You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Liza Wheeler’ tag.

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

Hello future Februarians, and happy Friday!

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

Yay for Fridays! Yay for vacation eves! Yay that you’re reading this!

Most Fridays, I gather my Panel of Experts and lob questions at them, which they answer based on their unique perspectives on the world. They’re charming and funny, and I love each of them to pieces.

Also on Fridays, I roll out a plant puzzler after the Panel. Today, I’ll reveal the answer to last week’s puzzler and hand out prizes before posting the new puzzler.

I hope you enjoy all of it!

Before we get started, let’s say hi to the Experts. Hi everyone!


“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.

Today, just for curiosity’s sake, I decided to ask the Experts the following question:

Q. What’s your favorite U.S. city and why?

Expert Andy Williams, you’re up first as usual:

Do I have to pick a favorite?  Really???  I mean c’mon.  I have 2 that pop into my head for different reasons.

I love San Francisco.  It has all of the culture, and then some, of a special city.  Cable cars, Pier 39, Alcatraz, the Golden Gate, Lombard St., Chinatown, PacBell Park, Sausalito, awesome restaurants, intriguing folk on the streets, close to Napa and Sonoma.  It is very easy to get around, no car is needed, and the BART gets you to the airport, Oakland and elsewhere.  What a great “American” city!

I love Indy.  Home of the fastest and most storied race course in the world.  Everything else you need is downtown including Lucas Oil Stadium, Banker’s Life Fieldhouse, St. Elmo’s Steak House, Harry and Izzy’s, the Slippery Noodle (Indiana’s oldest bar), Claddagh’s Irish Pub, Howl at the Moon Saloon, and many, many more.  I recommend staying at the Courtyard by Marriot downtown; walking distance to everything and the best bargain!

I’ve been all over this wonderful world and these two cities are as good as any, anywhere.

While I have a lot of love for New York, Boston, Chicago, LA, and San Diego, San Francisco is my favorite American city. The food is fantastic, there is always a lot to do, and the whole vibe of the place is great. I even kind of like the foggy weather. San Francisco also has a lot of great hotels and bars in the middle of the city, and you can get to all of it pretty easily. Throw in clean, efficient mass transit and you’ve got everything you need!

As a native of Houston, TX, I am obligated by law to say that Dallas is my least favorite American city.

A. There is the warm embrace of Honolulu. There is the stunning cool of Anchorage. Nashville and Austin lure with music. New York City has energy. But I am a son of Albuquerque. We have faults, certainly. We have not quite shaken that Wild, Wild West attitude. But generally we are laid back, thoughtful, creative, inquisitive and hopeful. Not a bad place to live a life.


Liza here. I haven’t heard from Dottie. She may be having computer problems. Or maybe she’s out dancing. If she sends something in later this weekend, I’ll update the post. For now, let’s admire her adorableness:

And move on to Expert Lewis Casey. Lewis, what say you?

A. Snow glorious snow, rain glorious rain, moisture glorious moisture, Albuquerque a fine wet town now and we love it here despite some idiots, morons and others of poor moral bearing, it is a good place to live. Lots of good people and beautiful landscapes.  When we get water from the sky we are happy and this year we have been blessed with some and it makes us smile.

Awesome, everyone! Great answers. I enjoyed reading all of those opinions.

What about you, readers? Want to chime in with your favorite city? There are some really great places across this beautiful country. If you’d like to share your thoughts, please do so in the comments section.

Experts, thank you again for your hard work and continued excellence. And thanks for being wonderful people!

Because I’ll be out of town for a few days (followed by busy catch-up days), the Experts will have next Friday off. They will return two Fridays from now. Thank you for your patience.

Let’s move on to the current puzzler:

???Real or Fake???

Last week, I asked if this Jade real or fake:

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

Let’s see how you answered:

mr_subjunctive from the Plants Are the Strangest People site wrote, “Well that one’s pretty clearly real. Though I can’t say I’ve ever seen a jade that looked quite like that.”

Ivynettle from Letters and Leaves wrote, “I’ll say real as well, though like mr_s I haven’t ever seen one quite like it.”

Joseph Brenner of Texas wrote, “Real. The difference is age and training by a bonsai artist, something I saw much more of in Southern CA, where I grew up.”

Claude from Random Rants and Prickly Plants wrote, “Completely real and totally cool… i want.”

Darryl Cheng, who has this cool houseplant tumblr, wrote, “I’ll say real but it’s unfortunate how few leaves are on this specimen.”

Athena wrote, “Looks real to me! A fake one wouldn’t have so many missing leaves”

Nancy Popp Mumpton of Phoenix wrote, “Real. It is a Crassula ovata (Jade Plant). I wonder if it is the variety that has miniature leaves. Such a nice old plant!”

That’s seven votes real, zero votes fake.

So what’s the correct answer?

Let’s take a closer look:

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

I’m not sure if that photo clarifies the question, but the answer is that the Jade is definitely REAL. And really awesome. It’s also very old, as some of you readers astutely noticed. I’ve seen a few Jades get this big – it takes quite a long time.

The plant (do we start calling it a tree due to its size?) is located in the library of a school in Santa Fe. I asked who cared for it, and was told one of the librarians had the green thumb. The loss of leaves could be from pesky students knocking them off, or from occasional underwatering over time. Even with their loss, it’s an impressive Jade. It couldn’t possibly be fake because I’m sure whoever manufactures fake plants lacks the imagination to design such a specimen. You’d have to be creative to come up with something like that.

Great job everyone! You all nailed it. That is very cool and unsurprising, given your sophisticated plant knowledge. Congratulations!

To show my appreciation for you playing, I’d like to award you each the following prizes: The last days of January, three snow angels, five congratulatory exclamations, one wall sconce, four birds of a feather, 2:15pm, nine lady bugs, one bronze trophy, dulce de leche, two umbrellas, an island fedora, Carla, six icicles, a new gazebo, two snow days, Rio Rancho, three wishes granted, pale blue, four bejeweled seashells, curly hair, six hugs, one chicken pot pie, a half dozen sea turtles, Wes Anderson, several superhuman feats, a crystal vase, walkie talkies, seven, three alliances, two crocus flowers, one dartboard, contemporary architecture, a platter of lips, six tokens of appreciation, four beats, one bowl of chocolate mousse, 98th Street, three light switches, one grove of Palm trees, the letter K, a new bowling ball, four compliments on your outfit, two alt-rock songs, mascara, and one leather briefcase.

Congrats again! And thanks for playing!

Up next, a new puzzler:

???Real or Fake???

Are these flowers real or fake:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, are these flowers real or fake?

Think you know the answer, smartyplants? Leave your best guess in the comments section. You have until midnight MST (that’s 2a.m. EST) next Thursday, February 5th, to cast your vote. I’ll reveal the answer and the winners two Fridays from now. The prizes may be imaginary but the link to your site and the glory of winning are oh-so-real.

I’ll be back every day with pre-scheduled Quirky Albuquerque posts for the next week – check back and have a look at our weird city!

Hello MarchMadnessersandessesandothers, and happy Friday!

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

Oh lovely Friday, we salute you. How? By goofing off in your honor.

Before we get started with the silliness, our beloved Experts on are on a much-deserved break, so let’s admire their adorableness:


And then move on to the plant puzzler:

???Real or Fake???

Last week, I asked if this geranium was real or fake:

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

Let’s see how you answered:

Steph from Indianapolis wrote, “REAL…you won’t stump me this time!”

Alissa from South Dakota wrote, “congrats on the win :P . I am going with real this week!”

Martha from Plowing Through Life wrote, “This looks real to me!”

Dave from Our Happy Acres wrote, “You stumped me on the Ficus for sure! That’s gotta be the weirdest faux tree I’ve ever seen. As for the geranium, it looks like a painting to me, or a print. Is that real? I’m calling it an artistic rendering of a real geranium.”

Tina from Canada wrote, “Pretty, perfect, symmetrical, summery AND REAL. My mother-in-law loves fake blooms to “add” to her real plants. Her whole kitchen is filled with tchochkies and little “displays” of plants, photos, even on the kitchen island. She actually does have a fake geranium that looks quite good for fakin’ it.

Who”designs” fake flowers anyway? Maybe it’s like this: “See ya later honey! Just going to the office. Frank wants that proposal for a fake gardenia for Friday and I haven’t got the quote on the fake soil yet from Bob.””

Hahahahaha! Funny lady, Tina!

Heather Hjortnaes from Wisconsin wrote, “Real geranium. The curling , browning leaf in front and the remnants of budding on the flower are evidence enough. Only the pungent smell would seal the deal…. iPad 4’s next feature?”

That’s 5 votes real, 0 votes fake, and one vote a painting.

What’s the real answer?

Let’s take a longer view:

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

Real! And very cool for blooming indoors!

Steph, you were first with the correct answer, which makes you the best answerer. Well done! For being so speedy, you’ve earned the title of “Zoom, Zoom, Zoom, Zoom, Zoom, Zoom, Zoom, Zoom, Man, I’m So Fast Those Indy Cars Ain’t Got Nothing on Me, I’m a Blur, Check Me Out in Your Rearview Window, That’s Right, I’m Awesome and I’m Very Beautiful and Funny, Too.” Congratulations! You may multiply all the prizes by electricity!

You’re all winners in my book. To show my gratitude for you playing, I’d like to award each of you the following prizes: Free basketball for the next three weekends, two hooply hoops, 16 1/2 bragging rights, extra brackets, an almond milkshake, three moon-walking piglets, one legend, amazing gravy, nine twinkly toes, 14 bonus points, an A+, a bouquet of tulips, one feathery poem, two wins, and your very own marching band. Congratulations! Thanks so much for playing!

Up next, the new puzzler:

???Real or Fake???

Is this plant 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 or on my facebook wall. You have until midnight next Thursday, March 28th, MST (that’s 2a.m. EST) to cast your vote. I’ll reveal the answer and the winner(s) after next week’s panel of Experts. Remember, the prizes may be imaginary but the link to your site and the glory of winning are oh-so-real.

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

Hello my fellow Earthlings, and happy Friday!

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

I’m going to have a special All-New Ask the Experts panel for you in a minute. If you want to skip ahead to last week’s puzzler, in which I asked if this plant was real or fake:

You’re welcome to do so, but I hope you come back and read the Experts panel.

I decided to give the Experts a free week, to talk about whatever they wanted. Their answers have humbled me. They are thoughtful, insightful, intelligent and inspiring.

I’m no longer going to call answers correct or put W’s in their Win columns. This group of people I have here – my childhood friend Andy, my wonderful friend Thack, longtime friend and fellow writer EZ, fellow American Red Cross Volunteers Dottie and Lewis – they’re all winners. They win because they volunteer in their communities, have boundless Patriotism, are kind and compassionate human beings. They don’t need me to tell them they’re winning – they see it in the faces of the people they help and love.

Let’s take a look at them in all their sunflowery glory:


So cute!

From left to right, that’s Andy, Thack, EZ, Dottie and Lewis. If you’d like to know more about them, please click here.

We set our Friday questions months in advance, so when I gave them a free week, I wasn’t really thinking about 9/11. But as it turned out, the anniversary was on everyone’s minds when they submitted their answers.

I hope you enjoy their responses as much as I did.

Q. Please talk about whatever you’d like:

A. Hello plant- and Liza-following world.  (After all, I know you aren’t here for me as evidenced by your prior subscription.)

Today is the day each year when I’m a bit angry and frazzled by the events of 9/11/01 and beyond.  For on that day and thereafter, lives and freedom were compromised.  There are a lot of rats in the world and on a % basis, I’d say the Middle East is much higher than most.  They hide behind their masks, brandishing weapons, burning our flag but yet escape to caves like cockroaches when approached.  Can you sense the anger?  It gets my blood pressure up that’s for sure so I’ll move to the more moving side of things.
Just remember 9/11.  Remember how you felt.  Remember the fear and uncertainty.  Remember the destruction of lives, freedoms and money.  For it was that event that prompted 2 wars; 1 to remove Saddam from Iraq and the other to rid the planet of Al Queda and all their radical dipshits.  The wars have costed trillions of dollars and thousands of American lives.  Wonder why the debt is so high, look no further.  Money that could have went to creating jobs for this country’s failing infrastructure.  Ever look at a bridge you are going under lately?  If not for the weeds you may see their cracks.  And how are your freeways, by the way?  Meanwhile, the TSA is aimlessly going through an old lady’s purse and either feeling her up or x-raying her.  Who’s the enemy again?  I’m afraid it is us my peace and plant loving friends.  Since I don’t have any, I fear for your children and the absolute mess they are going to inherit.  They should be renamed “Generation Debt”.  See why this makes me angry?
It is beyond me how so many of us, divided and conquered by our “leaders”, are letting this crap go on and on and on.  We should be pitching for the country to be improved, freedom expanded through easier transportation, energy both explored and innovated to become far less dependent upon the cockroaches.  And just how does this relate to plants, you say?  Well….think of all of the pretty trees, flowers, grasses, landscaping and improvements would come through a methodical approach to this improvement!  Think of the increased oxygen generated and less carbon monoxide.  That would make us breath easier and sleep better, wouldn’t it?  And think of all of the work the greenhouses would have and how much real estate would be devoted to growing vs. nothing.  So the way I see it, 9/11 stole from the plant world now, didn’t it?  And that’s why you are here, to explore the plant world.
So remember 11 years ago.
P.S.  The Diamondbacks won the delayed World Series that season too amidst moving renditions of The Star Spangled Banner and God Bless America for 7 days in Oct. and Nov.  God Bless America.

A. I’m a lousy storyteller and I don’t do well without structure. I’m an insurance executive, for Christ’s sake, how much creativity do you think I possess? I spend all day writing code and/or looking at numbers, neither of which is conducive to free-form writing.

It is political season, and I do have an open forum, so I’m going with political plea. Please vote to re-elect Obama for one reason, and one reason only: the Supreme Court. The prospect of spending the rest of our lives with an overwhelmingly conservative court is too much to bear, and would fill my remaining days with sadness and anger. Please help me avoid that fate.
I won’t even go into what a schmuck-filled ticket Romney-Ryan is, or how anyone who wants to dismantle the New Deal should be automatically dis-qualified from holding office. Because those are personal opinions, unworthy of this forum. Another example would be if I were to say that the chair I’m sitting on right now has more charisma than Mitt Romney. That’s a purely ad-hominem attack, and I’m better than that. Or if I were to say that the right-wing of the Republican Party (which is probably redundant at this point, it’s the only wing they have) is incredibly dangerous for this country and should be repudiated in the strongest possible terms, and their supporters deported somewhere more friendly to their views. That would be wrong and over-the-top.
So focus on the Supreme Court thing. That stuff matters.

A. What comes to mind is this prayer:

Give to us: Understanding that puts an end to strife; mercy that quenches hatred; and forgiveness that overcomes vengeance.



 Whenever, our esteemed leader, Liza, gives us free reign to explore a subject for the week, my mind quickly scans all the humorous episodes occurring in my considerable years on this planet.  Somehow, humor seemed inappropriate – this week, remembering the horrific “9/11”  tragedy.  I was fortunate to be able to respond as an American Red Cross Volunteer Disaster Casework Supervisor.  It proved to be one of the most challenging experiences of my life.  Never! have I ever seen such devastation and horror, and at the same time witnessed unparalleled heroism, self sacrifice, strength of  character and dedication to duty as demonstrated by all the first responders and New Yorkers as well.  My daughter Judy asked that I write a memoir of my experience.  You will find it attached to this message.  I hope it will be meaningful reading for you.  Dottie

DR 787

The American Red Cross – the “Miracle Network”; the organization that makes “MIRACLES’ happen.  As a volunteer of some 30+ years, I am still amazed and stand in wonder and awe at what an organization, comprised of 95-98% volunteers, is able to accomplish in responding to human need in the time of crises! A disaster occurs –a call goes out to Red Cross and within minutes volunteers respond.  In a national disaster, a viable, responsive “corporation” is established within 24 hours to answer the immediate emergency needs of the disaster victims.  Volunteers, coming from all over the country, with varying abilities, training, skills, ethnic background, gather together to form a workable service network and together with the guidance from a dedicated, professional Red Cross staff, they get the job done!!!!  The only common denominator, “a caring and love for all people”.  A need to be there and help! The miracle of the American Red Cross network begins to unfold.


The call comes from national headquarters for the staffing personnel needed. Each chapter responds, as they are able, with their personnel.  I was working at Oregon Trail Chapter Red Cross headquarters, helping “out-process” the volunteers from our chapter.  Our chapter was overwhelmed with offers of all kinds from the public.

Our blood donor program was swamped with persons wanting to give blood.  I helped there for a day answering phones.  Trying to persuade folks to delay giving their blood for a week – a month, became very difficult. (blood only keeps for 30 days).   Everyone wanted to help some way and NOW!!!!!!!!!

The Oregon Trail Red Cross volunteers are much the same way.  They are immediate responders!!!! Our Disaster Services Human Resource (DSHR) director was overwhelmed with work, which is why I elected to stay in the office and help before responding to the disaster site. Finally, the day came when I felt comfortable leaving – I was anxious to help at the disaster site as well.  I was assigned to DR 787 in New York City.

You know very little of where you will be, or what your exact task will be.  We all try to be proficient in 3 areas, so that our assignments can be flexible.  My areas are Family Service, Damage Assessment and Mass Care. My preference is Family Service – I am a Case Work Specialist.  This means, in essence, that I have not only had training as a caseworker, but also am capable of supervising and helping other caseworkers.

We make our flight arrangements ourselves, through a national network – this time it was Delta in Atlanta.  Armed with reference material – “our good old 3045” – and maps of the area, we travel to our designated assignment.  I was fortunate to have a non-stop flight to JFK.

I was shocked when I arrived at the Portland airport, to see hundreds of people in line at 5:30AM.  They were part of the contingent of “FLIGHT FOR FREEDOM” put together by the city of Portland to show New York we loved them.  The residents of Portland wanted to demonstrate a unity with the New Yorkers, and to let them know we were sincere in our caring, and desire to help jump start their economy.  The day was October 4th.

The “Flight for Freedom” people were going to New York to spend money and support the theaters and hotels and all the people of New York.  It was a privilege for me to fly with those people!  I was so proud of my city.  My seat partner turned out to be a reporter from one of the local Portland papers who had been sent to cover the story in New York as well as the Freedom flight.  He was a fine young man and we talked all the way to New York.  He was also very interested in the functions of the Red Cross and The Red Cross Volunteers.  He interviewed me as we flew across the country and asked if he could speak with me when I returned.  I was the only Red Cross person on the plane that I was aware of.

Upon arrival at JFK, as I was waiting for my luggage to appear, someone (noticing my ID) shook my arm and said, “ Wow – are you are Red Cross person?  Boy! Am I glad to see you!”  She (Barbara Brandt) was a volunteer, who had just arrived from Arizona, and was looking for any other recent Volunteer arrivals.  We are to call in, upon arrival, to a designated local headquarters, and are then given instructions at that time, as to how to proceed.  Barbara had already called in and was told to look for any other volunteers around and grab a cab to Headquarters.  She and I shared a cab to the American Red Cross Headquarters, which was at Cadman Plaza in Brooklyn, NY.

We arrived at the headquarters’ door where there was heavy security and presented our ID, dragging our various pieces of luggage with us. Together, we went through the “in processing” procedure, which consists of going through the various functions, such as:  physical health, mental health, logistics, communications, orientation and last but not least staffing, where we received our hotel and work assignments.  This took about 1-2 hours.

My new friend Barbara and I were assigned to Service Center #1 in Greenwich Village, which was about 1 mile from Ground Zero.  We were to stay in the Park Central Hotel on Seventh Ave.  After our processing was complete (it was then about 7:00PM and I’d been up since 3:00AM), we had to drag our suitcases across a park to an area where buses were waiting to take us to our new, temporary home.

Barb and I met another woman named Caryn from Chicago who had the same assignment as we did.  We struck up a friendship with her, as we waited in line at the hotel to check in.  Fortunately we all received room assignments on the same floor, and so formed the “The Three Musketeers.”

It is truly amazing how quickly one forms alliances in a disaster situation.  Complete strangers bond very quickly, if they are fortunate enough to meet congenial people. We each entered our assigned rooms, agreeing to meet for a quick bite somewhere in 15 minutes or so.

If you can imagine it – after such a long day – we walked to Times Square, which was about 12 blocks away.  Whew!  I couldn’t believe I was actually at Times Square – the flashing neon lights – huge building-size signs – the area bright as daylight – horns honking and sidewalk vendors everywhere.  My friends haggled with the sidewalk merchants for shirts, while I called home.  The disaster seemed far removed at that point.  Hold that thought, for reality would soon set in.

Our appetites sated, we returned to our rooms to unpack and fall into bed to rise for an early morning call – 5:00AM.  It felt so good to have two friends!!!  As I learned later, Barbara was from a little town called Strawberry, Arizona where she was a construction flagger and one of the most energetic 68 year olds I ever met!!!!!!!!!!!  Caryn, a creative executive in the production of videos, was from the windy city, Chicago.  She had taken her 3-week vacation time to respond to the disaster (that’s the kind of dedicated people you meet in Red Cross).  I really lucked out in meeting two wonderfully, interesting strong women.  What a delight!!!

We were up before the crack of dawn on Friday – picked up a coffee and roll at the nearby deli; caught our bus at 6:30AM and headed for our new assignment, down in the village at the Carmine Recreation Center.  The traffic is rocking and rolling even at that hour of the morning.  Our bus driver should have a medal for his ability to dodge all the taxis, trucks and cars and deliver us safely.  Steve was a grand man; he was such a gentleman – helping us on and off the bus as we struggled with all our gear and juggling coffee as well!!!!

When we arrived at our service center, we could see the smoke from ground zero. Our eyes and throats were burning from all the pollution in the air!!!  Our center was located in an old building used as a recreation center for the surrounding neighborhood.  It is amazing how Red Cross takes an empty space and turns it into a service center (figure 1).

[Note from Liza – we’re having technical difficulties with Figure 1. Please use your imagination while I work to repair the issue. Thank you.]

Figure 1.  Reception Area and Family Service Center

We were given the second floor to use.  There were basketball courts and exercise rooms – that really suited our use quite well.  The center area was used basically for seating the clients (capacity at least 100-150) on folding chairs.  With the use of temporary signs, we are able to designate the various areas of service.  In the front of the large room were the service center manager and assistant manager. Located in the center, and just in front of the manager’s area, were our registration tables – the heart of the center – with logistics to one side.  Xerox machines and fax machines and computers were set up to the left of the managers’ area.  Near the folding chairs – close to the waiting clients – Mass Care set up their facilities of coffee, hot water, tea, munchies and fruits to be enjoyed by all.  Also in the same room, off to one side, was our Local Disaster Volunteers (LDV) table.  This is for local residents who want to volunteer to help.

Off to the right was the biggest hub of activity – the family service center.  This is where our caseworkers sit at makeshift desks to work with the clients affected by the disaster.  At one end of this huge room were the mental health personnel, ever watchful for persons in great distress and needing a hug or a teddy bear.  At the other end resided Records and Reports and our Health Services.

It is amazing to see how an empty space is quickly transformed into a workable area to aid clients (we do not refer to them as victims!!!)  Anyway, this is what our working environment looked liked. I thought it important that you have a visual picture.  The only draw back to this arrangement is that the bathrooms were two floors down a perilous staircase!!!  Our intake was carefully measured!!!

Although we didn’t open until 8:00AM, people were already queued up for a block by the time we arrived in the morning.  We had a general meeting each morning to bring us up to date on the recent happenings and pronouncements and in addition, we had individual meetings of our Family Service Function.  At that time, things were changing hourly, as needs of our clients changed.  I worked just part of a day as a caseworker and because of my past experience, I was then was asked to serve as a supervisor for the remainder of my deployment.   I accepted my assignment with mixed feelings. My heart is in working with the client “one on one”.  I would still have some client contact, but would be working primarily with the caseworkers, handling their questions and problems.

As people are admitted to the center, they line up to register.  Then the registrations are placed in a box and a caseworker picks up the case and goes out into the large room and calls out there name.  However, this simplistic system was not working too well as many of our clients did not speak English.  We had a Spanish translator, but we needed more Asian translators.  So we went to a number system.  Each person was given a number as they entered the registration area, and were referred to by number.  Even the persons unable to speak English understood numbers.  With the shortage of interpreters, it slowed our casework down – communication was very difficult and took much longer and the lines continued to grow and people waited sometimes 4 hours to be seen.  It became necessary to take Asian-speaking people out of line that also understood and spoke English and asked them to serve as translators for us.  This does have its disadvantages because we do not know what the interpreter is saying.  But as always, Red Cross came through.  We are used to improvising and making the best of situations.

Our mental health people walked among the waiting throng, and tried to calm them with offers of food and drink and toys for the children.  My heart ached for these people, – many of whom had lost their homes and their jobs-, to be put through such an ordeal.  However, there was no other way to learn of their needs and assist them.  Fortunately the weather was summer-like, balmy and warm – great for the waiting throngs but hot and stuffy, with air tinged with smoke and debris from the disaster site, in the building.

Our hours at the center for the clients were to be 8:00AM to 8:00PM and we were to have two shifts working from 7:00AM-4:00PM and 11:00AM to 8:00PM.  We quickly learned we did not have enough staff to do that.  The early morning staff found themselves working until 9:00PM or 10:00PM at night.  We were just terribly understaffed.

The following day our Family Service CWS/Officer, decided to form us into teams with a supervisor, such as myself, at the head of each team.  He thought that would improve the speed with which we worked by having one person for each team to relate to.  I had marvelous people on my team.  They all worked hard and well together and were kind and compassionate and were willing to work as late as necessary to see that all were taken care of – no complaining. A big bravo for the AmeriCorps young people – I had several on my team.   They brought a youthful energy and spirit and genuine desire to help that was so refreshing.  Bright and articulate, they became a great asset to our team.  I loved and adopted each one! They became my kids!!!!!!!!!!

My AmeriCorps “kids” Jason and Kelli

I am so proud of all the caseworkers — it was my privilege to work with such dedicated people!!!!!!  We had strong leadership in our family service group:  Art MacMahon, our Family Service Officer and Sue Hutson, who became our Service Station Manager, couldn’t have been nicer, while at the same time providing outstanding leadership.  We struggled with many changes; some due to our circumstances of too many clients and not enough staff, and some due to the ever-changing orders from National Headquarters.  This disaster was of a dimension that no one had dealt with before.  All the rulebooks went out the window in light of the enormity of the effect of this disaster.  At present we had 6 Service Centers located throughout greater New York City; Pier 94, who did the initial handling of the bereaved; and several Respite centers.  Staffing all of this was at a premium.  I understand that we had 180+ persons from Oregon Trail Chapter (my chapter) alone.

In spite of the fact that we were all over taxed and tired, everyone kept a smile on their face and remained pleasant.  There are always a few people that have difficulties, but for the most part Red Cross workers are a hardy, reliable, “roll with the punches” group.  In the midst of all this, there were continual bomb threats at our Headquarters in Brooklyn, and all the service centers.  No one had time to pay much attention to them.  We did take them seriously however, and had routes of escape planned.  To my knowledge, nothing materialized from these threats.

In our center, we were primarily working with folks who were survivors, and had lost their homes, all the contents, clothing or jobs or both due to the disaster.  We had few bereavement cases, as Pier 94 primarily handled them.  Many of the folks we worked with were stressed to the max!  Many had been trying to help themselves staying with friends and relatives.  However, they suddenly realized that it would be perhaps months before they would be allowed back in their homes and/or able to return to their jobs, if ever.!  They were now turning to us to help them formulate a plan to go on with their lives.  There are thousands of people who are dealing with this dilemma.  Many are “falling through the cracks” and I fear are not getting any or enough help to put their lives back together, primarily because they are confused and don’t know where to go for help or know that assistance is available for them.

Every day I am humbled by the courage of the people I meet in the center.  I had taken a break for a few moments in the basement of the Service Center.  I sat at a table drinking a cup of coffee, when a gentleman asked if I minded if he sat with me.  He began to talk.  I discovered he was a client waiting his turn to be seen and helped.  He was an engineer in the customs house, – which was located in the Twin Towers complex.  When the first plane hit, he alerted the people in his building and managed to see that all of them were able to vacate the building.  He then went back into the building and turned off all the systems.  He then headed for the Trade Center to help with the rescue there.  As he headed for the building, the second plane hit the second tower and he was buried in debris and was fortunate to be able to dig his way out.  Fortunately, his injuries were minor.  He continued to help for several days with the rescue effort.

He is a survivor.  A survivor without a job or a home!  A Hero!  He does not think of himself as a hero.  Heroes are met everywhere here, although they do not think of themselves as such, “just doing their jobs.”  Tears come easily here – this story could be repeated over and over.  It makes what I do seem too little and so insignificant –

So humbling!

Everywhere you go in New York, and in our center as well, one sees evidence of the country’s love and concern.  Children from all over the country have written, and created hand-made posters, cards, and letters, which they have sent to the residents of New York.  They are posted everywhere, in all the Red Cross service centers, fire stations, and walls along the sidewalks, and buildings.  It gives your spirit a lift to see how much everyone cares.

There is one card in our Service Center that tears your heart apart, but it says it all, why we all are here to help – a plain brown piece of paper and on it, a pencil sketch of a child’s face with tears falling from big round eyes and simply written at the top is “My dad is there.”

Our days at the service center were long, exhausting, frustrating – yet fulfilling, knowing that we were helping in some small measure.  Working as a specialist supervisor, offered many opportunities to come to know many wonderful volunteers from all over the country as well as have memorable moments with the New Yorkers affected by the disaster.

On our rare, one day off, we (the 3 Musketeers) tried to shake off the tragedy and fatigue a bit by taking a tour of New York City in the famed double decker bus.  The tour guide, somehow, discovered we were Red Cross workers (we travel incognito).  As we departed the bus at the end of our tour, he remarked that we were Red Cross workers there to help New York City and thanked us for our services.  Loud applause and cheers emanated from the remaining passengers.  Wow what a delightful moment.

A memorable and cherished experience was initiated by my police officer daughter in Naples, Florida.  She had mailed me a very special pin – “the gold twin towers with a police officers hat on one side and a fireman’s hat on the other.”  It held great significance for her, and she wanted me to find “just the right person” to give this to.  Fortunately, my last day in New York, I met a fine young NYPD police officer that fit the bill perfectly.  He was thrilled to have the pin from my daughter and it was with great delight and ceremony that I “pinned him” outside the famous NINO’S.  He in return gave me one of his special NYPD pins to give to my daughter.  I am not at liberty to discuss the officers’ duties and how he related to the disaster but it was very significant!

New York has made us feel very welcome.  Strangers on the street come up to us and thank us for being there.  Everyone seems much kinder and caring.  How wonderful if this attitude would continue!!!  Not just here, but everywhere in the country.  Nino is typical of the New York attitude.  He owns a restaurant called NINO’S, located close to Ground Zero.  He has turned the restaurant into a retreat and haven for all the disaster workers.  Only persons affiliated with the disaster in some way, may enter.  Inside they will find fabulous free food, prepared by the finest chef’s in New York City, camaraderie, and a chance to meet and talk with other workers – a very healing atmosphere.  Nino plans to continue this operation for as long as it takes!  He projects at least a year.

The tourists here too, seem to have assumed an ownership of the disaster – our wonderful “Portlanders” a prime example.  This act of war did not just happen to New York City, it happened to the whole country.

A strong overpowering spirit pervades the air in New York  “You can hurt me but you can’t destroy me or my American way of life and what New York represents.”  A uniqueness – a city with a magic all its own.  There is no other city like it in the world!!  New Yorkers are fighting back with every fiber of their being.  You sense the underlying strength, and toughness.  There is a oneness of purpose, “ a phoenix that shall rise from the ashes!!!!!”  New York, New York!!!  The miracle is happening!

Dottie Correll, ARC



A. I am lost, to the horizon I see only dry lands, low brush, short grass, my fellow traveler have all died or disappeared into the dust. Oh what a vast and beautiful land I have be forsaken onto.

When we sailed from our home of HePiawiQ, dreams of riches filled our souls. The people legends spoke of lands beyond the setting sun, gold and treasures awaits those brave (or foolish) enough. Sail for the setting sun and cast your spirits beyond the great waters and so we did. Two crafts of wood held 70 men, sailors all, hard lives lived upon the waters riding wooden ship for god’s and glory. Long day and many short night the ocean takes us where we do not know. Tempest wrath blew us yonder the known and glimpse of distant land to port tells that we are still on our way. On and on and on the oceans fury and rage blow us and the cold is like death, monstrosities of ice ghost past but on we go, around the bottom of the world. The cold gives way and glorious new warm waters greet us and we give thanks. Creatures great and small abound the sky darken with winged life and our bounty is full. Day’s become months, months become years but on we sail. A vast continent we have seen to the starboard and land has greeted us tenfold, peoples we have seen but caution and fear abound. So on we sail, men cry for the sea is hard and unforgiving, our companion ship the VisYeope is gone one day never more to grace our eyes, did death pull them under the waters or utopia may they have found, but men cry for the sea is hard and unforgiving, My Captain, my captain how far is paradise and shall we ever reach home, but he only nods because forever is a long ways away. The length of the world we have traveled the ocean stretched portside beyond our senses, but of a sudden a monster arises from the depths and all is lost. Morning brings wonder for we are not dead all but have been ship wrecked upon a shore line of gentle sands and high bluffs. But we are dead to the sea for or beloved ship Tiherasa lay broken smashed against giant rocks standing guard against wayward wonderers. Camp and live upon the beach we do the twenty three still alive, we bury several of our companion  at the base of the cliffs above the oceans hold.

                A year or two or is it three has pasted and no ship has appeared for our rescue for our people know not where we lay. Some have wondered inland but those journeys small safety lay in numbers. Most have survived but a couple of us have gone and not returned. There are many things unbeknown, at night shadows and creature we do not know make their presence known we do not quiver in fear for brave souls all but is it our lost companions returned from darkness.  Glimpse of a large man like creature and strange track have been found by those hunting, shout of greetings go unheeded.  Our quest for food is never ended for hunger stalks us all.

                Council is held to stay is to die, to go holds hope, agreement  is made by most that we should walk away from the ocean and head for home toward the rising sun before snow come to the land again. With full packs and heavy hearts we tell two older companions who cannot walk long ways good bye, and cover our hearts as we tell our dead “ Sleep well”. Walk we do, on and on, over mountains forested with trees that reach almost the sun, behemoths, giants that have no compare upon this earth, full packs become light for we must eat but we know not all the goodness that lays hidden at our feet. On and on and on and death is our ever companion and the fewer bury the more. Peoples we meet who live in this land, through tongue speak distant sounds common bonds exist and share they do but the land is hard and they have little also. Our path lay onward and deserts and mountains come and go the rising sun the only constant, a canyon as big as the sky blocks our path woo to us but we must go on and many days or hardship in crossing we endure and death takes Ewithcik at the great red river. Driven by thirst, hunger and hope of home toward the rising sun we press on. Alas we stop the few a glen offers shelter, but death waits for no one. There were two but now only one, upon this rock I tell my tale for my time is short and I shall not go again. Remember me, I sleep well, Xidewak

Wow. All of you, wow. What a fine group of people. Thank to each of you for your thoughts, and for being here.

I’m not going to trivialize today’s panel by awarding pretend prizes. They don’t need them – I think they just won the hearts of all my readers.

We’ll get back to silliness another day. The Experts will return in exactly one week. They hope to see you back here.

Let’s get to last week’s puzzler.

???Real or Fake???

Last Friday I asked if this Dracaena was real or fake:

Let’s see how you answered:

Ivynettle from Letters and Leaves wrote, “Real – and pretty! You’re making me want to buy yet another dracaena! (And I already don’t know where to put the ones I have.)”

mr_subjunctive from Plants Are the Strangest People wrote, “Real. (Also, side-note: I like Aaron Jackson’s answer from last week.)”

Stephanie from Indianapolis wrote, “Gotta b real.”

Charlie Hebert wrote, “Hmmm.. Not a big Drac guy.. gonna go against the popular vote this week
and pull the Fake lever..”

Terrence from Dynamic Gardening wrote, “I’ll go with real!!!”

That’s four votes real, one vote fake.

What’s the correct answer? Let’s take another look:

Real! And so pretty! Fake plants don’t have those vibrant colors!

Charlie, wrong call this week, but we still love you for playing. Ivynettle, congrats on dethroning the reigning champ and coming in first with the correct answer. Well played! For being so speedy, you’ve earned the title of First, Fastest, Most Terrific, Premierist and Cutest Grand Championette of the Houseplant Blog Universe Which Includes All of Austria. Congratulations! You may multiply all the prizes by cotton candy.

You’re all winners in my book. So for playing this week, I’d like each of you to have the following prizes: Countrywide love, an A+, four tender moments, a seafood platter, 14 extra bonus points, two baby goats, one coupon good for an imaginary vacation anywhere, six blessings, one hip-hip-hurray, and a bicycle built for four. Great job everyone! Thanks for playing.

Let’s move on to the new puzzler:

???Real or Fake???

Oh dear, this may be controversial.

Are these Blue Orchids real or fake?

Hint: I intended for the two options to be “real” or “fake” but I could see how other answers may be warranted.

I apologize for the bad photo. It’s misleading because the flash distorted the color. The blue is much closer to navy blue in person.

Anyway, think you know the answer, smartyplants? Leave your best guess in the comments section or on my facebook wall. You have until midnight next Thursday, September 20th, MST (that’s 2a.m. EST) to cast your vote. I’ll reveal the answer and the winner(s) after next week’s panel of Experts. Remember, the prizes may be imaginary but the link to your site and the glory of winning are oh-so-real.

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

Hello my little zombies, and happy Friday!

Welcome back to the Good To Grow site, and thanks for being here. Friday is a fun day on this site, because it’s the day I gather my panel of “Experts” and lob a softball question at them. They’re a bunch of characters, so I never know what they might say.

I also roll out a new plant puzzler every Friday after the panel. And award lots of imaginary gifts to the winners of last week’s puzzler.

Let’s say hi to the Experts. Hi Experts!

“Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiii Liza!”

You guys are so cute! From left to right, that’s Tina, Thack, EZ, Dottie and Lewis. If you’d like to know more about them, please click here.

Here’s this week’s question:

Q. We just passed Halloween and the Day of the Dead. What do you think the scariest plant is?

Expert Tina, you’re up first as usual:

A.  Scary plant……hmmmmmmm silly question. Let me think…well maybe you can consider a devil’s claw plant. It is smelly and has a seed pod that looks like a claw. And is reproduced by getting stuck on animals feet and crushed releasing the seed from the pod.

I got this pic from this site southeastern Arizona Wildflowers and Plants:

That’s a super creepy plant, alright. I’ve never encountered one in the wild. I think it might totally freak me out.

With a name like Devil’s Claw, I’m going to have to call that answer correct, Tina. Nice job! For playing this week, you’ve earned a spooky moment (redeemable in the future), five claw-shaped extra credit points and a pretend Devil’s Claw container plant. Congratulations, and thanks for being here.

Up next is Expert Tim Thackaberry. Thack, here’s the question to you:

Q. We just passed Halloween and the Day of the Dead. What do you think the scariest plant is?

A. The scariest “plant” I can think of is a willow tree. They cast the strangest shadows and, when you’re a kid, those shadows blowing around on a windy night are terrifying.

Oh, interesting. I wouldn’t have thought of that, but now that you mention it, I can see how a Willow could be scary to a kid. I’ve heard of Willow trees being described as elegant, romantic, or wispy so I like that you went dark with it.

I’m gonna call that a win, Thack. Well played again this week. I’m going to award you a Willow-free zone for the weekend, an A, and seven bonus points. Congrats!

Expert EZ Ed Johnson, here’s the question to you:

Q. We just passed Halloween and the Day of the Dead. What do you think the scariest plant is?

A. Audrey from the Little Shop of Horrors.

I was wondering if anyone was going to play the Audrey card. Since she feeds on blood, she’s definitely the scariest plant in show biz. While we’re on topic, can I ask – who doesn’t love a Rick Moranis movie? His characters are much beloved, am I right?

That’s definitely a correct answer, EZ. For playing this week, you’ve earned the title of “King of Adorably Scary Films” for the next two weeks, four blessings and an imaginary Audrey replica. Congrats, and thanks for being here.

Expert Dottie is still wading in moving boxes, so let’s admire her charming sunflowerness:

And move on to Expert Lewis. Lewis, what say you, fine sir?

Q. We just passed Halloween and the Day of the Dead. What do you think the scariest plant is?

A. Well how are all of you folks, after a slight case  “Mad as Hell”ness  I am feeling quite well thank you.  So what is the scariest plant in the world or at least in Albuquerque, Sorry I don’t have a clue. But if I catch the drift and rant that I get from a certain plant lady I would have to say that any thing made of polyester, plastic or silk forming a poor representation one of God’s magnificent photosynthesizing  creations would qualify as the ugliest and scariest fake thing. Thanks for the words of support last week, but I meant not to get you involved. We each must bear our own cross, choose our own quest and find our own dreams. In the words of a Great President “Ask not what the country can do for you, but what You can do for your country”.

That’s exactly right, Lewis, fake plants are scary ugly. And scary expensive.

I think your “mad as hell”ness is a feeling a lot of Americans can relate to these days. My regular readers know that you proudly served this country, and that you continue to serve your community daily, Lewis. You can speak your mind here any time you want to. Don’t worry about involving us – we want to be involved.

I’m gonna go ahead and call your answer correct again this week. For continuing to show up on this ridiculously silly panel each week, you’ve earned a hearty congratulations, a slap on the back, a pretend real plant, and five gold stars. Congratulations, Lewis, and thanks for being here.

That does it for our panel of Experts. Thanks to everyone for being here. My Experts will return in exactly one week.

Now, last week’s puzzler:

???Real or Fake???

Last week, I asked if this plant was real or fake:

Let’s see how you answered: from New Mexico wrote, “Is that a gardenia? It’s probably not, considering they don’t trail downwards like that. But if it is, it’s fake, because ALL gardenias have brown edges, almost immediately. I don’t remember gardenias having a center like that either. And I kinda hope it’s fake, because the container it lives in is too cheap-looking for a real plant.”

I’m not sure what it’s supposed to be. An Ivy maybe, flowers sold separately? It’s barf-o-riffic. Let’s take a closer look (you may want to hold your nose):

Damn that’s ugly. And dusty. Can you believe someone spent money on that?, check you out! You’re the grand champion overall winner this week. Since you answered correctly first, you can multiply all the prizes by six beehives. Congratulations! And thanks for playing.

Let’s see how the rest of you answered:

Steph from Indianapolis wrote, “Awe common! That’s just pitiful. Steph the Awesome says “fake”.”

I’m glad you like your epithet, Steph the Awesome!

Nancy Popp Mumpton of Arizona wrote, “This one is easy … it’s really fake! And those candles are bent too!”

Win! Good job, Nancy!

Martha from Plowing Through Life wrote, “That plant looks kind of weird to me…so…I vote for fake.”

You’re a winner, Martha, again this week!

Ginny Burton, optician to the stars, wrote, “Fake, because magnolias aren’t blooming this time of year. At least, not in this hemisphere.”

Right? Especially not on Ivy plants, either. Good job, Ginny!

Terrence from Dynamic Gardening wrote, “This plant is 100% fake to me, these used to be in my church but collected dust for long periods of time.”

You win, too, Terrence. They’re quite good at collecting dust, aren’t they?

Tom from Theatrum Botanicum wrote, “Ivy are known for their large magnolia blooms…right? I’m gonna have to say fake!”

Funny man Tom, you’re a winner, too.

Claude from Random Rants and Prickly Plants wrote, “Either it’s fake, or the ivy has decided to be a magnolia for Halloween. So, I’m going for fake since my experience with ivy is such that it just doesn’t have the creativity to come up with that costume.

And it would appear that you’re still in that blasted antique shop. tell them to change the candles in the candleholders, they’re starting to bend…

And forgive me… I broke one of my rules and went off on a political rant on my blog and I’ve been in a bad mood ever since… GRRRRRR”

I know you’re grumpy, but your answer totally made me happy. Finally, someone who agrees that Ivies lack imagination! I love it. You’re a winner again this week, Claude.

mr_subjunctive from Plants Are the Strangest People wrote, “Yup, fake.”

It sure is, mr_s. You’re a winner, too.

Everyone nailed it this week – good job to all of you. For playing, you’ve each earned a day of the dead, 12 bragging rights, a ticket to ride and three pretend pretzels. You also earned my gratitude for playing – thanks, guys!

Now the new puzzler:

???Real or Fake???

Is this plant real or fake:

Think you know the answer, smartyplants? Leave your best guess in the comments section. You have until midnight next Thursday, November 10th, MST (that’s 2a.m. EST) to cast your vote. I’ll reveal the answer and the winner(s) after next week’s panel of Experts. Remember, the prizes may be imaginary but the link to your site and the glory of winning is oh-so-real.

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

Hello hurricaners and hurricanettes, happy Friday!

Welcome back to the Good To Grow site. Thanks for being here. Friday is the day I gather my panel of Experts and ask them a plant-related question. It’s our way of getting the weekend started off on the right note.

Let’s say hi to the Experts, shall we? Hi Experts!

“Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiii Liza!”

You guys are so cute! From left to right, that’s Tina, Thack, EZ, Dottie and Lewis. If you’d like to know more about them, please click here.

Dottie suggested this week’s question, and it’s a good one. Let’s get right to it:

Q. Name five songs that have a flower in the title or a garden theme…and of those, which is your favorite and why?

See? Good question! Expert Tina, you’re up first:

A.  paper roses

I never promised you a rose garden

every rose has it thorns

you don’t bring me flowers anymore

The rose

I like every rose has its thorns.. It is a story about life and love and the challenges it has. and a strong and true love will endure the sharp thorns. Songs usually are a story of something or another no matter if it is rap or any type.

Oh look at you, pulling out the power ballad! Did you know that Bret Michaels called that song the anthem of his generation? True story. I didn’t know you could proclaim your own song an anthem. I wonder if I can call this blog the anthem of the plant generation?

You don’t have to be a fan of 80s hair bands to be a winner, Tina…but you are! So congratulations again this week. For playing, you’ve won a free membership to the “we know you’re bald, you can take that bandana off” fan club, an imaginary bouquet of roses that don’t have thorns, and 16 extra credit points. Thanks for playing!

Expert Thack, here’s the question to you:

Q. Name five songs that have a flower in the title or a garden theme…and of those, which is your favorite and why?

A. A countdown to my favorite (picture that being said in Casey Kasem’s voice):

5. (I Never Promised You a) Rose Garden – Lynn Anderson: A childhood thing. My aunt still sings it sometimes for no apparent reason.
4. Flowers of Guatemala – REM: a rare, political flower song, about US involvement in Central America in the 80s. Gorgeous song.
3. It Must Have Been the Roses – Grateful Dead: About a girl he let get away, an absolutely beautiful song. Can still make me tear up if I hear the acoustic version while I’m drinking
2. Scarlet Begonias – Grateful Dead: An unrequited love song, the next best thing to a bitter love song. And one of the most melodic things ever recorded, with one of the single greatest Robert Hunter lyrics of all time:

  Once in a while,
  you get shown the light,
  in the strangest of places,
  if you look at it right.

1. Dead Flowers – Rolling Stones: A bitter (and I do mean BITTER) “love” song from the Stones; ’nuff said.

That’s two votes “Rose Garden,” zero votes for songs from this century. You can channel Casey Kasem…I’m going to channel Jeff Probst.

Thack, those are great choices – really wonderful songs, all of them. Nicely played again this week. For your part, you’ve won one “I beg your pardon” free card, an acoustic version of a prize and 12 song-shaped bragging rights. Congratulations!

Up next, Expert EZ Ed Johnson. EZ, here’s the question to you:

Q. Name five songs that have a flower in the title or a garden theme…and of those, which is your favorite and why?

A. Garden (by Pearl Jam), Octopusses’ Garden (the Beatles), I Never Promised You a Rose Garden (Lynn Anderson, I think), Garden Party (Ricky Nelson), and Secret Garden (Springsteen).

Secret Garden reminds me of someone I used to know.

Oh look at that! That’s three votes for Rose Garden, zero votes for songs from this century! Casey Kasem would be so proud! On a side note, man, I love Bruce Springsteen!

Those are all great songs, EZ. Well played again this week! You’ve won a secret secret, a garden memory and an A+. Thanks for being here!

Up next the charming Dottie Correll. Dottie, here’s your question back atcha:

Q. Name five songs that have a flower in the title or a garden theme…and of those, which is your favorite and why?

A. Ah! this subject does my romantic Irish heart good!!!  So many melodies that bring back mixed messages and memories.:

Loves lost:  “YOU DON’T BRING ME FLOWERS ANYMORE” -Neil Diamond
The old gospel song:  “GIVE ME ROSES WHILE I LIVE” ( I dig that)
Poignant Pete Seeger :  “WHERE HAVE ALL THE FLOWERS GONE?” -Peter Paul and Mary
For the Sophisticates:  “WALTZ OF THE FLOWERS” by Tchaikovsky
Kick up the Country Vibes a bit with:  “BUILD ME UP BUTTERCUP” – Clay Aiken
For the younger set a favorite might be:  “Iris” by the GooGoo Dolls
A real sentimental tear jerker & a favorite:  “THE DAYS OF WINE AND ROSES”  -sung by Frankie boy

Amazingly, there are hundreds of song titles with flowers in their title — I guess music, romance and flowers make a memorable mix.  My very favorite is:  “THE ROSES OF PICARDY” (Weatherly & Wood).
When my husband and I were courting, one of our favorite “things” was walking hand in hand in the quiet of a misty-rainy night.  Humming our favorite tunes.  My husband was very musical and was possessed of a beautiful tenor voice and he would sing many songs to me as we strolled along.  However, Roses of Picardy was my favorite and the words shake your soul.  He sang this to me the night he proposed:

And a song stirs in the silence
As the wind in the bough above
She listens and Starts and Trembles
’Tis the first little song of love

Roses are shining in Picardy
In the hush of the silver dew
Roses are flow’ring in Picardy
But there’s never a rose like you

And the roses will die with the summertime
And our roads may be far apart
But there’s one rose that dies not in Picardy
’Tis the rose that I keep in my heart.

(It turned my Irish heart to “mush”.  Of course I said “Yes”.)

And the years fly on forever
Till the shadows veil their skies
But he loves to hold her little hands 
and look into her sea-blue eyes

And she sees the road by the poplars
Where they met in the bygone years
For the first little song of the roses
Is the last little song she hears.
*Wipes tears, blows nose*
Wait, was that another earthquake? No? It was the collective shaking and crying of our souls? That sounds right. What a song! What a memory! What a way to propose! Dottie, your husband sounds dreamy. I think he just turned all of our hearts to mush!
And look at you with the Clay Aiken reference! Leave it to the 85-year-old to reference a musician from this century! Haha! I prefer the Foundations version of that song, but that’s neither here nor there.

Dottie, that’s another terrific win for you this week. Well done! Thanks so much for thinking up this fun question, and thanks for being here. For playing, you’ve earned a voucher good for a built-up buttercup, 12 silver stars and a love song for your heart.

You’re awesome!

Expert Lewis Casey is up next. What say you, fine sir?

Q. Name five songs that have a flower in the title or a garden theme…and of those, which is your favorite and why?

A. One of my favorite is this old classic, “I’m limping home to my County Rose cause I’ve got cockaburrs under my toes”  such a lovely song.

You all remember this famous number   “Sweet Corn Alabama”  just love that song, roasted, creamed or chowder.

Another great works is the hit,   “Fighting and Farting in Old Bean Town tonight”    such a stirring song that leave us with a insightful memory.

And who can forget this unforgettable number one   “ I’m Sorry You are Angry Love but I didn’t Put That Burr Up Your Butt”

So now I give you my most favorite song that will touch your heart and other parts also,  “Oh Sweet Pea, I know that you are upset I got drunk, puked on your new party dress, fell over the dog, crushed your prize gladiolas, but I hope you still love me Oh Sweet Pea.

Sweet Corn Alabama, why well who doesn’t love corn. Enjoy all available at your local imaginary shop.

  • Rain glorious rain but sadness for the good folks at Dixon Apples Orchard the awful Las Conchas wild fire dealt them a terrible calamity and then heavy rains created disastrous floods that have destroyed, mangled and buried every thing else. Good hard working folk trying to make a difference by growing excellent apples in a beautiful New Mexico place. I have eaten Dixon apples and they were good, Special places and special people are what has made OUR country America great, when they are all gone we will no longer be great just sad.

For information

If you want to help send a donation to;  

 Checks payable to:
“Dixon’s Apple Orchard”
Mailing address:
First Community Bank/US Main Bank
5001 Montgomery Blvd NE
Abq NM 87109




*Wipes tears. Blows nose.*

“I’m sorry you’re angry love but I didn’t put that burr up your butt.” I’m crying I’m laughing so hard. Lewis, you just made everyone’s day with your answer! You are a funny, funny man.

And kindhearted. What’s happened to Dixon’s Apple Orchard is utterly sad. First the freeze, then the fire, now the floods. That poor family. Our hearts go out to them, and we all are pulling for them to rebuild even though I’m sure that seems daunting.

Thanks Lewis, for giving us a laugh, and then reminding us of what’s really important. You’re awesome, too. For playing this week, you’ve earned four blessings, a half dozen pretend ears of corn and the title of “Funnymeister” for the rest of the week. Congratulations!

All of my Experts are awesome, aren’t they? Big round of applause to all of you. The Experts are going to have next Friday off for Labor Day weekend. They’ll return on September 9th.

I’ll be here next Friday with the answer and the winner(s) of the plant puzzler, along with a new puzzler.

Now, last week’s puzzler:

???Real or Fake???

Last week, I asked if this plant was real or fake:

Haha, what a great mailbox!

Let’s see how you answered:

The very funny Steph from Indianapolis wrote, “ROFLMAO!!!! Fake…and apparently making the cow shit mail.”

Martha from Plowing Through Life wrote, “Har har har…loved Lewis Casey’s answer; it was quite entertaining. As for this week’s puzzle, I’ll vote that the plant is real. If I’m wrong, I tip my hat to this real plant for doing an incredible imitation of being fake.”

Terrence from Dynamic Gardening wrote, “This is a very unique mailbox, I’m going to say that it is a fake plant, I might be wrong though.”

Tom from Theatrum Botanicum wrote, “Fake!”

Claude from Random Rants and Prickly Plants wrote, “it’s obvious… you don’t feed a real pig fake flowers and you can’t feed a fake pig real ones… That’s just not right. I’m pretty confident that the humane socioty would back me up on that too… FAKE.”

Claude! Duh! That’s a cow not a pig! Your point is taken, though. Let’s take a look at a close-up shot and see if that offers any clues:

Hmmm, those look like super fake poinsettias to me. Because they are!

Steph, you made me laugh, and you were correct, and you were first. Please, multiply all prizes by six apples. Martha, I believe you meant to say fake but accidentally said real, so I’m gonna go ahead and call that a win. Terrence, the mailbox belongs to my Aunt Nancy – I’m pretty sure hers is the only one in existence. You’re a winner, too. As are you, Tom, as usual (I don’t think you’ve ever lost at one of these puzzlers). And Claude, you also win, even though you can’t tell a cow mailbox from a pig mailbox.

Thanks to all of you for playing! This week, you’ve each won a pretend button that says “I know real from fake,” 18 bonus points and the title of “Plant Puzzler Master” until next Friday. Congratulations, and thanks for being here.

Up next, the new puzzler:

???Real or Fake???

Are these plants real or or fake?

Think you know the answer, smartyplants? Leave your best guess in the comments section. You have until midnight next Thursday, September 1st, MST (that’s 2a.m. EST) to cast your vote. I’ll reveal the answer and the winner after next week’s panel of Experts. Remember, the prizes may be imaginary but the glory of winning is oh-so-real.

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

Hi hearts, and happy Friday!

Welcome back to the Good To Grow site. Let’s jump right in and say hello to the Experts. Hello Experts!

“Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiii Liza!”

You guys are so cute with your sunflower heads! From left to right, that’s Tina, Thack, EZ, Dottie and Lewis. If you’d like to know more about them, please click here.

This week, in anticipation of Valentine’s Day, I asked my Experts what gifts they were planning. I personally love using Hyacinth bulbs for Valentine’s gifts, because who wouldn’t love fresh flowers indoors in February? Here’s what some of them look like:

If you haven’t thought yet about gifts for your sweetie, consider flower bulbs. Right now, they should be on sale at your local nursery, and they are easy to grow – they just need water and a little sunshine. They may not be blooming by Valentine’s Day, but that’s ok – part of the fun is watching them grow.

Hyacinth bulbs also make great gifts for kids, who will enjoy watching the flower emerge and will remember the wonderful fragrance.

With homemade gifts on the brain, here’s the question I asked the Experts:

Q. As you know, I like using Hyacinth bulbs for gifts. Are you planning any creative Valentine’s Day gifts?

Expert Tina, as usual, you’re up first. What’s your answer?

A. UHH no. No valentines gifts to make for me. I just don’t get into it with the craft thing too much. So BEEEEP wrong answer.

Hey, wait a second, I’m the moderator. You can’t call your own answer wrong – only I can do that!!

And I’m going to disagree – your answer’s not wrong. Crafts aren’t for everyone, there’s no shame in that. Just because I’m a big fan of handmade gifts doesn’t mean you have to be!

Even though you called yourself wrong, you’re a winner in my book. To show my appreciation for you, this week you’ve earned a spare heart the size of Texas, a dozen imaginary roses and unlimited candy hearts. Thanks as always, Tina, for being here.

Up next is Expert Tim Thackaberry. Thack, here’s the question to you:

Q. Are you planning any creative Valentine’s Day gifts?

A. The women in my life expect hardware, it’s jewelery or bust in my world. I wish I could get away with something creative (read: cheaper), but I know from painful experience that it won’t fly. What does this say about me and my taste in women?

*Hmmm, think Liza, think. Do I answer him honestly? No. Yes. No. Yes. No, you can’t! Don’t be judgmental – if he wants to surround himself with materialistic bitches, that’s his choice. Sssshhhhh, don’t say that out loud. Because, you know, it’s really judgmental. And mean-spirited. They may be perfectly nice women. Of course they’re nice women, he’s a nice guy so they have to be somewhat decent, right? Right. Ok then, play nice Wheeler.*

Um, Thack, you know what? Jewelry’s fine for a gift. I’m a big fan of jewelry. Not diamonds, you know, because of all the bloodshed and also I think they’re boring and about as uncreative as you can get. But overall, my view of jewelry is that I like accessorizing!

I’m going to ignore all questions about expectations and just say thanks for being here again this week. To show my gratitude, I’m going to award you a coupon good for love without money, love with no strings attached and fake jewelry that looks real. Enjoy! And thanks for being here.

Up next is EZ Ed Johnson. EZ, here’s the question to you:

Q. Are you planning any creative Valentine’s Day gifts?

A. Valentine’s Day can only bring trouble.

Oooh, sounds like someone’s a little jaded. I get it – Valentine’s isn’t the holiday for everyone, despite what Hallmark would have you believe.

To show my appreciation for you being one of my Experts, this week you win a trouble-free holiday, a February that’s robust and vibrant, and 50 heart-shaped extra credit points. Thanks again for being here!

Up next is the sweet and lovely Dottie Correll. Expert Dottie, here’s the question to you:

Q. Are you planning any creative Valentine’s Day gifts?

A. Ah! sweet Valentine’s day!  In view the extreme weather we have been enduring, I think a “Hot Tamale” Plant would be most appropriate.  However, having expressed that thought, I look back on days of  yore and remember that Preparing for Valentine’s Day was always a fun time at our house, although really chaotic with 6 children wielding scissors, glue and lacy stuff in the making of valentines for their friends and class mates.  I have always been of the opinion that a handmade “anything” demonstrated true care and concern for ones’ friends and cohorts. Valentines’ Day is not just for romantic lovers but for lovers of all man and woman kind plus our beloved animals.  Each year the children designed their favorite card.  One of my favorite’s they come up with was, “the Canoe.”  They designed a canoe out of construction paper, created a pattern and then proceeded to make their valentine wishes.    They cut out the canoe and then printed on the side of the canoe:  CAN- OE BE MY VALENTINE?  (pretty corny eh)  Then they attached a colored candy sucker on the side as the paddle for the canoe.  This was an instant hit with their scholastic friends –not so much for the design of love and good fellowship as the gift of “Candy”.  What could be ”sweeter” to a child?

Too bad our expectations become more jaded and harder to satisfy as we grow older!!!

Hahahahahaha, canoe you be my Valentine? Canoe? So corny, but so adorable! I love it!

Man, I’m easily amused.

Thanks Dottie, we all needed a good laugh. And it’s so great to have you back. I know you haven’t been feeling well, so it’s especially sweet of you to make time for us. For playing this week, you’ve earned a canoe full of bragging rights, my unending admiration and love, and the hearts of all our readers.

Expert Lewis is normally up next, but he’s very busy with Red Cross duties. New Mexico has been hit hard with winter weather and it’s good citizens like Lewis who come to the rescue by providing food and shelter to those in need.

Lewis, we’re going to admire your adorable sunflower head:

And thank you for your services – thanks!

Then we’ll call it a wrap. That does it for our Ask the Experts panel. The Experts will return in exactly one week.

Now on to last week’s plant puzzler:

???Real or Fake???

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

Let’s see how you answered.

Ivynettle from Letters and Leaves wrote, “The pothos is definitely real, and the palm… uh. Can’t say for sure, but I’ll take a chance and say it’s real too. And actually there are three plants – there’s a smaller one I can’t identify because it’s too dark in the same pot as the palm.

And I can’t believe I forgot to post my answer for last week’s – I was gonna say there’d been full moon in between your visits and it’s been attacked by a were-dieffenbachia.”

Tom from Theatrumbotanicum wrote, “The pothos looks real enough… I’ve never seen a fake that bothers to have leaves that have reverted to green. I’m gonna guess that the palm is fake though. What I think to be the main stem just looks a little too chunky to be real. Plus it seems to have a plastic-y sheen.”

mr_subjunctive from Plants Are the Strangest People wrote, “I lean toward both real. I see what Tom means about the plasticy sheen, but I still think that’s natural.”

So what’s the answer? The Pothos (Scindapsus aureus, Epipremnum aureum) is in fact very much a living breathing plant. The Palm, not so much. Ivynettle was right about there being 3 plants total – there are two fake plants in one planter. I think the other one is supposed to be an Ivy.

This puzzler was harder than I thought it would be. But then, I see these plants once a week up close and in person. The plastic is hard to miss up close.

The big winner this week is Tom from Theatrumbotanicum. Thanks so much for playing. This week, you’ve earned glory, a coupon good for a life free from plastic plants, and 62 extra credit points. Congratulations!

Let’s move on to the new puzzler:

Name that Plant Problem!

What’s wrong with this Scindapsus aureus, Epipremnum aureum, Pothos plant?

See how some of the leaves are discolored? Why?

Think you know the answer, smartyplants? Leave your best guess in the comments section. You have until midnight next Thursday, February 10th, MST (that’s 2a.m. EST) to cast your vote. I’ll reveal the answer and the winner after next week’s panel of Experts.

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

Hello magic beans, and happy Friday!

Welcome back to our Ask the Experts panel. Let’s meet the stars of the show. Hi Experts!

“Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiii Liza!”

Haha, you guys are so cute! From left to right, that’s Tina, Thack, EZ, Dottie and Lewis. If you’d like to know more about them, please click here.

I’m excited about this week’s panel, for reasons that shall reveal themselves as we go along. Here’s our question (which isn’t a question, but you know what I mean):

Q. I’d like you each to tell us a houseplant fairy tale.

I’m not sure what possessed me to ask this of my Experts, but I’m really glad I did. My panel is made up of a bunch of charmers – you’ll see.

Expert Tina is usually up first, but she’s unavailable this week. Too bad, so sad! Tina, we miss you. Let’s admire her adorable sunflower head:

And move on to Thack.

Expert Tim Thackaberry, here’s the “question” to you:

Q. I’d like you each to tell us a houseplant fairy tale.

A. “I have a 7-year old daughter, so I’ve had to invent many, many fairy tales in the last few years. This will be my first houseplant-related one.

Once upon a time, there was a beautiful princess, Princess Samantha, and she had a houseplant she loved very much. The houseplant was named Starburst.

One morning, Starburst was missing from her usual place on Princess Samantha’s nightstand. The princess was horrified, for she loved that houseplant and had nurtured it from the time it was just a seedling. The princess looked all around her room, and then the castle, but Starburst was nowhere to be found.

Princess Samantha ran out onto the castle grounds, desperate to find her beloved houseplant! She looked everywhere until, finally, she came upon her houseplant, planted in the ground in one of the castle’s many gardens. The princess was so excited! She dug up Starburst, put it back in its’ pot, and the 2 of them lived happily ever after!

Until the King, King Timothy II as it turns out, forgot to water it. But that’s too sad a story for a fairy tale. Let’s leave it at them living happily ever after…”

I’m so glad I asked this question! That was excellent, Tim. You definitely seemed well-versed in the world of fairy tales.

For your correct response this week, you’ve earned the title of King of the Experts for the next week, permission to refer to your house as your castle any time you’d like and a moat full of extra credit points. Thanks as always for being here!

Up next is Expert EZ Ed Johnson. EZ, here’s the question to you:

Q. I’d like you each to tell us a houseplant fairy tale.

A. Once upon a time, a butterfly approached a red flower and a blue flower, but before she could decide which one to choose, a bee intercepted her.

“Careful,” the bee said. “If you select the right flower, you will turn into a great eagle with powerful wings. But if you choose the wrong flower, your own delicate wings will wither and fall to the ground.”
The butterfly was paralyzed with fear.

“What should I do?” the butterfly asked.

“I can’t tell you that,” the bee said.

“Which flower would you choose?” the butterfly asked.

“Well,” the bee said, “red is a powerful color. Perhaps that is the one.”

“Yes,” the butterfly said. “I believe you’re right.”

“However,” the bee said, “blue is the color of the sky, so perhaps that is the correct one.”

The butterfly was more confused than ever. Then, in a sudden rush of judgment, she chose the red flower. After tasting the flower, the butterfly waited for what would happen next. But there was nothing. She did not turn into an eagle. Her butterfly wings did not fall.

“What happened?” the butterfly asked the bee.

“You did not have to choose,” the bee answered. “You do not have to choose.”

EZ, I can’t picture you working at the newspaper. You should be one of those great old sages sitting on some remote mountaintop dispensing parables and stories for those seeking higher knowledge. Aaah, so poetic!

Thanks for playing, as always. This week, you’ve earned your choice of choices, never-ending wisdom and a coupon good for holistic living. Nicely done, EZ!

For the past several weeks, each time we get to this point in the panel, I have to share the disappointing news that Expert Dottie was unavailable to join us.

Luckily, today, I don’t have to do that. That’s right, hang on to your hats everyone, Dottie’s back! (In my head right now I’m singing a song that roughly goes like “Yay, yay, yay, Dottie’s back, all is right with the world, yay for Dottie being back.” I didn’t claim it was a catchy tune.)

Sweet talented lady, here’s the question to you:

Q. I’d like you each to tell us a houseplant fairy tale.

A. Fairy Tales Indeed!  Having a father that was born in Ireland, predisposed me to many of the wild tales of the “little people” which included delightful fairy people as well as the ornery, trickster and sometimes evil Leprechauns.  When in Ireland, I was treated to the site of fields of lovely “4” leaf clover plants and it being May, they were in full bloom with their tiny, fragrant, tiny white blooms –one of my favorite plants and where the good protective fairies live!–but I digress.  One of the tales that frightened me the most is as follows:  Daniel O’Grady captures a Leprechaun while in Ireland, takes his gold and smuggles it back to his home in Ohio, unaware that the Leprechaun has followed him.  Confronting O’Grady and demanding his gold the Leprechaun is injured by O’Grady and sealed in a crate with a “four leaf clover,” though before O’Grady can kill the creature, he suffers a stroke.  Ten years later the Leprechaun is accidentally released by a lady named Tory and her new friends and goes on a killing spree in search of his gold, which two other men, Alex and Ozzie, had discovered.  After the Leprechaun reclaims the bulk of his gold, he is defeated when Alex shoots a “four leaf” clover down his throat with a slingshot and Alex’s older brother Nathan blows up the well the Leprechaun falls into. Strangely, Alex and Nathan are never able to claim the gold as it mysteriously vanishes from the pot and evil follows them the rest of their lives!  I was always warned not to “trouble” with Leprechauns as they are indestructible, never forget an unkindness and to bide my behavior as they were always watching me and carried the Luck of the Irish that dwells within the “four leaf clover”.   As a child growing up, I was terrified of the Leprechauns that I knew lived in the basement in hidden dark places.  To this day, I try to always have a full and healthy four leaf clover plant in my home (where I know the good fairies live ) to protect me.

Aw, that’s so sweet, Dottie! Your childhood delight and terror shined right through your answer. I love it!

C’mon, everyone sing with me, “Yay, yay, yay, Dottie’s back…” No? Ok, well, I can tell you’re as excited as I am anyway.

Dottie, of course it’s great to have you back. This week, I’ll award you one murder hit on the Leprechaun of your choice, an imaginary bag of gold that’s free from all evil, and a hundred billion extra credit points for having lived such a long, wonderful life and sharing some of it with us. I’ll also see if I can assign a full-time good fairy protection force to serve you – if anyone deserves that, it’s you! Thanks again for playing!

Expert Lewis, here’s the question to you:

Q. I’d like you each to tell us a houseplant fairy tale.

A. Why & I & Little Red

Why can’t I reach the sky, asked Little Red.
Why can’t I stand on the top of the world, asked Little Red
Why can’t I see to end of the earth, asked Little Red
Why can’t I taste the first rain, asked Little Red.
Why can’t I be a friend of the wind, asked Little Red.
Why can’t I feel old Sun, asked Little Red,
Why can’t I dance under Moon lite nights,  asked Little Red.
Why can’t I shine like a starry sky, asked Little Red.
Why can’t I laugh like the Golden Loon, asked Little Red.
Why can’t I sing like the Morning Dove, asked Little Red.
Why can’t I grow like the Wild Rose, asked Little Red.
Why can’t I help others catch the spirit of good health, asked Little Red.
Why can’t I give joy like the Rising Sun, asked Little Red.
Why can’t I spread Peace like the Setting Sun, asked Little Red.. 

Oh my silly Brother Little Red.

You can reach the sky, stand on the top of the world, see the end of the earth, taste the first rain, be a friend of the wind, feel old Sun, dance under Moon lite nights, shine like a starry sky, laugh like the Golden Loon, sing like the Morning Dove, grow like the Wild Rose, help others catch good health, give joy like the rising Sun and spread Peace like the Setting Sun.

For we are the mighty mighty Pomegranates Clan said

Big Red, Mid Red, Round Red, Great Red, Light Red, Dark Red, Red Red, Tiny Red, Slightly Red, Reddest Red, Almost Red, Tasty Red, Reddy Red, Happy Red, Dopey Red, Bashful Red, Sleepy Red, Grouchy Red, Smiley Red, DR. Red, Rudolph Red, Dasher Red, Donner Red, Dixon Red, I wish I was Red, Sally Red, Sara Red, Susan Red, Bea Red, Betty Red, Lea Red, Ruby Red, Freddy Red, and Reddy Fred.

Hahaha, you really have a thing for Pomegranates, don’t you, Lewis?

Again, I’m really glad I asked this question. You’ve all been creative, thoughtful and entertaining. Lewis, I loved your fairy tale – you have a knack for capturing the enthusiasm of Nature.

This week for making us all smile, you’ve earned a life-time subscription to The Pomegranate News (the only newspaper by Pomegranates, for Pomegranates), an A+, and the undying appreciation of Nature for being such a wonderful ambassador to her. Great job!

Also, I may need your services involving a certain Leprechaun…oh, wait, we’ll just talk about that later, k?

That does it for this week’s Ask the Experts panel. Thanks everyone for being here. My Experts will return in exactly one week, hope to see you back here.

Now, on to last week’s plant puzzler.

Name that Plant Problem!

Last week, I asked you to create a story to explain what might’ve happened to this Dieffenbachia:

One week it was fine, the next week, three broken stems. I asked for you to create a story because there’s no way for me to know exactly what happened. I have a pretty good idea, though.

Let’s see how you guessed:

The Plant Master wrote, “LOL… well maybe the night before was the roomates birthday. They had a big party and lots of people were there. Dancing was aso a part of the event, but when Bob decided to do the cotton eye joe…..he leaped in the air and jumped on the chair thinking he was mounting a bull for bull riding. He fell on the plant and broke of the branches. Must of been some party!!!!!”

Bueno, bueno, my friend The Plant Master, who’s our very own Expert Tina.

What’s funny about Tina’s story is that it’s probably pretty darn close to true. I believe someone fell on this plant and broke the stems. The reason I believe that is because the pot itself wasn’t knocked over – the dirt was intact. So the stems got broken where the plant sits, which is on a plant stand. The only plausible explanation that I see is that a person fell into it or swiped it somehow. Some party, indeed!

Congratulations, Tina, and thanks for playing! Because you’re the only winner, this week you’ve earned all the prizes, which include a trip for two to Never Never Land, a mobile party that follows you around, and a blessing from your Fairy Godmother. Well done!

On to the new puzzler:

???Real or Fake???

Are they both real? Both fake? One real, one fake? One fake, one real? One named Larry, one named Sue? Both figments of our collective imaginations?

Think you know the answer, smartyplants? Leave your best guess in the comments section. You have until midnight next Thursday, February 3rd, midnight MST (that’s 2a.m. EST) to cast your vote. I’ll reveal the answer and the winner after next week’s panel of Experts.

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

Hello apples, and happy Friday!

Let’s get right to it. Hi experts!

“Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiii Liza!”

You guys are adorable! From left to right, that’s Tina, Thack, EZ, Dottie and Lewis. If you’d like to know more about them, please click here.

They’re not really experts on plants (well, Tina is), more like experts in life in general. That’s what makes this panel so funny. Let’s see how they do with a normal plant question:

Q. Do you have any tips or advice for the best way to select a good houseplant?

Expert Tina, you’re up first as usual:

A. “The key to picking out a house plant is to make sure you check for any mechanical damage such as torn leaves or broken branches. You must make sure it is free of pests and has no discoloration of the foliage. Also you might want to go to a nursery to purchase the plant. They take better care of the stock and are very knowledgeable in any questions you may have. As you know the box stores stress out the plants by not watering them properly. You can get lucky sometimes if you catch them when they first come in then you might have a chance to get a nice plant.”

Were we separated at birth? Because your answer was spot-on perfect – great job, Tina! Everything you mentioned is important – you want to look for the healthiest plants and inspect for bugs (do the best you can – sometimes bugs hide until you get the plant home, that happens a lot with plants from the big box stores). And you’re right – your local nursery is apt to be a much better source for plants.

Well done! This week, you’ve earned an imaginary visit to the greenhouse of your choice, two wheelbarrows full of extra credit points, and the eternal gratitude of houseplants throughout Albuquerque, Rio Rancho and Santa Fe. Thanks for being here!

Up next is Expert Tim Thackaberry. Thack, here’s the question to you:

Q. Do you have any tips or advice for the best way to select a good houseplant?

A. The main consideration, in my book, is that it needs to be hard to kill. It should be able to handle benign neglect and still thrive. Liza, in fact, has shown me a number of plants that fit into this category, and I couldn’t be more pleased! Asking me to remember the names of these plants, however, may be a bridge too far. Liza, can you enlighten me (and, by extension, your loyal readers) on what exactly it is you encouraged me to buy? Because the plants are doing great!”

Uh, oh dear. Didn’t I give you a list? We went plant shopping a long time ago. I definitely remember the Dracaena fragrans – the nice tall Corn plant we put in your living room. And I think there were other Dracaenas as well, maybe a marginata (Dragon Tree). And knowing me, I probably picked out the nearly impossible to screw up Epipremnum aureum, commonly known as a Pothos plant. Sansevieria, or Snake plant, of course.

Wait, why am I doing the work of remembering? I’m just the moderator – you’re not supposed to make me work! Don’t get me wrong – I’m glad your plants are doing well. But I don’t want to think right now. For that, you’ve earned a black star, 10 negative bragging rights and a coupon not good for a future win. So there!

Haha, we tease on this site, we tease. Thack, thanks as always for being here.

Up next Expert EZ Ed Johnson, here’s the question to you:

Q. Do you have any tips or advice for the best way to select a good houseplant?

A. “I touch its leaf, and if it doesn’t wilt in fear, I go for it.”

Well, Miss Mimosa would definitely be out then – she wilts all the time.

EZ, you live in a dark apartment. If I were going to give you advice on what type of plant to choose, I’d say go with a plant with dark leaves. As a general rule of thumb, the darker the leaves, the less light a plant needs. If a plant has very light or variegated leaves, it’s going to want brighter light or a little direct sunlight.

Good job, and thanks for being here again this week, EZ. For playing, you’ve earned a houseplant from me (this one is real – any time you’re ready, I’ll pick one out for you), 4 quarts of silver stars and glory.

Expert Dottie isn’t feeling well, so let’s send her some healing prayers and hope she gets well soon. Dottie, as always, we miss you. We’re going to admire your cuteness:

And move on to Lewis. Lewis, fine sir, here’s the question to you:

Q. Do you have any tips or advice for the best way to select a good houseplant?

A. “I just consult my private copy of  “House Plants for Dummies”, look in the chapter that says House plants for morons, idiots or Politicians try to find the most fool proof plant listed and give that information to the selected few. It will probably say something  like choose a Wandering Jew, a spider plant, a Patho, a Jade, a Cast Iron plant, a rubber plant, Boston fern, English Ivy, Peace lily, succulents and Aloes. With a little TLC, common sense, luck and you’re not as dumb as a sack of rocks these are just a few of the wonderful world of house plants that await you.

Now  I am not trying to discourage any who are aspiring to walk the good green road, and wish to share their life with another living creature. The rewards are many,beauty, color, fragrance, clean air, companionship, satisfaction of a job well done because your efforts show in bright green spirits and the smiles and delights given when you gift others with one of your dear green friends. For plants will go forth and multiply with care from loving hands.

When I wonder through a greenhouse run by people having plant knowledge, plant experience  and love the plants under their care, (not a plant factory), I think sometimes I have been blessed and chosen to host and share the lives of our green guests for our mutual benefit. They only let us think we are in charge, cause when I get a wink I know that one’s for me.”

To be fair, the outdoor plants may be in charge. Once a plant is stuck in a container indoors, we really are in charge. Without us, they would die because they can’t fend for themselves. But I like your point – houseplants are living, breathing creatures that can delight and inspire us. A little piece of Nature indoors is a treat, especially in dreary winter months when the garden is under snow.

Good job once again this week, Lewis. You’ve earned as many trips to a greenhouse as it takes to soothe your soul, a garden full of bragging rights and as always, my gratitude for playing.

That does it for our Ask the Experts panel. Thanks everyone for being here. The experts will return in exactly one week.

Now, last week’s plant puzzler:

???Real or Fake???

Last week, I asked if this plant was real or fake:

Let’s see how you guessed:

mr_subjunctive at Plants Are the Strangest People wrote, “My first impulse was real, but after contemplating it for a while, I think it’s fake.”

theatrumbotanicum of Theatrum Botanicum wrote, “Fake. The central vein is just too prominent and all the other veins are just too absent.”

Martha, from Plowing Through Life wrote, “Fake. The central vein looks like a wire.”

Ivynettle from Letters and Leaves wrote, “Fake. It has that plastic-y gleam, and the central vein the others have already pointed out.”

Steph wrote, “Fake, there’s a leaf on the right side that has a wire poking out. Funny!

Regarding the “lameness” of fake plants, I totally agree except for 2 counts:
1) Christmas trees…real trees are a mess and it feels like murder.
2) Outdoor/artificial Palm Trees in Indiana!! No matter how cold it gets, they always make we want to drink fruity drinks and listen to calypso music. I can’t wait to have one of my own some day!”

You guys think you’re sooooo smart, don’t you? Well you should. Here’s a broader view of this fake plant:

Steph, I hear ya. There are some occasions I can allow when a fake plant is better than no plant at all. I guess.

I don’t like fake plants because they’re usually ugly, they’re expensive, and they collect dust to the point where no one wants to clean them so they just get thrown away, which is wasteful. Real plants get dusty, too, but at least you get the reward of watching a creature grow and evolve.

Good job everyone, and congratulations – you’re all winners! This week for playing, you’ve each earned an A+, 50 extra credit points and bragging rights from now until April. Thanks for playing!

Now, the new puzzler:

Name that Plant Problem!

What happened to this plant?

I’ll be upfront about it – this is a “trick” question in that there’s no way I can know for sure for sure what happened to this plant. One week it was fine, the next week, three of its stalks were violently broken. I have a pretty good theory, so whoever gets closest or most creative wins. Ignore the brown tips and the trash in the pot – the problem is the broken stalks.

Think you know the answer, smartyplants? Leave your best guess in the comments section. You have until midnight next Thursday, January 27th, MST (that’s 2a.m. EST) to cast your vote. I’ll reveal the answer and the winner after next week’s panel of Experts.

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

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 665 other followers


Follow LizaWheeler7 on Twitter

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.