Other Inspirations

ASHS-SR 2019: Inspiration to Write Again; Goodbye My Lil Dachshund Buddy

I’ve been silent. Silent with my blog, silent on social media. This will be the most difficult post I’ve ever written. And it will probably be long. Too long for some. But not long enough for others, especially dachshund lovers (yes, that’s a wiener dog joke).


Dr. Eric Stafne receiving his personal gavel from Dr. David Reed

I just returned from the annual American Society for Horticultural Science-Southern Region conference in Birmingham, Alabama. It was a great conference (held in conjunction with SAAS), not just for the horticulture science presented in talks and poster presentations, but for the “reunion-like” atmosphere with colleagues past, present, and perhaps future. I look forward to receiving some CEU’s for my Certified Professional Horticulturist designation.


An educational presentation from Dr. Elina Coneva

I might even get to do a little crossing of kiwi this spring because of an opportunity gleaned from a friend at Auburn University.


Tiki in her buggy “dachshund taxi service”

I didn’t think I would make it to the conference this year for a couple of reasons, including the health of our female dachshund who will be 17 on April 21. I’m also recovering (and in physical therapies) from a tremendous amount of pain focused on the right side of my body that evolved over the holidays due to a family tragedy that built upon grief. My chiropractor said my body went into flight or fight mode. But I made it. We all made it to Birmingham: me, my dachshund (who can no longer be boarded), and my wonderful husband who served this past year as the President of ASHS-SR. The Big Cheese.


Me and friend/colleague from the UA, Dr. Jim Robbins, the type of great folks we only get to see once or twice per year.

This year was my last year serving on the ASHS-SR Executive Committee, a position I have enjoyed. Not only can it be fun helping to shape the future of the Society, but its a great way to get to know other Members better too. I considered this a great honor, because as I’m often heard saying, I only have a Master’s degree, not a Ph.D., like most of the other committee members serving our Society. I have enjoyed giving back volunteering on committees on both the SR level and the national level.


Dr. Gary Bachman presenting on the search for the Long Beach Radish

I have missed only a handful of SR meetings since I was a graduate student, which means that nearly every year, I am celebrating my birthday at our horticulture conference. This year was extra special.


Thank you birthday dessert from Texas de Brazil Steakhouse, Birmingham

On Sunday February 3, the ASHS Southern Region President, Dr. Eric Stafne, gave his Presidential address. I sat there on the front row, feeling so proud of him, remembering sitting in the audience when Dr. John R. Clark (Dr. Stafne’s major advisor) gave his Presidential address ~2004, and saying to Dr. Stafne “someday that will be you”. That was fifteen years ago.


Slide after slide, Dr. Stafne tasked the audience with assignments for the upcoming year, relating life-long goals and childhood aspirations to his work in horticulture (showing how your own personal aspirations can be relevant in horticulture): baseball player (Babe Ruth), detective (Eliot Ness), treasure finder (Dr. Indiana Jones), writer (Ernest Hemingway) and rock star (Pearl Jam and KISS). But it was the moment his slide showed a photo of me and our two dachshunds that I immediately went to tears.  Not only were his unexpected words kind and complimentary, but his admiration and love were felt. (afterwards we heard I was not the only one brought to tears).


Dr. Al Einert and me at UA graduation

Following his speech, during the call for deceased Members, I proudly, and sadly stood and announced my former Bachelor’s and Master’s advisor, mentor, and dear friend: Dr. Alfred Erwin Einert, Emeritus, University of Arkansas. Dr. Einert passed away in August.  In many ways, he was like a father figure. Always supportive. Always remembered my birthday. Attended our wedding in Florida. Wrote countless letters of recommendation. Loved to “break bread” and “shoot the shit” with my husband and me over dinner and pints of beer.  An endless reservoir of advice…and stories. I will miss him greatly.


Me, Dr. Eric Stafne, Dr. John R. Clark after Eric’s Presidential Address. Photo Credit: Dr. Jim Robbins, UA

As a student, you can only hope to be gifted with an advisor who will become such an important part of your life. John Clark is that gift to Eric.


His final car ride home.

Five days after losing Al, we lost our male dachshund to complications with cancer. Mr. Weenie (one of his nicknames) fought tremendously since his March diagnosis when he was only given a few weeks to live. His first chest tap (at the Medvet cancer clinic in Louisiana) lasted many months, but his second tap (family vet) only lasted a couple of weeks and caused him great discomfort.


I often told folks from spring through summer, don’t be sad for my little man, he is enjoying the best treats, and is in the best spirits, and still loves to “go” and explore and help me type on the computer. I frequently found myself thinking, they were wrong. The vets were wrong. He does not have cancer. We put him on homeopathic supplements for kidney and liver detox. We opted for no chemo. He greeted every day with enthusiasm, even after the diagnosis. But that all changed in August.


His final trip outside.

On Friday August 24, we noticed he was having some difficulties and didn’t feel well. We decided to have the family vet tap his chest on Monday. Monday morning I told him we’d go to the vet and make him feel all better. But at the vet, it was determined the cancer must have progressed. He could barely walk for breathing difficulties and he was already maxed out on his medication. He was in distress. On Monday August 27, just five weeks until his 16th birthday and a few months away from his 6th year with us, we had to make that awful decision to have the vet come to our house and put an end our little rescue doxie’s suffering.  I took him home from the vet, without the chest tap. One final car ride. One final, albeit slow,  walk into the house. My husband and I had a few hours to spend with him. Although I’d never ate it previously, I defrosted and lightly grilled a filet mignon I’d purchased from the butcher the week prior. We cut it up and shared it with our dachshunds. I tried to tell him how much he meant to us. The vet arrived about 2:15 and at 2:30 p.m. as I held him tight, he left us.  It was the most difficult, sickening and heart-wrenching thing I’ve ever had to do. I have re-lived that moment over and over, daily since then, questioning everything we did or didn’t do. The next day I ordered a book (which I highly recommend) called the Pet Loss Companion.

A few days after Mr. Weenie left us, my husband stopped by the vet clinic and brought him back home to us in a beautifully carved wooden box. I also purchased an ashes urn necklace.

The Pet Loss Companion book was a tremendous help (I’m getting ready to read it again) and although it is a very easy read, it took me a couple of weeks because it is so “spot on” that reading a few pages left me in tears. I’ve never experienced true grief before which makes me a very lucky person. I’ve been very sad to lose Grandparents and other relatives and friends. However, I had no idea what to expect. This book does a great job of explaining how some people will never understand your pet-loss grief and how everyone handles and processes grief differently and how pet-loss grief for a pet that loves you 24/7 for years and beyond that has required daily nursing, if not hospice-level care, will put you in a different level of grief. A grief that can be very different than that for a family member.


My female dachshund six days after losing our little buddy to cancer.

For a month or so I had to hide my grief, not from others exactly, but from our female dachshund. We nearly lost her five days after Mr. Weenie. At the time we though she was sick. She had stopped eating or drinking that Friday we noticed Mr. Weenie having issues.  A few days after losing our little buddy, we had her in the vet overnight (she is a diabetic, with Canine Cognitive Disorder (doggie Alzheimer’s) since 2016) and after that an emergency trip back to the vet (we thought she was dying in my arms). We were told at that time there was nothing physically wrong with her, she was grieving him and that one pet will often know the time is near before we as humans know.  For days she wailed all night long, heart breaking cries like she had never made before. She moped about and was lethargic. She would lay in our arms completely like a little noodle. I had to hide my tears as I read she was probably picking up on our emotions.

On Labor Day Monday, one week after losing our buddy, we said, if she doesn’t eat by dinner, we’ll call the vet back out to the house. We took her around to all of our favorite coastal locations including Bay St. Louis. You can see her grief in the photos. One final stop was made to Lazy Magnolia Brewing Company (she had been visiting there with us since 2012) and on a whim, we ordered a Mississippi brat. Something that we would never order (dietary restrictions) and certainly not give to our dachshunds. However, she lunged at that brat and consumed it with the eagerness one might expect from any good German doxie! It was her first time to eat without being syringe-fed in a week or more. And thus began the healing with non-stop hugging, loving and keeping her close to us. We did not leave her alone. She gradually returned more to herself and we all grieved our loss together.


Near Old Faithful Snow Lodge cabin

Miracle of miracles, two weeks later we left for our pre-planned vacation to Yellowstone. Her 4th trip since 2010 and what would have been Mr. Weenie’s third visit. We missed him greatly. In November I started journaling to him but I still could not bring myself to get back to blogging or social media. I didn’t have the stomach for it. I’m a relatively private person anyway, using these platforms to connect about plants, not display my personal life.


In early December, I decided maybe, just maybe I could start writing again, but not without some sort of post about my silence for all these months. But how to do it? Leaving myself vulnerable for inappropriate comments from non-dog lovers, non pet-owners, and those who just don’t get it. But then on December 10, my Father was injured in a farm accident, leaving him, currently, a quadriplegic. We returned home for a couple of weeks. That’s when the pain began. But after several weeks of chiropractic, professional massage, acupuncture, stretching, and de-stress herbal supplements, I am on the road to recovery. I am hopeful, that although the road will be long, that my Father will also regain mobility and can once again return home. I think that is as personal as I want to get on that subject, as I said earlier, I’m very uncomfortable with being too personal on social media platforms, although I’m very, very appreciative and thankful for everyone who started prayers for my Dad, my Old Man (as he calls himself) on Facebook.


Sharing a Father/Daughter love of Star Wars movies!

Part of my recovery is finding the inspiration to get back to horticulture at our ASHS SR meeting this past weekend in Birmingham. I love horticulture. I love posting about plants. Though I have to say, a break from social media is something that was refreshing and centering.


Spunky little monkey

Mr. Weenie, Dr. Jones, Monkey Man, the Burgermeister, my Little Buddy, my Little Man will always be with me. He loved to be outside with us in the yard and garden and taking outdoor adventures with us to all sorts of places.


Watching Krewe of Barkus parade

My little female dachshund, my Tiki-meister, lays here near me. I do not know if she will make it to birthday 17 in April. She has been with us since she was eight weeks old. I should probably, at some point, blog about what it is like to go through canine cognitive disorder (CCD) with a diabetic, arthritic dachshund who has lost her hearing and most of her eye-sight. Day by day, we evaluate her quality of life.


Picture of me 3232323232-fp83232-uqcshlukaxroqdfv397-=ot-2868=475=347=XROQDF-25;6298759256ot1lsi

So although part of my wants to delete this entire post, I must give back. I post this blog now not only to renew my online horticulture presence, to explain my absence, but also to perhaps help one person who is or will go through pet-loss grief. I have received so much from those who have posted online, selflessly, about their experiences with canine cancer, diabetes, and CCD. Most of the help and tips we received were from online posts and sites.  Perhaps some stories of Tiki’s journey in the coming weeks or months? I have barely been able to type or text from the pain, so I don’t want to commit myself to dates. (Sigh)  In closing, we didn’t sign on for pet ownership until it was too expensive or too inconvenient or burdensome. We signed on for love of a little companion. Loooooong live the dachshund owners, lovers, rescue adopters, and caregivers!


She wears glasses and hats to help with post-cataract surgery & CCD light sensitivity.

Thank you Dr. Eric Stafne and all who attended the ASHS SR 2019 conference in Birmingham. I hope to see everyone next year in Louisville for our next SR conference or at our annual national conference for ASHS this summer.

Yours in Gardening and in love of little paws that dig those gardens!

The Garden Maiden

PS It took me several hours to put this together. Written half in tears, I am sure there are errors which I will attempt to go back and correct. Please forgive!

All images and text copyright 2019 The Garden Maiden

Categories: garden dogs, horticulture conferences, Other Inspirations, Research | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Importance of Staying Active in the American Society for Horticultural Science and ASHS Southern Region

The Importance of Staying Active in the American Society for Horticultural Science and ASHS Southern Region

I originally presented this as an invited fifteen minute talk to graduate students at the American Society for Horticultural Science Southern Region Conference in Jacksonville last week.  Oftentimes graduate students find it difficult to justify paying for professional memberships to attend conferences post-graduation, especially when some of those monies come directly from your own pocket. Its easy to fall into the thinking that, well, I attended as a graduate student to compete because my Adviser made me.  As a returning graduate student, one may find themselves with one to five years of opportunities to attend professional horticulture conferences beyond their initial experience. This is especially true for Master’s students moving on to their PhD.  So, as a graduate student, you might ask, what’s it in for me? Here are some notes.

  1. Student Member
    1. Professional research organization listing for CVs (professional resume), social media, applications for graduate school and jobs. (…is a Member of ASHS and ASHS Southern Region…for example)
    2. Discounted conference registration (hey we can all use  little break, and Members get one!)
    3. Student travel grants (my husband and I were both fortunate enough to receive these as graduate students)
    4. Paid to assist Dr. David Reed at SR registration desk (yes, even smaller opportunities such as this exist and I was able to assist Dr. Reed one year which helped pay for my costs)
    5. ASHS online resources: jobs, assistantships, journals (Members receive an early email notice of new positions!)
    6. Practice Oral and Written Communications in a professional setting at conferences (practice makes perfect and these are two essential skills you will need in the future)
    7. Source for peer-reviewed journal publication opportunities
      1. Take advantage of publishing at least one or two articles plus abstracts from your graduate research for each graduate degree, before leaving the University (trust me, it is much easier to do this while you are still on campus)
    8. Networking (some say it isn’t what you know, but who you know-this can be very true!)
    9. Early Notice of Job Opportunities
      1. In person at conferences & online (you’d be surprised of tidbits of juicy news for upcoming opportunities that may present themselves if you network!)
    10. Post CV online at ASHS (you have to put yourself out there on the most reputable sites for potential employers to find you…for horticulturists…look no farther than ASHS)
    11. Assistantship/Scholarship opportunities (I’ve got my mind on my money and my money on mind…let’s face it…those departmental potluck dinners are only going to get you so far and graduate school can be expensive)
    12. Letters of Recommendation (you’ll need both solid letters of recommendation from professionals who know you and your work, as well as professional experiences from which they can write glorious letters on your behalf)
    13. PAX Photography contest at ASHS (photography skills will help you in promoting and disseminating information about your research as a student and as a future employee…improve your skills and have a little fun with your peers in this contest-I have been!)
    14. Mentoring
      1. graduate student/faculty  (these mentors should guide you through the thesis/dissertation process, getting published, becoming active professionally, and making that student to employee transition) (if your own adviser isn’t up to par, seek out positive, active mentors from professionals at ASHS)
      2. peer-to-peer (fellow graduate students you meet in ASHS can be life long friends, supportive colleagues, and may provide you with helpful tips from their own experiences)
    15. ASHS SR-smaller, more family-like
      1. Not every US region has ASHS representation (that means that for those who can be intimidated by the larger ASHS conferences, Southern Region -for example- is smaller, close-knit group to interact with)
  1. Faculty/Employee/Employer Member (think to your future, graduate students!)
    1. Professional research organization listing for bios and bylines (social media, articles, speaking engagements, websites) *Your credentials!
    2. Discounted conference registration versus non-members
    3. ASHS SR-smaller, more family-like
      1. Not every US region has ASHS representation
    4. Awards/Recognitions (I received a Blue Ribbon Extension Communications Award…CV building!)
    5. International Research Opportunities
    6. Colleagues that lift each other up
    7. Mentoring: new faculty members
    8. Collaborative Research (this is extremely important)
      1. Institution to Institution
      2. Grants (multi-organizations)
    9. CV building (ASHS provides opportunities through presentations, awards, and volunteerism to build your CV)
      1. Annual evaluations
      2. Promotions
    10. Networking
    11. Early Notice of Job Opportunities
      1. In person at conferences & online
    12. Post CV online ASHS (not many professionals stay with the same company (or at the same location) forever-those days are gone…for some this is THE way to get significant promotions and increases in salary)
    13. Nominations Awards/Committees (I have served on several committees and have also volunteered to be a poster and oral competitions judge…all rewarding experiences)
    14. Letters of Recommendation (I have been a letter writer and received letters for/from folks via ASHS)
      1. Promotions
      2. Awards
    15. PAX Photography contest at ASHS
    16. Connect with students for Assistantship, Post-Grad, and Faculty Exchange research positions
    17. International speaking opportunities
    18. Disseminate Research Activities: Oral and Poster
    19. Promotes Personal Research, Department/Organization, Field of Study
    20. Annual Giving: Endowment, Scholarships, Awards
    21. Continuing Education Units (CEU’s) for certification programs such as the International Society for Arboriculture and the ASHS Certified Professional Horticulturist programs and some jobs
    22. Opportunities to Serve and Give Back
      1. Office Board & committees
      2. Judging Oral and Poster Competitions
      3. Advisors for ACB
    23. Publication opportunities in peer-reviewed journals
    24. Reasons to be an active Member though not employed directly in Horticulture Science as Scientist at the PhD level?
      1. Educational opportunities, collaboration and interest groups
        1. Stay apprised of what is new in horticulture
      2. Extension, Industry, Ag/Hort/Garden writers & communicators, Ag Education, Public Gardens
        1. We are stronger when we are together! Get inspired.
      3. May be in temporary position, not in Horticulture, but maintaining horticulture track/interests (I used to joke I was longest running ASHS Member who was not actively employed in Horticulture for many years!)

I hope this information can help you or a graduate student you may know in Horticulture or a horticulture-related field.

Yours in Gardening,

The Garden Maiden


copyright 2018 The Garden Maiden


Categories: Other Inspirations | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Aloha to Latitude 29: Tiki Inspiration for Backyard Patios and Luaus

Latitude 29 tiki bar and restaurant in the French Quarter. TheGardenMaiden_copyright_2015_RStafne

Latitude 29 tiki bar and restaurant in the French Quarter. TheGardenMaiden_copyright_2015_RStafne











Yesterday I had the fortune of checking out the new tiki cocktail restaurant and bar in the French Quarter, New Orleans. My husband and I have been waiting forever for Jeff “Beachbum” Berry’s place (Latitude 29) to open, which it did in November.  Now, some of you may be wondering what in the world a tiki bar has to do with my gardening blog, so hold on to your seats as I try to weave a story for you.

Latitude 29 tiki bar and restaurant in the French Quarter. TheGardenMaiden_copyright_2015_RStafne

Latitude 29 tiki bar and restaurant in the French Quarter. TheGardenMaiden_copyright_2015_RStafne











For many years I have been getting into tiki culture. It began as a sideshoot interest from being both a parrothead and a big fan of Hawaiiana and Hawaiian travel.  That led to a great interest in Exotica music (both retro and modern), surf music, and Hawaiian traditional music. On and on into 1960’s backyard tiki culture and home tiki bars my love went. Everything from the furniture, colors, and fabrics used then to the renaissance and popularity of the retro MOD look. Antique and modern tiki artists found their way into my home, and especially the use of bamboo furniture.

My husband and I hosted our first tiki party in Fayetteville, Arkansas many years ago and carried that love of mainland Aloha everywhere we went.

One of the main motivators of this retro culture was the desire to bring a bit of Hawaii to the home for those who were not lucky enough to travel to Hawaii or to return to Hawaii as often as they liked.

Latitude 29 tiki bar and restaurant in the French Quarter. TheGardenMaiden_copyright_2015_RStafne

Latitude 29 tiki bar and restaurant in the French Quarter. TheGardenMaiden_copyright_2015_RStafne











It didn’t hurt my interests that I became completely mesmerized with everything Disney, especially The Enchanted Tiki Room. A visit to the attraction at either Disneyland or Disney World was more a of note -taking session in how to bring that “look” home.

One aspect of trying to keep tiki alive is creating a tropical-looking landscape or garden. Whether hiding tikis among the foliage of herbaceous perennials, or tucking cold-hardy palms among the cannas and castor beans. I even brought back Plumeria (frangipanis) from two trips to Hawaii and gladly move them in and out  of the house each fall/spring.

In addition to this, my husband and I began a great interest in classic, fresh, cocktail mixing. Fortunately a great history of tiki cocktails can be found in Beachbum Berry’s book, Potions of the Caribbean. Together, my husband and I wrote an article for State-by-State Gardening Magazine on the cocktail garden, back in May 2013 called Shaken or Stirred?

I am also a huge fan of Texas author James Michener and have read many of his books including Hawaii, Caribbean, Tales of the South Pacific and Return to Paradise.

At any rate, whenever given the chance, we seek out any remaining tiki culture (such as the Mai Kai in Fort Lauderdale) or new tiki. That brought us to Latitude 29.

Latitude 29 tiki bar and restaurant in the French Quarter. TheGardenMaiden_copyright_2015_RStafne

Latitude 29 tiki bar and restaurant in the French Quarter. TheGardenMaiden_copyright_2015_RStafne











It did not disappoint.

The food was great, the cocktails tasty and refreshing (we prefer to sit at the bar and chat up the mixologists), and the ambiance is SPOT ON with a fab music playlist by “Mrs. Bum”, who is as delightful as you could want in a tiki hostess.

We sampled the following drinks: Paniolo, Latitude 29, Nui Nui, Espresso Bongo, Lapu Lapu and an after dinner coffee drink. We also sampled the Noodle Bowl, Ground Filet Hamburger, Taro Fries, Crispy Sesame Green Beans and for desert the chocolate won tons. Tip: if you are on a low sodium diet as we are, request the fries and beans to be unsalted as they come with sea salt.

Check out the photos I captured with my old school “stupid phone”. They leave a bit to the imagination, but that’s what should pull you to pop in and let the tiki culture take you away to the South Pacific or other exotic Caribbean locale!

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Start planning now in these bleak days of winter how to bring some aloha spirit to your landscape or garden! After all inspiration could be as close as your nearest tiki bar!


Mahalo for stopping by!

The Garden Maiden 🙂

All images and text copyright 2015 The Garden Maiden

Categories: Other Inspirations | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment
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