After years of yanking the pervasive (and invasive) red roots of bittersweet from my garden beds, I am highly paranoid about the re-introduction of this noxious weed.

But I can’t deny that it is simply beautiful this time of year.  I’m constantly seeing it grace all sorts of stylish tables,  and long strands are regularly used to drape over doors and wind and twist into beautiful seasonal arrangements.  I usually snort at the editor who commissioned this and how he or she clearly has no idea what a nightmare this plant can be if it takes hold.

bittersweet vineBut, I can’t deny the lure of those orange berries with their papery yellow casings and I can’t help but lust after those pretty twisty branches.

With a quick bit of reasearch, I’ve confirmed what I already knew –  it is not compostable (unless you relish that battle).  Disposal recommendations include sending it to the landfill (this is logic I don’t fully understand and I am not going to follow this recommendation) or burning.  Dilemma solved, I can decorate with abandon, and when it is time to take it down I can safely burn it in the wood stove.

So, before the snow hits later today, I will bring my pruners with me as I walk the woods and gather the makings of lovely decorations for the long holiday weekend.

In the first issue of PITH + VIGOR,  Joanne Neale shared four great planting combos for fall-blooming bulbs – but a couple combos hit the cutting room floor.  They were pretty great – but we just didn’t have the space to print them all, so here are the other two – for even more inspiration.

Fall- Blooming True Crocus (USDA Zone 4-6)

Crocus speciosus at and

This is indeed a relative of the common spring crocus (you know, the one that looks great until the squirrels eat the flowers), with both flowers and foliage similar in appearance. Most autumn crocuses come from Mediterranean climates and are only hardy in Zones 7–9, but those from the European continent can survive in Zone 5. The most widely available is Crocus speciosus (very large violet flowers, there is also a white form). Also Zone 5-hardy are c. nudiflorus (very large violet, tolerates moist soil and naturalizes in thin grass), c. kotchyanus (purple with a gold throat)  and  the pale lilac c. pulchellus (October bloom with spring foliage; a white-flowered form is ‘Michael Hoog’).

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This morning I dropped my car off to get new tires for the winter.  I’ve been entirely failing on a daily goal of walking 10K steps (yes, I am obsessed with my Fitbit and have been for a while).  So instead of taking the ride home from the shop, I opted instead to walk to a nearby cafe for breakfast (gathering at least 500 steps and that is where I am typing this now).  I will head to the library in a little while (gathering up a promising few hundred more steps along the way).

It is amazing to me how sometimes (and always during a walk or exercise) a flood of mental clarity can just begin to flow.  I wish it would happen more often (perhaps if I made that 10K goal happen more often…duh…but as we all know, easier said than done).  You know from my last post, I have been spinning on all sorts of things for a while.  But today a flood of clarity came to me while walking; I could hardly wait to put in my breakfast order so that I could sit down and put this to paper before I lost the train of thought.

This may seem odd, but I have been doing all these things that outwardly seem so accomplished and perhaps portray as sense of really knowing what I am doing, but inwardly I have been incapable of stringing them all together.  Outwardly, people tell me that I am amazing and that they can see this great platform that I have created, but inwardly I yearn for their clarity and fear asking them too many questions about what they see in me (that I can not) – because when I do, I worry that I become a bit heavy and morose and I wonder if perhaps I come off as both insecure and insincere (and I don’t believe either is really the case). I have simply lacked clarity and an ability to provide a framework around all the things I do that makes sense to me.  I do the things that come naturally to me, but feel I have been doing them without connection or an understanding of why and what my greater purpose is. Maybe it just that I have been an intense goal setter most of my life….but lately I have not been able to find my path with this technique. And this has been bothering me intensely.

But then this just came together…..

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You are going to have to excuse me while I find my mojo.
I am quite sure that it hasn’t gone unnoticed that I am not the same blogger that I once was. For a while now, I have been ambivalent to sorting out what has changed and what that means for studio ‘g’ – but I am feeling the like I am about to spin out of this weird spiral I have been in (or at least I hope I am) and I need to right myself, shake of the dizzy and the dust and start being a bit more considered.
Nearly seven years ago I started this blog to serve as an organizing place, a place to act out creatively in ways that my clients were not always allowing, and it was a place where I practiced writing daily. But things have changed.

I wrote a book – and I’ll be honest – that had a way of purging my system of a bunch of ideas that I had been juggling in my head for years. Little bits and pieces of the idea for my book would fall out on the blog all the time and I constantly had this notion that I was building to something greater. Now that the greater thing is done, I don’t have that same drive.

I also started a magazine, shut down that magazine, and then started a newspaper. There are parts of that journey that have been nothing but exhilarating and deeply satisfying but there are other parts that have been bumpy and painful and I haven’t felt comfortable sharing it all. I’m a bit of a heart-on-my-sleeve sort of person, so purposefully not talking about the bumps and bruises along the way is not only not ‘me’ – but it is also (I have found) a first class ticket to not talking – period. And that isn’t good. I’m just not particularly fantastic at saying only partially what I think, so I have been opting to not say anything at all…
So, while I still don’t think it is a great idea to dredge through a bunch of junk (that is over and done with) in this forum, I think I am finally arriving at a place where I can draw the proverbial (or literal) line under it all and move on.

But, now what?

Yeah, that is the million dollar question.

I wrote a book and started a newspaper – that’s what!  But, is it odd that I don’t feel like the have a clearest idea what is next?

I’ve been taking classes (most recently, the very inspiring blog boss), getting out of my comfort zone (I’m starting to give more talks, meet people through book signings and am generally emerging from my house-cave), reading (lots and lots of things that are simply fantastic and, bit by bit, are helping me find my steady), shedding (you should see the piles of things going to Goodwill!) and setting new goals and directions.  I am not done and I don’t know where it will end or what it will look like, but I am finally beginning to feel like an old groove could return and feel good again.

Obviously, there is PITH + VIGOR which I am in love with, but which is also a serious undertaking.  It is the kind of thing that if I am not careful, will consume me in the same way that book writing did.  I loved that process and might even want to do it again, but I came out the other side feeling spent and tired and by the end, I realized it wasn’t something that I could have sustained for much longer. Perhaps (probably?) that is completely normal – but I’d like to chart a different course for P+V  and the next time around.  This needs to be a steadier, simpler, clearer, and calmer sort of undertaking.  One which can grow organically and has a sense of balance and consistency that will feed me personally and which will build and feed this community over a long period.

I keep reminding myself to take deep breaths every time I start panicking about what needs to be done next.  That quick-hurry sort of mindset  is easy to fall into and I find it slightly destructive to many things I hold dear – not the least of which is my sanity.   PITH + VIGOR is about digging deeper into gardening and all the people and places and things that make it fascinating.  It is about connecting communities and people and building something big and interesting, and important.  I don’t think that what it is striving for is something that will happen quickly and hurriedly so I need to make sure I don’t let these tendencies sneak up on me.

I’ve been out and about signing books and telling people about the newspaper over the last few weeks and one question keeps coming up.  “Is it about flowers or are there vegetables too?” (Now imagine that being said with a sort of nasally-bostonian sort of accent…)   This inquiry comes again and again about the book and the newspaper equally.  Is it me, or is that the oddest question ever?  As if flowers and vegetables are the only two things that any sort of garden publication can possibly be about.   At first I found it startling to hear so repetativly…but now it reminds me that this is my goal.  There are so many more stories to be told and scratching the surface with a how-to, a top ten list, a product round-up or a regurgitation of the same-old-same-lame garden stuff just isn’t interesting.  I want to find stories that go way beyond the how-to and instead instill and inspire a romance and charm and cultural identity back into the practice of working the land – it is something that I think we all kind of yearn for.

So where does studio ‘g’ fit into all of this?  I don’t know completely, but I think that just sitting down to write again, here, is the start of sorting it out; re-opening the conversation and seeing where that goes.  This is, however, what I do know…

– I will be here more often, writing whatever is on my mind.  For now, any sense of restraint, self imposed limitations for topics, and editorial planning that might once have been here needs to be stripped away until I find my groove again. I can’t wait to experiment with ideas, gardeny or whatever, and hone some new skills – this is my forum for that and I am reclaiming it.

– Rodney and Erin will keep writing their weekly posts….because who can live without all that cool plant inspiration and those motivating before & after projects? (not me!)

– PITH + VIGOR is going to tell really cool stories that take time and research (I love research!!) and people to create.  Hopefully in doing that it will grow and spread.

– The rest will figure itself out.



Wax bulbs amaryllis by rochelle greayer www.studiogblog.comI am afraid I am probably a little behind for having beautiful blooming bulbs for the holidays — so I picked up a few waxz amaryllis at Lowes today.  Have you seen these?  I have to admit at first I hesitated to pick one up – it just seemed a little wrong to cover a bulb in wax and seal it all up.  But then on the other hand…they were already a few inches tall, seemed healthy, and I can’t deny a certain novelty….so I am giving it a try.  I think closer to the season, I might arrange them into a centerpiece for the dining room table – and the litle metal base will be helpful to anchor it into something bigger.

forcing bulbs puschkinia fritillaria and gallanthus
But not one to give up on my bulb forcing goals….I also picked up a bag of Puschkinia, a bag of fritillaria meleagris and another of convallaria.  I read over on Tovah Martin’s blog that she had good luck forcing fritillaria meleagris by simply keeping the bulbs near a cool window (around 50 deg F) and they forced beautifully.  I view this as fantastic news, as I am not keen on opening up space in the fridge for a few months to keep them cold.  But I might be able to sort out something in the attic or my chilly porch.  I also read that early blooming bulbs are easier to force and need shorter amounts of times of cooling….so I am hoping to have some good luck with the Convallaria and Puschkinia.

potting up

Forcing bulbs is not so difficult – but it does take time.  After planting up the bulbs, you need to simulate a cold period that they would have otherwise had outdoors.  This generally needs to last about 12 weeks – but some bulbs are longer and some shorter.  This means of course that my projects will not be traditional holiday blooms but rather Martin Luther Kings day blooms, and Valentines day blooms….perhaps even president’s day blooms. But whatever…

images via and rochelle greayer

This post is sponsored by Lowes.   I am not an employee of Lowes and all opinions are my own.  See the other posts in this series. 



At this stage in my life, party recovery takes a long time.  It is a sad state of affairs, but this one was worth it.  Tower Hill Botanic Garden played host to one of the prettiest launch parties I’ve ever seen (and I have been to precisely one book/ newspaper launch party so I speak with great authority on this).   We launched my book – Cultivating Garden Style and PITH + VIGOR in grand style – I really can’t decide what the best part was….

The cake? (By my very talented friend Sue who owns Harvard Sweet Boutique)

PITH + VIGOR Launch party cake by Kelly Fitzsimmons photography for Studio 'g'

PITH + VIGOR Launch party cake by Kelly Fitzsimmons photography for Studio 'g'

Or was it that my parents and sister flew in from Colorado and Virginia to surprise me? And they really did surprise me!! (that is them in the middle looking all proud…)

PITH + VIGOR and Cultivating Garden Style Launch party - By Kelly Fitsimmons photogrpahy.

Or was it the beautiful gardens and Tower Hill‘s Limonaia?

Or was it all the amazing people and friends who showed up to celebrate with me?  You guys are the best.

Or how about all these pictures? – taken by the most excellent Kelly Fitzsimmons.  (Woe – there is never a good shot of the photographer!!)

What a whirlwind it all was. This all went down last Wednesday – I think I started feeling energetic again around Sunday afternoon….and here it is a whole week later before I get the post up. C’est la vie.

It was quite an event.  I could not be more grateful.

I hope you enjoy the pics as much as we all enjoyed the party.


all images by Kelly Fitzsimmons


It feels so good to have the pergola mostly finished (we still have to stain it but we’ve relented…that just isn’t going to happen until spring).  We had a little gathering of friends and hastily put up some lights so that we could see at night and so that we had a little ambiance.

by rochelle greayer

Without a doubt these lights did the trick, but we found them to be incredibly fragile and in the course of stringing them up and despite our extreme care, quite a few broke.  These will continue to serve the purpose until they have to be taken down for the staining….but I worry that they will look even more shoddy by spring and I am certain they will not fair well in the taking down and putting back up.  by rochelle greayer

So I am shopping for something with the same warm light and that imparts light that is helpful for evening activities, but isn’t too harsh, isn’t too bright or not enough, and is just a little different.   I love little white twinkle lights, but I’m desiring something else.   by rochelle greayer

So, I’m excited to find these:

lighting for the patio

1. Brown Edison Bulb String Lights – These will I hope be much more durable and interesting than the fragile balls that I used.  I think a few diagonal swags across the width of the structure will be perfect.
2. Black Chandelier String Lights  – Can I wrap more lights around this fixture (I really want to beef up the base)?  I hope so — would be so cool to hang two of them.
3. Copper Wire String Lights – I discovered these last winter and they are great for decorating plants that can’t otherwise hold lights (without damaging them).  FWIW, it isn’t a good idea to wrap trunks (like in this product photo – unless it is for a short period of time).

I’m debating if this will all be too much?  And if it is, which would I cut? hmmm….

Images by rochelle greayer

This post is sponsored by Lowes.   I am not an employee of Lowes and all opinions are my own.  See the other posts in this series.