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It's My October Newsletter


Suddenly the leaves are all turning to shades of gold, orange, and red, and it is time for another monthly newsletter.  I am pleased you signed up for this newsletter at either my blog, May Dreams Gardens or on my Carol J. Michel author website. If by chance you are now thinking that you didn't mean to do that or after reading this you decide this email newsletter just isn't for you, please unsubscribe. You will not hurt my feelings at all. 


My garden is filled with color from the trees. On the left is a red maple, Acer rubrum 'Autumn Blaze' and on the right is a honeylocust, Gleditsia triacanthos.  By the end of the week, I think most of those leaves will be on the ground and I'll be raking them and mowing them up to put on the vegetable garden beds.



What is that elephant in the room?  Oh, you mean all that info that's recently come out about social media, including that documentary that I haven't seen, The Social Dilemma? It's all kind of scary, and yes, sad, too.

I still haven't gone back to using social media since I left it all behind on July 23. Has it been easy? Some days—thankfully most days—yes. But every once in a while... 

If you want to know more about what a digital detox is, how I did it and how Dee Nash did it, sign up for our upcoming webinar,  An Easy Approach to a Sensible Social Media Presence: How to Keep Social Media Platforms from Taking Over Your Life and Business.

If you think you have to continue with social media to promote your business, sign up for our webinar to find out how getting off social media or going social media-lite affected our business as garden communicators,

Just curious? That's fine too.

The webinar will take place on Thursday, November 5 at 7:00 PM EDT. Details can be found on the GardenComm website.  Cost is $20 for members, $30 for non-members. You can also purchase the recording of it if you cannot attend in person. We are excited to discuss new approaches to social media that will keep it from taking over your life!


I had a notion to read some award-winning fiction and picked Eudora Welty's novel, The Optimist's Daughter, published in 1972. This, of course, led me to YouTube to find some recordings of Miss Welty reading some of her books. I'm glad I did that before I finished this book because hearing her voice as I read it made it that much better.

I also slipped back to England in the 1930s and 40s with two more books by D. E. Stevenson, Celia's House (1943) and Listening Valley (1944). Sadly, I think that's it for me and Stevenson. Though she was a prolific writer and there is a big list of her books that I haven't read, none of the remaining books are available on the Kindle or as reprints so are pretty pricey.   

On the gardening side of reading, I finally finished A History of Zinnias: Flower for the Ages by Eric Grinnell (2020). It is an in-depth look at the origins of zinnias and how we ended up with so many varieties. Through this book, I've become aware of another plant hybridizer, Theodosia Burr Shepherd, whose biography, Theodosia: The Flower Wizard of California by Myrtle Shepherd Francis, is next on my reading list.

Last month, I asked for suggestions of epistolary novels, which is the fancy name for novels where the story is told in exchanges of letters. Thank you to reader MJ who recommended Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson. I read that one a few years ago and enjoyed it too.

There are another eight or nine books I read last month which I won't list. Most of them dealt with the dark side of social media. If you are interested in what I learned from those, check out the webinar noted above. If you have a suggestion for a book or two I should read, send me a reply.



I've been framing pictures!

A while back, I decided to pull out all of my mom's paintings and hang them on the blank walls of my hallways. After all, what good were they doing hidden in the back of a closet?  So I hung up all those that were framed and set aside those that needed frames.

Somehow, I never got around to finding frames for those last few paintings. Then one day a few weeks ago, my youngest sister started to send out texts asking if we—her siblings— wanted this or that or whatever she was pulling out of her attic, which because she owns the house we all grew up in, was full of our old stuff. Her kids hauled down boxes of ancient school books, old National Geographic magazines, aluminum cookware, and finally, empty picture frames.

I grabbed those empty picture frames and used them to frame all but three of my mom's paintings. Action brings more action!  I bought a couple of frames and just ordered a frame for the last picture. Soon I'll have the most complete collection of my mom's paintings in the family. I love walking down the hallways seeing each one and thinking about how my mom found spare time to paint while raising five kids and cooking all those vegetables my dad grew in his garden.

What did I learn from this? Find time for the hobbies you love AND clean out your closets and attics and put on display those items that remind you of family and loved ones.


I've been writing for months now on my next book which has the working title How to Live Your Best Gardening Life.  

People ask me what it is about and the best answer is it is all about how to think like a gardener.  

I am currently working through the edits from my content editor. Following that, I will send it through another round of editing for grammar, punctuation, and all of that.  

Then, I'll move on to layout and cover design with a goal of publishing the book sometime in February 2021.

As someone who self-publishes her books and has already published five books, I am pretty comfortable with the process at this point. If you are thinking about self-publishing and would like to talk to someone who's done it both with and without a managing editor, feel free to hit reply and ask me your questions.


I know a lot of people think mums are boring but they only know the mums that you can buy at the store in late summer and early fall that have been pruned to that nice rounded shape. They don't know the mums I know that grow out in the garden, returning each year to bloom with abandon in the fall, even after we've gone through nearly two months without any rainfall worth mentioning.    

So which is more shocking? That I like mums or that we've gone without rain for almost two months? One is a choice, the other is a circumstance.  We control our choices, but we can't always control all of our circumstances!

Out in the garden, sometimes someone else's choices become our circumstances. Maybe a previous gardener planted Asian honeysuckle forty years ago when it was considered an acceptable shrub to plant in a mixed border. Now their choice is your circumstance as you work to remove invasive Asian honeysuckle from your own garden.  

Just something to think about while you are out in your garden. Is it a choice or a circumstance?


Wrapping Up

One of the flowers that signals the end of the growing season is toad lilies so I''ll wrap up this newsletter with a picture of these toad lilies taken in a friend's garden.  Ever wonder how toad lilies got their name? I wrote a blog post about that a long time ago. 
If you are a member of a garden club looking for a virtual speaker, pick me!  I have some times available through the end of the year and into next year. You can find out more about booking me as a speaker on my website.
The Gardenangelists, the podcast that I record with Dee Nash, reached the 100th episode milestone last month. On to the next 100!  Please subscribe on whichever platform you use to listen to podcasts so you don't miss an episode.

And that's it for this month's newsletter.  Thank you for reading it! As always, if you decide this newsletter isn't for you, please unsubscribe. I don't want to be an irritating email you get once a month! Or, if you like it, tell your friends to subscribe too!

With a shared love of gardening,


P.S. My books are always for sale and make great holiday gifts for gardeners. Check them out here.
Carol J Michel Website Carol J Michel Website
May Dreams Gardens Blog May Dreams Gardens Blog

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