The Best Laid Plans


This post was planned months ago. The local garden club had scheduled its plant and craft sale for November, and as secretary, there’s a bit of pressure to contribute plants.

My initial thought was to document my clipping and dividing, rooting and potting — all very Martha-like, with photos and plant details.

At least that was my plan in September.

Some clippings planted in hollowed-out coconuts. Clockwise from top left: Sun rose, decorative pineapple, echeveria.

Some clippings planted in hollowed-out coconuts. Clockwise from top left: Sun rose, decorative pineapple, echeveria.

Just days before the actual plant sale, there I was — fiendishly taking cuttings and sizing up any plant in the yard that could be divided. The last thing on my mind was any sort of photographing of technique.

Somehow, other stuff had eaten up my plans. This was crunch time. This was writing a 20-page paper the day before the semester ended. This was November.

Copperleaf, "Louisiana Red."

I’m not sure what happened to the 11th month. It was here — and now it’s gone. As I filled small pots and coconuts hollowed out by squirrels with soil, I did some serious thinking about No-More-November.

Like most people — without going into any details — I was distracted by the election. At the same time, I had taken a full-time writing job with a local Internet marketing agency because my hours at the garden center had been cut due to poor sales.

Although I wasn’t writing for my blog, I was writing posts for other peoples’ blogs.



Just as writing assignments poured in, my retail hours increased — and I found myself slinging mulch in the morning, writing in the afternoon, and maintaining some semblance of life in the evening.

Oh, and there was that plant sale just a few days before Thanksgiving.

Speaking of Thanksgiving, Joe and I hosted a small feast for his parents and us — but I feel I have to mention that this year, I felt particularly sad for the holiday itself.

Coconut planters packed and ready for sale.

Coconut planters packed and ready for sale.

Working in retail, I’ve learned, there is a different kind of calendar out there. It’s the corporate one — and Thanksgiving seems to have gotten swallowed up between Halloween and Christmas. As I looked around the store, I was hard-pressed to find an inflatable turkey among the goblins and witches and Santas and Darth Vaders in Santa hats.

I think Thanksgiving needs a better a marketing plan.

Devil's Backbone, a succulent, roots easily from cuttings.

Devil’s Backbone, a succulent, roots easily from cuttings.

And this brings me to Black Friday, another day that seems to overshadow Thanksgiving. For the first time in my life, I worked on Black Friday — and it was a very good reminder of why I have never set foot in a store or mall on that day.

It’s not that customers were rude or that they trampled one another. There was just so many of them — and each one of them wanted something from me: location of items, a shopping cart, planting advice, or thirty bags of mulch.

All this spinning in my head can best be summed up in one interaction with a customer. After helping him, I said, “Enjoy your Good Friday . . . Oh, wait, wrong holiday. It’s Black Friday.” We laughed — and I was off to the next customer.

Croton is surprisingly easy to root.

Croton, rooted from a recent trimming.

Now, about that post . . .

As hectic as things were during the month, I must admit I did enjoy the plant sale and the prepping for it. It felt good to be alone with plants, to focus on other stuff besides post-election debates and holidays and the blogs and gardens of other people.

While I may not have documented my propagating process, I did document the results and have included them here, with brief captions. I think I’ll offer more detailed plant profiles in future posts.

At least, that’s my plan.

10 thoughts on “The Best Laid Plans

  1. Semi-retirement doesn’t sound as blissful as I’ve always envisioned it!
    Hope the plant sale goes off well. It looks as if you’ve done your part at least, amazing how you live in a land where most things just need sticking in the dirt and voila, new plant.

    • Hi Bittster — When fellow gardeners told me all I had to do was stick something in the ground, I was skeptical. Now that I’ve seen it for myself, it’s truly amazing. It doesn’t work for all plants, but I’m not complaining. 🙂

  2. Holey Moley, Kevin — you’ve been busy! Your description of the plant sale was terrific — ugh — I feel so incompetent!

    My (indoor) plants are on a downward spiral. Not sure if it’s the change of season in the Northeast or ??? Plants that I’ve had for 15 years are suddenly shedding their leaves. NOOOOO! 😩 I’m heading for Hicks, my local garden center tomorrow, leaves in hand. 🍂 Hoping for some hope and HELP. I refuse to let these plants perish from this earth. Wish me luck! M I S S Y O U!

    • Hi K. Good luck with your houseplants. If you’ve had a plant for 15 years, I wonder if it’s been in the same pot. It may need a bigger home with some fresh dirt. Miss you, too. 🙂

    • Hi Brenda! LOL. As you can see from how long it’s taken me to respond to your comment, the hours haven’t slowed down. I’m looking forward to a post-holiday lull — although, winter is the start of a very busy gardening season for south Florida gardeners! 🙂 Enjoy the holidays!

  3. You’ve been very busy. I was involved in dividing and potting up plants, too, for a plant sale at the beginning of October. I was very proud of the plant labels I printed from my computer on large stick-on labels — including a photo of the plant in bloom — and stuck on the pots. Alas, it rained the day of the plant sale and the ink on my labels ran. 😐 I guess next year, I need to think about some kind of tape or plastic to protect them. -Jean

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