The Importance of Being Selfish

Writing is easy when you’re honest and happy. I’ve never had a problem writing about gardening when all I felt was wonder and unbridled enthusiasm for the natural world, just as it was easy to write about the joys of becoming a father - or the complex emotions I felt while slowly losing my mother to Lupus. That’s all relatable; A baby boy is a pretty good reason to feel happy, and it's not unusual to feel sad when losing a loved one. 

My Guidance Counselor Said That I Was Not College Material

I'm writing this for anyone who has ever been told that they were not good enough to succeed in life, especially those like myself with learning disabilities, social anxiety or an inability to fit in with the others. I know that this is mostly a garden blog, but it's fitting that I share this story since I wouldn't have even become a gardener or a writer unless I was first a failure.

Make a Vertical Garden from Cheap Suet Basket Birdfeeders

Whenever I try feeding birds with those cheap suet basket feeders, I either end up with a gooey mess or find that some squirrel has run off with the thing within hours. However, I’ve also found that they make great planters for succulents and epiphytic plants. Who knew? Best of all, making them is so easy that my toddler could (and did) do it. Here’s how to make your own low-maintenance vertical garden on the cheap.

How to Garden with a Baby or Toddler Without Losing your Mind

During my first year as a father, I struggled to adjust to my new life and felt disconnected to the activities that once made me happy - even gardening. But I eventually got the hang of it and realized that I was no longer a gardener, but a parent who happens to garden. I’m here to say that you both can and should garden with your baby, because there is no better place than a garden to learn about the world.

My Elevated Planter and other New Stuff

Big changes are underway in my garden, and over the last month or so I've been hard at work planting new beds, rearranging, laying paths and composing vignettes. You know, gardening stuff. I'll post about all of that soon, but the most exciting development by far has been the addition of two very big planters to my patio.

How to Design a Dry Creek Bed: 10 Tips

Now that I've made some headway on my own dry creek bed, I feel prepared to share a few of my tips for making it look better than an awkward ribbon of rocks. It isn't finished and probably never will, but still wanted to share some pointers. But first you might be wondering... 'What is a dry creek bed, and why do I need one?'

A Behind the Scenes Look at my New Art Studio

As someone who's spent almost all of the last several years working from his bed or couch, I can't tell you how liberating it is to finally have a devoted workspace where I can draw and write without distraction. Well, other than my son tugging at my pants, but still. My office now makes me feel like a fine-tuned productivity machine.

How to Care for Frosty Ferns

So-called Frosty Ferns have been popping up at retailers this Christmas and selling like gingerbread hotcakes. The bad news is that they probably came with no care instructions whatsoever, but the good news is that they're exceptional plants that will look great in your home or garden year-round. Here are 6 things you should know about this luscious new holiday houseplant.

8 Reasons to Plant Groundcovers

Low-maintenance, lusciously textured and lush groundcovers can turn a backyard into a patchwork of greenery. They now blanket most of my yard, cutting my work in half and saving me the countless hours I would otherwise spend mowing, string-trimming and edging. With the right groundcover plants, you too can replace your mulch, lawn and weedy flower bed with something that actually works.

New Family Fall Traditions

I've titled this post 'Our New Family Fall Traditions' in the hopes that my wife will continue baking hundreds of muffins every year. Maybe I should have called it 'Our New Monthly Family Traditions' instead. It wasn't just about the muffins though, and we did a lot of other fun stuff that I hope will become a routine for years to come.

Why I'm Becoming a Children's Author and Illustrator

You may have noticed that I've taken a bit of a hiatus here recently, but I have some very good reasons. First of all, getting anything done in the garden (or home) with a toddler is a lot harder than it looks. Second, I've been hard at work pursuing my dream of becoming a children's book author and illustrator. No, really. Hear me out.

Mango Habanero Pork Chops and Grilled Veggies

If I can grill a creative and delicious dinner on the fly, then anyone can do it. I love to cook but as a rookie work-from home dad, cooking alongside an impatient toddler can be pretty stressful. Grilling is even more difficult for me than cooking in the kitchen, since I only have about a one-hour window from the time my wife gets home to my son’s bathtime. Trust me… that sleep schedule is not something I want to mess with. Besides the time issue, I’m not necessarily all that experienced on the grill.

10 Mistakes Florida Gardeners Make

Everyone makes mistakes, including myself. The problem is that rather than learn from those mistakes, self-proclaimed 'Black Thumbs' get turned off to gardening just because they kill a few plants and never give it another chance. Things are totally different in Florida, so cut yourself some slack and listen up: Here's a short guide to gardening in Florida for newbies and master gardeners alike.

7 Ways to Fix an Ugly Garden with Plants

My garden isn’t perfect by any means, but I can at least take some credit for turning a really ugly backyard into something that looks halfway decent. Apart from a slate path that I installed early this year, all I had to do was choose excellent plants and arrange them in a way that tricks the eye into overlooking my yard’s flaws. Here are some of the tricks I used to whip my backyard into shape.

Grow your own Thai Food: 30 Vegetables, Herbs and Fruits

Do you have a hard time finding ingredients for your favorite Southeast Asian cuisine? Whether you want to cook Thai, Laotian, Vietnamese, Cambodian or Filipino food, all you have to do is grow your own! I've spent a few days compiling this massive list of vegetables, herbs and fruits, and have detailed their flavors, uses and growing instructions so that you can put that pad Thai takeout to shame.

What's Blooming in my July Garden

It's been a long time since I've posted about what's blooming in my garden, and it might have something to do with the fact that I've been a lot more focused on the foliage and overall design lately. Though with all that greenery the flowers just stand out even more!

From Puddle to Rain Garden; Ditch to Dry Creek

I'm making a rain garden and dry creek bed to collect, filter, absorb and divert all of the runoff that had been flooding and eroding my backyard, and wanted to share how I'm turning a muddy and weedy ditch in the middle of my garden into something truly magical. This is going to be one heck of a garden makeover.

5 Things to do in the Summer Garden

In a hot summer, your backyard can either be a haven or a hellhole. Since I've been busy tidying up my own backyard for summer, I thought I'd share some ways to get your patio and garden cookout-ready with a gorgeous garden! Since it will soon be too hot to do much outside, my tips have to do with simplifying garden chores, maximizing enjoyment and pampering your plants so that they look their best.

Savory Kale and Sausage Skillet Recipe

It's our second week of quitting takeout and since there's just too much for one post, I'll break it up so that I can focus on the recipes and ingredients. I used a lot from the garden this week, but Monday was all about the lacinato (aka Tuscan, dinosaur or black) kale, which I used for a delicious and easy skillet. Here's more info about this easy-to-grow veggie and a recipe to put it to good use.

Garden2Blog 2015: Part One

Last Monday I packed my bags and hesitatingly waved goodbye to my family to fly out to Little Rock, where I would join an all-star team of bloggers for the fifth annual Garden2Blog event at P. Allen Smith's beautiful Moss Mountain Farm. I needed the company of friends, the inspiration and to feel once again connected to my career path now that I share my office with a one-year old. The trip, I found, was well worth it.