House Rules

Disclaimer and Plea

This information on this site is not intended to treat any condition or disorder, including but not limited to obsessive gardening, addicted conifer syndrome, or spring fever.

The contents and information on this site are for plant hardiness zone 5A, but if you live outside of that zone, you can mouth off here too. Please don’t brag about how you can grow Bear’s Breeches though, okay?


Here are the rules: Say whatever you want to about plants. You can even hate on plants, but you can’t hate on people. Play nice with your garden friends or go home to your own weedy beds. Spammers will be summarily banned and cursed with poison ivy.

I reserve the right to edit or delete any comment that is (too much) off-topic, offensive, or profane.

Don’t try to sell anything here unless you ask me first.

If you are a garden blogger and you want me to create a real blog roll, ask me and I might.

I might correct your spelling! Please correct mine!

You do not have to register to post, but if you abuse this choice, that option may change.

I don’t collect any information about you, so please return the favor and do not send me any spam. Thank you.

Wwoof USA

Cultural Exchange

When all of our children were living at home we enjoyed the cultural exchange that came from hosting foreign exchange students with AFS and YFU. Nine young people spent at least a week, but most spent a school year, living as part of our family. It was fun and interesting to welcome these young people from Ghana, Germany, Italy, Austria, Pakistan, Finland, and the Ukraine. After our four oldest children grew up and moved out, we realized 1. We didn’t want to drive to the high school anymore and were a bit done with feeding growing teenagers who didn’t even help around the house. 2. We had a big house and 3. We could use some help!

Enter WWoof

While I was on staff at a yoga place in the Bahamas in the winter of 2014, I met people who worked at the yoga place sometimes, but also Wwoofed, whatever that was. Some of them were incredibly hard working, talented, smart people and when I learned that Wwoofing meant the exchange of room and board for work on a farm, I realized that we needed WWoofers!

What is Wwoof?

The acronym has changed meaning a few times since Wwoofing started in 1971 in England. It originally stood for Working Weekends on Organic Farms and was a work exchange that matched up people from the city who were looking for a way to get out into the countryside and experience “the good life” with farms in rural areas that had a shortage of seasonal workers.

Now it usually translated as Willing Workers on Organic Farms or as World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. It is a loose network of national organizations that connect workers and farms in more than 200 countries around the world.

To date, we have hosted more than 14 WWoofers on our microfarm, Applewood, from as nearby as the next town over and from as far away as Germany. On our farm, we exchange 20 hours of work a week in exchange for a room and board. Many of our WWoofers have also worked for pay in our landscaping and gardening business.

It’s been wonderful.

Our Wwoofers have been former soldiers, professional writers, retired people, high school seniors, and artists and seekers of every kind. They live with us and learn about gardening, beekeeping, landscaping, and cooking with lots of vegetables. They help out with chores, animal care, and house-sitting. Some have returned to live and work with us form more than one season. Some have met and gone off to make babies with their life partner! Many have made a permanent change to our property. All have enriched our lives.

Obsessed Midwest Gardener

This was the introduction to my old gardening blog:

Do you yell at people to “stay on the paths!” when they go outside in your yard?  Do know more plant names than you do people’s names? Do you know what climate zone you live in?

Yup? Here is the deal:  If you think you are a gardener, you are a gardener. Lucky us. Gardeners are a fun, generous bunch of folks.


I am Danniel, your host.  I grew up playing in the Wisconsin dirt, but instead of studying horticulture, I got a degree in English.  That did not stop me from starting a landscape gardening business in 1994. The business, begun with my husband and another business partner, Mark C. Olson, was called Mother Nature and Sons and introduced organic property maintenance to the shores of Lake Geneva. I few years later, my husband and I branched off and started Botanica Fine Gardens and Landscapes in 2001.  When we started Botanica (this link goes to Wayback Machine screen capture of an early website and blog) I not only wanted to continue to innovate and practice environmental landscaping, I also wanted to have and to install the prettiest perennial gardens.   I set to work learning everything about perennials.

The first thing I did was learn the Latin name for all 1200 or so perennials that bloom in Zone 5.

Then, I learned the cultural requirements for all 1200 perennials.

Then, I learned their bloom times.

About this point, I thought I knew something about gardening.  Ha! If you are an experienced gardener, you might be laughing right now, because you know that until you know something about plant dynamics, you don’t know diddly-squat.

What are plant dynamics, do you say?  Well, plants are not like furniture. Garden design is not like interior design, because, well, the darn things change!  They change all the time, from spring to fall, and then again from year to year.

And that, Dear Reader, is what this blog is about.