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 www.studiogblog.com

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 www.studiogblog.com

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 www.studiogblog.com

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. 



I have so much to talk about today — but first things first (we will get to the rest tomorrow).

I want to share my book’s promotional trailer with you. This was my first time being in front of the camera in a real way and I have to say it was simultaneously (and somewhat inexplicably) very hard and exhilarating. I learned so much and I have come believe that like with all things, practice is what is needed to get better (i.e. hopefully more video work in my future — my perfectionist tendencies have kicked in and I can’t wait to see if I can do it better)

So if you have watched this, I’d love to hear what you think.  Are you excited for the book?

I obsessed over everything — What to wear (I ultimately went with a less grubby version of what I normally wear in the garden – big work shirts, leggings, and boots in all but the warmest seasons), what to do with my hair (again stuck with what I do typically, a standard clip that sort of holds it out of my face until I start moving too much), if my cat could make an appearance (I’m glad he got a cameo in the final cut – he deserves it – he faithfully laid by my side through the entire writing of the book), how to stand, whether to look in the lens, just above, or somewhere else, how to look natural fake-doing all sorts of things I normally do for real – the list of my obsessions goes on…..  Seriously it is harder than you might think.  I’m just thankful I didn’t have to try to speak at the same time.  The sound part was actually the most fun and the easiest to deal with.  It was recorded in a sound studio which was a cool new experience I’d happily do again – plus I am amazed to hear my voice this way.  I have always disliked the way my voice sounds when recorded…but this sounded different.  Apparently (according to the sound engineer) this is how I sound when you take away all the distortion and extraneous noise.  My mind was blown, this difference, to me, is amazing.

There are a few people I really need to thank and give a whole lot of credit to – this could not have happened without them ….

The first is Kelly Fitzsimmons – she is an amazing photographer – she took stills during the video shoot and as well as lots of pics in the book — words cannot express my gratitude to her.  She is a close friend and her presence helped my confidence – I knew she had my back and would never let me look too stupid on camera (that is what friends do for friends).  If you are looking for help of this sort thing (or you just want awesome family portraits) you can get in touch with her through her website.

My dear sweet friend Jonathan Williams did the video camera work.

Perfection Studios is where I recorded the voiceover. (So fun!)

We filmed at so many locations – many didn’t make the final cut — but I am nonetheless so grateful for them putting up with us.

Softbox Films edited it all together into it’s final form with the oversight of the Timber press team.

And last (but most definitely not least) the music is by Bellas Bartok — a song called Asher (I love this tune – it normally has words and the words take the whole thing in a very different direction — it is simply fantastic).

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.

xo – Rochelle

I am still working my way thought the spring clean up and last weekend I focussed on the vegetable garden. It is a special kind of mess since, with limited time for actual gardening (due to book writing) through all of last year, much of it was left to be taken over by the encroaching weeds. I am considering a weed torch purchase (actually, I have politely requested this as a mother’s day gift) as I am not sure anything else will effectively deal with the profusion of weed seeds left throughout the gravel paths.  Without, I think it might be years before I see the end of the damage. Plus I am quite excited to imagine myself all Sigourney Weaver-like – flame torching my Alien weeds.


Have you ever had the joy of re-discovering something lost in your garden? Isn’t it the best when you re-discover a long-lost favorite trowel, or your sunglasses (I am currently holding out hope to find my favorite Ray-Bans)? Well, you can color me impressed over one of the discoveries amongst my weedy mess.  I accidentally dug up what I am quite sure is a still-living gogi berry plant.  Yes it is the same one that I planted 2 years ago – which was promptly mown down by a woodchuck and left for dead.  Then I ignored the whole plot for a year and didn’t even give a thought that some poor plant might be trying to live in that hell pit.   But the superhero gogi is still alive – keeping the faith and lying low beneath a gang of thuggish weeds.  Now that I have cleared the miscreants away, I keep pinching it to make sure it is green on the inside (I question since I did rip it out like a weed, and then hastily re-planted it once I realize my mistake) – it is even tolerating this extra injustice.  It lives – seriously, this thing deserves the T-1000 Terminator award — it just won’t die!

Proven winners begonias via www.studiogblog.com
But back to Mother’s Day — what is your stance on this holiday?  I’ve sent my mom and mom-in-law a beautiful selection of these (I’m trying not give away the surprise) – which I hope they will enjoy. But for myself, I am perfectly happy to have my family take me out to a lovely brunch (as they will be doing) but then I am on the fence about the rest of the day.

Do I demand they help me all day in the garden since it is ‘my day‘ — or do I let them fade away for as many hours as I want and take the time completely for myself?  I never know in advance how I will feel on the day — but this year, I think I will let the flamethrower (this the last time I will ever refer to it as a boring ‘weed torch’) decide….if the mothers day gift fairy brings me one, I think I might need to get lost in my action hero fantasies — really letting the power go to my head … I can already hear my mental dialog — “Back off crab grass, you’re terminated…”…<cue the flamethrower>…

images – Bloody Disgusting, Proven Winners

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

Sesame dregs fertilizer www.studiogblog.com

I’m filling this vacation week with activities that I can simultaneously call productive (for me) and entertaining for my little people (it is spring break, we are home, and I’m doing the working mom juggle).  A visit to H-mart on a Wednesday afternoon with the specific purpose buying dog bones is a stretch, I know — but I was optimistic that Wednesday at H-mart, might be like Saturday at H-mart – a wonderland of exotic asian grocery store samples of things we would never dream of trying – mostly because the labels on the package are in utterly foreign logograms and we have nowhere to begin on the journey of preparing this stuff or the foggiest idea what is inside.  But the samples, they let you know what is not only good, but you can also watch how they make it.  If you have an H-Mart nearby, go there on a Saturday if you can – it will be crowded and insane – but it is an excellent adventure.

I wish they had some sort of sample demo thing going on for the bag of Sesame Dregs that I bought on impulse (yes, I am the type of person that will buy something foreign because it combines the words ‘dregs’ and ‘fertilizer’ together and I just can’t ignore my curiousity. – plus it was something like $2.50 for a 5 lb bag).   There aren’t a lot of words in English on this bag – ‘Sesame Dregs Fertilizer’, and ‘Nitrogen Rich’ round out the selection.   I thought for sure google would hold a wealth of answers when I returned home with my prize.  But no.

I have found precisely two references to this product —

There is apparently a place called Winterdoon in Tasmania who uses it to organically build up their Tasmainian soil for vegetable growing. They list some impressive NPK #’s (by comparison to other organic materials).

And then there is this post about Korean Natural Farming Methods which uses them in a version of Compost Tea.

So there it is — the sum total of information about my treasure.  It is exotic and remote and I am a little unsure what to do with this bag here in Massachusetts.  I see experiments in my future….

But surely there must be more — who knows anything about Sesame Dregs?


Last summer was a bit depressing because I believe I saw one monarch butterfly. As the summer wore on, everyone started noticing that the monarchs had decided not to come to the nectaring party here along the eastern United States. We laid out the buffet but no one showed up for dinner. Because of habitat destruction, climate change, and removal of milkweeds with herbicides, the number of monarch butterflies have been drastically reduced. In response to the noticeable absence of monarch butterflies, many gardeners and butterfly lovers have been asking what they can do to help.

A group from the University of Kansas called Monarch Watch have developed a monitoring and habitat development program to bring back the desired population of monarch butterflies. Anyone can apply to have their garden become a certified “Monarch Waystation” through Monarch Watch. The waystations will provide the food and nectar that the monarchs need to make the migration from Mexico up through the United States and back again. After explaining this process at work, one of my co-workers asked, “how much does a monarch weigh?” No, these are WAY-stations, not WEIGH-stations.

Asclepias curassavica

Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens went through the application process of becoming a certified monarch waystation and we received our notification last week that we had passed the test! There is a ratio of nectar and food plants to garden area that has to be met in order to be considered a certified site. Our entire horticulture team spent the winter looking for which plants would provide the best plants for not only the monarchs but all pollinators. This is because our educational theme for the summer is on pollinators. We put a lot of effort on attracting the monarchs so we could become a waystation. In order to meet this certification, we are planting a ton of milkweed in the garden beds. Specifically, Asclepias curassavica in our containers and annual plantings. Asclepias curassavica is a tropical milkweed, originating from the American tropics. It will not be cold-hardy for us here in Maine so we will not plant it out until the soil warms, probably after Memorial Day. Monarch butterflies love Asclepias curassavica as a nectar source for adults and as a food source for the caterpillars. In our Bosarge Family Education Center and in our behind-the-scenes greenhouse, we are building growth chambers where we will also raise monarchs caterpillars with a veritable Asclepias curassavica salad bar. Once the caterpillars pupate, we will release the monarchs into the gardens for all to see and enjoy.

I cannot wait to see the garden this summer, ablaze with the oranges, yellows and reds of the milkweeds and the fluttering wings of the monarchs. It will be wonderful to see these butterflies back into the gardens and I hope the combined efforts of all of us working to bring their numbers back will pay off this summer and in the years to come.

Do you have an area of your garden devoted to butterflies? Are you adding any milkweeds this year to aid in the migration of the monarchs?


Images: Natural Habitat Photo Tours, Derek Ramsey and Chanticleer Gardens

landscape alphabet at the British museum by Charles Joeseph HullmandelYes! – I’d frame that.  I find the ‘G’ particularly nice and it reminds me of Colorado history and some of my favorite Laura Ingalls Wilder stories.  I’m also partial to the H – (I love a good bridge) and the W (maybe my parents would like that — it is the first letter of my maiden name) seems so pleasingly garden-y.

landscape alphabet at the British museum by Charles Joeseph Hullmandel

The full set can be seen at the British Museums website.  This illustrated alphabet was create between 1818 and 1860 by Charles Joseph Hullmandel  and includes a full set of 26 contoured landscapes.

landscape alphabet at the British museum by Charles Joeseph Hullmandel

These are my favorites — which do you love?



I found this really sweet bean tunnel over the winter and I’ve been dying to make one of my own ever since! April from Wahsega Valley Farm has an incredible backyard vegetable garden, and as soon as I saw this bare garden structure, I knew it would be a even cooler once the vines started to grow.

Read the full post