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Fed up with winter:

Ready for spring:

Billy’s Long Bar in Albuquerque, on San Mateo north of Montgomery, south of McLeod.





The plants in the south-facing planters should’ve survived our weather just fine, but the irrigation got shut off, and I noticed too late. We had to clean up the planters by cutting away all the dead stuff (and avoiding cutting the Christmas lights). I think it’ll be ok because the plants will come back, and the patio bar is closed for the winter anyway.

It looks much better now, a fresh start to the new year. When the plants do start to sprout new growth, (usually it gets warm here starting in February, aka, right around the corner) there will be nothing holding them back.

(Billy’s Long Bar, on San Mateo north of Montgomery, south of McLeod, east side of the street.)

Remember the volunteer tomatoes at Billy’s Long Bar (on San Mateo just south of McLeod)? Some joker decided to decorate them for Halloween:

So I guess the tomatoes couldn’t hide from the beer drinkers after all. It’s ok – it made all of us laugh.

I’ll be back manana, hope to see you here.

Silly tomato plant, growing at the Long Bar:

I first noticed him back in late July, when he jumped to a foot and a half tall from out of nowhere. Had I accidentally planted him when I planted the other plants? Did a bird drop a seed? How did he get there? The manager and I decided he was cool, and decided to let him grow.

I thought about staking him a few weeks ago, but then I decided to leave him alone. He was growing just fine without me interfering.

Plus, I thought staking would call unwanted attention to the little guy. Beer drinkers tend also to be leaf tearers and stem breakers, so it was safer for the plant to grow away from them. Which he did. Because he’s smart.

Bars aren’t the most hospitable places for tomato plants. But he sure seems happy.

Whether the tomatoes ripen or not, I’m going to give them to the kitchen guys. They’ve adopted the plant as a bar mascot, and check his progress all the time. I think they like his obvious enthusiasm for life.

I like that he makes me smile every time I check on him.


Last week I said I was going to do Part 2 of the facebook questions post today, but I didn’t, and I’m not gonna. I didn’t get much (any) feedback on it, and I think it’s because you guys are too smart for such simple questions so it’s boring for you. I can understand that.

This blog was originally intended to be for people coming for basic houseplant information – like for my Thursday Plants 101 posts – but black thumbs don’t read blogs regularly. Plant people do.

So I decided to ditch the second part of the post. You’re welcome!

I’ll be back manana, hope to see you here.

Today I thought we’d pop in on Billy’s Long Bar and see how the planters are doing. Not bad, eh? Everything is filling in nicely. (Photos were taken mid-August.)

Back in May, we (Good To Grow: Professional Plant Care Service) talked with managers at the bar and decided to plant (smallish) perennials this year. Mostly this was for cost savings: Short-term savings because starting with smaller plants saves money and long-term savings because we wouldn’t be planting annuals every year anymore.

But perennials made sense for other reasons, too. The plants we chose are sun-loving and drought-tolerant, perfect for New Mexico summers. Also, if there is an irrigation mishap, the plants should weather it ok. (Last summer, we lost all the hanging baskets because someone turned the irrigation off and forgot to turn it back on again.)

Also, the perennials are beautiful. Some Coreopsis, Lantana, Dahlberg Daisies, Cherry Sage, Delosperma (Ice Plant), Sedums, Portulaca, lots of succulents and ornamental grasses. It’s a long planter, and deep, so there are plants of all sorts of colors, sizes and textures planted.

The hope is to keep the plants healthy and happy until mid-Novemberish, depending on how long it stays warm here in Albuquerque. They’ll partially die back during the winter months, then hopefully return to start anew in early spring.

It’s been really fun watching them grow this summer.

In the photo above, can you see that sticky-looking pink area on the black planter, just next to the Asparagus Fern? I want you to know that it’s not puke. If it were puke, I totally would’ve taken lots of close-ups and spent an entire post trying to gross you out.

It’s not spilled beer or a cocktail, either. It’s these weird semi-liquidy pink pellet thingies the guys sprinkled around the perimeter of the bar in an attempt to keep flies out. Gross. I believe it’s already been washed away…and I also don’t believe you can control flies in August anywhere in town.

I got sidetracked the day I was there photographing, and therefore neglected to photograph the volunteer tomato plant that’s growing in the planter, around the corner. I don’t know if it arrived by bird or by human or what – I just know I didn’t plant it. I haven’t yanked it yet because it’s funny to have a tomato plant growing at a bar, so I’ll try to remember to bring my camera next time I visit.

In the meantime, if you’re in Albuquerque, you should stop by Billy’s Long Bar and see the planters in person. Have lunch and a beer on the patio. 4800 San Mateo Blvd NE. That’s on San Mateo north of Montgomery but south of McLeod, east side of the street.

I’ll be back manana, hope to see you here.

Zee slate iz clean for zee new season¹:

Last summer, we used mostly red and orange annuals for the “Hellfire” theme – flowers so bright they looked like flames. It was hot.

This summer, a new plan. Colorful perennials, textured sedums, ornamental grasses, vigorous re-seeders. (Some examples: Coreopsis, Lantana, Portulaca, Dahlberg Daisies.) Nearly every plant was grown locally in Albuquerque’s South Valley.

Pretty, eh?

I’ll show you more photos as the plants continue to fill in and spread. Part of the maintenance will be controlling how big the plants get, so they don’t start tickling the customers.

You know how sometimes it can feel like you have a little good angel and a little bad devil sitting on your shoulders when you’re making decisions? Well, I don’t want to say that I had a little David from Desert Edge sitting on my shoulder, but I did hear his voice in my head saying, “Pick appropriate plants, think of the future!” Thanks David! I hope it shows that I’ve been learning from you!

Everyone else, next time you go to Billy’s Long Bar for a beer or lunch, be sure to let me know what you think of the planters.


¹ Irrigation issues over the winter, plus the extended cold snap, wreaked havoc on the roses and some other plants that had been in the planters. The Asparagus Ferns seemed to thrive but everything else was toast. The new plants should be able to withstand irrigation malfunctions for a few days without freaking out. Fingers crossed, anyway!

Hey pumpkins, happy Wednesday.

Happyish anyway. Last week, the hanging baskets I’d been caring for and deadheading all summer long got fried. Here’s a closer look:

Sad, isn’t it? Those used to be gorgeous Verbena baskets with bright red flowers. Now they are dust.

Turns out, the maintenance guy turned the irrigation system off, and forgot to turn it back on. Two days later, all the hanging baskets were dead and most of the flowers in the planters were, too. Only the strongest survived, like these Portulacas, which are barely breathing:

Plants and flowers cannot go without water during our late summer days. Even though it’s October now, the temperatures are still in the 90s every day. The hanging baskets never stood a chance.

I haven’t met the maintenance guy. I think that’s probably a good thing.

Hi pepperoni slices, and happy Wednesday.

Just for the fun of it, I recently planted an empty planter at Billy’s Long Bar with red, white and blue flowers.

It’s cute, isn’t it? I think so. The Fourth of July holiday is this weekend. That definitely inspired the color choice, but it wasn’t the only consideration.¹

These flowers will be here growing and thriving until around October or November. Will people still want to see red, white and blue in November, I wondered to myself. Then I thought, of course they will. They’re still planted in America no matter what time of year it is.

I keep hearing about how we are a divided America. Segregated like these plants in the back of my van, seemingly unable to see the value in each others’ being.

I understand, yes, there are lots of differing opinions out there, and lots of people like to shout their opinions in your face, lots of people are jerks, lots of people are incendiary. But that doesn’t automatically translate to a divided nation. Most reasonable people are able to have different opinions than the people in their lives, be it coworkers, family, friends, and still get along. That’s not the same as divided.

I can’t stop thinking of all the things we do together. Like ignore the World Cup (haha, I’m watching!). And worry over our oceans and lands. And wonder what life will be like for our grandchildren.

We’re a nation that likes music and the arts, gardening, and drinking on patios. Minor league baseball games (Go Isotopes!), movies, cars, animals, tweets and dinner parties. We love to laugh and dance, we’re not afraid of hard work. We can be smart, we can be smart-asses, we can be asses. We cling to hope to see us through each day.

It’d be cool if we had some sort of holiday where we could come together as a nation and stop calling ourselves divided before we actually become divided. Maybe celebrate by, I don’t know, blowing things up and eating hot dogs by the pool?

I think the best way to express national pride is by having local pride. I want customers to look at those flowers and think, “Hey, that’s nice.” Gardeners do this with their gardens. Businesses do it with their services. Restaurants do it with their cuisine.

It’s all about having pride, nationally and locally. Pride in our values, pride in our careers, pride in our neighborhoods. And changing aspects of our lives we don’t like. It’s our choice, individually, yet collectively, too.

It’s almost our birthday. I wonder, will this be the year we grow up a little and stop doing things to harm ourselves? The year we gain forward momentum rather being mired in the past? The year we discover the value and the pitfalls of personal freedom, and how that impacts our collective freedom?

If I were the one blowing out the birthday candles on America’s cake, I would wish for action. By that I mean individuals and businesses taking responsibility for their screw-ups, and fixing them instead of hoping that positive thinking will solve all the world’s problems. Action, meaning working toward solutions rather than bickering about the problems. Action, doing what’s right for all of us, rather than what’s easy or good for only some.

I’ll be back manana. Until then, happy gardening!


¹ Including the plant selection. I would’ve chosen more Petunias, maybe even thrown in some purple ones, but there was not much selection at Corrales Road greenhouse. They will be shutting down the business on September 1st. They are giving up – the big box stores have worn them out. It’s currently for sale in case, you know, you have some extra money and you were thinking of buying a plant nursery anyway. I’m gonna miss this greenhouse, and it’s great people including Ann, Chris and Mike. I’m planning on helping them out as much as I can between now and then, finding new homes for the plants.

Hi Fern fronds, and happy Wednesday! Thanks for coming to the Good To Grow site.

I’ve had the best of intentions this week, honestly! I have this thing where I really want to be professional, to publish something useful or funny every day, Monday through Friday. The occasional Saturday. Most of the time, I have so many ideas that I prepare each post days or weeks in advance. Sometimes, though, real life gets in the way of my best intentions.

Most of you regular readers know that I’ve been getting new clients in my small plant care business, Good To Grow (yay – new clients!). That’s plantastic and all, but it’s keeping me really busy.

Today, I was going to show you how I replaced the dead planters (pictured above) at Billy’s Long Bar (San Mateo Blvd just north of Montgomery) with beautiful new planters, like these:

Thing is, I just planted these last night, until well after sunset actually (because we had another triple digit day in Albuquerque). So this morning as you’re reading this, the planters have yet to be installed.

There’s a long, complicated back story that involves trying to find the specific plants that the owner requested – Bougainvilleas – and how after disappointing trips to four different nurseries I gave up on that pipedream and settled for Wandering Jews, Ferns, and trailing Coleus. I may or may not fill you in on that ordeal. Bottom line, I’ve been scrambling all week.

And stressing. I feel a certain amount of anxiety when I don’t have these posts prepared early. Again, I’d like to be professional. But then I was thinking about it last night, when the sun was setting and I was still repotting plants and flowers. I’m not getting paid for these posts – isn’t that the very definition of unprofessional? So why am I stressing?

Because I don’t want to lure you to this site with the promise of fun or learning, and then not have anything to say or to show you. Salary or not, my reputation for entertaining is still on the line.

Life has other plans, though, sometimes. It was well after 10p.m. before I finished with the plants I’m delivering this morning. That didn’t leave me a lot of time for witticisms or education. It actually just left me dirt-covered, cranky and hungry.

I decided I wasn’t going to stress about it. I can show you the transition from dead plants to gorgeous new planters any time.

Today, this morning, I actually have to go out in the world and earn a living. Highly entertaining posts will have to wait.

Still, to appease my guilt, let me show you a treat I found at one of the nurseries yesterday. I was at Corrales Road Greenhouse, and one of the employees, Mike, said, “Don’t leave without me showing you something cool.” So of course, I had to see! Whatever it was, I knew I wanted my camera, so I grabbed it out of the car and followed him to one of the greenhouses. Then he showed me something they discovered, something I’d never seen before:

Can you see it? A teeny tiny little nest for teeny tiny birds in the rafters?

It’s a hummingbird nest. An itty bitty nest with two babies.

Isn’t it breathtaking? Mike told me there are two babies, but I couldn’t get them to pop up and pose for me. I definitely tried, much to the parents’ annoyance (they were buzzing back and forth through the greenhouse). That nest – I can’t get over how colorful and beautiful it is! It’s like the birds weren’t content to lay their babies in a plain ol’ boring brown nest. This one had to be shades of red and orange. That’s style, my friends, bird style. Maybe they read Apartment Therapy, haha!

Have the last few days been a little crazy? Yes. But I still wanted to share something with you, even if it is a weird little birds’ nest.

I think that most of us who write on a regular basis hope to bring our readers something to make them smile…we have to so much to share. But I resolve not to stress on those days when real life takes over and I get too busy to prepare something exactly the way I intend. I hope my regular readers will understand.

I normally would say, “That does it for today’s edition. I’ll be back manana with something interesting for you to read,” but I think in the spirit of a low-stress day, I’ll just say, “happy gardening, broccoli flowers, until we meet again!”

Hello, green apples, and happy Wednesday. Welcome back to the Good To Grow site and thanks so much for being here!

When I first began my small plant care business, Good To Grow, here in Albuquerque, one of my favorite aspects of the job was to be privileged enough to get a backstage glimpse into someone’s office, or a first-hand look at what a restaurant was like during non-business hours. Other people’s jobs and lives are fascinating to me, and I loved, loved, loved that I was allowed to visit, even if it was just once a week and under the guise of caring for plants.

New Hanging Baskets for Horse And Angel Tavern

That was years ago. Several months ago, when I first began writing about plants in this plant blog, I wanted to share my love of these “behind the scenes” looks. And so I did. I took you on a search for a missing vase, I’ve shown you to the cereal factory,¹ I even took you on a parade of ugly plants.

But then a couple of months ago, I was seized with this “what if this is all so very boring?” feeling, and I thought about ditching my Plant Lady Chronicles Wednesday posts altogether. There’s only a handful of you adorable readers out there, and I don’t want to bore you! Please don’t stop reading! Haha!

How to Repot Hanging Baskets

I’d like to explain – it took me years of struggling with the term “plant lady.” Here was I, a writer who was working in plant care, feeling so privileged to be lurking around people’s offices, eavesdropping on their office politics while caring for the plants, then I got to leave. Great life, I know. But then I’d go to the car dealership client I had, and the used car salesmen would be like, “heeeeey there plant lady,” all gross and lecherous, and I would scream in my head, “I have a name, I am more than just a plant lady. I have a NAME!” As I told my girlfriends over the weekend, I’d get so mad, but I never said anything. I would smile politely and go about my business.²

Step One: Prep your container. Start by putting some potting soil in the bottom of your container.

That was then. I’m older now. The things that bothered me then don’t bother me now. That said, however, you can tell from the mere fact I write this blog that despite the lessons learned, I still have the need to scream to the world, “I am SOMEBODY!”

Step Two: Remove the plant from its growers’ pot.

We all have that in common. Everyone wants attention. Craves it. Needs it. If we don’t get attention when we are tiny humans, we’ll die. If puppies and kittens don’t get attention when they’re little, they’ll die. No one wants to die when they’re young – what a buzzkill, right?

Step Three: Tickle the roots. (Haha, sorry, I was photographing these one-handed.) By tickle, I mean break up the roots so they can spread and grow.

If plants in containers don’t get attention, they’ll die, too. I guess that’s why I feel so strongly about them. They can’t speak English, they don’t cry and can’t bark, but they need attention from a human to live.

Step Four: Press the plant and roots down firmly in the container, and add more dirt.

Throughout my career of caring for plants, I’ve met so many people who say things like, “I’ve got a black thumb,” or “I can’t keep a houseplant alive.” I started this blog for those people, to show them how simple it is to care for houseplants.

Over time, though, I’ve learned that I don’t really like those people. I mean, well, they’re lazy, mostly. Caring for a houseplant isn’t rocket science. If you can’t keep one alive, you’re just not trying. I don’t mean to offend anyone, but c’mon!

Step Five: Add mulch or moss on top of the soil to help the plant maintain moisture in between waterings.

Last week I told you the sad tale of how I lost five, FIVE, hanging flower baskets at Billy’s Long Bar, a new client. It was flower carnage. After I explained what happened (an irrigation glitch), I realized that my Wednesday Plant Lady Chronicles had morphed into “How I fix things after I screw them up” posts.

Somewhere along the way, I realized that meant I was writing these Wednesday posts for me now. So I could keep myself in check, so I had a clear understanding of lessons learned, so I could prevent future mistakes. So I could provide the best care I could.

Step Six: Water the basket thoroughly and enjoy.

Since the carnage at the Long Bar, I also had to replace seven, SEVEN!!!, baskets at the Horse and Angel Tavern. I didn’t take photos, it was too horrifying. It wasn’t my proudest moment, but I owned it. And I learned from it. And now I’m broadcasting it.

I’m not going to rely on positive thinking or finger crossing. The irrigation may fail again, but now there are systems in place at both new clients to prevent future flower deaths. I communicate with the managers, I check the water lines, I give each flower basket personal attention.

This website screams, “I am somebody.” It also screams, “I’m somebody who screws up and has to fix things.” And “Please don’t stop reading!”  Hahaha, that’s life for us mere mortals, right?

That does it for this Wednesday edition of the Plant Lady Chronicles. Thanks again for being here. I hope to see you back here manana. Until then, happy gardening!


¹ It isn’t a factory, it’s a cereal plant, but to talk about plants at the plant is confusing, so I call it a factory. They’re feeding the world, it’s not like your typical manufacturing plant.

² It was my livelihood – I was offering professional plant care, not high school plant care.

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About Me

Hi! My name is Liza. Welcome to my blog and thanks for visiting! I'm a Midwestern gal now living in Arizona, after many years of living in and owning a plant care business in New Mexico.

Plants are living, breathing creatures, and if they're indoor plants, they are 100% dependent on human care. They cannot water themselves.

I can beautify your home, office, or patio with plants and flowers. I have 13 years of experience growing plants, and friendships.

Please let me know if you have questions or if you would like help with your plants or garden. You can reach me at lizatheplantlady (at) gmail (dot) com or follow me on Twitter, Lizawheeler7.

All photos are mine unless otherwise noted. All content is also entirely my hard work. If you'd like to use any content or photos, all you have to do is ask. If you take without asking, you are a thief. And thieves suck. So don't suck. We have a deal? Good.