Friday, October 17, 2014

Sage Garden Advice

If you are looking for a low maintenance bang for your buck in your garden and need something that will thrive in full sun, then look no further than pineapple sage (Salvia elegans). I got mine at Home Depot in a herb sale in mid-July (when people are apparently not buying a lot of herbs). The plant started small, the same size as most other herbs, but has grown in my front yard to nearly five feet! And the leaves really do smell like pineapple, which is really nice when you walk past it or when there is a breeze. But the biggest payoff are the beautiful scarlet blooms, which started opening up about the same time as my chrysanthemums.

Pineapple sage bloom, detail
Pineapple sage with golden and silver sage
It's stunning. I am sorry that these photos don't do it the justice it deserves. And I love having something so dramatic in my yard this time of year now that the daisies and coneflowers are cut back for the winter. (That area of the yard looks so BARREN now.)

Last year, I started planting both golden (Salvia officinalis ‘Aurea’) and purple (Salvia officinalis ‘Purpurascens’) sage as a border around my front walkway. I had gotten the idea from the kitchen gardens at Kew Palace, which I thought were even more amazing than the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew (probably because the kitchen gardens were more achievable at home than the rest of the place). I hadn't realized that the pineapple sage was going to get so big until I got home and read about it, but I really think it is a nice addition to the walk up to the front door. (And planting it allowed me to pull out this really awful shrub that grew over the walk and was full of aphids and that I just HATED.)

I really hope it survives the winter.  It's so hard to know with herbs in New England. The fact that it will get sun all winter has got to help. Next year, I think that I am going to get a couple more and plant them in the front circle with the echinacea and daisies so that part of the yard will also look nice next fall. Even if they don't make it through the winter, I think something like this is worth replacing.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Casual Observation: The Whole Package?

I will be honest, I am a complete sucker for cute packaging, and I have been totally known to buy products I didn't need simply because they came in a cute container. (Mints or candy in vintage-looking metal boxes tend to be the most appealing. Especially while standing in the checkout line at Trader Joe's.)

But I am also a committed recycler and environmentalist so when I recently opened up a new container of a product I actually do need, I was horrified to see the following (shown here both with and without a penny so you can get an ideal of the scale you are seeing):

That huge wad of cotton is needed to fill up the bottle because the actual pills don't even cover the whole bottom of the bottle, let alone fill the bottle to the top.  Additionally, there is the wasted cardboard box, which is slightly more than twice the size of the actual bottle it is holding (presumably to accommodate the security device?).

So who is the guilty culprit? Well, I hate to admit it because I love this product, but the guilty party is:

Now I am all for getting 60 pills for the price of 45 (especially during the late summer and autumn), but I would love even more for these guys to come up with some product packaging that would make more sense size-wise for what they are selling. If they don't want to sell the pills in a pop-through wrapper, why not try selling them in a smaller tube bottle, like the one used on the product below?
Dramamine Motion Sickness Relief, Original Formula, Tablets- 12 ea
image from
The good thing is that I can (and will) put the plastic bottle and cardboard out for collection in the recycling bucket, but wouldn't it be better if someone at the company was thinking proactively and could come up with a more environmental way to sell this product? They spend loads on advertising; why not spend some on reinventing the packaging for long term impact?

It would make me an even bigger fan than I already am.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Hard at Work

Sometimes it is really fun to work at a family business. (I currently work with my dad, my sisters, two of my aunts, and one brother in law.)

Not "Nana".
A true story: yesterday: Sister B popped into my office with my 2.5 year old nephew, Codename: Sweetpea. 

He saw a picture of Queen Elizabeth II that I keep at my desk as inspiration for getting through tough times with class and a stiff upper lip, pointed to it, and said "Nana". It was hilarious. I thought Sister B was going to bust a gut. 

Fortunately,  Sweetpea didn't point to the picture of good old Winston Churchill and call him "Grandpa".


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