Why do they matter? Or do they actually matter? And sometimes I look at the photos and see people who didn’t belong as hard as they pushed 30 years ago trying to reinvent themselves today. What will that gain them in the end?
Now I actually do know some who essentially chase their tails to go or get invited to these nouveau society events. What they don’t realize, of course, is when the novelty of their persona and/or use wears off, the gadflies will be onto the next new and amusing person. And it’s sad because some of these women will feel quite adrift when it’s over. That is one concept about society through the ages which has never changed. Maybe it’s human nature on some level? Maybe social Darwinism?
And it won’t last because this new idea of society today doesn’t have the cohesiveness of the past. In the past there was always at least a commonality of purpose. It was more than just buying a ticket to a party or finding someone to comp you.
Women served together on volunteer committees and they actually worked for the special events from beginning to end. Now most think it’s enough to just put their name on a committee list on an invitation or maybe give a mention on social media they are going. But they leave the actual work of the parties to paid staff. The parties aren’t as good and the event vibes are all different. More transient and temporary.
I think sometimes the true spirit of volunteerism is disappearing. And a lot of it isn’t just because the social norms of what is deemed acceptable behavior has changed. Sometimes it’s because the old guard who are left volunteering for certain events have turned into control freak old dragons. They literally chase away those who want to come up behind them and volunteer. They can’t let go.
I would rather be in my garden.
I know who my friends are, I appreciate them. But while I found the party scenes and gala and event scenes fun when I was younger, at this stage of my life I can take them or leave them. Maybe it’s because life priorities are different. Or maybe it’s because the “scene” as it were lost it’s luster.
I still like to dress up and put on lipstick, but I am picky at what I choose to go to. I look for things that are meaningful to me at this point in my life. And I want to go places where there are nice people. I am not jockeying for some imaginary social position. I also don’t need to. Sadly I have known people in who have chosen this insane need to belong over real friendships. That is their choice and perhaps they weren’t the people we really thought they were?
That is why I like being in my garden. My butterflies and flowers and birds are real. Just as my friends and family are. Society or what passes for it as a dim example today I will take a pass on.
So what’s a rabid gardener to do when one of her favorite growers announces it’s SUMMER SALE TIME?
Why buy more plants (of course!) and then roam around the garden for the perfect spot. Which in my garden right now, is easier said than done.
So what did I do? I reimagined and enlarged an existing small flower bed.
And then I indulged. Red peonies, red echinacea, red daylilies, and one Next Generation Pistachio Hydrangea.
On Friday, I dug out the bed. I enlarged it and marked all around how the shape was going to go and then I dug. And dug. It’s hot so it was a lot of work and I added a giant bag of sand and a big bag of compost and humus. I am also really glad that when I stopped at Home Depot I also picked up more bricks for edging.
….And then Friday over dinner my sweet husband asks me why I didn’t use the rototiller…..whhhhhhat!!!! Ok I forgot we own one. Oh well.
As an aside, I can’t believe anyone willingly plants forsythia. It looks good for maybe a week to 10 days and then you kill yourself keeping it in check. I have cut down, cut back, and physically removed a lot of forsythia bushes. My forsythia dates back to the early 1960s so it is ….entrenched. Kind of like the pachysandra which I also do battle with.
Oh and before I forget! I also staked up my blackberry bushes on Saturday. I had bought thornless blackberry bushes a couple of years ago along with a raspberry bush and gooseberry bushes to plant on a small hillside going to the edge of our woods on one side. It’s a terrific location, sometimes a little tricky to get to when everything grows in, and I wasn’t sure how to handle the exploding raspberry and blackberry bushes. The gooseberry bushes seem to grow more logically for lack of a better explanation.
So yesterday morning while I was drinking my coffee I was watching my favorite gardening show Gardeners World. It’s a BBC production and I get it via streaming services because cable doesn’t carry it in the US. As a matter of fact the US would do well to have a gardening show like this. It’s actually real gardening. It’s not creating an outdoor living room or a fire pit show.
Anyway… on yesterday’s episode that I watched they gave tips for dealing with blackberry bushes. And it was so simple. All you need to do is get some big garden stakes, put them in the middle of your blackberry bushes and tie up the wandering canes. So I did. And I applied the same theory to the raspberries and it looks so much better! In the fall I will take a look at the bushes again and decide if anybody is getting a little haircut before next spring, but the way they look now they’ll be fine in the spring!
Swamp Milkweed peeping up from behind hydrangeas.
This morning after my coffee I went outside and I deadheaded and I weeded a little, watered my pots and got down to the business of planting my plants in the newly enlarged planting bed.
First I laid the plants out and arranged them. You will notice that I do not buy giant sized plants from the nurseries. I find it much easier to establish plants that are smaller. Everything grows, you just have to have patience.
After laying the plants out and moving them around a bit I dug them in. Then I watered them and fed them with kelp/seaweed extract.
Then I went to wood chip mountain next to the shed and filled up my garden cart with perfectly aged wood chips. This batch of wood chips is about a-year-old now so it’s the perfect consistency and broken down and it’s hard wood chips from my own trees. (Yes my arborist does this and I use Treemendous Tree Care and they are awesome! Real arborists, expert and champion climbers.)
Now I wait for the plants to settle in. In the fall I will plant daffodil bulbs in between these plants I planted today. And when everything grows I will have color from spring to fall!
And yes… I do love my reds in this particular garden. But they have to be a blue red not an orange red.
I will also share with you my favorite kind of gardening gloves. Gauntlet gloves. I garden with roses and sometimes other prickly things so I like my arms to be protected from thorns as well as an inadvertent brushes with poison ivy, oak, or sumac.
I found this brand of gloves on Amazon a couple of years ago. I just bought my second pair. The first pair is still going strong but I would to have a pair and a spare pair.
As August arrives, I will just pretty much do garden maintenance until the fall. When fall arrives I will be adding the following plants to different areas of my garden:
Swamp Azalea (white)
Pink Truffles Baptista
Alexander’s Great Brunnera
Avante Garde Clematis
More daffodils and other bulbs
I know I know people think I’m crazy but this is fun for me. Some people like to buy designer handbags and shoes all the time, I like to garden. That’s not to say that I don’t appreciate a beautiful purse or an elegant pair of shoes. But gardening is my thing.
I will not be putting any more plants in until fall because it’s just too hot. I can plant now, but the plants get so stressed out. If I hadn’t found a good sale on what I planted today I wouldn’t have planted.
And yes, it’s me who does the planting. I don’t point at a team of gardeners and say “put it there!”
I research my plants and I pay attention to what I see in my gardening magazines or on Gardeners World or the shows BBC 2 produces out of England’s flower and garden shows produced by the RHS like Chelsea, Chatsworth, Hampton Court, and Tatton Hall. The thrill of the plant hunt is half of the fun!
Tomorrow I am going to hear a garden lecture given by a British horticulturalist named Annie Guilfoyle at Terrain in Devon.
Well that’s all out of me for the garden today. And no I’ve told you what my planning ahead will consist of. And that’s the thing about gardening as I have said before – your garden evolves. You look at what you have planted and then you get more ideas.
Happy planning and planting and thanks for stopping by!
Change comes to Frazer in leaps and bounds these days. On Sunday, John’s Pizza closes it’s doors and by Labor Day, the Alley Pub will be but a memory.
John’s Pizza closing is by personal choice of the family who owns it . That is a case of a well earned retirement.
But the Alley Pub? That’s development which has come calling. The accumulated parcels which also include the run down mobile home park and the old bowling alley Frazer Lanes according to the developer’s blog will result in over 200 new…apartments.
Now there is no doubt that the mobile home park was in bad shape. But had the township (East Whiteland) allowed that to deteriorate over the years by looking the other way when they should have maybe inspected more and what not? There is another mobile home park down the road from the now closed one. Different owner, better care taken of it. There is a mobile home on Barton Hill Road next to Ebeneezer’s ruins. Also in good shape and is more of a community.
But the thing about this mobile home park going away and it being replaced with apartments leaves me with mixed emotions. How many apartments, townhomes, townhouses, carriage homes do we need?? East Whiteland has soooo many development plans. And all of it except for a small percentage are higher density plans.
If you move west into West Whiteland Township then you have all of their development. And they are putting a lot of apartments on Route 30 and already have a lot of townhomes or carriage homes or whatever the hell you want to call them.
And then what if you head over to West Goshen for a minute? Have you seen what’s going on at Greystone Hall? (Hint, check out the next two photos)
And if you go back into East Whiteland Township has anyone been to Flat Road or that vicinity recently? (Hint: see the next two photos)
So here we are in beautiful Chester County. Or it was beautiful and sadly with all the development it’s less beautiful every day. And our local municipalities all over the county are allowing this one bad plan at a time.
But back to these apartments in Frazer. Are you really going to want to spend a couple thousand dollars to live in an apartment that’s next to a run down gas station and sort of across the street from what used to be a mattress store and Wawa?
Yet there are the slum lord properties that are ignored. These are in East Whiteland along Route 30:
So when you talk about the slumlord housing along Route 30 in East Whiteland combined with whatever is left of mobile home parks you’re talking about the entire supply of affordable housing if it is actually affordable because I don’t know.
And that’s the thing about all of these developments regardless of the municipality in Chester County: where IS the affordable housing?
That is one of the problems I have with all of this development no matter what township. Lack of affordable housing. Look at what’s being proposed in Easttown Township to the east of East Whiteland. More apartments and already cheek to jowl townhouses that are not attractive and not affordable. They are expensive.
And East Goshen. Even once sensible East Goshen is no longer immune from bad development plans.
I just have to keep shaking my head and wondering where are all the regular people who don’t want to live in McMansions or McMansion priced apartments and townhouses supposed to go? Where do retirees go if they can’t afford Hershey’s Mill or the other two places near it in the retirement Bermuda Triangle?
And what about the stress all this development places on our first responders, our school districts, our infrastructure? And when things like entire mobile home parks disappear what happens to the people that used to call it home? People in this country like to talk about helping the disadvantaged and the financially challenged or poor but really do they?
I don’t have those answers. But in my opinion all of this development is going to come back and bite every Chester County resident in the rear someday. This is why we desperately need better planning more sound and competent zoning and elected officials that actually consistently give a damn about their residents.
I am not against change as far as development goes as long as it occurs in moderation. But I am against all of this greedy ass development gobbling up acre after acre of Chester County like Pac-Men. And these plans aren’t even attractive. They are just designed to get each developer the most money possible out of each site.
It certainly has been a couple of days. I was delighted to get back into my garden today. And the weather was nice. Wasn’t overly humid and wasn’t overly hot. It was just right.
I love my garden. And what was so cool today, was the realization of few years of hard work really coming to fruition.
I started this garden seriously in 2013. And things that were just beginnings of ideas in some cases, are now really taking shape.
When I fell in love with red daylilies and red coneflowers and red zinnias I thought they would clash horribly and wondered if I had done the right thing. Well today I got to see how everything works together in the garden.
Bright color, light color strong color, soft color. I keep my colors complementary for the most part. I don’t like a jarring sensation.
That’s not to say that I don’t want the wow factor. I think this year I actually have the wow factor because plants are maturing.
As I was in the garden today it was just a great sense of accomplishment and pride and enjoyment. It is so rewarding to work with your hands because you can create a beautiful natural canvas.
Gardening is my painting. I don’t do watercolors, I don’t do oils or pastels, I garden. Horticulture and gardening really are a form of art and artistic expression.
Today as I weeded and deadheaded a little I had so much fun just watching my garden.
Baby Carolina Wrens nattering away in a nest. Cat Birds frolicking in a birdbath and a dive bombing hummingbird and lots and lots of butterflies. It was awesome. And it just makes you so happy to be out in the garden as all of this life is going on around you.
This is the experience that you can’t get when you pay the landscaper to plant your flats of impatiens. This is the satisfaction you get of trying and gardening yourself and being creative.
I wish more people would garden. I think if they did the world would be a happier place.
Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher. ~ Oprah Winfrey
So why don’t we do that? It’s a question I asked myself recently and am going to strive to do better in the future.
When social media first started it was “What a great idea and what fun!” Today? Today I often wonder. It seems to be more and more the virtual play ground where the idiots you choose not to associate with in real life congregate.
As a blogger, I accept I am an acquired taste. I am fine with that. As a human being off the screen in the real world I am also an acquired taste. But if we were all identical carbon copies of one and other the world would literally be overrun with Stepford Wives.
As a blogger, I am not a compensated blogger. When I write up a business I visited, or a restaurant I ate at, or a non-profit event I attended it is because I paid to do those things just like everyone else. Well maybe not like everyone else because there are bloggers and social media “influencers” who are…. well… compensated. In other words their good opinion is paid for in some fashion.
When I write, it’s my own experience, good or bad. I bought the goods, ate in the restaurant, bought a ticket to the non-profit event, used the paid services of a company. There are people out there who do not. They expect goods and services and even fees to write something up. Sometimes businesses are afraid to NOT slide them stuff because of what they might write or say on social media.
There are even people who take money for supposedly all sorts of services but it is really just about getting free stuff and then moving on to the next business? I have a lot of friends with small businesses of all kinds, so that really bothers me. From a moral compass standpoint, it also bothers me. It’s like blackmail, isn’t it? How do you live with yourself? How do you take the proverbial food off of someone else’s table?
Now onto the more personal side of social media. Why are the keyboard tigers allowed to roam freely and wreak havoc?
I am an admin of several Facebook groups. I have strong opinions so I do not mind strong opinions. But I do mind people who harass, badger, curse a lot (so ugly to see in writing) or who are just mean spirited to be mean spirited. Or love to be super passive aggressive while just simply trying to stir the pot.
Recently I just quietly deleted the comment of a man who was just being an ass. To me. For no reason. I had never spoken with him or even interacted with him online. The comment was essentially abusive. I chose NOT to respond which would have started an online flame war.
In online forums and other online discussion spaces, a flame war is a series of flame posts or messages in a thread that are considered derogatory in nature or are completely off-topic. Often these flames are posted for the sole purpose of offending or upsetting other users. The flame becomes a flame war when other users respond to the thread with their own flame message.
I chose to be an adult and admin for the greater good. I never said anything, just removed the comment and took advantage of Facebook’s mute feature which is a handy tool if used properly to cool off a situation. Well, the person who commented then decided to start private messaging me.
Note the use of your over you’re. Up until this point I had not removed the person from the group. Just muted them for flaming comments. Who they are is immaterial to the conversation. They were a stranger with a case of keyboard cowboyism. After sitting on the interaction and pondering it with other admins, we decided they would be happier elsewhere.
One of the groups I admin is a gardening group. It is large and popular and has grown from local to regional to national and international membership. I wanted a place where people could come from all levels of expertise and even professionals.
My group is blessed to have not only regular people but gardening professionals and growers who freely share their knowledge and expertise. A good portion of them are paid for their expertise handsomely so I think we are really lucky. I am a rabid gardener but I don’t know everything so I like to learn and share information.
Sometimes even in a gardening group people get like the Sharks versus The Jets. Yes, a theater reference. West Side Story — an award-winning decades old adaptation of the classic romantic tragedy, “Romeo and Juliet”. The feuding families become two warring New York City gangs. And that is what people get like on social media.
There was this thing happening in the gardening group that really was so ridiculous. This divisiveness between organic based gardeners versus everyone else. Someone who was a professional posted about their own HOME garden with a helpful tip. A person I had had problems with before started challenging them. The professional never lost their cool and answered all questions gracefully.
But the aggressor, who had demonstrated a similar pattern with others in the past, wouldn’t let it go. It turned from a conversation of opposing points of view to badgering. It was unpleasant. This person doing the haranguing hadn’t learned from the comments other admins had removed, so this time I muted them. And told them I was doing it and why.
They never said anything, but their supporters then started. It was unfair and they should basically be allowed to turn a nice group into a place where many felt uncomfortable. One of the champions of this person started messaging me. They literally messaged me yesterday at 9:32 AM. I did not see the message until 10:04 AM or maybe a few minutes later, because hello I was having an actual life. Do you live on the Internet? I don’t live on the Internet. I spend far too much time on it some days and I am making an effort to NOT be that way. But when you are an admin of Facebook groups especially, people seem to have boundary issues.
So this person who messaged me was responded to. But that wasn’t good enough. They had to then try to start a passive aggressive situation of their own on the gardening group page. They wondered if they were “safe to post” like a pack of rabid dogs was suddenly going to appear on their doorstep and rip their keyboard, phone, or tablet from their hands. As an admin that is a post that will escalate tensions that may exist.
I messaged the person and asked WHY they had to post that when I had actually taken the time to respond to them. My description of the timing was different she says. Ok she lives in my area is there a different time zone I am not aware of?
Then she says:
Not sure where the disconnect here is coming from, but blessed are the peacemakers. Peace.
BTW, the word “ramblings” implies a kind of laid back, relaxed enjoyment of gardening. So, maybe chill out.
She goes on to say how she is just “speaking her truth” and she’s a “stream mom” and so on and so forth. And how I was wrong to mute the person who had been badgering people about…gardening.
No honey, I am not perfect and I get tired of being a babysitter. And with a couple of thousand people to manage virtually, some days it is exhausting. One gets tired of being a babysitter and a referee of adults who should all know better. But for some reason when it comes to social media they lose their manners and inhibitions….. social norms and acceptable public behavior flies out of the window. It is crazy. And face it, we have all seen people go off the rails. Not naming names but look at a certain elected official on Twitter, right?
Having had enough of this back and forth, I blocked that person on messenger and removed them and the admins had to create a new rule so people got it:
New Group Rule as people seem confused: aggressive or passive aggressive comments towards gardeners for their decision to use biological (organic) or non-organic chemical controls in their garden will be deleted. Repeat offenders will be removed.
It’s a gardening group folks, not an environmental activist group. No one should be chastised for their gardening methods on their own property.
We all do not have to agree but just because someone chooses organic vs. non-organic or vice-versa does not make them a bad person.
Babysitting. Babysitting I do not get paid for and toddlers are better behaved at times.
It’s the love hate relationship with social media.
Then there are the people who capitulate to the whims of the social media haters and badgerers.
Years ago (as in 2013) I was part of a closed Facebook group still from where I used to live. I was still new enough to Chester County that I wanted to keep up with where I had lived essentially most of my life. Moving to a place as an adult over 25 is very different than when you are young and starting out. It is not as easy to meet and get to know people and although I had already fallen in love with Chester County, I sometimes still missed where I used to be because I missed a lot of my friends.
I did not, however, miss the BS of the Main Line. And long before I moved west, back in the early days of Facebook I decided that some people I did not wish to interact with on social media because they were horrible to me in real life, even in public. You see, that was a drawback of being a blogger and a sort of social activist.
There were literally people who would eviscerate me in public and in letters to the editor of the local paper at the time as well as leave comments on local and regional media website articles that were truly horrible. They weren’t just being Internet trolls, they were bullying and harassing me. They wanted to tear me down because at the end of the day I did not see things exactly the way they did and the way they told their minions to think.
It was a great sociological study. It was taking the theory of bullying in the middle school lunch room to a whole new level. And these were also the people who would holler like stuck pigs if kids were bullied in school or on the playground. And I would just watch and wonder why they didn’t get where the kids were learning the unpleasant behaviors from?
So when I joined Facebook, I decided rather than risk further interaction with some fo these people, I would take the high road and just pretend they weren’t there and preemptively block them. I wasn’t talking about them, I just wanted to limit their access to me personally. I am not a public official and wasn’t then either. I was just a woman they didn’t like very much. I could live with that. Not seeing them around on Facebook was very peaceful. Of course, that is why Facebook has privacy settings, right?
Lo and behold the admin of this community group from where I used to live messages me. How she was going to have to remove me from the group. Not for anything I had actually posted (which by 2013 was literally a couple of banal things like recommending a plumber), but because I had chosen to block these people who were miserable to me in the real world when I joined Facebook.
I tried to explain to her that was to keep the peace, I wasn’t blocking her as an admin and group page owner. I was being responsible in an effort to avoid unnecessary online confrontations. But oh no, her definition of community was she chose to capitulate to literally adult mean girls and they had the right in community groups to see everyone. I tried to explain I chose not to do that because I did not wish to have them have a window into my life.
Truthfully, I did not care about her group and belonging at that point. I really didn’t need it, I was fine in my new life and her actions made me realize that. But it was the principle of the thing. How can you self-profess to be a good person by demanding they open themselves up to unpleasant people in a social media group? (But this is a person who wants everyone to love them and needs to feel as if they belong, so in a weird way it made sense, didn’t it?)
The rules of social media groups in general include you can’t block the admins and moderators. But you CAN block people you don’t get along with or who make you feel uncomfortable for whatever reason. It is WHY privacy settings exist.
A couple of years ago, I decided to quietly unfriend this person on Facebook. We really were never truly friends, maybe short term acquaintances. So I decided to let her and some others go. Lives change, people change right? I never commented on it, I just let go.
Then yesterday, someone asked me about the garden group this person had. They lived down closer to where this person lived so I said sure, I will send them the link I used to belong to it. Only I could not find the group. So I asked someone else and they sent me the link. They also told me I was no longer in the group.
A real WTF moment because it is a gardening group. Not politics, not activism. Gardening. As in what I spend a lot of time doing. And I hadn’t been in the group, had never really posted in it ever and truthfully had never used the group much to begin with because to be honest I never learned anything from it. It was too basic for my knowledge base, and well, my group was better. But for whatever reason this person removed me and blocked me.
Oh social media Groundhog Day. So I will admit I did message her about my discovery and how I discovered it. I also said I really didn’t care that she did it, but the principles of hypocrisy is what bothered me. So I said to be equally fair I was removing her from my gardening group. Sorry not sorry, you don’t get to benefit from my hard work and the expertise of those who post there and not share. Not being able to share when it comes to gardening is just one of those things I find wrong.
Much to my amusement, when I went to look at the message I sent I saw that she had blocked me. I still have her home address, I should really send her a thank you note. I do not need people like that in my life on any level, even peripherally. Kind of like the woman who made a point of telling me that she couldn’t invite me to her Christmas party because other people wouldn’t come if I was there. Yes, that is true. Crazy, but true. And I didn’t ask to be invited in the first place.
Also crazy but true? Legitimate cyber bullies and cyber stalkers. Social media is a kaleidoscope of crazy at times.
And that is the thing about social media. So many people need it to feel good about themselves. Or feel popular. Or even powerful. But it’s all virtual. I have come to the conclusion that I will more and more narrow my focus. I have my writing, activism , love of historic preservation and things like gardening and cooking and photography. I also have my true friends and I don’t need a huge collection of faux friends to fawn all over me. I don’t need or want the self-proclaimed power brokers of people online, and those who take advantage…do you? (Think about it.)
Another thing that is getting to me on social media are the essentially social media based networking organizations you have to pay for. Women are especially drawn to them and I have had friends who have belonged to these groups.
Women don’t realize they don’t have to pay these groups to raise their own business profiles and make friends (which exist mostly on social media – I can’t truly define it as camaraderie in real life can you ?) And no one I know ever grew their business out of these groups but instead remarked on the cliquishness and time wasting of it all…and that these groups are expensive. You pay to join a group, you get let into their Facebook pages, then you are expected to pay to attend events, right? And what do they do for you? Who is making the money here and aren’t the chapters of these things like, if not actual franchises?
Social media is a weird, weird place getting weirder every year. And I say that having been in it and on things like Twitter practically since inception (I joined in 2008, Twitter launched in 2006).
I started blogging back in the dark ages. I was once part of this amazing site called Philly Futures which started in 1999. I joined it at some point after 2002, and was part of it for a few years. It was lots of different bloggers and was activism-centric. They used to do things I thought were cool like Missing Monday which focused on missing persons. Philly Futures was an early voice in the genre of “citizen journalism.” It wasn’t a mommy blog or a monetized blog, it was a lot of good writing and interesting topics. I miss it.
Sometimes I think social media has morphed into the land of the shallow. And everything has to be light, happy, and airy fairy where unicorns fart only pastel rainbows. What I liked about the early blogosphere in the dawn of social media is it was real, and you could be real without chronic online castigation.
Look around at Facebook, Instagram, whatever your poison. How can all those people have those perfect lives, really? What happens if we pull the curtain back? And the photos. Do some not realize that occasionally their personal photos are well photos that are better off left offline? To be enjoyed privately?
I am a blogger, yes, but I am still a fairly private person. I like enjoying my family and friends offline. You can’t grow a garden online. You can’t cook a meal online. You can’t go barn picking online. We can’t spend all of our lives online. Maybe it’s time to liberate ourselves somewhat from social media. We used to exist fine without it, after all.
Think about it, when is the last time you wrote an actual letter? I am going to hang out in my garden and commune with nature and check out butterflies. I will leave you after this rambling post with an online article about types of Facebook posters. It’s very funny.
Humorous Caricatures of Social Media Users Social media has existed since the earliest times. Imagine, if you will:
An early, nomadic hominid, scratching an image onto the wall of her cave-shelter. Picture her wonder, joy, and surprise when she returns, a season later, to find an image left by an unknown “other”.
There, on the cave wall, is an “answering image” — with splashes of colour. She has no idea who “commented on her wall post”, but she knows she’s not alone. There has been a response to her unintended friend request. She is experiencing shared humanity and kinship, beyond the immediate circle of her tribe.
Over the years, they may have gone on to share information. I imagine them sharing hunting stories, food storage ideas, and even recipes. I see them inspiring each other to greater creativity by means of their developing art. Maybe, they even shared some personal details.
Did other people, passing through, add to the story on “her wall”?
Basically, humanity has been obsessed with “social media” ever since.
As cultures and technology developed over millennia, so did long-range social interaction. Passed messages, and formal mail services replaced cave paintings. Books spread thoughts and information to larger numbers. Telegraph, telephone, newspapers, and radio, further widened global information sharing.
….Social media, of various kinds — for good or bad — has become integral to our society. For people in my age-group (50s — plus or minus), that usually means Facebook.
I love the flowers in my garden. But what you might find surprising, is although I do plant for a “cutting garden” I don’t like cutting the flowers off of my plants!
I love looking at everything in the garden, so I don’t cut a lot of bouquets although I probably could and maybe should. Especially with some of my hydrangeas which do need a prune.
But today I decided to cut some hydrangea blossoms. We are supposed to get crazy rain later, and I thought I would cut some blooms.
Cutting flowers does give me an excuse to meld my love of garden with my love of vintage treasure hunting. Both bouquets are in vases I discovered in my travels that I did not pay a lot for.
As a matter of fact, the green ceramic vase in the photo at the bottom of this post is something I literally paid a couple of dollars for this weekend. It is signed and probably was thrown in Chester County somewhere!
I also love my vintage cut glass candlesticks which always look great around a vase of flowers. It always cracks me up when you see them in antique stores and they are way, way overpriced because they are so plentiful and you can literally find them at tag sales. Unless they are very, very old, they don’t have much value these days. Collect them! They can make a table or a mantle piece look instantly fabulous with just a few taper candles.
It’s also sort of like your grandmother’s china. If you have china, use it! Don’t let it gather dust in your cupboard. Sets of old china today unless it’s an extraordinarily unusual pattern, have more sentimental value than monetary value because no one wants them. Kind of like what they refer to as “brown wood”.
“Brown Wood” means natural wood furniture. Mahogany, pine, maple, oak, hickory. Today’s unfortunate trends mean people paint furniture that is “brown wood”. I’m sorry I think that is sacrilege. There are so many beautiful pieces of furniture and how can you wish to cover up all the natural patina and beauty of a piece with paint?
And we are not even speaking of faux painting which was a trend a couple of decades ago and you still find it here and there which can be extraordinarily artistic. Trompe l’oeil can be amazing. But not formerly mahogany dressers in chippy ivory paint. It used to be that people just painted furniture that was so beat up it needed refinishing one way or the other. Not now. People are taking real furniture, good furniture, and blotting out the character with high gloss enamel or chalk paint. Not for me.
The picture of the rocking chair with the bargello pattern fabric seat you see above is old, but not super old. I am not positive but I think the wood is hickory. It is not oak but it is definitely a hardwood. This rocking chair is a spindle back which was made in Maine.
I love rocking chairs and it was just so pretty and the dealer let me know when she had it in case I was interested. I paid peanuts for it as in well under $100 and it’s now in my guest room. And I will be happy to polish it occasionally. To me that is the smell of home: beeswax and lemon oil. And starched and freshly laundered linens.
I can’t forget my love for old and vintage linens, including quilts. You can find them everywhere. And nothing makes your table look better than the beautiful fabric of an old tablecloth.
And don’t forget to dress up your powder room or your guest bath with old linen hand and finger tip towels that someone embroidered long, long ago.
As for quilts? Especially old lap quilts that were used way back when for carriaging and even early motoring? I use them to keep pet hair off my sofas and they add a friendly, homey vibe. And it’s so much better looking than “fabric protectors” which I think are quasi hideous for the most part.
Back to my cut flowers.
I don’t make a big fuss out of flower arranging. I pretty much just cut my flowers outside bring them in and trim them to the vase and I’m done with that. I know flower arranging is literally a competitive sport at a lot of flower shows, but I just want them to look pretty. And it’s not that hard to do.
And I do not just cut flowers from the garden I also will make a little arrangement out of my herbs. Fresh mint, lavender, borage, and more smell delightful in a vase in the house. I also have a couple of small citrus trees that when I trim them I put their foliage in a vase and you get this great citrus smell that lasts.
And as for vase is a lot of the time I don’t even use a traditional vase. I will use an old milk bottle, a mason jar, even little chipped pitchers. I used to have a ceramic teapot that the lid had broken on that I used for years as a perfect vase for a kitchen table.
I don’t live in a beige beige world. I like color and texture and pattern. So I love my vintage finds because of that. Things that aren’t necessarily brand new add character.
I think my personal style can’t be pigeonholed into “cottage” or “country” or “traditional”. I just like to find things old and new for my home that fit in it. That includes my flowers on the outside, that sometimes come inside.