Category Archives: This and That

The View from Here

I don’t write much on this blog.  Every now and then, I’ll schedule a bunch of daily photos.  I mostly write on other blogs.

I review books on Pomegranate’s blog here:

I write about surfing here:

I write about gardening here:

I write about business here:

So, for semi-regular blogging, check out those sites.

Why I Don’t Blog Here

I don’t write much on this blog because I write all the time.  ALL. THE. TIME.  Writing is my job.  Gardening is also kind of my job.  I’ve figured out how to turn reading into a (fun) job. I write about surfing PURELY because I enjoy it.  I write about business on the GWT site because I have something to share with my fellow writers/photographers.  At least, until I run out of things to say.

I don’t blog for a personal audience, and writing for four other blogs, as well as other ghost blogs and writing projects, pretty much uses me up. I’ve found a way to be compensated for writing about everything like to do and write about doing.  Compensated by someone else.   That’s a good situation, yes?  I think so.

I’m Not My Own Brand

This is a bit of my Garden Writers presentation coming out.  I have a brand: The Garden of Words, LLC.  It is my business.  It isn’t Me.  And, I’m not my business.  Let’s pretend I am an attorney (like my Dad might have secretly wanted me to be because he’s one and then we could have practiced together but then I’d still be living in Indianapolis, would not have met my husband and wouldn’t be a surfer-but I digress), I work for a firm.  The firm is my business, but it isn’t Me.  At the end of the day, I’m representing my clients’ interests, not my interests.

It’s the same thing with The Garden of Words.  I represent my clients’ interests.  What I do isn’t about me.  It’s about them.

I don’t want to be the shining star.  I want them to be the shining star.  I want to work and surf. That’s all.



Filed under This and That

My Live Facebook Author Interview with

On Monday, I got an email from Jean Ann VK asking me if I’d like to be the LIVE FACEBOOK AUTHOR INTERVIEW this week.  Now, either they’ve run out of other awesome authors and finally were like “ok, we guess we’ll ask Katie” or they think I have top secret information to share with all y’all (I live in North Carolina).

It is probably a combination of both.   I am super-flattered, and can’t wait to participate.

To follow along and ask questions, you need to “like” on Facebook.  You can do that by clicking this link:

What I have to Offer You

I’m not a “book author.”  Not really.  I ghostwrite books, but I don’t have my name on them.  (Unless you look through the acknowledgments.)  I’m usually listed as “major help,” “editor,” “reader,” “tyrannical fanatic,” or something like that.

I’m more an author of online content:  blogs, newsletters, websites, facebook pages, twitter, etc.  I feel that twitter was MADE for me, or I was made for it.  My life is much more complete with twitter.  But, I digress.


I thought that all of my adoring fans (all three of you: Hi NATALIE, SUSAN and SHELLEY!) knew about my history working in botanic gardens.  Apparently, I have one adoring fan that did not know about that.  (LAURA-have you or have you not been following my every move since birth?  Oh, I’ve only known you for about a year. K. You’re absolved.)  Working in and managing public gardens around the United States is how I learned a lot of what I hope to share with everyone today.

Have you ever visited a beautiful botanical garden and said to yourself “This is really pretty, but I could NEVER make my garden look like that?”  I’m here to tell you that you CAN.  If you want to.  Even if you just want your front flowerbed to make a BIG SPLASH, I’ll tell you how we do it in the public garden world.

The Practical Side of Gardening

I am a practical gardener.  I don’t have a lot of time to spend in my garden, but I spend all day looking out AT my front garden while I write.  So, I want it to look good.  I want it to look good, even if I can only spent about one full day, every other month, working in it.  (With husband on standby to run to the garden center for supplies if I need him to.  Which he is always pleased to do, because he likes to shop–particularly at garden centers.  We have three birdbaths.)

I don’t want to give everything away here in my blog post, but I’m hoping that you will ask me questions about some of these topics so that I can share my hard-earned tips with you!

  • Using annuals without breaking the bank
  • Designing your own mixed border for year-round color
  • IPM (Integrated pest management) or, in my case, NPM  (No Pest Management)
  • Why it is OK to hire a lawn service and what you should look for if you do
  • How a little bit of basic botany can go a long way toward helping you tend your garden.
  • We’re not kidding about mulch
  • Irrigation–do you have it–are you using it properly
  • and my VERY FAVORITE TOPIC EVER: how to water your plants correctly.
  • Dealing with deer and other animals around large pieces of property or big flower beds
  • MASS PLANTING: you CAN do it.

Plus more! I’ve worked at the Smithsonian, Marie Selby Botanical Garden, Indianapolis Zoo, Airlie Gardens, Fort Ticonderoga, Washington Park Arboretum, Longwood Gardens, Winterthur, and others.  Ask me to tell their secrets. I’m more than happy to.

Looking forward to seeing you this afternoon!


Filed under Books, Garden, This and That, Writing

Adopt a Platoon

This was a FOB, or Forward Operating Base, in Afghanistan.  This is Restrepo. Named for PFC Juan S. Restrepo, a medic with the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, who was killed in action on July 22, 2007.  This little outpost was built out of the rock in the Korengal Valley of Afghanistan.  That valley saw some of the heaviest fighting, hand-to-hand combat, and conflicts of the current war in Afghanistan.  A couple of months ago, the U.S. Military pulled out.

But really gets me is that Restrepo is where people LIVED.  Our fellow citizens. Our soldiers.  I get it that war isn’t a carnival, and violence isn’t glamorous, and not all of us agree with everything going on right now.  Still, these soldiers lived for months in dust holes, peeing in PVC pipes, eating MREs, burning their own poop.  Much of it without the attention of anyone other than their families and other military families. Long, repeated deployments cause stress and strain, lost jobs, foreclosures, and more.  We have been in this for a loooooonnnnggg time.

I don’t have family members currently serving.  I didn’t have anything to do with any of this until I drove back and forth through Jacksonville, NC, through Camp Lejune, on a day trip to Emerald Isle in October of 2009.  I never lived in a military town, and I little to no experience with it.  We drove through the city, with the base on either side. Bedsheets with “Welcome home so and so” or “We miss you so and so” or “We will never forget you so and so” hung from the miles and miles of chain link fences separating the base from the rest of us.

I cried.  But then, I went home and did something. First, I found Blue Star Families, an organization that supports the families of actively serving military personnel.  I wrote thank you cards to those family members: spouses, children, parents and grandparents of military personnel.  Then, via twitter, I found Adopt a Platoon.  My husband and I adopted two service members.  Each week, we send a card or postcard or letter.  Once a month we send a care package.

Here, whether or not we hear

I haven’t heard from my soldiers.  I’ve only been supporting them for a few months, and mail takes a long time.  And, they’re busy.  And, at least one of them is living in a very remote area with little access to anything other than very basic life necessities.  It isn’t their job to write to me.  It is their job to do their job, and my job to support them.

I like writing the cards.  I tell them about what’s growing in my garden.  I tell them funny stories about my dog.  I tell them what the ocean feels like after I haven’t been in for several months–salt stinging in my pores.  I write to them about my travels.  I tell them we think of them daily.  Most of all, I thank them for what they’re doing.

What they do allows me to stay home and write.  To go surfing. To curl up with my husband at night.  They have volunteered, so that not everyone has to. They all have different reasons for serving.

A complicated situation

War is not pretty and it isn’t simple.  It involves people, and when you have more than one person involved in anything, you have conflicts.  I think is overly simplistic to say “we never should have gone in” or “we have to get out now”.  There are a lot of in-betweens.

What is NOT in between is that for the entire history of our country, men and women have sacrificed their lives–all or portion–so that we can live as we please.  So that we can have a chance to make something of ourselves.

On Memorial Day, besides thanking our veterans, the biggest thanks that I think we can all pass along is to SUPPORT THOSE WHO ARE CURRENTLY SERVING.  Support them.  Support their families.  Let them know that we appreciate their sacrifices and hardships.  Honor the veterans by showing them that the sacrifices they made were not in vain, and that the sacrifices that our currently serving personnel and their families are making are not in vain.

Here are some easy things you can do to help.  These are not political. They are not religious.  They are one human to another saying:  I see you. I appreciate what you’re doing.  It matters to me.  Thank you.

Support your Veterans, their Families, and Currently Deployed Service Members

Blue Star Families: This organization supports families with actively deployed service members.  The easiest way to become involved is to participate in Operation Appreciation.  In this program, you write a note of thanks to a family member, and send it to Blue Star Families.  They then send the card out to a family member.  It is as easy as a notecard and ONE STAMP.  Learn more about this initiative here.

Adopt a Platoon: This organization has been around since 1998, and is organized to support actively serving personnel IN THE FIELD.  You can become a “pen pal,” where you send one letter or card a week, or you can “adopt” a service member or a whole platoon, and send letters once a week and a care package once a month.  One or two service members are great for families.  A whole platoon is a great project for church groups, clubs, and community organizations.

To fill out their new supporter application, click here.

When you scroll through their photo albums and read the notes of thanks from service members who have received support, you’ll see why it is so important to help.

THANK YOU to all of our service men and women who have served and are serving.  THANK YOU.


Filed under This and That

Claire de Lune Blog Tour and Book Giveaway!


Here are the winners of the big BOOK giveaway!  If you’re a winner, please email me your name, address, and who you’d like Christine to sign the book to.  Email me at ktplant “at” gmail “dot” com, so that I can have Christine autograph your book, and send it to you.


Shelley Dawson Hendershot  (I believe Shelley commented on every SINGLE blog, and put it on facebook about seventeen  times, so she had LOTS of chances to win!)

Susan L. Morrison

Rebecca Sweet

Laura Matthews

Eleanor Erickson

(These winners were randomly drawn from the pool of entries that followed the contest instructions below.  Some of them also wrote blog posts, but they tweeted, facebooked or told their friends about it, according to instructions! Thank you for playing!  Enjoy the books!)


Claire de Lune, by Christine Johnson, published by Simon Pulse, is NOW at bookstores near you!  Werewolves are also lurking on blogs near your corner of the internet, too.  Today we’re having a big blog book tour to celebrate the release of Claire de Lune at blogs near and far.  Here’s the list of participating blogs:



Good Enough Gardening Podcast and Facebook Page:

Punk Rock Gardens:

Pomegranate Books:

The Mini Garden Guru:

The Garden of Words:

Chicks on Sticks:

Glynne’s Soaps:

Theme a Party:

Gossip in the Garden:

Jenny Peterson Garden Design:

Masks Blog:

Blue Planet Gardening Blog

All Biz Answers

New Rules of Publishing:

Bling and Buy:

Amuse Bouche:

Fight Mediocrity:

Joy’s Jam:

Agility Spot:

BrushBuck Guide Services:

Fussbudget Promotions:

Take the Tour, Comment, and Come back Here to Win

Want to read about werewolves in the workplace?  How about surfing lessons for werewolf wahines?  All that and more is covered in the big blog book tour.  Check out the blogs, leave comments, and, learn more about the book, itself:

Check out Christine’s Web Page:

Follow her on Twitter:  @cjohnsonbooks

Become a Fan of Claire de Lune on Facebook:

Buy the book at

or, purchase it from your favorite local indie bookstore:

Win a Copy of Claire de Lune

Christine was kind enough to donate three copies of Claire de Lune with a signed book plates to our Blog Book Tour.  Would you like to win this book?  (You do want to win it.  It is GREAT!)  You have several options to enter the book giveaway:

  • Become a fan of Claire de Lune on Facebook
  • Tweet about the book and/or blog tour with the hashtag #clairedelune
  • Upload a picture of Claire de Lune in the “wild” (at your local bookstore) to the Claire de Lune Fan Page on Facebook, or to twitter with the hashtag #clairedelune
  • Comment on one of the participating blogs listed here, and then come back HERE and tell us where you commented! (so I can find you–some of these blogs are REALLY popular and get LOTS of comments.)

You can do as MANY of those as you want, as MANY times as you want.  Each “activity” will enter you one time into the drawing for a book.  I have THREE copies to give away.  Please complete your activities by 11:59 pm EST on Tuesday, May 18th, to enter.

I’ll gather up all of the entries and select three winners using  If you’re really active, it might take me a couple of days to get all of the entries together, so be patient 🙂

Find out the winners of the books on this blog no later than Friday, May 21.

HAVE FUN and thank you for spreading the word about this great new book!


Filed under 7 Things Book Reviews, Books, This and That, Writing

Claire de Lune non-Book Blog Tour

The novel Claire de Lune, by Christine Johnson, will be published by Simon Pulse, a division of Simon and Schuster, on TUESDAY, MAY 18th.

I’ve already read the book, and I LOVED it! It’s Johnson’s first novel, and geared for the Young Adult market, but I think that lots of groups will find it interesting: Moms & Daughters, book clubs, teens, people who liked Twilight, etc.  The book is evocative and atmospheric.  I really FELT like I was in the woods with the wolves.  It was also fun to read about being in love for the first time.  I wasn’t a werewolf, and I wasn’t in love with one, but, I gotta say, that time felt pretty tumultuous.  You can order the book on Amazon, HERE, or call your favorite local indie shop and ask them to order it for you!

Big non-book Blog Book Tour

To have a little bit of fun with the launch (because I grew up with Christine), I decided to coordinate a big blog book tour on NON book related blogs.  On Tuesday, May 18th, you’ll be able to visit the blogs below for a fun werewolf post!  Be sure to visit and comment at each blog.  It should be fun to see everyone’s take on the werewolf situation.

And, it is NOT too late to participate!  If you’d like to join the fun, write a werewolf post for your blog and schedule it for May 18th.  THEN, email me at ktplant “at” gmail “dot” com with your blog URL so I can add you to the list.

Many thanks to everyone who is participating!

Werewolves coming to these blogs on Tuesday, May 18th:


Double Danger:


Good Enough Gardening Podcast and Facebook Page:

Punk Rock Gardens:

Pomegranate Books:

The Mini Garden Guru:

The Garden of Words:

Chicks on Sticks:

Glynnes Soaps:

Theme a Party:

Gossip in the Garden:

Jenny Peterson Garden Design:

Masks Blog:

Blue Planet Gardening Blog

All Biz Answers

New Rules of Publishing:

Bling and Buy:

Amuse Bouche:

Fight Mediocrity:

Joy’s Jam:

Agility Spot:

BrushBuck Guide Services:

Find Christine Johnson, Author of Claire de Lune, online

Check out Christine’s Web Page:

Follow her on Twitter:  @cjohnsonbooks

Become a Fan of Claire de Lune on Facebook:


Filed under Books, This and That, Writing

Kindness is Currency, but Currency is not Necessarily Kindness

Maybe this is my Birthday Manifesto.  I turn 31 tomorrow.

About a month ago there was a big blowup in the garden blogging sphere by some individuals that take pleasure in stirring the sh*t. I guess that works for them, so good for them.  One thing that I never addressed was this: it upset me personally that someone called me out on a blog by saying that I must be getting paid to participate in blog commenting, rather than doing it as a friend.

Now, those bloggers don’t know me from Adam.  I’ve never met “in person” any of the people who attacked me, let alone the ones attacking my friend,  and I think that it is easier to hide behind the online wall if you haven’t met the person.  But, this blog isn’t about those people, this blog is about me and my observation.  I thought about the ideas behind the title a lot yesterday, because I was out running around town, seeing current friends and meeting new friends, showing some of them how to tweet, tweeting pictures of others, talking them up on Facebook and other various places.

And, NO, I wasn’t getting paid to do it.

I do have some paying gigs.  I’m a freelance writer and marketer.  It is my JOB to have paying gigs.  But, just because I’m talking something up doesn’t mean I’m getting paid for it.  Actually, remember that little FTC disclosure thingy?  If I’m tweeting, blogging or facebooking about something from my OWN accounts, or under my OWN name and I’m getting paid specifically to push THAT item or talk about THAT thing, I MUST disclose it.

Kindness is Currency

I read a similar quote, “Goodness is the Currency of the Soul” on one of my Yogi tea bags one day.  I loved it.  Because, I live that.  I’ve been freelancing and writing and marketing for about 2 1/2 years now.  Before that, I worked mostly in nonprofits.  My work is my life and my life is my work, because to me, everything is interconnected.  Consilience.

Here’s how I do things:

  • If I’m genuinely excited about something, I talk it up.  A LOT.  Regardless of whether I work for the entity I’m talking up.  They could give me NOTHING and I’d talk them up if I love them.  Because, you see, they’re giving me pleasure, or sustenance, or friendship or something else.  Just because they’re not giving me money or freebies doesn’t mean I’m getting nothing out of the deal.
  • I like to pay it forward.  I’ve had a lot of people help me during my life.  The most help has come from my parents–financially and emotionally.  They believed in me even when they didn’t understand what the HECK I was doing, and they supported me well beyond they had to, under “parental obligations.” My birthday’s tomorrow, and my Dad always talks about remembering the day I was born.  Some parents stop everything when their kid turns 18. I don’t understand why.  My parents never stopped anything.    I’ve had great mentors through school and work, great friends that propped me up on lousy days, and a wonderful husband.
  • I don’t view my life as a series of one way transactions.  I view it as a series of two way interactions.  This makes a big difference in the next one.
  • I believe in Karma.  Everyone gets what they have coming to them eventually.  Largely, because they did it to themselves.  Be generous, nice, sharing, giving and loving, and the world will reciprocate.  Be stingy and abusive, and the world will reciprocate.   Looking at every interaction as a transaction of “I give you something then you owe me something” doesn’t set a person up for a happy life, or a particularly “rich” life.  And, you will NEVER GET MORE THAN YOU PAY FOR.  You close your heart to possibilities you might not have ever dreamed of.  I know that sounds new-agey, but I, personally, have experienced it, every single day.

Truly, Kindness is Currency.  If you’re a friend to someone, if you help them when they need help, and listen to their problems, and listen to their joys, and you promote them in their life and work, they will BE THERE FOR YOU WHEN YOU NEED THEM.  I don’t think a lot of people believe this, but that’s probably because they are not good friends to others.  Here’s my example:

About a month ago, I found myself in San Francisco with NO access to any of my money other than about $200 in my PayPal account and some personal checks.  (Long story leading up to that.)  I was 3,000 miles from home, without my husband or family, and I had five days of travel left.  I couldn’t have even GOTTEN HOME without someone helping me change my airline reservation, if I had needed to get right home.  But, everything turned out ok.

  • Because I couldn’t rent a car, my friend Natalie drove me all the way up to San Mateo, about twice as far as she was planning to drive me that day.
  • UPDATE:  And, Heather put $100 in my PayPal account, immediately, no questions asked, when I called her.
  • My Dad put some money in another bank account of mine, and I had those checks with me.
  • Jayme (my friend, client, and roommate during the trip) rented a rental car and paid for the whole hotel bill on her Amex without BATTING AN EYE, and let me write her a check from that account.
  • Laura (sweetheart, photographer, and friend), let me write her a check, and she got me some cash out of the ATM.
  • Jayme drove me around all week.
  • Christina (total love and great garden designer/coach) and her husband ferried me to downtown San Francisco and back.
  • By the end of the trip, I had relaxed, I had seen EVERYTHING I wanted to see, I had spent great time with friends, and I got home safely.  In LARGE part because of my friends and family.

Would those people have done all of that if I were not their friends?  Probably not.  Have I done a bunch of extra special things for them?  Not really.  Will I do more? Absolutely.  But, I’ve also done extra special things for OTHER people, and I think the good energy comes back. People are more willing to do things for those who help other people, as well as themselves.

Currency (Money) is not Kindness

One time, someone I know accused my parents of trying to buy my love with money.  I can only laugh at that, because (and this is for you, Michael)  THEY DON’T KNOW ME.  Or my parents.  The thing is, you can’t buy feelings with money.  You can buy time, you can buy stuff, and sometimes you can buy attention, but you can’t buy love.  (There’s a song about that, remember?) You can’t buy authenticity.  You can’t buy enthusiasm  (not real enthusiasm). (That’s why a lady DJ on a local radio station drives me so bonkers. Her voice is RELENTLESSLY HAPPY, but COMPLETELY FAKE.)

Money gets you what is on the list.

Money gets you exactly what you paid for–and nothing more.

Money is necessary to live, but it doesn’t make you happy.

I’ve had times in my life when I had more time than money, and other times when I had more money than time, and the money had nothing to do with weather I was happy or not.  Once you’ve hit the basic amount needed to live and pay your bills, the rest is gravy.

What’s the Point?

At Pomegranate Books, for whom I do social media and internet related things, we have a shelf of ARCs  (advanced readers copies).  If you bring in a can of food, you get an ARC, or two.  Sometimes, I bring friends into the shop and pick out an ARC for them.  Some say “THANK YOU!” and others say “But, I don’t have a can of food.  I don’t have any money with me.  I can’t take this.”  More often than not, it is the friends that do a lot for others, volunteer, have helped me out, and pay it forward who say “Thank you.”  It is the ones who are used to just transacting money for everything, EVERYTHING, that won’t take the book.

I take as many as I want, because I do a lot for Pomegranate, and I do a lot of other people.  It all evens out.

Kindness is currency, but currency isn’t necessarily kindness.


Filed under This and That

Fun and Funny Stuff at the San Fran Flower Show

I know that the name is technically the San Francisco Garden Show, but that didn’t go with my alliteration scheme.  When you spend THREE WHOLE DAYS at a garden show, you start to notice lots of little details.  Details that folks cruising by trying to see everything and buy everything would miss.  So, in order that you get the ENTIRE SFGS experience (that’s our twitter hashtag), I bring you:


I pretty much bought books at the show.  A great indie bookstore from Berkley set up shop with some fantastic finds.  But, here’s the other stuff that I just didn’t have room for in my suitcase.

Obligatory chopping implements

The FANTASTIC thing about flower shows, home shows and the like, is that you get lots of “As Seen On TV” folks there demonstrating.  By the time I took these pictures, I was not prepared to engage with anyone, so I snapped a quick shot from the side.  In addition to the hand pruners cutting through BRANCHES THE SIZE OF YOUR ARM!!!!!, there was a Super Fast peeler guy. He looked TIRED by the time I saw him, standing behind his mound of vegetable peelings, under the hot lights.

A whole booth full of geraniums

I so enjoy obsessive plant geeks, and there are LOTS of those wandering around at garden shows.  This booth is just for them.

Urban worms

These worms are NOT country folk.  They are happiest when lounging in their worm box on the balcony of a swank condo, overlooking the San Francisco Bay.

Subtle hints to refrain from stealing plants and/or lawn furniture

With a yard ornament like this, you don’t need a security system.

Handbags for people who REALLY love their pets

They also sell coin purses and keychains, which I could probably do.  But, a purse. . .

Giant, blood-sucking Insects

Oh, wait, those are in NORTH CAROLINA, my hometown.  (Hubby called and said, well, you know how people in the midwest see the first robin of spring?  I saw our first MOSQUITO of spring.  Can’t wait to get home. But, I digress) YES! You can buy a Praying Mantis!  They’re great beneficial insects that will gobble up the bad guys.  JUST DON’T LEAVE IT ON YOUR KITCHEN COUNTER when you get home.  According to a fellow SFGS tweeter, if you do that, it will HATCH IN YOUR KITCHEN and you’ll have 200 baby praying manti running around your house.

Whimsical Watering Cans

I have one shaped like a mouse.  Chances are you could get your little one to help in the garden if he or she got to water plants with this!

Necklaces made from forks

Spoon rings are SO last year.

Caramel Apples with no apple

Actually, there IS an apple in there somewhere.  Maybe 1/3 pound of apple to 6 pounds of chocolate.  YUM!  That’s my idea of fruit!


Yes, you can buy this at the SFGS.

Things to turn pots into tables

This is an interesting concept.  I think it would work best if you had a BIG garden.  It would look really strange in my yard, but I could see it on a patio garden in a swanky neighborhood.  Maybe. . .

One of my fondest memories of attending the “Flower and Patio Show” in Indianapolis, Indiana as a child was the opportunity to get a GIGANTIC tissue-paper flower on a dowel rod.  I just LOVED those flowers, and kept them in my room all year.  Yes, they were hideously tacky.  But, if you don’t have some weird stuff to look at, how can you tell how beautiful the gardens are?

I highly recommend stopping by the show this weekend if you haven’t already.  The GARDENS are beautiful, and there’s lots of cool stuff.  It is 100% worth the ticket price.  Check out their Facebook Fan Page for more info, GARDEN pictures, and posts from other garden bloggers!


Filed under Daily Photo, Garden, This and That