My 3 Favorite Ways to Market Your Business in 2020…

And so it begins… Holidays and Sales. Online shopping, small boutiques, open air markets or garden centers- and let’s not forget pop up shops! From what my research shows- this is where most 2020 holiday sales will occur. My top 3 tips for product based businesses-

  1. Collaborate. Whatever goods you sell- team up with an opposite type of product or business. For instance, fresh pumpkins and amazing cutlery team up for a fabulous holiday table. Rustic pottery and naturals alongside fine wine and delicate goblets on a buffet outdoors. Imagine the possibilities for whatever you sell. 
  2. Open Air Markets. These will prevalent and considered safer than indoor settings- perhaps even a limited Sidewalk Sale. So! Pay close attention to packaging- I love cello, closed canisters and baskets. Folks want to know what they are purchasing is clean, safe and beautiful- not to mention it’s already wrapped! Regardless of what you are selling, your visual content needs to be really good and appealing. For instance, if you sell spice rubs or blends- even baked goods- the single ingredients often will be a more appealing image than just the package. Simple tableware looks wonderful if embellished, even tagged. Think of teaming up with a florist- then, go ahead and set the table for an amazing image. Offer unexpected color combinations and while you’re at it- offer an inexpensive natural gift. (The possibilities are endless- think visual and virtual of whatever you offer!) Speaking of Offers- Free gift with purchase, exclusive access to new or loyal folks- even a mystery offer if 3 or more items are purchased. Offers are one of the best places to let your creativity shine! 
  3. Popup Shops  I have hosted these with my own baked or handcrafted goods and as an added bonus 1-2 local artists were invited to participate. For the location- often the host receives a very small percentage of their sales. Note: if space is limited, ask the artists to have an inventory of their wares- to save space, limit crowding and most important for ease of checkout.  *Please give buyers a quick and easy shopping experience, especially online- checkout without signup, remove anything that slows down the process. 

Please note: You must have an online presence! It’s the most cost effective way to share where you are and what you’re selling. And here’s a few more hints- Use simple styling, simple wraps- for instance, I love wax, brown or parchment paper. Tie with twine, baker’s cord or even satin ribbon. Wrap with a natural linen, burlap, baskets- for everything from baked goods to flowers and plants- these wraps look good and save money too. For your photography: use flatlay photography (coming up in another post!) Layer or carousel to virtually showcase your wares. Begin right now writing holiday copy for your site, brand or blog- this year make sure you’re upbeat with kind understanding, it’s a difficult time. 

So! there you have my 3 favorites- Collaborate. Popup Shops and Open Air Markets with a strong online presence. *Decide on a fun and fair way to double or triple your efforts as you collaborate with others. All the best! 

Love y’all, Brenda 

Patina…

Patina… that magical thing that happens with age. I find it fascinating- maybe because I have a bit of patina myself. Ok, more than a bit. Still. Patina was originally a word used for a thing that happens to copper when it’s exposed to – well, life. Gradually patina came to represent objects that had been around a while, traveled through more than one experience- looked at life’s inevitable hardships and instead of becoming bitter became more beautiful and interesting- simply because it has survived and continues to thrive.

Patina holds within it, stories we may never read- through doors that have been the silent listeners to a time we’ve never known. They may not be shiny and brand new- yet, they’ve figured out how to be old, determined and useful.

One of the things I enjoy while traveling is taking photographs of architectural elements- especially those with patina like that wrought iron fence in New Orleans (oh, how I miss that old girl this year!) Patina is a good historical teacher who isn’t the least bit hysterical- especially when it comes to aging.

Now, it’s important to me that you know- I love all of you with all of your amazing talents, yet what always surprises me are those of you, who have a bit of age on them, seem more stable, less stressed, more inspired and less complicated or competitive- more willing to try new things. The ones of you who’ve realized that the last thing you want to do- is wake up and realize you didn’t do the things you were meant to do.

If possible, age should never be the limiting factor on potential. Patina is proof of timelessness- of a life fully lived. Just know, when you see patina anywhere- even the lines on a face, a bit of exposed brick, rust or peeling paint- you’re looking at proof that getting out of your comfort zones, staying strong, rising to the challenges, weathering the storms – results in something real, valuable and beautiful. Patina. Admire it. Aspire to it. Appreciate it in yourself.

Patina is a design trick used by the finest stylists. Take a tip from them. Use items with patina for your props or backgrounds. If you’re traveling, even in your own town- try to find and photograph patina. It’s beautiful and, I think you’ll find it everywhere you look.

Love y’all, Brenda

8 Tips for Creating Memory Gardens…

006CD037-D4B8-4F22-84E0-D092A1D064D4I didn’t set out with Memory Gardens in mind… though the idea began to form when my grandmother shared some Hosta and Spiderwort, then an old gardener sent Daffodil bulbs and another shared Bearded Irises. My father in law, sent a few Redbud saplings from the family farm and my mother showed up one day with a sapling called Glory Bower, which blooms in the dead of summer when nothing else will. The Glory Bower is in bloom near one of our daughter’s birthday and always reminds me of her, beautiful and generous. Each year it seemed, I had memories of my family and others who had generously shared plants. Here’s a closeup of Spiderwort-C85AFD07-43D8-4885-BDF0-61350C33BC6F

Tip #1 Memory Gardens can be scattered throughout the landscape or in a designated place. I do both.

I had an idea of purchasing a tree or a shrub on special occasions or in memory of a loved one…So, a memory garden was forming as I was learning about where, what and when to plant. On several occasions I gave a living plant instead of sending flowers and often bought one to be planted here at the cottage. Without really planning a Memory Garden, my garden was making memories for me.E2A910D2-F038-42C2-830C-21D87D3833BF

Tip #2 Think perennials. Memory Gardens aren’t just about trees and shrubs- Herbs, like Rosemary- for Remembrance, Lavendar for Love and Devotion,Sage for Long Life and Wisdom- are great memorable additions. The bearded irises weren’t given to me by my grandmother yet, she loved them, so they remind me of her, always. Bulbs, Ferns, Hosta, Shasta Daisies are wonderful and can be planted in the garden, near a loved one’s birth date. Perennials as bereavement plants which die down but return year after year are a hopeful reminder of the resurrection.

E5345747-53BA-4FBC-ACD5-07CE39E9AA4CWhen we re-did the front yard- a parking area in front of a picket fence changed things.  A family member gave me two heirloom roses- New Dawn, they are the ones at the end of the fence. Every year, I’m reminded of her beauty, her thoughtfulness and her kindness. The pale pink roses still grow proudly at each end of the picket fence, And they bloom close to her birthday! A tiny gardenia shrub was bought on sale… it reminded me of a dear friend, who had loved a fragrance with a distinct gardenia note, the shrub is now so big- it has to be cut back!  I planted a hedge of holly, that was perfect behind a garden bench given to me by my sister, it reminds me of her everyday.   On and on it seemed, I was given plants or buying plants that evoked memories.  The garden began to mature… What I found as the years went by… is that Light changes everything.82EF6299-6536-4585-89C5-B974EEE7B2D6

Tip #3 Even if you have established a specific area as a Memory Garden- be prepared to divide, move or even replace plants. When this occurs, I try to use memory plants in another more appropriate site, especially with adequate light.

1040EFD8-827B-426C-AFEA-DDB9B4429969Trees grow. Sun loving plants find themselves in the shade. Trees fall. Shade loving plants shrivel in the sunlight. Trees even age and die. The soil is disturbed or other trees crowd them out. And, these elements affect our yard to this day. So! It became important to me to establish areas where my memory plants had the best chance of survival. And some memory plants need dividing.  I didn’t want to lose the old heirloom plants, so I divided them and spread them throughout the garden areas; still purchasing memory plants along the way.

Tip #4 Memory Plants are all occasion! Births, Milestones such as graduations, Weddings, Anniversaries, in addition to the Loss of a Loved One, are the perfect opportunity for memory plants. The main criteria is choosing a plant which evokes a memory of the occasion and the loved one.

CA33CF63-8BCA-4BE3-989D-E998FD69019BLittle Gem Magnolias were planted in memory of my Aunt Iva and my precious grandmother, Mimi. Yet the occasion when the magnolias were purchased commemorates our daughter’s wedding. They were used as a large display in urns at her wedding reception.  I like to call these Little Gems- my ‘Steel Magnolias’; which Mimi and Aunt Iva certainly were, as were other southern ladies for whom I purchased the same small magnolias.  Those magnolia trees and a few camellias I had purchased evoked to wonderful memories throughout our garden, not to mention the beautiful large blooms!

Tip #5 For very special occasions you may choose to plant a specimen tree or large shrub. Be sure to site the tree for its own specific needs for soil and light.

10FF4451-1BCD-467B-A5AF-7B652D5ED689If you’re getting the idea that my memory plants were placed at whim, you wouldn’t be far from the truth, I planted for the conditions the plants and trees required. A freeform Memory Garden was more like it… until 2006.My mother in law died. I was devastated. I worked furiously in the garden in the days following her death. Being on my knees, seemed the right place to be; brought to my knees by this blow of her death- I could be alone, I could dig, yank weeds, weep over the least tiny bloom- gardening helped. Have you ever felt like that? Immersing yourself in a hobby or physical tasks that free the mind? Gardening was therapy for me. Shortly after her death, to honor her , we were given a piece of statuary, an angel.

10A4D15A-1A5D-453F-96FF-7F7D6AC6325B It seemed too large to put on prominent display in the front of our house…. as I continued to work out my grief- a spot toward the back of our yard, kept catching my eye… it was a clump of dogwoods, they were in bud.  It seemed to be the perfect spot! So, that’s where she is…my angel and my first attempt at a specific Memory Garden. At the base of the angel, were planted miniature daffodil bulbs from a funeral basket of spring flowers my sister gave our family. They have multiplied over the last decade. In the Spring since the Angel was placed, it still surprises me-  if anyone glances this way, passing the cottage- down the side yard toward the dogwoods… there is an Angel. The spot for her Memory Garden was somehow, by some miracle- chosen for me, not the other way around. We have since lost some dogwoods, planted some roses and crepe myrtles. 4AB961E2-804F-48FC-AAAE-DCFCB15FF953

Tip # 6 Be careful buying statuary. Use it sparingly. Place it appropriately, so that it’s shape and size work with your garden. Sometimes your site will tell you where it needs to be placed!

B2760811-B63E-4AED-BF05-FB6A0C0567C1So! I have continued my practice of buying memory plants. In 2017, I planted a camellia for my friend, Denis who died that spring.(photo above) I planted ten azaleas when my mother died, also in the Spring of 2017. Five azaleas for her grandchildren and five for her great grandchildren- she adored them all! Those were interspersed in the existing garden. Still. She has her own specific Memory Garden.F2F581E9-7D70-4B27-8336-7A6B4D6BDD6F

Friends and family bought hydrangeas for my mother as well, she loved hydrangeas and I do too! They are in shades of pink, white, green and blue that can only be called ‘hydrangea blue’. I planted them in groups by color, not mixing them so it’s more pleasing to the eye. There were a good many, so- for my mother… there is a hydrangea garden along a side yard and around the back deck- areas which  were never intended as a memory garden. Yet it seemed to chosen for me. I plan to add and add to it until the hydrangeas say- ‘No more, please’.  Memory Gardening has been a source of great joy to me.  I tend to name the plants- Denis, the Camellia delighted me, when she was full of blooms this year!2F91DB41-12F4-4A73-AA67-A60391CE5160

Tip #7 Add to your memories all at once or, perhaps a better plan is to gradually add to it, as I am doing with the hydrangeas and camellias.

C72C813D-0039-4267-BD1D-FEA018DD4E86Last fall, my beloved Walter, a Himalayan cat who had graced us with his presence at this cottage, died. I had to do something for Walter, I was almost inconsolable.  My sister had given me a statuary cat, more than a decade ago, it had never found a permanent site. At age 17, I suppose, Walter had lived a long life- I never imagined the grief I would experience when he died. So, I created a very small Memory Garden for him… under one of the azaleas planted for my mother, the statuary cat was placed, with an engraved stone which epitomized Walter…it says, ‘Do no great things, only small things with great love.’ Rose petals fall on this small piece of statuary, it isn’t visible from the street, but I see him every day as I go to my car. Somehow it comforts me.  I have recently planted a few scraggly violas near him hoping they will re-seed. There are lamb’s ears nearby too. Each one seems to be a bit of those small things only a family pet is able to bring to a household.

B4A154E7-B044-424C-8ABD-14285FFE8CA7Now, I’ve gone all sad sack on you and I don’t want you think Memory Gardens are just for bereavement- they aren’t! Plant memories for any occasion- name them or not, but as you plant- you are putting down roots, you are making a garden, you are making your home, your neighborhood, your world a more beautiful place!

Tip # 8 Don’t be afraid to ask for advice! Your local garden shop is a wealth of information. Ask them to suggest plants to use, what the plant will require, and how large it will get. You may need to have specimen plants installed, sometimes a garden center will be able to suggest a service. Ask for help- your plants willlove you for it!

Like I said, I didn’t set out to create a Memory Garden… now, that I have, the memories make me a better gardener. When a baby is born or a beloved friend passes on… I hope you will visit your garden center and pick out a special plant. And if the notion strikes or if there is a space in your garden, perhaps you will plant it and start a Memory Garden of your own… now, if you excuse me, I need to go outside and plant a Leyland Cypress named Wayne…

Love y’all, Camellia

* All photographs are obviously mine. The quote near the statuary cat is attributed to Mother Teresa. My husband’s dear friend, Wayne died right before Christmas, an evergreen was given to the family and the Leyland Cypress is to be planted here at Camellia’s Cottage.

Southern Magnolia…

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It’s a fact- the closer you live to a Southern Magnolia the better your life will be…Tall, stately and oh so beautiful, she wears flamboyant flowers and her signature citrus scent. Magnolia’s green satin leaves are lined with brown linen that sets off creamy white flowers, red berries, then rustic cone shaped seed pods. Magnolia does enjoy her seasonal wardrobe. A true Southern lady, Magnolia tends to prefer the lower and coastal landscape and seems particularly happy in a mixed crowd-

  •  Silly Longleaf and Loblolly Pines,
  • Moody Live Oaks with long gray beards
  •  She happily waves to Nutty Hickories, Walnuts and Pecans-
  • And don’t get me started on Shy Dogwoods, Sour Persimmons and Crabapples…
  • Not to mention the clinging Muscadines and those crazy Redbuds!

Magnolia Grandiflora may be her given name, but just call her ‘Mag-knowl-ya’. Like so many Southern Ladies she knows how to age gracefully– and stands peaceful and serene regardless of winds or high water; and like a true Southern Lady seems to have a high tolerance for shock.  AE535DE0-98A6-4415-80D7-F7DB05F9076D

Magnolia makes her home from the Low Country of Virginia and the Carolinas all the way down and across the South right over to Texas, where she quietly makes her majestic presence known. Give Magnolia a Decent Footing, she’ll spread thick sprawling roots- bringing Beauty to her surroundings all year round. Magnolia is the epitome of Southern Hospitality offering red berries to winter songbirds and her shiny leaves beautify every special occasion. From the cradle to the grave, Magnolia seems partial to the Holidays. Rich in symbolism, the Southern Magnolia represents

  • Beauty
  • Strength
  • Faithfulness
  • Grace
  • Dignity and
  • Hospitality

This year, a Magnolia Wreath seemed perfect for the front door, since we have three native Southern Magnolias and two hybrids called Little Gems, their dwarf cousins growing on the property. We made a full and simple wreath of Southern Magnolia Leaves to welcome Thanksgiving at the cottage. Beautiful. Simple and Traditional for large or small homes. Here’s how we did it-

Start with a Strong and Decent Base.

  • Cover with Natural Moss for the big leaves to cling to.
  • Mingle old, new and browned leaves in an orderly Dignified way.1E452A26-746E-496F-8A42-14FF71185D81
  • Generously cover the base.
  • Welcome the Little Gems in a Hospitable way.
  • Securely attach large wreath to front door.A90922D5-FCDD-437B-A560-067EC16073BA

Our Evergreen Southern Magnolia Wreath will carry herself in Dignity, Speak Kindly, look Beautiful and Age Gracefully, I promise!

Love y’all, Camellia

  • *all photographs are obviously mine
  • *Spanish Moss is covering a large grapevine wreath
  • *No wiring was required since the wreath is on a covered porch, she held up beautifully so far!