R & R Landscaping

Summer Solstice

Claire GoldmanComment

We survived another spring! Not only did we survive, we have had some really fun projects and incredible clients we can now call friends!

 As a company, we strive every day to achieve greatness. I’ll be honest though – sometimes it’s hard to be great. Sometimes I don’t want to be great. I just want to sleep in and wear yoga pants and drink wine and not stress about the rain getting us behind schedule. In those moments, it becomes SO CLEAR why our company is successful. The team that has been built here works. And works WELL. Bless them – sometimes they tread lightly around me. We know when to encourage each other, when to push each other, when to just listen, when to celebrate, and when to rest. The way I see it, there’s no other explanation than God working in our lives and putting us all together.

It's been a long day at the office - don't judge. This is my squad.

It's been a long day at the office - don't judge. This is my squad.

 Every single person in this company is such an essential part of what we do. It’s so cool to watch everyone fit together like a puzzle for the good of the company and work towards the common goal of creating an amazing space for our clients! We have had some long hours and late nights this spring, but those are also the times when we have seen the best in everyone. Sometimes I just feel like a proud parent when I see our guys support each other without having to be told.

Rolling sod as the sun sets!

Rolling sod as the sun sets!

Stacking rubble like a boss!

Stacking rubble like a boss!

 In our industry, spring can be overwhelming. Sometimes it feels like you can’t keep your head above water. Sometimes it feels like you’ll never be able to keep people happy. But, then you finish a job. You see it all come together. All the stress, all the scrambling around the weather, all the moving pieces fit together to create something beautiful!

Formal garden and crushed slate paths!

Formal garden and crushed slate paths!

Retaining wall lakeside renovation!

Retaining wall lakeside renovation!

Got this one done just in time to enjoy for Memorial Day!

Got this one done just in time to enjoy for Memorial Day!

I'm not sure if I've mentioned it before, but I love my job. That's largely because we have such amazing people working with us. As Dr. Ponder would say, we have some all-star players on our team! Team R&R for the win!

Dry as a Bone

Claire Goldman1 Comment

If you are living in or around Auburn, AL you may not remember what it feels like to see rain coming from the sky. Or maybe you still remember the feeling of drowning from last winter’s torrential down pours.

Wouldn't it be nice if our weather would just find a balance?

Wouldn't it be nice if our weather would just find a balance?

 

Our reality right now is an extreme drought. Established plants are dying. If you see your plants looking stressed, the most effective way to help them is to place your hose at the base of the plant and soak those roots in. This method will reduce any unnecessary water runoff while providing the plant with what it needs. Watering your plants thoroughly and infrequently is the best way to encourage the roots to grow deeper, making them less susceptible to drought conditions.

Auburn has released a statement with our current watering restrictions. Please remember to take these seriously! Surcharges will begin in December. As it cools off, plants will need less water. Do your best to track your water usage and do everything you can do reduce it.

And, whatever you do, DON'T BURN!

And, whatever you do, DON'T BURN!

Field Trip

Claire GoldmanComment

Every now and then you get a client that you just love. Don’t get me wrong, I love all our clients. But, sometimes I just want to be friends and have dinner and maybe a glass of wine and talk about plants and designs and hold hands and skip down the road (okay, maybe not the last part). But, I REALLY love some people I get to work with.

This brings me to Chris Montgomery. I’ve been lucky enough to work with him on multiple projects over the last few years. There are lots of reasons he’s so much fun to work with and I think it boils down to this; he just GETS it. He’s a fellow horticulturalist. He knows his plants. He loves creativity. And he TRUSTS me. All of these things make for a happy collaboration between design and implementation.

 I love that we can be totally honest with each other. If he doesn’t like one of my ideas, he’ll tell me. And if I don’t like one of his, I’ll tell him. And he still might do it anyway. And that’s okay. Even if it means planting Elaeagnus. He’s lucky I love working with him or that one might have done me in.

Chris is an account executive for Young’s Plant Farm and yesterday he was nice enough to take some time out of his day to show Nathan and me around the greenhouses. Talk about sensory overload! It was such a treat to get the behind the scenes tour from seed to basket!

Two kids in a candy store right here.

Two kids in a candy store right here.

The attention to detail and dedication to quality product is impeccable. In every phase of production and trial there is something they are doing to improve product. The trial gardens and production trials are constantly testing for the latest and greatest plants for your yard. We are so lucky to have facilities like this to provide such gorgeous material for us.

Trial Gardens

Trial Gardens

'Balsamic Blooms' - I don't know if I should just look at it or eat it, but I LOVE that I don't have to choose!

'Balsamic Blooms' - I don't know if I should just look at it or eat it, but I LOVE that I don't have to choose!

 Who’s ready for some seasonal color?!

Smells Like Teen Spirit

Claire GoldmanComment

On my run this morning, I noticed a sweet shrub about to start blooming. Praise. Jesus. My all time favorite smell! When I was little, my neighbor would baby-sit us and we would play on her giant swing under her oak tree. She had a HUGE sweet shrub in her yard. I didn’t know what it was called back then, I just remember the smell of it. It wasn’t until I was in college in Dr. Eakes’ Small Trees, Shrubs, and Vines class, we were walking around campus identifying plants, that I smelled the bloom and immediately was back in her yard playing on the swing.

Calycanthus floridanum

Calycanthus floridanum

 

The older I get, the more I realize how connected I am to my senses. Sights, sounds, and smells all have a tremendous impact on how I feel. Spring just makes me happy. With everything in full bloom and the grass getting green, I’m so energized and ready to tackle all the exciting designs coming my way!

My grandma taught me to love flowers. Granny Franny (yes, that’s what we called her, don’t judge) loved her garden. I remember her being so happy when her gladiolus would start blooming. Sometimes it’s the memories you aren’t trying to make that stick.

I'll never see a Glad without thinking of her!

I'll never see a Glad without thinking of her!

Responding to my surroundings is not always a good thing. For example, in a house full of boys, I’ve noticed that I very rarely actually breathe through my nose when they are close. The smell that comes from a hormonal tween is something special. It’s indescribable. It’s too distinct to even attempt to put into words. You know it if you’ve smelled it.

And by "it", I mean my son.

And by "it", I mean my son.

We have so many amazing fragrances coming our way over the next few weeks. Wisteria, Tea Olive, Gardenia, and Sweet Shrub are some of my favorite scents. Take the time to get outside and enjoy the beauty around you. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – just stay away from the Bradford Pear (that one smells more like my son)!

Sorry, not sorry!

Claire GoldmanComment

Sometimes it’s difficult to be an emotionally charged person. Some of the people closest to me are so chill, I find myself being very aware of how excited I get about little things. I had a friend text me the other night about the possibility of building a modern house in my favorite neighborhood in Auburn. Immediately, my heart started pounding, I had to pause Castle to deal with my excitement. I started talking a million miles a minute trying to fill Charlie in with what was going on.

Bless him. He tried to pretend like he cared.

Bless him. He tried to pretend like he cared.

Usually, I am very aware of my emotions. The voice in my head is often saying, “Just be cool, Claire.” Do you know how exhausting it is to JUST BE COOL sometimes?  So what if gorgeous black glazed bricks make me want to jump up and down! Or, if seeing our newly designed logo on our trucks warrants a few squeals! Or, if I’m up all night designing a project in my head because I’m so excited about it!

Very few things in life truly excite me like good food and good design do. I got so excited about a bacon wrapped date I ate recently that I teared up while I ate it. It was that good.

Get you some!

Get you some!

I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude that I get to work in a field that fuels my passions. I’m challenged every day. I think my favorite thing about my job is figuring out my clients. My own personal style is mid-century modern. But, my job is to walk a property, ask all the right questions to get inside my client’s head, and implement a design to enhance the house and reflect my client’s style. It always feels good when we nail it!

Nailed it!

Nailed it!

I’m already super excited about the designs we are currently working on and seeing what spring has in store for us. So, if you see me doing cartwheels in a client’s yard, don’t be alarmed. I’m just loving what I do!

Gulf States Horticultural Expo

Claire GoldmanComment

I love going to a new place with some fellow horties. Last week, Charlie, Nathan, Ryan, and I spent some time in Mobile for the Gulf States Horticulture Expo. Ryan is our newest addition to the R&R family, so we took the opportunity to quiz him and see how much he knows.

The folks at the expo took the whole work family thing pretty seriously!

The folks at the expo took the whole work family thing pretty seriously!

Luckily (for Ryan), we were impressed by his plant ID skills!  As we walked through the old streets of downtown Mobile, I couldn’t help but be thoroughly entertained by our passion and excitement for each plant that crossed our path. Around each corner was another, “Oooooo!!! Look at that tree!” or “EWW! Why in the WORLD would they choose that plant for this space?” or “Hey, Ryan! What’s this one?” followed by Nathan and/or Charlie explaining everything there is to know about the relevant species while Ryan’s eyes slowly glazed over. Dr. Eakes would have been proud of his protégés.

Then, there’s the moment Nathan thought he could be a smartie and still remember how to spell Liquidambar styraciflua (which, by the way, I just spelled correctly on the first try while I’m typing this).

Ah, yes. Only true horties can appreciate our love for what we do. We walked through the aisles of the Expo checking out the newest plants, equipment, and software.  It’s always fun to see what everyone else is doing and come up with ideas to have a better year than the one before. Most of all, though, it’s nice to just spend some time getting to know each other.

Slowly back away from the machine, Charlie.

Slowly back away from the machine, Charlie.

Welcome to the family, Ryan! I'm glad you made it up all those stairs!

Welcome to the family, Ryan! I'm glad you made it up all those stairs!

Haters Gonna Hate

Claire Goldman1 Comment

This year has been so much fun! We’ve had the opportunity to get creative with our clients developing their designs. As a designer, it’s my job to get to know you, figure out what you are looking for in your yard – whether it’s functional or aesthetics. I need to know it all. Then, I sit down and create a space that will suit your wants and needs.

Part of getting to know you includes asking if there are any plants you love or hate. I get the same list of plants people hate all the time and I want to shed some light on three plants mentioned the most.

Juniper

Juniper

This is, by far, the most hated plant. When you hear Juniper, you think boring banks covered in it for erosion control. That’s not always the case! Juniper provides a unique texture and color contrast that’s evergreen. When used creatively, it can really be a show stopper! ‘Gray Owl’ Juniper gives a hazy silver/gray contrast to all the greens in the yard.

Boxwood

Boxwood

Again, these just have a reputation for being boring. People either love them or hate them. Boxwoods don’t have to be a hedge. ‘Wintergreen’ boxwoods are some of my favorites for their bright green color and shiny, cute leaves. Just because a plant doesn’t bloom, doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a place.

Crape Myrtle - There's something about a mature crape myrtle branch structure that's just flat out sexy.

Crape Myrtle - There's something about a mature crape myrtle branch structure that's just flat out sexy.

I hear it all the time – “These plants are too high maintenance! I don’t have time to prune them every year.” Lord, help me. PLEASE DON’T CHOOSE A CRAPE MYRTLE THAT NEEDS TO BE CUT BACK TO FIT THE SPACE! There are so many varieties of crape myrtles. You can choose one that has a mature size appropriate for the area they are planted. With the right variety, you can get a plant with beautiful blooms, outstanding fall color, and interesting bark.

Don’t just write off a plant because you think you don’t like it. It’s more about how it’s used than it is about the species of the plant. Hire a good designer and keep an open mind!

It's Personal

Claire Goldman1 Comment

Working with my husband, it’s probably not a shocker that we have a hard time separating business and personal life. I’ve been told over and over again the only way to have a happy personal life is to leave work at the office and the only way to have a successful business is to keep the relationships strictly professional. We’ve failed miserably at this concept and I’ll tell you – we have a very happy family life and a rapidly growing business.

We’ve tried it both ways. It takes a great deal of effort on my part to draw the line. I love our guys! After years of intentionally separating business and personal, we threw that out the window. Robby (our partner) has been family to us since we started this gig almost 10 years ago. Charlie and Nacho have a most disturbing bromance. Nathan shares my passion for design, he makes sure Charlie and I are behaving, and he's always pushing us to be our best. We would do anything for any of the guys that work with us.

I have no words. These two...

I have no words. These two...

Nacho's been a part of our family for a LONG time!

Nacho's been a part of our family for a LONG time!

In Sunday school we were discussing this topic and I heard this phrase: “Business is always personal because it’s relational”. A light bulb went off. I’ve always felt like I was doing something wrong by blending the personal and professional lines like we do. The truth is – it IS personal for me. These guys represent Charlie, Robby, and me on a personal level all over this community. We all strive to be a light to anyone we come in contact with. Our client’s satisfaction comes before our profit margin. It really doesn’t feel like any of our guys work FOR us; we all work together.

Because 50 hours a week together is just not enough!

Because 50 hours a week together is just not enough!

I’ll never be a cut throat business person because it’s not all about the money for me. The money is certainly a necessary part of the equation, but it’s more about being happy with what I’m doing. I know I’m extremely blessed to be able to get up every morning and love what I do.

I like big trees and I cannot lie!

I like big trees and I cannot lie!

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men. Col 3:23

Great Expectations

Claire GoldmanComment

Hello, builder! You would like to close your house on August 1 when it’s 100 degrees outside and hasn’t rained in a month and need your landscape to look amazing? Why, yes! We can absolutely help you. No problem. We love to plant in this weather.

Yes, there is a bit of sarcasm in that scenario. The truth is there are a lot of situations that require summer landscape installations and the game changes a little in the summer. So – if you need to get some plant material in the ground right now or in the near future, what should you expect?

Lots of material to keep watered!

Lots of material to keep watered!

Plants feel stress. There can be an adjustment period when they are installed this time of the year. Certain trees will go through a shock and drop all their leaves. Some species are more sensitive than others. But, if your plants are installed and some are looking a little sad, don’t panic. Definitely call your landscaper and let them know! But, don’t panic. Usually, with the right balance of water, you can get your plants and sod through this time of the year and into the fall – at which point, they can get their roots established and be ready for next summer!

Our jobs right now include a lot of baby-sitting plant material and adjusting irrigation. New sod needs constant water right now. The roots are so shallow and as soon as they dry out, the sod starts showing signs of stress. Once that sod roots into the ground well, it won’t dry out as quickly. But, a LOT of water is required to get the sod established. Your yard will be mushy. It’s okay.  Again – don’t panic. It’s a short term problem.

Notice how shallow the roots are.

Notice how shallow the roots are.

I wish there was a perfect calculation for how to water new plant material. It really depends on each location, species, and the weather. These plants are grown in mixes that are set up for the nursery setting and frequent irrigation. So, until the plant’s roots grow into your native soil, they are going to dry out much faster than they will when they are established. If you have a plant looking droopy or starting to yellow, it may need supplemental water. Stick your finger in the ground and check the soil first! Plants that are getting too much water show the same signs of stress as plants getting too little water. If the soil is dry, grab the hose and water it directly at the base of the plant where the root ball is.

Lots of irrigation at the nursery!

Lots of irrigation at the nursery!

The bottom line is, if you have a good landscaper, they will help you through this process. Stay in touch with them after the install. Keep an eye on the plants and report any concerns. Most landscapers appreciate the feedback and will provide a warranty. However, it’s only fair to allow the landscaper the opportunity to come take a look at things and address any issues before you have a dead plant.


We Did It!

Claire GoldmanComment

While, to most people, today is just another day. For those of us working in horticulture, today has been circled on the calendar for a long time. Today is the goal. Just make it to today. 3 more weeks, 2 more weeks, you got this! Today is the first official day of summer. What is the significance in that? It means we survived another spring!! Today, we celebrate!

5 signs you are a hortie in the spring:

5. Your friends start calling to make sure you are still alive. Through out the late fall and winter, we are very social people. We have dinner parties and enjoy hosting friends at least once a week, but sometimes more. By the time February comes to an end, we can usually see it coming. Our schedules start to get crazy. Sometimes it seems like over night our social lives come to a screeching halt. I can hear the brakes squealing as I type this. Just like that, it’s over. You probably will not see my outside of work again until later in the summer unless you go to my church. Don’t be offended, I still love you, I just have to switch gears to survival mode until the spring rush calms down.

4. That brings me to lunch break. I had a friend call whom I hadn’t seen in a long time and we were trying to make our schedules work to get together for a little while and catch up. She said, “Well, we could at least meet on your lunch break.” BAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Lunch break?! I forgot that was a thing. The only lunch break I’ve had recently is the 2.5 minutes it takes to swing into my house, throw a sandwich together, and inhale it in three large bites while driving to the next client meeting.

Lunch Break?

Lunch Break?

3. Spring means all household chores are immediately pushed to the bottom of the list. I am not proud of these admissions, but I have literally reached in the cabinet for a plate and realized they are all in the sink. I also can vouch for a fellow competitor who I ran into at Target buying a pack of underwear for his son because he was wearing his last clean pair that day. The struggle is real. I’ll follow this up with a post about the trials and tribulations of being a landscaper’s kid.

My kitchen this spring. Sigh...

My kitchen this spring. Sigh...

2. Our phones start ringing with vendors bringing sod, irrigation supplies, plants, etc at 6:30 am. The only way we even keep our eyes open until the sun goes down is because we are still working. When Uncle Andy worked with us for a summer, he coined this phenomenon with the phrase: “Go to sleep in the field, wake up in the field”. So true. My do not disturb on my phone is set from 9pm - 6am. No calls or texts after 9. Who gets the irony of this? My mother would be so proud. That was her cut off for me on school nights.

Go to sleep in the field, wake up in the field.

Go to sleep in the field, wake up in the field.

1. Spring means so much chaos by lunch time, you have to find ways to take deep breaths and regroup. I remember one conversation we had this spring in the office. Someone mentioned how crazy the day had been and another person followed with “It’s 5 o’clock somewhere.” I looked at Charlie and Nathan and said, “It’s days like this that make me consider purchasing a kegerator for the office.” This was followed by a good chuckle from both of them, to which I replied, “No. Seriously…”

So, here’s to you, landscapers everywhere! You did it! You worked long, hard hours. You’ve created some incredible spaces and you’ve witnessed amazing transformations! It’s not over by any means, but I hope you can take a little rest and recharge your batteries for the second half of the year!

So much to be proud of this spring!

So much to be proud of this spring!

Outdoor Living

Claire GoldmanComment

We have a 1200 SF house with 1 bathroom. That’s right, you heard me correctly. One. Bathroom. Let’s break that down for those who don’t quite get it. Three boys. One girl. One bathroom. Who says God doesn’t have a sense of humor? I grew up being the most boy crazy girl in the world and now I’m surrounded by stinky boys AND sharing a bathroom with them. I feel like God looks at my life with full on belly laughs.

“I know how much you loved boys! I just want to make sure you have your fill of them!” – God

“I know how much you loved boys! I just want to make sure you have your fill of them!”

– God

AHHHH! I just need some estrogen in my life.  And a sparkly, clean bathroom with a touch of pink here and there.

Let me back track for a minute. I love my house and my boys. I am so very grateful for the space and especially for our neighborhood and schools. The tiny square footage has allowed us to upgrade and make it adorable. BUT – sometimes I feel like the walls are closing in. The beginning of summer is always one of those times. We’re all here on top of each other.

So, how do I maintain my sanity? By making the most of every inch of our outdoor space! So many people are overwhelmed by their yard and how to make it work for them. For me, I take it one area at a time. Of course, for our clients, I give a completed master plan and we can phase in areas as the budget allows. Do you think I’ve sat down and drawn a master plan for my own yard? We’ve been here 6 years and the yard continues to evolve in my head. Poor Charlie. Sometimes designers want to change something perfectly good just because they have a better idea. But, he’s a good sport. He plays along.

For our family, entertaining is important. With such a small house, it’s essential that we have an outdoor space to spill outside to when we have friends over. I have absolutely invited people over before and told them not to come if it’s raining. I’m really not worried about impressing anyone.

Come on over if the weather’s nice and we can be outside!

Come on over if the weather’s nice and we can be outside!

Another space important to us is the garden. I’ve confessed my love for food in a previous blog. Everything tastes better from the garden. Also, everything tastes better when you eat it outside. Truth.  We have a small garden area, but we cram as much as we can into that space. As long as we keep it watered and weeded, we usually have success in our harvests! Don’t feel like you need a plow for a veggie garden. Start Small. I highly recommend Mel Bartholomew’s book, “Square Foot Gardening”. http://www.melbartholomew.com/

Of course, with children (and Uncle Andy), play space is huge.

Of course, with children (and Uncle Andy), play space is huge.

The ONLY way I have not had a complete mental break down and impulsively bought a bigger house is because I’m happy to kick the kids outside! We’ve been very fortunate to have a neighborhood full of kids who love to play. If it’s hot, I put a cooler of lemonade out, or fill up the kiddie pool, or turn on the irrigation. Whatever it takes to keep them outside. Yes, they come in wet, dirty, and smelly. But – and here’s the key – they come in exhausted! SUCCESS!

This summer is a great time to work on your outside space. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Pick one little area and make it great and then work out from there. Remember, in the south, outdoor living works best with a little shade!

Planted with Love

Claire Goldman1 Comment

As we get into this Mother’s Day week, I think how of how special all my plants that have been given to me are. Each one makes me think of the person who gave it to me when I see it. I associate bloom times with events that happened.

My climbing rose blooming makes me smile because this time last year we were hosting a graduation party for my newest sister-in-law under that rose and getting geared up for the wedding!

My climbing rose blooming makes me smile because this time last year we were hosting a graduation party for my newest sister-in-law under that rose and getting geared up for the wedding!

 It’s kind of like that “song” you had with your high school sweetie and you can’t help but be taken back when it comes on. Don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about.

Moms are the best. Although, I will say, having a nurse as a mother completely ruined my own capabilities of taking care of myself when I don’t feel well. I fully expect hot broth to be delivered to my bed side, gentle words spoken over me, a cool washcloth for my forehead, and probably a good back scratch to go with it. My mom is awesome. Thanks to her example, I know how to take care of someone.

What better way to show mom how much you love her than by planting a plant for her? Do your research. Make sure you don’t plant a shade plant in the sun or vice versa. You want to at least TRY to keep the thing alive. Roses are a great Mother’s Day gift because they are blooming now. There are so many low maintenance varieties these days and every year when it blooms, your mom will think of you and remember how special she felt that you took the time to plant one for her.

Drift Roses for my mom.

Drift Roses for my mom.

If Roses stress you out or feel like too much work, think about some succulents! They are so cool and different. You can find some interesting textures and colors, stick them in a cute container, cover the exposed soil with moss, and you’ve got a very inexpensive special gift!

I found these containers at Target!

I found these containers at Target!

Regardless of the gift, the important thing is that you take the time to make all the moms in your life feel special. I’m fortunate enough to have a mom who has spent the past 31 years instilling a love for learning, nature, and people in me. She has guided me through parenting my own children and molded me into who I am today. I have a mother-in-law who has loved me like a daughter for the past 11 years. She has been by my side with unwavering love and support whenever I need it.

AND, I have my step-son’s mom, Leslie, who has been there to share in this amazing journey of raising our kids together. I will never forget being 20 years old, only married for three months, trying to get through college, and then learning I was pregnant. Leslie was the first person to receive the news and respond with “Congratulations!” It was in that moment that I knew I could get excited about being a mom. The fear and anxiety are part of it, but God was going to work it out.

And He did.

And He did.

Flower Power

Claire GoldmanComment

It’s time to take out the pansies and get creative! After a winter of pansies, violas, and kale (don’t get me wrong – all are beautiful), I’m ready for some variety!

Shout out to our favorite annual and perennial grower, Leatherwood Nursery! They consistently provide us with beautiful, quality plants!

Shout out to our favorite annual and perennial grower, Leatherwood Nursery! They consistently provide us with beautiful, quality plants!

With all the variety available, it can be difficult to narrow down which annuals to use. I’ve seen a lot of beds where someone decided to use a few of every kind of pretty flower they could find. As a plant lover, I completely understand the urge to do that. However, you take away from the beauty of each one by making your beds so busy.

Less is more. Choose a color pallet. Are you drawn to warm (bold) or cool (pastel) colors? You can usually answer this question by scrolling through flowers on Google images and paying attention to which ones you seem to like more. I’m a bold color kind of girl myself.

Color makes me happy!

Color makes me happy!

Once you have decided which route to take on the color, you need to figure out where you are planting. Is it sunny or shady? Take the time to pay attention to your area. Full sun typically means at least 6 hours of direct sunlight. Morning sun and afternoon sun are two totally different things. You can get plants that like a little shade to do well in an area with morning sun. If you have plants that get direct afternoon sun you want to choose plants that love being roasted! I call them tough cookies. In the south, afternoon sun will fry your plants faster than a hot knife through butter!

Here are a few options for full sun “tough cookies”:

Annual Vinca

Begonia - not all Begonias love the sun! Read the tag.

Zinnia - the profusion series are a super cool, low growing variety

Angelonia - one of my favorites for a vertical element

Angelonia

Angelonia

Here are some of my favorite for morning sun or shade:

Dragon Wing Begonia

Impatiens

Coleus - lots of variety for foliage color

Caladium - another good foliage plant

Caladuim - don't under estimate the power of foliage color! You don't always need a flower to make an impact.

Caladuim - don't under estimate the power of foliage color! You don't always need a flower to make an impact.

The next question is the size of the bed. You can get away with more variety in larger spaces. But, keep it simple for a smaller bed. You will make more of an impact by planting just one or two things in a mass for some pops of color.

Of course, make sure you have good composted organic topsoil. I typically dig out about 6” deep of lovely red clay and fill in the whole area with good topsoil. Plant your flowers according to the label. (Or, if you are like my sister or most of my friends, call me and I’ll hold your hand and talk you through it.) BE GENTLE when you take them out of their trays. Try to avoid handling them from the stems or leaves, just handle the roots. If you break a stem, it will be a little while before it grows back.

Finish off with a good layer of mulch and water that baby in and you will have something beautiful to enjoy all season long!

April Showers Bring May Flowers

Claire GoldmanComment

As landscapers, we have a love/hate relationship with the rain. We know the plants and sod need it, and I’m so grateful for the beautiful, green glow of all the spring growth. However, our phones are ringing off the hook and more and more work is piling up. Scheduling is pretty much impossible. We just take it as it comes and do what we can in the breaks of the rain.

The chaos of the unpredictable weather and the amount of work to be done makes for some frustrating, tense moments in the office. This is where our amazing staff comes in. Most of our guys have been with us so long, they are family too. They usually chuckle in the back ground when we are a little snippy. (Charlie and I provide more entertainment for these guys than we intend to.) But, they also know when to step in and straighten us out.   

Case and point – this morning I was shorter than I should be while talking to Charlie and Nacho puts his arm around Charlie and says, “Claire. The love is patient.”

"Claire. The love is patient."

"Claire. The love is patient."

 

How can you NOT love these guys? I may not always love it when they set me straight, but I need it.

Yesterday, Nathan gently reminded me, “My verse of the day is Proverbs 15:1 - A soft answer turns away wrath and a harsh word stirs up anger”.  Later, when Charlie and I got home, he was laughing because Nathan reminded him of that as well. These guys are amazing and they keep us accountable.

So, in the midst of all this rain, I am SO thankful for the people we work with, for patient clients, and for the rain.

Claire’s Top 5

Claire GoldmanComment

It’s hard to limit my favorite plants to just five. But, since my phone is ringing off the hook, it’s looking like everyone’s getting excited about spring. So, here are my top five favorite plants for low maintenance visual interest:

5. Lenten Rose (Hellebores) – I LOVE a shade garden. There’s just something about the lush, green foliage colors that really gets me going. It’s difficult to get a large variety of flowering plants for the shade, but Lenten Roses are definitely up there as one of the best! They are a low growing, evergreen, herbaceous plant that blooms through the spring. Once you get them established in your soil, they require virtually no maintenance other than the occasional watering.  I won’t say these are deer proof, because I’ve seen things that look downright painful to eat get munched down to a nub. However, these are known to be deer resistant.

4. Hosta – while we are in the shade, let’s talk about my other favorite. There are so many varieties of hostas, you are sure to find one that suits the environment in your garden. There are blue hostas, green hostas, big hostas, and small hostas. (I’m thinking Dr. Seuss should have taken on hostas for a book.) Just don’t plant these guys if you have a deer problem! They are definitely a favorite of mine and of the deer!

Pink Muhly selfie! You know you are officially a plant nerd when…

Pink Muhly selfie! You know you are officially a plant nerd when…

3. Pink Muhly Grass – love, love, LOVE me some Pink Muhly. I love it so much that I had to stop and take a picture with it. It has such a fine, upright texture throughout the year and, in the fall, it blooms a really cool hazy, soft pink bloom. Pink Muhly loves the sun and does well in drought. It will tolerate some shade and it looks amazing planted in clusters.

2. Rose Creek Abelia – this little guy is a woody shrub. Abelias are seen growing wild in the woods. The ‘Rose Creek’ Abelia is a compact cultivar with the cutest little white/pink flowers. It blooms from Late spring to the first frost. The only maintenance it needs is just snipping a wild hair every now and then. Rose Creek can tolerate some shade, but performs best in full sun. Rose Creek is also deer resistant and a great butterfly attractant!

1. Limelight Hydrangea – Y’all. These are so wonderful. The show they put on throughout the year makes it totally worth it to deal with the fact that they are deciduous. They start with bright green blooms in the summer that fade into a rich pink in the fall. Some hydrangeas can be difficult to keep happy, but put these in the sun and give them room to grow, and you have an amazing show! They are great for cut flowers because they don’t wilt quickly AND (like we need any more reasons to love the Limelight) they dry really well!

The secret to any beautiful landscape is balance and variety. Get creative and have a little fun with colors and textures!

Back to the Basics

Claire GoldmanComment

My sister is a 5’ tall attorney in Atlanta. She can argue her way through absolutely anything. You don’t mess with her. She’s pretty hard core. She and I talk at least once a day, but probably more like 5-10 times a day. In response to my previous post about herbs, our conversation went something like this:

Laura: I really liked it, but I need more information. Like how do you plant herbs?

Me: I don’t understand. You stick them in the dirt and water them.

Laura: But I didn’t KNOW that. You need to TELL me that.

Me: I feel like most people would know that…

Laura: Well, I didn’t!

So, for all you novice gardener’s out there, this one’s for you!

Plants need four things to survive: soil, water, sunlight, and love. Yes, they need love. I promise they will perform better if you love them. This is not up for discussion. It’s the truth.

Some plants like more light than others, some like more water than others. It’s important to do your research and find the right location for your plants OR the right plant for the location you have based on the species requirements. However, once you have chosen the plant and the location, planting them is pretty much the same across the board.

Meet Will. He’s really excited that all his friends are at the beach for Spring Break and he’s here teaching his aunt how to plant.

Meet Will. He’s really excited that all his friends are at the beach for Spring Break and he’s here teaching his aunt how to plant.

Let’s start with soil. Preparing the soil properly is key. If you have beautiful, soft, black, soil, consider yourself in the minority and skip this part. For the rest of us who have to fight with red clay every day, there are a few things you can do. Make sure you dig a big hole about twice the width of the root ball. Once your hole is dug, score the walls of the hole with your shovel. This just gives the roots a little help penetrating the native soil. Take the red clay you dug out of the hole and mix it up with some good organic matter.

Here’s where the love comes in. Carefully remove your plant from the pot. I’m telling you, these plants know when you are being rough. No man handling. Be gentle. Love the plant. Give those roots a little massage.

They’ve been cooped up in that pot for a long time. They may need a little help to stretch out and grow properly.

They’ve been cooped up in that pot for a long time. They may need a little help to stretch out and grow properly.

Place the plant in the hole.  The top of the root ball should be flush with the top of the soil. Back fill around the plant with your native soil/organic matter mix.  Water it in really well (like, completely soak the root ball down) and add some mulch to cover the exposed soil.

Depending on the species’ water requirements, it’s always good to come back and check the soil with your finger. If it’s dry, water it. There’s no magic calculation. If the air is hot, plants need more water. They are actively growing and competing for the water. If we’ve gotten a good rain, you probably can wait a day or two. You have to adjust based on the environment. There will be a little trial and error until you really get to know your plants and your soil.

Once you get the hang of it, you can surround yourself with beauty and love!

Once you get the hang of it, you can surround yourself with beauty and love!

Go out, break a sweat, and get your hands dirty this weekend! It's good for you!

Herb-a-licious!

Claire GoldmanComment

I love food. Like, really love food. Cooking is therapy for me, as is gardening. So, edible gardens get me excited! If a vegetable garden is too overwhelming for you, try an herb garden. They are useful in SO MANY ways and super easy to grow!

Start with some containers placed in an area that you will see often. I’ve learned that gardens you don’t see from a main window or walk past daily end up getting out of hand because we forget. Yes, even mine. That doesn’t mean you don’t have a green thumb, it just means you are a normal, busy human!

Containers are ideal for herbs because some herbs like lemon balm and mint can be invasive and take over really quickly if you plant them in the ground. Containers also keep things manageable in a small space.  I keep mine on my patio since they smell so good and they are accessible from my kitchen when I’m cooking.

Here we turned an un-usable slope into a cute raised herb garden!

Here we turned an un-usable slope into a cute raised herb garden!

 

Some of my favorites…

 I love sage. Just boil water, put in a few sage leaves, let them sit in the water, add some honey if you wish, and drink up! Everyone in my family drinks this when they have a sore, scratchy throat and it’s so soothing.

 Nothing says summer in the south to me more than sweet tea with mint leaves in it, except maybe a mojito, but we’ll keep it non-alcoholic since it’s still before lunch. Just make your good ole sweet tea and grab a handful of mint leaves, crush them, and throw them in.

Refreshing!

Refreshing!

 

We use rosemary in a lot of dishes. My favorite use for it in the summer is to strip the leaves off the stems (you need a mature bush for this – and save the leaves for another recipe!) and use the stems for kabob skewers.

I will wrap this up with lavender. My lavender is planted in red clay, full sun, and no irrigation. It does wonderfully. My friend made lavender salt scrubs for Christmas. I love it for cuttings to keep by the kitchen window and smell. Oh – did I mention mine is planted by Charlie’s fishing boat? It has survived a few times of being crushed by our tacky “yard art”.

Yes, I’m the lucky lady who gets to look at this boat when I’m cooking or doing dishes. You know you’re jealous.

Yes, I’m the lucky lady who gets to look at this boat when I’m cooking or doing dishes. You know you’re jealous.

 We have to keep this monstrosity parked in our tiny yard because, heaven forbid, an opportunity to go fishing arises without adequate notice to drive somewhere and pick up the boat. That would be unacceptable.

 I digress. The bottom line is herbs are tough, fragrant, beautiful, and functional. Go out this weekend and get an herb garden started! You’ll thank me when you are sipping your mint tea (or mojito – whatever floats your boat) this summer!

Be a Blessing

Claire GoldmanComment

As I’ve been thinking of topics to blog about, my thought process has pretty much been along the following lines:

            What do my clients want to learn about?

            How can I make it short and enjoyable?

            How can I be SUCCESSFUL at this?

 Then, I went to church.

 Brother Charles said in his sermon, “We need to die to the dream of success and come alive to the reality of being a blessing to others.” Wow. I hear you, God.

 On this beautiful Monday morning as we all get geared up for the week, we are probably dreading going back to work, or saying good-bye to a spouse who travels during the week, or maybe you are a parent who doesn’t feel appreciated. We compare ourselves to everyone around us. We wish we had their car, or their job, or their house. Why is it so hard to find joy in our current situation? Why do we always feel like the grass is greener on the other side? I mean, if R&R Landscaping is doing your yard then your grass probably is greener…

 Seriously, though. Be grateful for what you have.

 Seriously, though. Be grateful for what you have.

 We were all given today. Let’s make the most of it! Find joy in blue skies and sunshine, the flowers blooming all around us, and the opportunities every day to put a smile on someone’s face.  How will you be a blessing to others today? Be kind, be genuine, and fill your words and your hearts with love right where you are.

 “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

 So, go outside and take a deep breath of this warm, fragrant air. And go be a blessing. Just don’t inhale too close to a Bradford Pear today…

NERD ALERT

Claire GoldmanComment

Hortie – a person who has a degree in horticulture.

*This is NOT a real word. In the horticulture community, this is how we refer to ourselves. We are all horties.

 Plant Nerd – this is not a degrading term. We horties embrace our inner nerd when it comes to plants. We are all openly proud to be plant nerds.

It is difficult to put into words the connection I have to plants, color, and design. I love that beauty can be found in every aspect of the outdoors if you are looking for it. I get so excited when I see a beautiful landscape, an old tree, a flower in bloom, a unique design concept, incredible architecture, etc. Some may even say I get overly excited. I can’t help it. When you have a passion, be passionate!

A few years ago, I went on a trip with some girlfriends to Charleston, SC for the first time. We had so much fun walking and eating our way through down town. I was the only hortie in the group. If you’ve ever been to Charleston, you know that for someone who loves all things design, this place is like Disneyland. As we walked around, I realized I had to do my very best to see every garden, every house, I wanted to see over every wall (side note – those walls were such a tease! I could hear the water feature, but I couldn’t see it).

I may or may not have tried to scale this particular wall. FYI – While Creeping Fig likes to climb, it is not easy to climb on Creeping Fig.

I may or may not have tried to scale this particular wall. FYI – While Creeping Fig likes to climb, it is not easy to climb on Creeping Fig.

I love these curves and the use of the vertical space!

I love these curves and the use of the vertical space!

Did I mention the window boxes everywhere?

Did I mention the window boxes everywhere?

When I returned home from my trip and reviewed my pictures, I had 164 pictures of plants, 2 pictures of food, and 0 pictures of my girlfriends. Not a single one. Clearly, I need to assess my priorities. The pictures don’t lie. My name is Claire Goldman and I am a plant nerd. It’s a good thing spring is around the corner!