Have I mentioned that the shop is reopening tomorrow afternoon, March 1st, at 5? We dial down January 15th-this means we are open by chance (which is every day) or by appointment. How so? It takes 6 weeks to clear everything out of the shop, clean like crazy, and repaint. In February we had 2 containers arrive from France, and numerous other domestic shipments-in preparation for the spring gardening season. Every new garden ornament needs to be introduced to what we love, and have. The introductions can take longer than you think to make work. I know we are ready-Jenny says the place is packed.
Tomorrow night is our preview night. We have never done a March 1st event at the shop before, but the weather has been very mild, making all of us all the more anxious to get outdoors. And our new things for spring are very beautiful. One of the best parts of having a small business is that new ideas are always welcome. Spring on March 1st in Michigan-why not? We plan to make a party of it.
My favorite part of the shop spring are customers telling me that the place looks entirely different than the last time they were here. It is especially important that we get the old blood moving, reassess, clean and clean out, and renew. Redo. This is no small part of the satisfaction I take in having the shop. I like to change things up. This means that sooner or later everyone will find something that really appeals to them. The work involved in this is considerable, but I do that work willingly. Every gardener has a story to tell-I am no different.
Gardeners are a very diverse lot. God forbid there there would ever be a country called Gardenia-how would the populace ever agree on a Constitution, much less a Bill of Rights? It would bore me beyond all belief to be on either of these committees. I am in favor of freedom of expression. Great objects for gardens, and great plants help serious gardeners to express themselves. They also help any person for whom gardening suggests a way of life express themselves.
I especially like this year’s mix of big and little, serious and whimsical, antique and contemporary, purely beautiful and utilitarian. Anyone who has an interest in gardening, design and the natural world-we are interested in them. There have been enough people that like this that I am happy to say the shop is celebrating its 16th spring.
By no means did the last 6 weeks happen by my own hand. There is Rob-if you shop here you know him. He does the buying. Before he buys, he dreams it all up. Once everything gets here, I spend a lot of time looking it all over. My landscape crews are instrumental in the moving, the painting, and the re-installation. 7 people on this crew. 5 people staff the store. It takes everyone of the 12 people involved to remake 10,000 square feet. I would invite you to come and see what they did.
Mcat has change of routine issues. The past 6 weeks I have seen him everywhere, trying out a new patch of sun, or a new arrangement. I admit to a little of this myself. It takes 6 weeks to shed what was. Years later, I still have projects, and container plantings I still really like, but I always grateful, and energized, for the chance to start over.
The shop this spring has a decidedly French flavor. What’s to like about French gardens, pot makers, garden antiques, vintage French grape gathering crates, contemporary garden ornament? Just about everything. The French have an ability to edit that I could only imagine in my dreams. French gardeners never forget their agricultural history. They know how to be fancy, they know how to live in close proximity to the earth. They made great wines, great cheese, and great gardens.
This is Rob’s idea of a container planted in the French style. I should rephrase this-he plants containers all of his own invention. But I see the impression this last trip to France made on him. A forced cluster of crocus bulbs got the soil washed off, so they could be replanted with those bulbs above ground. The bulb is as much about the presentation of this plant as the flowers are. The container-very simple and roughly textured-a great contrast to the delicacy of the crocus. The tufts of coir fiber stuffed into the dirt-all about a wiry description of the airspace. This container, barely 8 inches tall overall, is about great design, grace, and restraint.
I still have work to do tomorrow. Some places need finishing touches. The garage is clean and organized. William Schwab, a sommelier with Papa Joe’s for 14 years, who has his own shop in our neighborhood now, will be pouring and discussing French wines tomorrow night. Rob shopped personally for the little something to eat-French cheese and the attendant crackers, figs, pears, and grapes. He redid all of the lighting last night. French music-of course! We had help with that-thanks Michael. If you are local to us, I hope you will come by either tomorrow night, or over this early spring celebration weekend. If you are reading in another state or country, I will post more pictures. Jenny promises to upload all of our spring things on our website this Friday.
It is so great to be 61, and having the time of my life.