Change comes in many ways. When I was younger, I didn’t quite understand change. It was a huge shock to my system when my brother (caution, spoiler alert) told me that Santa Claus wasn’t real. My world had just turned upside down. My mother tried to smooth it over by telling me that Christmas was about the spirit of giving. Nope. Christmas was about Lincoln Logs, Playdo and Legos. But I had already been tipped off to the fact that Santa Claus isn’t real. As I was browsing through the family albums I thought it was odd that at about age 4 there were no longer any pictures of me sitting on Santa’s lap. Odd, I thought. And, then when my brother lovingly told me the truth, my suspicions were confirmed.

Today, as I am much older, decades past, and in the retail business of High Hand Nursery, I have watched Christmas encroach in our lives from the retail front. As I walked through a local big box store, perusing the plant selection as I always do, I had to stop and laugh at the sight of a Grim Reaper statue standing next to Santa Claus. I have fought for years internally not to roll out Christmas before Halloween or Thanksgiving, for that matter. But, with the change of the season comes change at High Hand.

So, I wanted to send an email out to all of you to explain the changes we are implementing this year as well as next. So, here it goes.

I sat at lunch today with my assistant of eight years, Janie. We talked about where we were at when she first started, how old my kids were and how sometimes change is orchestrated and change comes from places you never thought it would. It was a time to reflect, laugh and, for me, tear up a bit. You see, today was her last day. For those of you that didn’t know Janie worked here, she was not only the administrative backbone of our entire company, the nursery and the cafe and the landscape company, but she was my assistant. She was the first person to answer the phone when you called to schedule an appointment for a landscape estimate or to simply seek out information about High Hand. She ran my schedule, kept me current, and, occasionally, ran bird dog for me when I was behind on my work. She set all my travel plans and assisted and accomplished anything I would ask. She was a very trusted member of our company and my family. She was grace under fire and always had a smile in her voice. Janie, you will always be a member of the High Hand family. I can’t thank you enough for helping me grow the business and for keeping me in check as a person. Janie, I wish you nothing but the best. As we said our final goodbyes, all I can say is that I’m jealous and envious. I want to retire, but my work here is not done. There’s more to build and more to grow. I am very happy for you and your family. Please keep in touch.

We welcome Nichole (the new Janie). Good luck, Nichole. I can be a handful.

In the nursery business, change is inevitable. The seasons dictate what we do. The drought dictates what we do. We have decided this year not to have our tree lighting ceremony. We have also decided not to be open for dinner during the holiday season. I want to explain why. It has nothing to do with anything other than family. The staff at High Hand Nursery and Cafe have been selflessly setting up for the holidays every year and serving families throughout the holiday season, foregoing activities with our own families. You can say we’ve been like a runner in the starting blocks for the last 10-12 years, waiting for the gun to go off to start the race for the holiday season. We will still decorate the cafe, of course, but for all of us at High Hand who have worked here for years, I have decided that we are going to take ourselves out of the starting block this year and simply be with family and rest. By being able to step back, it will give us a new perspective that I think will be a game changer for us and a new experience for you.

Are you ready for more change? We are contemplating not opening Maple Rock next year to the public. Again, not for any reason other than we might take a pause to allow a new perspective to drift in front of us. We are making changes at Maple Rock (top secret) and it might take me a year to do. If we do have an event next year, it will most likely be an early spring and a late fall, while we spend the summer in between quietly farming and growing vegetables for the cafe. I tell you this not because it’s pertinent to your landscaping or new information about the drought, but there are over 5,000 people who open this email and I just thought you would like to know. We are excited and completely engaged and jazzed about the upcoming season.

Are you sad about Maple Rock? Don’t be.

Join us for a great day with vintage antique dealers from across the state, great food from High Hand Cafe and live music. Walk the garden and enjoy as it transitions to Fall. Tickets are available at High Hand Nursery and online at Directions to Maple Rock Gardens can be found on the High Hand website. Do not GPS the location of Maple Rock. You’ll end up somewhere else. Maple Rock is located at the corner of Highway 193 and Clark Tunnel Road, Lincoln. Trust me.

As Fall continues one of the big questions in everybody’s mind is when will it rain. We’ve heard about El Nino. The experts say it’s the most intense ever. When will it rain? Well, I have the answer. November. It will rain in November. My NASA friend said so. My builder friend said so. My banker friend, who lends money to the builders, says so. And my instincts say so. November. Put that on your calendar.

One of my fears about this winter is that I don’t think we’re done losing trees. Over the thirty plus years I’ve been a landscape contractor, I’ve cut down many trees. Sadly, these trees had been growing for a lifetime, but were doomed from the beginning because they were the wrong tree planted in the wrong space. Now, I’m not particularly emotional about cutting a tree down, but when you cut a tree down that cannot be replaced in your lifetime, then it drives home the fact that picking the right tree and planting it in the right spot is paramount. Having to cut down a tree when the wrong tree is chosen can be a life changer.

I think at this point in Tiger’s head is that somebody planted the wrong tree in the wrong spot. I think Tiger would agree at this point the only good tree as far as he is concerned is on the woodpile.

Sign up for our Garden Rebel email list. It can be found at our This email, sent out every Thursday, will talk in great detail, I mean really big detail, I mean in such great detail that I could not put it in this email, how to pick out the right shade tree. The Garden Rebel will go into great detail on the art of tree picking, not to be mixed up with cow tipping. The Garden Rebel email on picking the right tree will be posted on our Facebook page. Get caught up on past emails as well.

There is still time to join our contest. Contest, you say. Send us a picture of you working in your garden. If your clothes are perfectly matched to your surroundings, your hair perfectly styled or combed (gentlemen), you might be our friend here, a Garden Rebel.

We’re looking for real Garden Rebels. Go to and register for our Garden Rebel email.

So, here’s the contest. Send us a picture of you working in your garden. You have until October 31st. We will select a winner. The winner will receive a gift certificate for $100 and a personal consultation in your garden. We will bring tips and tricks to your home.

I hope to see you at Maple Rock, October 24th. They say El Nino is going to CHANGE everything. Do a rain dance.


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