christmas is coming!

I had an appointment in Wayne so I stopped at Valley Forge Flowers, more specifically The Barn at Valley Forge Flowers.

I love Christmas and I noticed they were literally decking the halls so I had to go in and check things out. They have some fabulous Christmas ornaments and holiday hostess gifts if you are in the market for them.

Especially take note of the fabulous German ornaments in the section known as The Cottage at Valley Forge Flowers. And like a complete dork, that’s the one photo I neglected to snap!

Please note that my opinions are my own and I have not been compensated in any way or given preferential treatment for writing my little review of a fabulous shopping experience. I am just a happy customer!

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when gardening, know your mail order grower


The photo above (and the next photo below this paragraph) were both  taken on a garden tour last spring. I love hostas! I really generally speaking have a hosta disease! I am always looking for interesting cultivars and growers who might have hostas I want to try but never have been able to find locally.


But I learned a valuable lesson recently about knowing your grower. And knowing your grower especially when it comes to mail order plants.

I have been ordering plants from reputable growers up and down the eastern seaboard and as far away as Washington state for years.

I was searching out particular hosta cultivars and decided to check eBay.  Believe it or not I have had wonderful luck with some small plant growers on eBay in the past. For example, I received wonderful woodland ferns from a small nursery outfit in Tennessee.

So there is this grower who is a dually listed on eBay and Amazon. I figured since they were on two sites that generally try to police their sellers I was OK ordering plants. I didn’t stop to pay attention to the reviews. I should have. If I had paid attention to the reviews I would’ve saved myself a lot of trouble.

I ordered the plants and then I waited. And waited. When I received no tracking number to track my package from the seller after over a week I messaged the grower to ask if the plants had shipped and if I could have a tracking number.

I also at that time asked if I was getting bare root or if they were coming in pots. The seller said they always ship bare root.

I am not a novice gardener and I am fine with bare root plants. I figured all would be fine.

Boy was I mistaken.

The plants arrived Saturday. Poorly packaged in a small square box, they arrived mostly dead. I literally had thrown my money away.

For all of the plants I have ordered over the years mail order, never had I received any in such poor condition. And what was described as a “starter” plant (for example) looked like a piece of wilted micro lettuce.

The plants were shipped in dry newspaper in little sandwich baggies with the hosta cultivars scribbled illegibly on the outside of the baggies. There was no ventilation in the little square box and the plants were dried out, wilted, and mostly dead. And so small. I am used to mail order plants but these were puny, so not as described in my humble opinion.

I took a deep breath and contacted the “grower” to see what they would do. I gave them the opportunity to do the right thing. I wanted healthy plants, not a refund. And I was not seeking free plants. I would have been satisfied with an “I am so sorry.” Or even an intelligent conversation in the hopes of achieving an amicable resolution. After all, who likes wasting money?

The response from the “grower” was swift and nasty to be honest.  They accused me of “blackmail” and demanded (not requested) I mail back “their” plants (even though I had paid $70+ for “their” plants.

I will be honest, I was taken aback by the sheer nastiness of their attitude, and I said calmly that I was not going to put myself out MORE money to mail back sub par mostly dead plants.  

I have learned a valuable lesson. And if I had read the reviews posted online I probably would not have purchased a thing from them. If they need my hard earned money so badly, hey they can keep it.

Know your grower. And if you do not, check them out. (And yes, another case made for buying local.)


On a certain level I am disappointed, because people who are true nursery men and women are generally speaking some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet.

Do not be afraid of ordering plants via mail order, just check out the grower ahead of time. Again, lesson learned for me. I broke my rule of checking them out.

Good customer service matters.  

scrooged in wayne

This location is Runnymede at South Wayne Avenue in Wayne PA (Radnor Twp)- friend courtesy photo

So last night a friend messages me:

Hey Happy holidays! I’m asking you this because you might know – the small white vans being used during Christmas for deliveries, do you know if they are usps or a FedEx or ups or Amazon delivery person? I ask because today I saw a delivery person driving one of these actually put an Amazon package in the storm SEWER. So I am trying to figure out what agency to contact this to report it. SMH.

So I messaged her back how crazy that was and that Amazon is introducing dedicated drivers in small white vans in the area. How crazy must it have been to see a delivery person chuck a package like that?

I suggested she go to the police and contact Amazon.com.  She showed me a picture of the package in the storm sewer which I am about to post:

She couldn’t figure out where the package was going because it was face down. Her  local police department went out to the location this morning and the package was gone. It’s pretty deep to fish out from this storm sewer, so we’re at a loss as to how the package moved – either someone came along with something to fish it out or there was inexplicable water that washed it out of view.

But somebody somewhere is missing a package a few days before Christmas. I hope it was not a present for a child.

I am a big Amazon fan but I will admit I have had problems with some of their delivery people since they started adding dedicated delivery. I have had things just not get delivered or delivered late. It’s a relatively new service in this area with dedicated drivers, so obviously they have some kinks to work out.

Here is hoping Amazon can figure this out.

dear santa can you help?


Dear Santa,

Hi there! Are you getting your letters from Chester County, PA?  I am sorry to ask  during this time of year, but you see parts of Chester County has an on again, off again mail problem.

You see, part of Chester County PA’s Mail sorts through another city and state. Yes, it’s true, part of Chester County’s mail sorts through Wilmington, Delaware!

Imagine, you send your next door neighbor a card and it takes not days , but weeks to arrive. Why? Because the mail sorts through Wilmington, Delaware!

Imagine you have an awesome local post office and equally terrific mail carriers. Imagine how awful they feel when they have to knock on your door and hand you damaged mail and damaged packages that sometimes look like the football after Monday Night Football! Why? Because the mail came to Chester County via Wilmington, Delaware!

Imagine you are waiting for a registered or priority package and you are tracking it on USPS.com and you watch it travel from pillar to post and then it just stalls for a couple of days…in Wilmington, Delaware. (with no explanation, ever.)

Santa, it is sad but true. When you complain the United States Postal Service doesn’t honor their “we deliver for you” they terrorize your local mail carriers and post office or they blow you off entirely. Heck maybe YOU can get them to respond to emails – because unless you are contacting the Office of The Inspector General, you stand a pretty good chance of being totally blown off.

Last time I went on a tirade against Chester County PA mail partially sorting through Wilmington, Delaware I was told off the record that the reason mail from Chester County sorts through another state entirely was Joe Biden and is this true?  So should I be writing to Joe Biden instead of you Santa Claus?

I have a theory and that is the postal workers in the sorting facility in Wilmington,  Delaware resent having to also sort Chester County, Pennsylvania mail.  And that is why I hypothesize why mail goes missing, has inexplicable delays, and gets damaged. And who can blame them?  Wouldn’t you be upset if some politicians just doubled your workloads because they thought that was the solution to some stupid political agenda? 

December 1, 2016 update: spoke to consumer affairs personnel in Washington, DC in the Postmaster General’s Office after getting blown off by Philadelphia Consumer Affairs and the office of the USPS OIG. Santa would you like to receive a priority package marked fragile that looks like this?

So Santa, if you can talk to USPS about the mail and ask them to do something about the Chester County, Pennsylvania mail partially sorting in Wilmington, Delaware that would be an awesome stocking stuffer this Christmas!

respect small businesses 

Things that happen to small businesses that I hate. Not in Chester County but my old stomping grounds of Ardmore, PA. 

So apparently someone hired this landscape company because someone put out big planters on Lancaster Avenue (see above.)

Now this is the Main Line so of course you have to hire someone to plant a couple of plants in a planter, right?


Well that is fine provided said service provider is NOT blocking public walkways, rear business entrances, and oh yes parking in someone’s posted private and non-municipal parking.


Well completely disregarding all of the above award of the week goes to Charles Friel Landscaping. They did this to one of my closest friends who is a small business owner. 


And when she went out to basically ask him to move he was like he would be done soon and he had these plants to get in. My friend kept trying to explain that the guy was blocking her rear door (fire and safety hazard), parking in her customer parking on private property, and blocking a public walkway. 

That is not right and for some reason he could not tell her who had paid for the planters (don’t people usually know for whom they are working?). None of the businesses (even the ones with them in front of their stores) seem to know where the big plastic planter boxes have come from.

I am all for community beautification in business districts as so many business districts just don’t bother. But what I am not for our people who do things like this landscape truck did today. Ardmore is horrible for parking. It gets as congested as the Borough of Malvern or downtown West Chester. But people need to be considerate of small businesses. These mom-and-pop shops make our communities unique and careless behavior like this literally takes business away from them because of people can’t get to the store they’re going to go someplace else.

home of the sparrow event at life’s patina

 A few years ago I was the lucky one who got to photograph the property Life’s Patina is on in Malvern.  I photographed the property when it was on the house tour for Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust. 

Tonight I got to see the barn renovation totally completed! So awesome!

I am here right now for the special event benefitting Home of the Sparrow! There is a special sale all weekend, check it out!

You can find the information on Life’s Patina or Home of the Sparrow Facebook pages.