Photo by Karen Hugg (please attribute)

When I was a professional gardener, I made a lot of people happy by helping them with their gardens. Usually, I either created and installed a new garden or maintained the one they already had. Regardless, after my work was finished, my clients often told me their garden was their happy place. It relieved them from stress. Reset their energy. I understood this since my own garden made me happy too, even when there was a lot of work to do. So I started to wonder. Why exactly did plants make us happier?

I knew the reasons that applied to…

My Twitter Feed

Social media has always been a source of stress for me. I’ve had a like-it/hate-it relationship with it for a long time. I like when I make a new friend via Twitter or Instagram. It’s wonderful to exchange shared interests and thoughtful ideas with someone new in your life, especially someone I usually don’t or can’t see in person. But I hate it when I land on a post that makes me feel bad. I can feel anxious, inadequate, angry, sad, or even helplessly confused.

This bad tangled feeling culminated last summer. I thought long and hard about whether to…

I’m sharing this article in an effort to remember what Notre Dame means to us as a civilization, not just to people of faith. Notre Dame is a symbol of human kind’s greatness and world peace.

When my skeptical ten-year-old asked what we would see when visiting Paris, I said, “We’ll see Notre-Dame cathedral. It’s the most famous church in the world!”

“Really? In the whole world?” she said.

Kids often use the phrase, “in the whole world” to emphasize whatever thing they admire. “She’s my best friend in like, the whole world,” or “That place has the best smoothies…

In the last few days, I’ve felt crushed by the news that Robert Mueller and his team found no reason to indict Donald Trump. I, like a fool, had hoped, after all of the indictments and convictions, that the evidence he found would either indict the president or embarrass him enough that he’d resign. It was not meant to be.

Then today we heard that the president will push for a judge to toss out the Affordable Care Act. This crushes me even more. It’s sharply personal. You see, my husband is a stage 4 colon cancer survivor. He was…

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Let’s face it, I am a woman of a certain age. And when you get to the midpoint of your life, you start to reassess the time you perceive as wasted. Because I’m a writer, the hardest times to resolve are the silly things I did instead of spending time writing. I did spend quite a bit of time writing (and even publishing) but I also spent time doing useless things that I regret. The list stretches back to the 1990s and ends before social media, because of course, social media can be a huge waste of time (though I’ve…

A gravel path to the backyard.

My husband had always wanted a path on the side of our house. The side yard was dappled shade, growing a thin layer of grass in summer that faded to mud in winter. But instead of letting him call an expensive contractor, I decided to take on the task of installing a path myself.

I thought a lot about the choice of materials. While concrete was appealing because of its permanence, I was reluctant to pave more earth and create more runoff. Flagstone — while beautiful — was too expensive and time intensive. Leveling and cutting the shards of varying…

A happy garden of trees, shrubs, and perennials

As a garden designer, I often meet with clients who have tried to beautify their yard with plants but end up frustrated. A little border along the fence sits with a few anemic perennials and a half-dead sapling on a patch of dry dirt. “We realized we need your help,” they say. They tried with good intentions to design a border and somehow it didn’t work out. But do-it-yourself garden design needn’t be difficult as long as you avoid the mistakes I’ve noticed are common among newbies.

  1. Not figuring out what kind of soil you have. In my yard, I…

Karen Hugg

Posts about plants and their mental health benefits. I write for pleasure, garden for joy, raise kids for angst, laugh to survive.

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