Garden Dilemmas, Delights & Discoveries, Ask Mary Stone, New Jersey Garden blog

Sow Good Services

houseplants on a sunny bay window overlooking a beech tree with fall rust colored leaves

Hello fellow readers, This is the first since spring I’m starting our chat from the writing chair in the library—not to say the screen porch won’t be put into play over winter. I especially love to bundle up and write when snow is puffing through the screens. But today, if I may share a surprise about sowing good services in the garden of life.

Tips about bringing your plants indoors 

In the preamble of the first hard frost, I scurried to bring the porch plants inside. It’s funny how I feel sadness over bringing them back in every fall but then thoroughly enjoy them once they are. I groom off the dead leaves and check for critters, and marvel over how much they’ve grown. Many of my houseplants date back decades, each having a story behind them. Two long-timers involve a rescue. Perhaps a column topic if anyone would like to ask Mary? :^)

a plant in a beige pot with large pinkish-green leaves

While it’s not the time to prune indoor plants, sometimes necessity rules.

But sometimes, necessity rules.

While cutting houseplants back is best to do in early spring, sometimes necessity rules. I heavily pruned an elephant ear, the same variety that served as an ambitious groundcover at my folk’s home in Florida, how I miss visiting them there.

As I chopped away, I apologized to the plant, speaking softly, assuring it would be fine. All the while, thinking of dear mom standing behind me in sweep-up detail in her later years as I “tamed the jungle,” she would say in gratitude.

I’ll continue watering them with rainwater or melted snow for a nitrogen boost (link to why below). But no monthly fertilizing from November through February. Like garden plants, indoor plants rest over winter, and fertilizers may add unnecessary stress.

She who loves a garden 
a hand holding a small book titled She who Loves to Garden

She who Loves to Garden

Speaking of Mom, I brought a tiny gift book upstairs to read before sleep. She who Loves a Garden is illustrated by Mary Engelbreit with no mention of the author, though only a few tender words oppose her charming illustrations of children in the garden and amongst nature. The heartfelt sentiments mirror my own.

Gardeners know we merely borrow our dear earth and nourish and respect it as we do all living things. Well, maybe not invasive pests that chomp the heck out of things, though they too, I suppose, serve a purpose—instruments in shifting to a new balance, perhaps.

The little book also shares how we gain lessons from the seasons and the rhythms of nature “and how life itself adheres to nature’s plan.”

Sow Good Services …in the garden of life 

This morning a page randomly opened to a drawing of a straw-hatted girl with red hair cropped to the chin tending to her garden of hearts. Above it in ruby letters with ribbon serving as a stylized S —”Sow Good Services; Sweet remembrances will grow from them.” With tears in my eyes, it’s just what I need to hear, feeling an emptiness as shared last week.

There’s a demure signature after the saying- Madame de Staël, her full name is Anne Louise Germaine de Staël-Holstein, born in France (1766- 1817). Historians believe she was ahead of her time advocating women’s rights, seriously stifled then.

a hand holding a small book with a handwritten note from MomThen came the best surprise.

The best came last. I flipped to the inside back cover to a sentiment written by Mom’s dated May 1999.

“Dearest Mary, May your garden of life always be a rewarding adventure. Love, Mom XXOO”

I wish the same for all of you, kind readers.

Garden Dilemmas? (and your favorite Podcast App.)

You’ll enjoy the podcast version of this story in Episode 36 of the Garden Dilemmas Podcast  (green button below or on your favorite podcast app). 

Why water with rainwater? Link to Benefits of Watering with Rainwater

About how my dear Momma Preferred Roots 

Link to more about Madame de Staël


Mary Stone, owner of Stone Associates Landscape Design & Consulting. As a Landscape Designer, I am grateful for the joy of helping others beautify their surroundings which often leads to sharing encouragement and life experiences. These relationships inspired my weekly column published in THE PRESS, 'Garden Dilemmas? Ask Mary', began in 2012. I dream of growing the evolving community of readers into an interactive forum to share encouragement and support in Garden and Personal Recoveries - seeking nature’s inspirations, stimulating growth, weeding undesirables, embracing the unexpected. Thank you for visiting! Mary

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