I have a customer who has, over the years, grown into a friend of mine. We fondly call him Mr. Bill. He’s a friend of mine, he’s a friend of the nursery, he’s a friend of the cafe and a fan of Maple Rock Gardens.

Let me paint a picture. Mr. Bill is larger than life. Classy, friendly, upbeat, always looking at the positive things in life. Throughout his long career and life he has amassed decades of wisdom he occasionally drops on me. Always a wave. Always a smile. Always a hug. Mr. Bill is a snappy dresser. Bright colors from orange to red to vibrant purple striped socks, red shoes and red cashmere sweaters match the red High Hand hat he always wears when he visits. What else can I say about him? You got the picture? Sounds like an amazing person, doesn’t it? Well, he is. I always think that when I’m around him, I want to grow up just like that. Internally and externally happy.

I met Mr. Bill one day when he asked me to come out to his house and take a look. I was a bit intimidated by his garden. It was beautiful, well-kept and it rivaled Maple Rock Gardens. Bill said, “Scott, I’m tired of it. I want to make some changes.” So, we set out to do just that. The instructions from Mr. Bill? “Scott, do whatever you want. I just want it to look happy. I want a garden that smiles.”

Monday, I had the privilege of being able to spend a few minutes with Mr. Bill as we walked the garden. I was a bit grumpy. You could say I was a bit of a grumpy alligator. I was a bit in my head, kind of numb to the world with a committee talking in my head. Lack of sleep over a few days was catching up on me and you could say my coping skills were just a wee bit depleted.

And then I turned the corner.

I was snapped back to the present by the sight of a happy garden. I’ve been working in this yard going on three years. Bill has given me free rein to change, flip, transplant and organize his sanctuary. Little did I know that the garden I have worked on for over three years would help me get through a challenging day. It was kind of like being slapped up against the side of the head. “Stop it”, the garden said. “Don’t come here and be grumpy. Be happy.”

I stood there and paused for a moment and kind of giggled. This garden walk is really made up of three of the most underutilized plants out there. On the left hand side are three beautiful Rose of Sharon trees that will bloom for months throughout the summer. On the right side a sun kissed splash of yellow lantana, complemented by a smooth and calm lavender lantana. At the end of the lawn a simple arch greets you, draped by a white rose.

I walked further down the lawn, through the arch and headed to the top of the stairway. I paused at the top of the stairs and took in the simple, calming effect of green.

I don’t think gardening has to be complicated. Like most things in life, we overthink gardening as well. Three simple plants – hibiscus, lantana and a rose and the simple color of green, made all the difference. Don’t overthink it. Gardening really can be that simple while creating a lasting impact.

Get on board. Think simply about your yard and breathe in what it has to offer.

All Aboard!

The train is about to leave the station. Please join us. Maple Rock Gardens is hosting the Sacramento Valley Garden Railway Society.

You can:

  • Tour the garden
  • Listen to live music
  • Enjoy lunch from High-Hand Cafe and, of course
  • Enjoy the garden railroad
  • Free parking

Live steam trains will be running as well as our garden railroad. Click here to purchase your tickets.

We would love to see you at Train Day, September 9th at Maple Rock Gardens.

Say a prayer for all of those being affected by the hurricane. My thoughts and prayers go out to all.


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