I was at a hamburger joint this week and I did something I normally don’t do. I decided to eat my hamburger there. I’ve always been a grab and go guy, but it was a nice evening and I decided to simply sit, have my burger, sip my milkshake and casually dip my fries in ketchup.

While waiting for my hamburger I decided to check out the newspapers. There were two papers there and they both had stories on their front pages I wanted to read.  I walked to my truck and grabbed a fistful of quarters and headed over, excited about taking just a moment to pause, eat a burger and catch up on current events the old fashioned way. I was going to read about the news actually made of paper and not scrolling my cell phone.

I dropped a bunch of quarters in the first paper machine, reached to open the drawer, and nothing. The door remained locked. Pushing the coin return, all my coins came out, half of them spilling on the ground. I repeated this two or three times, getting increasingly frustrated and each time the coins spilled out onto the ground. But I really wanted to read the story, so I inserted the coins one more time. Rejected once again, I pushed the coin return button and to my surprise an additional .75 poured out. I just made .75 cents on my investment in time inserting quarters into a newspaper machine.

Content with the outcome, I now focused my energy on the second machine. Surely, this wasn’t going to happen twice and surely I would get a newspaper. But no, after several attempts and coins pouring onto the ground, rejection and frustration mounting, I heard my number called and my burger was ready.  Without the stories in hand, I thrust the quarters into the machine one more time.  I pleaded to the gods, “please, I just want to catch up on current events the old fashioned way.” The gods weren’t listening and I pushed the coin return button for the last time. Out poured the coins and, guess what, two additional quarters. I kind of chuckled as I thought to myself I made over 50% return on my investment of time standing at newspaper vending machines.

Don’t you wish that when you purchase a plant and you plant it in your yard, having invested your time, energy and passion into the project, that they will give you a return on your investment?

There are several ways a plant can return your investment:

  • You get a smile (happiness);
  • You get a return in satisfaction;
  • You get a return in nourishment if its an edible;
  • You get a monetary return if you can sell the edibles you’re producing;
  • You get beauty;
  • You get life (butterflies, birds, slugs and snails);
  • You get to meet nature everyday;
  • You get peace and comfort;
  • You get remembrance;

You get my point.  We can go on, and on and on. Let me show you a few of my favorite plants that have given me a return on my investment. Some you’ve heard me talk about before.

These are peonies in my garden at Maple Rock. Year after year, with literally little to no fuss, they pop out a thousand smiles. Peonies are like snakes. You don’t have to touch them if you don’t want to.

If planted in a spot where it doesn’t get wet feet, then this is what you get. It’s a cat. It really doesn’t require much petting, maybe twice a year as far as trimming goes. Pretty simple.

These particular roses are anything but normal. I’ve found them to be one of the most forgiving varieties I’ve come across, as well as an amazing performer. It’s called ‘Paint the Town’. It’s a snake. I feed and trim it once a year. Doesn’t require much more than that.

Sedums and succulents. Some are like dogs. They do require a pat on the head occasionally. But, most are like snakes from the high desert.

This one is like a dog. Loyal, forgiving and dependable. Just a little fertilizer in the beginning and a little snail bait to keep our friend the slug away and voila!

This one’s called Tropicanna. This festive, dependable canna is very reliable. It’s like a guide dog. You can keep your eyes closed and it will keep coming back, doing it’s job time and time again. It’s a great problem solver for wet areas and is very dependable in other areas of the garden.

They’re like a skunk. You forget that it’s there until you see it or smell it in this case. Other than that, you wouldn’t know it’s there. You tend to forget about it in the garden when it’s not in bloom. The companion plant underneath it is Japanese Forest Grass. It’s also like a skunk. You’ll forget it’s there in the wintertime until it pops out at you in the Spring.

I’m not a rose fan and I can’t tell you why, but if used properly they make a beautiful landscape shrub that’s virtually impossible to kill like a Jerusalem cricket. Look up this little cricket. It’s been known to survive a nuclear blast and it is ugly.

You might not have noticed, but you’ve just completed a tour of Maple Rock Gardens which is open this Saturday, May 13th. Go to www.highhand.com for details.

Driving by Folsom today, it was good to see the sky, the land and the water as one. (Don’t mind the cyclone fence. I was driving and wasn’t going to pull over.) I know you can’t text while driving, but can you take a photo? I don’t think they’ve addressed that issue yet, so I’m going to be a shutterbug until they do.

This is the picture of Shasta I had in last week’s email. It’s good to see these lakes full.

This picture taken today I haven’t seen in years. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions from these pictures. My conclusion is that water is a valuable commodity that should never be squandered or taken for granted. But these pictures also tell me that I can plant my yard and have some confidence for now that I will get a return on my investment of smiles, calmness and peace.

Happy gardening. See you at High-Hand Nursery.


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