Companion planting and happiness

“Companion plants create opportunities for timeshare or simultaneous display.” Lauren Springer Ogden, The Undaunted Garden.

I bought this gardening book because my green-thumbed Grandma DeeDee told me to. The problem with the book is that there is so very much information crammed onto every page. It will likely take the rest of my gardening life to get through it all. It’s not like reading a summer book, flipping pages while lounging in the sun. I read this gardening with my graph-paper notebook next to me, sketching out possible ideas to try as I go.

I won’t go into my specific gardening attempts with this post. Instead, I want to comment on the quote I shared above.

Companion planting is important to gardening well, whether it’s vegetables, trees and shrubs, or flowers. The flower above is one of the bulbs I planted in our parking strip (or hell strip, as Gardening Lauren calls it). It’s called an anemone coronaria hollandia. I planted it with over 800 other bulbs so it has a few companions, plus it’s surrounded by buffalo grass, which is currently dormant, but will turn bluish-green in the summer and require very little watering and no mowing.

One thing I’ve found that’s a must-have for me, home with my kids, is the need to do companion planting with my life.

Yes. I love spending time with my kids. It’s fascinating to watch them take in the world. They say hilarious things. They scream and fight. I lose my temper. We have amazing days. We have tiring days. But I absolutely need my “companion plants”. What are your companion plants in your life? Here are some of the things in my life that “supplement” or grow alongside my time spent with my kids:

  • Writers’ group
  • Book groups
  • Game night
  • Date night
  • Conferences (writers, tech, or spiritual)
  • Girls’ night
  • Soccer
  • Buying something on Amazon
  • Playing the piano
  • Doodling
  • Successfully cooking good food
  • Successfully gardening

I could go on and on with this list. This ties me into something I read in one of my other #becausehappiness booksHappier, about tracking what I do and whether it’s contributing to my happiness. You write down activities from your day and rate each with a number for how happy you felt doing it and how meaningful it was for you. Activities that are high in both contribute the most to your happiness. Cooking doesn’t always feel meaningful or joyful. Same with gardening. The best companion plants would be high in both categories, although, not all of the time, similarly to how flowers aren’t in bloom year round.

One last thing to add to my list: trying or learning something new. That’s a big part of my #becausehappiness goal and choosing the different books on my list. Learning and growing and stretching feels meaningful and joyful.

Come find me on my Facebook Writer’s page and share your list of companion plants. I want to hear it!


My 2018 hashtag (better than a list of resolutions)

This year, my hashtag of choice is #becausehappiness. Instead of writing a list of resolutions, I’m going to learn about and share things related to happiness. I like this way of doing things. It works for me.

Granted, for my hashtag last year, #yearofbeautiful, I didn’t put together as many posts as I envisioned in January, but, hey! I made it through the year with it and that’s far better than most resolutions I’ve made.

I’ll go more in depth on my plan for this year below, but first, a brief tangent about resolutions.

Ann Cannon wrote her last Wednesday column for the SLTrib recently. She wrote about resolutions she wrote when she was ten. Ten-year-old Ann wrote a nice, short list:

  1. Be patient.
  2. Don’t talk on the telephone too long.
  3. Be nice to all my friends.
  4. Be a good student.
  5. Don’t show off like …name deleted.
  6. Don’t swear or spit.

Did you record any of your resolutions from when you were a kid? The first list I put down in a journal was when I was 12-years old. It is not a short list. It’s a list that, for some reason, is embarrassing for me to share with others, but whatevs. Here it is… my resolutions for the year 1993 and for my lifetime (because I came up with those, too). The actual journal entry is several pages. I turned it into a much-abbreviated list. You’re welcome.


  1. Read the Book of Mormon.
  2. Play another [piano] piece by [Edward MacDowell].
  3. Practice doing Keorver (sic) methods in [soccer] games.
  4. Write in journal monthly.
  5. Draw 50 Natey cartoons.
  6. Sculpt a head or body.
  7. Complete the Everglades.
  8. Find a penpal.
  9. Complete a photo album.
  10. Complete some Personal Progress thing.

Lifetime (as decided by 12-year-old me):

  1. Play the violin.
  2. Draw blueprints for my own house.
  3. Marry and have kids.
  4. Play piano in concert.
  5. Compose piano song.
  6. Design daughter’s room.
  7. Live to the year 2050.
  8. Have a real garden.
  9. Own a wildcat.
  10. Build a dollhouse.

Interesting lists, huh?

Okay, on to this year’s plan. I dub 2018 my year for #becausehappiness. I created a reading list. I’m really very talented at starting and not finishing books. I’ve given myself permission to substitute or ditch a book once I get into it. Some of these books, I’ve read before (partially or complete), others I only have a vague idea of the content. Have you read any?

I made a #becausehappiness reading list on Amazon if any of these pique your interest.

I also wrote up my little plan in my journal. As the year goes on, I may substitute for a different book. We’ll see how it goes. Today, I started reading Happier, which is a book-version of one of the most popular classes at Harvard. In other words, for January, I’m enrolled in a Harvard class (at a discount!). Anyone want to read it with me?