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Look who turned 94 yesterday!

Our very own Expert Dottie! (Such a cute photo, thanks to her daughter Cindy for sharing it with me!)

Dottie’s doing well, living in Sedona, surrounded by tons of friends, charming everyone she encounters, as usual. She is staying as safe as she can during these crazy times (as are her friends). She’s receiving great care from folks who take safety very seriously. And of course, she has the support of her loving family as well.

I hope everyone will join me in wishing her another happy year around the sun. Leave your messages in the comments section, and I’ll be sure to pass them along to her.

I also hope all of you are staying safe out there!


Heyyyyyy, look who it is!

This is Dottie and me on her 93rd birthday last August. She looks amazing, doesn’t she?

Today, she’s doing ok but not great. She’s been in and out of the hospital the last few months. She’s struggling to keep her body in shape – it’s hard to make it cooperate at her age. Her mind is still sharp as a chef’s knife, and her sense of humor is unrivaled. But dang, that old body of hers is giving her fits.

I thought now would be a great opportunity for you to send her well wishes and hellos. Leave a comment for her, and I’ll pass it along. I’m sure she would appreciate knowing what she’s meant to you.

Let’s review a few key aspects: She volunteered for the Red Cross Disaster Services for 50 years. 50 years! They don’t even have a pin for that, because no one has ever served that long. She grew victory gardens during WW2, and learned to weld to make up for the shortage of available men during that time. She worked her whole adult life. She gave birth to six children. She’s proudly Irish and unmistakably charismatic. She makes people laugh so hard that they almost pee their pants. She’s smart, and has been taking classes her whole life to be even smarter. And she’s kind. She told me that everyone deserves respect, and she’s absolutely correct about that. She also served as one of our favorite Experts in my “Ask the Experts” column on this blog every Friday for years.

This lady is one of a kind. Let’s let her know how much we love her. She’ll say thanks back, so I’ll say it now for her: Thank you!

I love you, Dottie!

91. Wow. You’re 91 years old.

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Dottie and me

I could not be more delighted to call you my friend. You’re smart, you’re funny, you’re kind and compassionate, you’ve got style. You’ve raised wonderful kids. You gave years and years of your life to volunteering and helping others.

It’s like the moon conspired with the sun today to give you a total eclipse as your own special birthday gift.

You’re amazing! I love you.

Thanks for being you!

After the recent U.S. Presidential election, I vented about my sadness (which still hasn’t faded to this day) and promised to share more advice from our beloved Expert Dottie Correll. Because she’s awesome. And she’s 90 – she’s lived through a lot of shit.

I started this blog in 2009, so it was already after Barack Obama won his historic first-term. It was before I started the “Ask the Experts” column every Friday, so I don’t have written evidence of any of their opinions.

But I did ask them what they thought after the 2012 re-election of President Obama. I enjoyed Dottie’s answer quite a bit – it reflects her passion for this country.

(For the full Experts panel, with each of their unique takes on the question, you can access the the original post here.)

Here’s how it went down with Dottie.

I asked:

Q. Everyone’s minds are on the Presidential election next week. Would you please share with us what you’d like to see in America’s future?

Dottie’s response:


A. In my 87 years of traveling around this fascinating globe of ours, I’ve witnessed ups and downs, recessions and repressions and I’ve never found another country finer, more able to meet and cope with the challenges or ultimately more agreeable than the good old USA.  In spite of all the “ugly warts” and “hogknobs”, the USA always comes through!  When asked about the future of our country, what you see here is an eternal optimist and positive thinker.  An example I heard today:  Governor Christie and President Obama together discussed and put into action the help appropriate for the state of New Jersey to commence a speedy recovery from the devastation of “Hurricane Sandy”!  That’s a big beginning of the kind of cooperation we need to get this country back on the right track.

I saw it in action, when I have been a part of the recovery of many disasters the past 40+ years as a volunteer disaster casework supervisor with the American Red Cross—most especially in NEW YORK at “9/11”.

I spent a large part of my childhood growing up in the worst depression the country has ever known.

When the chips are down, and push comes to shove, Americans pull together and get the job done!  Check the history – We may make many goofs along the way, but we hang in there until we get it right!

I see a tough road ahead, but one the USA can travel with grit and determination and succeed.

That’s America!   The American way!  God Bless the USA!

Thanks Dottie! I needed that.



Please say HAPPY BIRTHDAY to our beloved Expert Dottie, who officially became a nonagenarian today.





90 years old is an impressive feat. To do it with style and grace is extraordinary. Happy birthday Dottie! We love you!

(photos courtesy of Cindy Correll)


Heeeeyyyyyyy, look who it is:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, it's a Sedona life

It’s everyone’s favorite octogenarian – soon to be nonagenarian – Expert Dottie!

I recently visited her in Sedona, Arizona to see her new digs. Nice views, eh? We took an early morning walk, and it was breathtaking.

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, it's a Sedona life

Once the sun popped up, the views became even more stunning.

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, it's a Sedona life

Of course, the company was even better than the views.

I neglected to take selfies with her – we got sidetracked. For those of you wondering, Dottie’s doing awesome. It’s hard to believe she’ll be 90 in a couple of weeks, or that a year ago around this time she was preparing for heart surgery.

She’s once again charming everyone around her and making tons of new friends. As is her usual M.O.

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, it's a Sedona life

We did a couple of laps, then sped off for breakfast and a busy day.

If anyone would like to send Dottie birthday wishes, I will happily pass them along to her. I’m sure she’d be thrilled to hear from you.

Hey, look who I found! It’s Expert Dottie! She’s an expert in life!

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Dottie and Me

She’s doing great, and was an absolute delight to see! Beautiful views and wonderful company.

Hello everyone! I hope all is well with you. This week I’m going to be picking up my blogging game a bit, as there is much to discuss – namely, firsts in the garden.

It’s hard for me to believe that while people in other parts of the country are still grappling with snow and sleet, here in Phoenix my vegetable garden is thriving. I’ll be harvesting when most of you are just beginning to plant. Crazy!

Before I get to my garden firsts (first flower, first tomatoes, first lemon), I thought I’d share some photos from a few weeks ago, when Expert Lewis and his wife Siri graced us with their presence, and prompted an experts reunion of sorts. (For new readers, for years I hosted an Ask the Experts panel every Friday on this blog – Lewis and Dottie were two of my esteemed experts, they are experts in life.)

Lewis and Siri were in the state for an American Red Cross conference, and decided to swing by Sedona to meet up with Dottie and myself. A good time was had by all!

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Experts in life

(Dottie, Lewis, Siri)


(Dottie, Lewis, Myself)

Sedona sure is a beautiful place:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Experts in life

…another photo with Dottie:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Dottie and me

She is safe and sound at her home in Sedona. Free at last, and on the mend. Finally feeling like herself again, pre-heart surgery.

For those of you who have never visited Arizona, Sedona is a special spot about an hour and a half north of Phoenix. Here’s a glimpse of what it looks like:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Dottie and me

It’s stunning. Definitely worth the detour if you come to the state to visit the Grand Canyon.

Yay for Dottie going home!

Hello everyone, and happy day!

Welcome back to the Good To Grow site, and thanks for being here.

I’m sorry it’s taken me a few days to finally roll out this Panel of Experts post. It’s been a busy past few days! I appreciate your patience.

Let’s get our festivities started right away. Hi Experts!


“Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiii Liza!”

You’re so cute! From left to right, that’s Andy Williams, Tim Thackaberry, EZ Ed Johnson, Dottie Correll and Lewis Casey. If you’d like to know more about them, please click here.

Here’s this week’s question:

Q. Tell us about the best pet you ever had.

Expert Andy Williams, you’re up first:

A. I’m a dog guy and I’ve been lucky enough to have two awesome dogs over the years.  Suzy was my first dog, a black mutt that wandered onto my porch when I was 5.  She made it until my freshman year of college.  She was attached to my hip all the time and very protective.  Then came Rambo, a salt & pepper mini schnauzer.  He was a character and smart as a whip.  He knew many words like “walk”.  When you’d say that he’d start hopping around and actually go into the hutch it was stored in and retrieve it to go for a walk. He’d spend most of his days sitting on the couch and looking out the front window watching the squirrels hop up and down the large maple tree in our front yard.

As an aside, the Sleepy Dog Brewing Co. in Tempe, AZ has a slogan that states “You never forget your first dog.”  And they put it on a T-shirt which I secured at the Flagstaff Beerfest a few years ago.  Every time I wear that shirt I remember Suzy.  So, they’re right.

A. I had a great cat a little more than 10 years ago, the first cat I really ever had. He was a mean little bastard, hated everyone except for me, for reasons I never really understood. I had never been a cat person before that, but that little guy was loyal. He hissed and scratched at everyone else, but was perfectly calm and nice to me. He was kind of a like a dog in that he followed me around, always looking for attention. He would even fetch little balls of paper I would throw to him. I’d wake up with him laying in the crook of my elbow or even sometimes on my neck. Could have done without the neck part.

Great cat. I haven’t had a pet of any kind since he passed.

A. Frankie was a little terrier, mostly black with splashes of white. He liked to follow me when I pushed my gold Stingray bicycle over rough dirt roads and hard red clay. He got into his share of mischief — with a skunk, with a porcupine, even a rough go with a rattler. There is no need in this space to bring up how he died. Just know he was a good dog, with a friendly disposition and a boy could never have had better company. 


Without a doubt, “Himalaya Harry” was the most delightful and interesting pet we ever possessed. We saw an ad in the paper that one of the airlines had flown in a plane load of baby Minah birds from the Himalaya Mountains to be sold at a large department store in downtown Cleveland. We had a family meeting and all agreed that we needed to add this to our animal world and what fun it would be to raise this fledgling and teach him to talk! Minahs are known to be the best mimicers of the spoken word!

Off the 6 children and I went to find this new family member. Mature Minah birds are a vision of beauty to behold. We were not prepared to find the fledglings looking like rejected sparrows. At any rate, the children made their choice and we made sure to find him a fine cage that would become his very own quarters, found a book that described his feeding, care and training and purchased the proper food.

In the ensuing weeks, while the children were in school, I would spend the recommended 15 minutes of “Talk Training” each day. At the end of 6 weeks, I thought we had been scammed and given a bird that couldn’t talk. All he would do is look at me and express: “AWWWWWWK” – A week passed and by then he had acquired his adult plumage and was a beautiful to look at but no talk. Suddenly, one evening when we had company over, he heard all this laughter and joined in and then began to talk. He repeated everything I had taught him, plus everything he selected to remember that the children said. He even imitated the voices of each of us, sang the songs we had taught him. He ended up with a vocabulary of over 200 words plus many songs and sayings and copied my daughter Karen’s laugh exactly. He also delighted in vexing me with calling –Mom, Mom!—sounding just like one of the children—-I would retort with—“Don’t yell – if you want something come here and ask me” Then foolishly I would realize that it was Harry because the children were all in school.

The funniest episode occurred when our neighbor across the street, relayed a story about another neighbor that we all thought of as that “Dirty Old Man”. Our neighbor was lovely to look at and delighted in gardening in her short shorts. One day as she was working in her flowers she heard this wolf whistle and a man’s voice saying, “What a doll—What a doll!” She was incensed and called her husband and told him that nasty neighbor was annoying her again and whistling at her and making unseemly remarks. Her husband immediately went across the street and read the man out for his behavior toward his wife. The neighbor just stared open mouthed and said nothing as her husband marched defiantly back across the street. As she relayed this story several weeks later, I recalled that on that particular afternoon, I had placed Harry in his cage outside on our stone table to get some sun. I recognized that was one of Harry’s favorite sayings that the boys had taught him. He would Make the wolf whistle and then repeat “What a doll” over and over again and then laugh uproarishly! Needless to say we had a lot of explaining to do to many! However, Harry brought us years of Joy and many memorable moments.


Liza here. Expert Lewis is unavailable this week. Let’s admire his adorableness:

And wrap up the Experts Panel.

Yaaaaaaay – Dottie’s back! Loved, loved, loved that story, Dottie. I can’t even imagine a Cleveland department store selling birds, but it was a different time then. Thanks so much for sharing your story!

Fellas, I enjoyed your stories as well. They each made me smile. Thank you for sharing your pet memories with us.

That’ll do it for this week’s Panel of Experts. The Experts will be back soon!

Up next, the answer to the current puzzler:

???Real or Fake???

Last week, I asked if these flowers were real or fake:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, real or fake plant puzzler

Let’s see how you answered:

Joseph Brenner of Texas wrote, “I vote real. And, barring another round of storms, I think we’re in the clear. The levees have been going down, finally.”

mr_subjunctive of Plants Are the Strangest People wrote, “Fake?

Claude from Random Rants and Prickly Plants wrote, “A very real and completely georgous claret cup cactus.”

jangogh61 wrote, “Real beautiful cactus!”

Carmen wrote, “Real. Cacti have the some of the most beautiful flowers I’ve ever seen….which is why I find it sad that stores sell them with fake straw flowers a lot of the times….they can’t compare to the beauty of the real things!!”

Jason from Garden in a City wrote, “Wow! As a person who really likes red and orange flowers, I’d say that is one spectacular plant! As for your quiz, I say real.”

Nancy Popp Mumptom of Phoenix wrote, “I know it is real because I have one like it in my front garden!”

That’s five votes real, one vote fake.

What’s the correct answer?

Maybe a wider view will help:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, real or fake plant puzzler

REAL! But personally, I think they look fake because they are almost too perfect. Up close, it’s hard to believe that something so delicate could possibly grow from something so harsh. They sure are spectacular, aren’t they? They’re blooming all over Albuquerque right now. This one belongs to a client of mine and it took my breath away.

Good job, everyone! It’s awesome that you played my puzzler!

To show you my appreciation for playing, I’d like you each to have the following prizes: The downward slide of June, one premier status, three cowboy hats, imminent summer, five gold stars, a lemon tree, one roadtrip to winningville, blue eye shadow, four avocado wontons, 13 1/2 bonus points, one dance contest, Mount Taylor, an ice cream maker, six bees knees, a trophy made of salami, one white picket fence, two skylines, William, four kiwi fruits, organic windchimes, the title of “plantiest” for the week, five sugar cookies, two gift cards, one game night, three parakeets, garlic salt, two compliments on your hairdo, plaid, a new propane grill, 7th Street, four diagonal lines, a peach sunset, and one water fountain.

Congratulations, and thanks for playing!

Up next, a new puzzler:

???Real or Fake???

Are these flowers real or fake?

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, real or fake plant puzzler

Think you know the answer, smartyplants? Leave your best guess in the comments section. You have until midnight MST (that’s 2a.m. EST) Thursday, June 25th, to cast your vote. I’ll reveal the answer and the winners after next week’s panel of Experts. The prizes may be imaginary but the link to your site and the glory of winning are oh-so-real.

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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.