Sunday, January 27, 2008

Waking up the "Green Room"

Over the past week and a half, since our return from the big city of Atlanta, I have been working out in the "green room". For those of you that have been to our nursery you know what I am referring to, the old greenhouse area that was closed in and turned into our information/checkout/organics/tools area. We started calling it the green room for a couple of reasons. The first and foremost is the reality that it is actually green. The roof was made from some type of dark green poly plastic, and when you are in there the room actually takes on a green hue. Children walk in during the summer months, gaze at their hands, and tell their parents "Mommy, Why does my skin look so funny?". We have gotten pretty used to the color by now so it always elicits smiles when we hear this from the little ones. The other reason is the move that we made to organics seven years ago when we purchased the nursery. We think of ourselves as a "green nursery", and hope to encourage you in the use of organics also.

Back to the green room story. Most of you are aware that we turn the area into the "Winter Garden" each year around the first of November. Filled with Christmas trees, decorations and wonderment ~ it has been an annual tradition for the last six years. While we were gone to Atlanta the elves (Jamie, Linny, Kim & Cody ~ Thank you very much!!!) were extremely busy packing everything up in the room that remained, taking down the lights and decorations, removing the curtains and preparing it for the massive amounts of products that would be arriving when we returned. It takes an awful lot of product to make it through the spring in a garden center. Over the next two weeks we will start receiving everything and hopefully have what is needed when you stop by. The seed racks are already up and filled with the latest flowers, herbs and vegi's. The pre-emergents and dormant oil sprays take center stage this time of year, as we try and assist you with easy things you can do now to make the rest of the season a pleasant one.

The transformation of the room back to gardening always fills me with a feeling of joy. I love spring time and all the renewal it brings. The days are already feeling longer with the extra light when I head home, and the tulips I started in glass jars are just starting to poke their heads up. Pretty soon I will be taking cuttings off the giant forsythia out front and bringing the branches in to force for an early splash of spring in the gift shop. We have actually seen quite a few early gardeners over the last few days. With the weather a little warmer the last couple days, and the sun peeking out, I think everyone is as antsy as I am to get started. I hear there are more storms on the way though and everyday we get this moisture is another one that you won't have to drag your hose out to water those new plantings from last year.

Enjoy the day, and we hope to see you soon, Susan

Monday, January 21, 2008

It's a Snow Day

I closed the store at 3pm yesterday and headed home in the start of what appears to be Fallon's largest snowfall yet this year. With the whiteness swirling around me as I closed the gate I remembered once again why it would be helpful to carry gloves and a coat with me. I am a southern girl, raised in Florida. You would think after living here for the last 20 years that I would be accustomed to the changes in the weather that can happen pretty rapidly around here. I can hear my mother/daughter/husband now "I can't believe you went out without a coat".

These pictures are from my side yard early today. This is where I spend every morning as soon as the temperatures are even in the 50's. As long as the sun is starting to come up, I bundle up in my fleece and warm lined boots and head out there with my coffee and journal. Walking around out there this morning I longed for the day when I can resume this morning ritual. For now though I intend to enjoy the beauty of our snow covered valley. If you have pictures you would like to add to the blog of your own snowy yard, send them over and I will get them posted up.

I am on my way back outside to fill the bird feeders, and yes, I will have on a coat and gloves. Take care and stay warm, Susan

Friday, January 18, 2008

Where did the days go?

Well we are back home in Nevada. Day 6 - 9 was pretty much a blur. We made the mistake the first two days we were in Atlanta of doing a lot more "browsing" than buying. By the time Thursday rolled around it seemed like everyone and their cousins had descended on the Gift Show. Where in the early days of the show we had the salespeople fighting over who would help us, the last four days it turned around completely. We were taking numbers, coming back hours later, and still waiting our turn to find someone to write our order. People were pushing to get on the elevators, not us of course, and a frenzy had overtaken some of the showrooms. Here's how we solved it. We went to the Aquarium!!!! on Friday, and toured the historic town of Roswell on Monday before we headed home. Friday afternoon, Saturday and Sunday we split up and hit the stores that we had decided we wanted to buy from. With a "fortified with grits breakfast" early morn, and a skilled eye from us all, we managed to not only go back and place all the orders we wanted, we also found numerous new vendors that filled us with excitement for the coming spring season. We found two!!!! new statuary companies that we are very thrilled about. They ship out of Chicago, but are made for our cold. One company specializes in lightweight/non-concrete pieces that appeared as though they had just been shipped over from an old garden in England. New birdbaths, bird feeders, furniture, pots, baby onesies, glasses, wine treats, food........I think you are getting the picture here.....lots and lots of great new things coming in. Michelle even found time to meet up with Rhett for a photo op.

We hope to see you soon, Susan

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Day 5, Atlanta

Mr. Sparkle, as we now refer to him, stands at the top of the stairs on the main walk into Americas Mart. Every morning he awaits you, always with a smile ~ a kind word ~ a question about your day. The first day we walked up the stairs out of the Marta subway, and rounded the corner, I saw him and mentioned to Melissa, "Oh look, there is that same nice man that was here two years ago when we were here". He stands there like the traffic cop he is, directing the masses to their correct location. Arms pointing, he guides them to the closest restroom, the location of the coat check, he looks at their maps, answers questions about local restaurants, and does all of it with a huge smile. He is there when we arrive at 7:30 in the morning~ and he is there when we head back to the hotel at 7:30 at night.

The first day that we were at the show a company that we purchase amazing Christmas ornaments from, Seasons of Cannon Falls, was giving out these nice little pins that say either "SPARKLE" or "DELIGHT". It was a really cute way for them to advertise their company because we saw no less than 100 people wearing them the first day. Their promotion also included the chance to win a mixture of prizes if seen by one of their employees, including a very large, and very expensive diamond. When we left the show on Tuesday night I had my "Sparkle" in my hand as I tried to get my Marta pass out of my backpack. I handed it to the gentleman at the door, and told him, "Here's one for you, thank you for being so happy everyday", or something to that effect.

The next morning as we rounded the corner coming up the stairs, I hear from fifty yards away, "Good Morning, how you doing today sir....... which way you going......... yes sir...that is the right have a great day ma'am......How you all doing today?............Isn't it a great day, yes sir, two more halls down - take a left........Yes ma'am that's a nice smile you got today............Yes ma'am, it's a sparkly day today........You all have a great day today.......Yes Sir..just keep going this direction...................and on and on and on. Never stopping, never tiring, never ever without that big grin that starts your day with a warm heart and sooths you aching feet on the way home.

The best comment I heard him say though - as we were rounding the corner, was "Yes Sir....... that's me...Mr. Sparkle!"

Friday, January 11, 2008

Day 4, Atlanta

Lucia, reporting from Atlanta,

Today was our day to visit the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta. The weather was sunny and beautiful so we walked there from the Mart via the impressive Centennial Olympic Park built for the 1996 Summer Games. As we entered the aquarium, we were emersed in a school of fish swimming along both sides of the entryway. Wow! Then it was off to the touching pools for hands-on encounters with rays, anenome, shrimp, starfish, and urchins. The aquarium staff were always nearby to answer questions and fascinate us with interesting facts. Up next was a tour of the Amazon River.....we'll continue writing about our tour of this amazing place tomorrow since its time for bed!
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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Day 3, Atlanta

We woke up to another beautiful day in Atlanta. We had all checked the weather, numerous times, before setting out on this trip. Forecast was for cold and rainy, but we have been extremely lucky to wake up to cool and sunny with a light mist most days. Thought you might like a visual of the staircase I was talking about a couple of days ago. It really is a piece of art when looked at through a lens.

We spent today in the Holiday floors shopping for next Christmas season. Michelle and Lucia were the delegated shoppers for this area and they set off with their notes in hand in search of that perfect ornament and theme for next year's trees. Marlea and I set out for the garden floors. I think we only got through about 1/10 of it though. The shops are starting to take on a blur now and I find myself writing a lot more notes as to where I found certain things so I can go back and place orders later. We are finding some wonderful new things for the gift shop and garden this year. I can't wait until they all start to arrive in the next couple of months.

When the sun was setting we found ourselves outside enjoying a glass of wine on the patio of a local restaurant, a little breather before our final appointments that evening. Then it was back to the hotel , and just as we were finishing up our wonderful dinner on the outdoor patio a gentle rain started to fall. Back up at the room we took and hour to recap our day, Marlea putting everything into a spreadsheet to keep track of what/where/who we had been to see that day. Slumber is well needed. A busy day is planned for tomorrow. We have tickets for the Georgia Aquarium and we are all very excited.

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Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Day 2, Atlanta

Today felt like the run for the roses. We have been getting up each morning to do our yoga, the perfect way to stretch and relax before the frenzy of the gift show begins. A morning cup of coffee and then we were off for the show. The subway system in Atlanta is extremely efficient. North/South/East/West ~ not a lot of ways to get lost. You don't have to worry about changing stations too often or getting on the wrong train. A nice benefit when you are rushing through the turnstiles hurrying towards your destination at the show.

When you arrive at the Americas Mart station you get off the train and make the turn that takes you up the loooooong escalator up to Building# 1. We have thought each morning that it would be a good idea to skip the escalator and hike up the stairs that adjoin them to get the blood flowing and work up our energy. Yeah, I hear you, "What were you thinking?". We are going to be walking for eight straight hours at least, on our feet the entire day, but we feel the need to walk up the equivalent of nine flights of stairs. All I can say is it is actually a pretty nice feeling to accomplish this every morning!

The show today was extremely productive. We ordered a large amount of wonderful new books, some fun new gift items for the tweens amongst us, and new scents from The Thymes. We toured all the new offerings from Department 56, one of the premier makers of amazing Christmas items. Tomorrow it is off to Holiday Land, as we take to the aisles in search of all the best ornaments, tableware, and decorative accessories that we can find for next season.

Dinner tonight was at an extremely loud, but mouth watering Italian restaurant that we had visited on our last trip here two years ago. We filled ourselves with the most amazing food and then headed for the train back home. A light mist was falling as we came up out of the train tunnel and we lifted our faces to the sky to feel the moisture.

To be continued, Susan

Day 1, Atlanta Gift Show

Good Morning from rainy, but warm Atlanta. We arrived early Monday evening after an uneventful and lovely flight. The weather was balmy, but no rain falling, and the path to the hotel easy to navigate via the Marta, Atlanta's subway system.

Tuesday morning bright and early we headed out to the corner bakery, had our coffee, and cheesy grits for me ~ my southern roots showing, and set out for the show. There are six of us this trip. Michelle, Marlea, Lucia, myself, my friend Melissa from Every Bloomin' Thing in Susanville and her mom, Linda. We have all traveled together before, to the International Gift Show in San Francisco last year, so it feels like a lovely reunion. Nothing can really prepare you for the magnitude of the Atlanta show. Melissa and I had done this show together two years ago by ourselves and we felt like we had seen only a third of the almost 60 floors of showrooms. So this year we came armed with assistance, better shoes, and the frame of mind needed to try and see it all. The first day we spent making appointments at the Christmas showrooms that we want to see later in the week, and walking the first four floors of holiday merchandise. There is a large benefit to ordering for next years holidays when this years have just passed. Everything is fresh in your mind and you don't tend to get "caught up in the moment" of ordering quite as much. You can take your time and remember the requests you have heard from shoppers all season, "Can you please look for some truly Victorian ornaments and carolers?" to "Please look for more ballerinas for next year", and from my young mom's group "We need ornaments that not only say Baby's 1st, but also the year".

We made it out of the Christmas floors in time to get some lunch, and then start on some general gift ideas. We looked for books, we shopped up and down the aisles for new silk flowers, baby wear, hats, jewelry, lotions and dishes ~ a little bit of everything. I tend to be a "just looker" the first couple of days. While it makes it a little harder, especially for your feet, to go back and place orders later, I tend to get a much better feel for what is out there and what will work for our store. Of course that did not stop me from placing an immediate order with a new company for us called "The Natural Life". The had wonderful clothes, hats and baby gift items and we have wanted to carry them for quite a while. Plus, my grandson Cash is always in need of a new adorable outfit. We rounded out the evening with an amazing dinner at "Aunt Pitty Pats" an Atlanta institution, and got our fill of collard greens, blackened grouper, fried green tomatoes, black eyed peas, BBQ ribs, and the best sweet pototoes we have ever had.

We are sitting downstairs in our lovely hotel right now. Having our coffee and downloading the 102 pictures that I took yesterday. Haven't seen much of Atlanta yet, but we have plans for the Aquarium on Friday, and antique/thrift shopping in Rosswell at some point. You know what they say about all work and no play. And we don't do dull!

To be continued.....Have a great day, Susan
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Thursday, January 3, 2008

A new day at the nursery

Yesterday was the first day we were open for the new year. I walked to the store, we only live about 1 1/2 miles away, and the temps outside were very cold but at least there was no wind. I didn't expect to see many customers yesterday, but surprisingly it was very steady and Harriet and I both enjoyed the company. This time of year I've noticed, is when people really start getting excited about the garden for the coming spring. It is cold and dreary outside, there are large storms forecast for this weekend, and you just want to hope and dream for a little bit of sunshine and greenery to be coming soon. The holidays are behind us, and the seed catalogs that stacked up by the chair in November & December are back in your lap.

I talked to one women about her houseplants and the infestation of spider mites that she had brought inside with her from last summer. I probably should have discussed this in the September newsletter, and have made a note to do so next year. When your houseplants have been outside for the entire summer you need to take a few precautions when you bring them back in the house. The eggs that the bugs have laid on them will start to hatch when brought into your warm and comfy home. You can avoid that by spraying with an organic solution, or using a granular systemic before bringing them in the house. If they are in the house now, and you are either seeing the signs of little gnats or spider mites on your plants, you can still treat them now and take care of it. It is just so much easier to do it outside before you bring them in for the winter.

Today is yoga day at The River House behind the store. If you have been thinking about coming to a class, remember that Julie offers your first class at no charge. Stop by sometime and check it out. You might just become hooked like I have. Classes will now only be on Tuesday and Thursday mornings as she has been offered a position at the college also. When it warms back up she will again do a class outside in the River Garden as well.

Have a great day and stay warm! Susan

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year!

I am heading outside in a few moments to enjoy the warmth that the sun is filling our yard with today. The compost pile needs to be turned and the bird feeders need to be filled. This photo was taken in my side yard this last week after the nice snowfall that we had. It is too hard to keep water in the small birdbaths during the winter months, so I fill them with seed instead. Enjoy the sunshine, it looks like we have a nice large storm on the way for this coming weekend. Happy 2008!


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