My Complete Lack of a Gardening Lifestyle, and How That Means More Free Stuff For You


You may have noticed that GardenRant has been a total swagfest lately, what with all the giveaways of tools and books and other such freebies.  Well, there’s a reason for that:  I’m living in Portland for two months, having temporarily joined the faculty of Portland State University as a visiting professor in theirMFA in Creative Writing program.  Thanks to the nice people at the literary journal and book publisher Tin House, I have a totally swell apartment, too.

What I don’t have is a garden, or really any interest in one.  I mean, Portland is in full bloom right now, and that’s lovely.  Last month the air was perfumed with daphne blossoms, and this month the azaleas are doing their insane technicolor thing, and I’m sure something else very pretty is about to happen right now.   But I came here to think about writing, to talk about writing, and to do some writing.  The rest of you can go garden.  I’m doing this other thing.  (and writing about it a little on my own blog.)

What does this mean to you?  Before I left for Portland, I lined up a whole series of posts in which I do little more than give free stuff to you.  Mostly this happened in partnership with my good friend Gen at North Coast Gardening.

So.  She and I spent a very confusing afternoon putting together the deceptively simple Triolife Plant Pyramid sent to us by the nice people atEarthEasy.  Please note that it does not take an entire afternoon to put it together–it takes about a minute and a half–but because we were too lazy to go inside and look at a photo of the thing, and because the instructions were nearly incomprehensible, it took us forever.

But you will have no trouble at all, because once you watch our video, you will totally get it! The light bulb will go off.

And you can have one!  Tell us what you will plant in it and where you will put it (on a table, on a patio, on your roof, etc) and we’ll choose a winner.  Gen is giving one away too, so get over there to check out her thing.




  1. I’d like to try it with strawberries and maybe a couple herbs. I lost my own big garden in the housing crash and currently rent from relatives who think edible gardening is ugly. So having something posh-looking like this help me sneak more edibles into the limited growing space I’m able to borrow.

  2. Without a doubt, strawberries. Smack dab in the middle of the flower garden, like a specimen plant.

  3. That thing is serious! I would put it smack into the middle of my edibles garden so there would be some structure there instead of just a big odd space! Gosh, it’s really beautiful.

  4. Love the name of your newest book.

    Have lectured at a zillion garden clubs in 30 years.

    Only 1 poured the wine for DURING the lecture. And they were serious about making sure every glass was full.

    2 reserved parking spaces: speaker & Bringer Of the Wine….

    THAT is a good garden club.

    XO T

  5. Oh, I would adore this! I would plant it full of something like Tumbling Tom tomatoes and have the whole thing growing right between my chair and hubby’s in the backyard. Dinner is served!

  6. I just love that planter, love that is made from wood too. I love wood, I live in a wood house and it would look great on my deck, I was thinking alpines or herbs but now I’m thinking of turning it into a faerie garden, multilevel dwelling style! Little plants, little decorations, little faeries!!!

  7. I would love to put that in my front yard with some edibles as I’m trying to get rid most of my front lawn.

    Love the happy frog soil, btw!

  8. I’m not sure I would put in strawberries, maybe a fountain of sweet alyssum and lobelias and trailing verbeena, spilling out the sides – a festival of purples and blues. And it would look great on our back patio. Very neat, thanks for the giveaway!!

  9. I will put it on a table so my seven-year-old son, who uses a wheelchair, can get his hands nice and dirty. We’ll plant beans because the seeds are big and easy for him to handle.

  10. I’m going to jump on the bandwagon and say strawberries. I haven’t had luck with strawberries yet, and maybe giving them their own fancy planter would please the strawberry gods enough to send me success.

  11. I would give this as a gift to to my mother. She recently moved into a condo and is in severe garden withdrawal. This would be great for her patio!

  12. Oooh, I would put herbs, herbs, and more herbs in it. Or maybe more strawberry plants. I would stick it right next to my other containers of things I have going right now on my small deck!

  13. Oh, lovely! Would love to create a salad pyramid! Spinach, thyme, maybe some small lettuces, nasturia, other edible flowers. Yum.

  14. I would fill it with edible flowers and herbs to keep in my kitchen bay window to teach the children in my Daycare how fun gardening can be.

  15. Wow. I hope you are having fun at PSU! I would plant my herb garden in that planter for sure. What a cool idea.

  16. That pyramid is perfect for an herb garden set on my deck right outside my kitchen door! I love the look of all the herbs sharing space together. It almost looks like a herb knot garden idea. Love it!!

  17. I would put that on my deck and do several kinds of mint (chocolate, pepper, lemon, spear) and make myself and my neighbors mojitos all summer.

    Or make my husband do it, I mean, I put the pyramid together, so it’s only fair!

  18. Hi there, I’m a new fan of your blog since Willi Galloway mentioned it on hers. This planter is really cool, I think I would plant a hummingbird garden in it and place it on a table on my deck where I could enjoy the action!

  19. I would be torn between tiny cascading succulents or American cranberry. I have a large yard with multiple spots to sit in the shade and it would look great in all of them no matter what was planted in it.

  20. I would create a salad/herb pyramid, and stick it on the front porch so it’s about a 15 step walk from my kitchen. Then I would chow down!

  21. CA native annuals, grown from seed, in my new house overlooking San Joaquin hills. Maybe some Dudleyas swapped in for the “winter” months

  22. I’m in for the strawberries too! It would be a great winter greenery display as well.

  23. What a great concept to go with your great blog. I’d put it on the front porch and fill it with flowers. I’ll bet my grandkids will have a blast with it.

  24. … succulents. I want it to pour over with aquatic-looking succulents… I would probably stain it a nice dark color too, to help it warm up in early spring!
    But yes, succulents. Crassula, Aeoniums, Echeveria, Euphorbia, Ice Plants, Sedum, and Sempervivums. Some will be hardy, some won’t. But it will be a colorful array of gorgeous. ♥

  25. I like the idea of the three tiers, such a nice structure. I would do something horizontal on top- maybe chives, something a little bushy in the middle–maybe oregano, and something trailing on the lower level–love the edible flower idea, nasturtiums? Or I would just pack it with as many herbs as would fit and enjoy them year round.

  26. A parterre in three dimension full of aromatic herbs, that would live next to the kitchen. That would be so much fun. . . . and as soon as I win the lottery a second one devoted to succulents. Ahhhh

  27. I can see it going two ways :

    First, the edibles – wintertime I’d have a multi-colored tower of lettuces, closer to the back door than my usual plot, and slug-free ! Or a pyramid of sugar peas – divine ! Summertime would bring bush beans, and they’d be so much easier to pick all stacked together stadium-style. And maybe one of those “stout” tomatoes I spotted at the nursery last week.

    Second, ornamentals – I can’t help but see succulents when I look at such a planter. Upright or spilling over the edges, I’d have my own little Hanging Garden of Babylon furnished with colorful sedums & crassulas & euphorbia & their cousins. My kids would roll their eyes … then jump right in to ooooh & aahh at the joy of planting & the beauty of the result.

  28. That would be the perfect setup to grow lettuce for my two garden-stomping tortoises (both of whom have taken down everything in my backyard except for their beloved kerria bush). If I could plant something at a different level so those two soil compacting turtles could not climb in and stomp…..what a great, great and brilliant design. I LOVE it.

  29. It gets so blasted hot here in the summer; I would use succulents during those hellish months then as the weather moderates I can replacing them with mounds of parsley, winter veggies like baby ball beets and some colorful chard and calendulas, maybe some nasturtiums cascading down. That container is drop dead gorgeous!

  30. This would look wonderful on my roofdeck and provide me with fresh herbs all summer long.

  31. It would be a wonderful place for an herb garden. The things that like it drier could be on the top and the things that like more shade could be in the back. I would put it on the deck, at least until I finish the greenhouse that will be taking the place of the deck. 🙂

  32. Definitely alpine strawberries and/or some nasturtiums for color. It would be lovely and delicious, no doubt! It would fit perfectly on the deck, conveniently next to the kitchen.

  33. I’m drooling over the possibility of this out on the balcony with strawberries. It’s a little sparse right now…

  34. Mints–which surely couldn’t take over the yard from this, if I kept it on the patio! And maybe some thymes too. It doesn’t really look big enough for my parsley (though I see the manufacturer shows a photo of it with rosemary among other things, so maybe it’s bigger than it looks).

    Another possibility–scented leaf geraniums.

  35. Lettuce, succulents, herbs, it looks like it could fit so much and add trailing flowers in between. Too cool! And it would fit just about anywhere in the garden for hard scape appeal.

  36. This would go on the back patio where I can see it from inside and outside the house. I’m eager to grow something to eat that is also pretty. Frilly little greens? Nice smelling herbs? Edible flowers, too. So many possibilities!

  37. I love this planter! I would plant edibles, some spiky, some trailing, but I think you should give it to Kevin to plant with his son. Gardening is so therapeutic and so much fun with kids!

  38. I picture my trio life plant pyramid sitting on a post with the ability to spin around. The planters will be filled with herbs. Since herbs are to be used daily, I’ll put it very near the kitchen patio. Can hardly wait. Thank you.

  39. I shouldn’t have read the comments before I entered, because I am taken with several ideas. In the near term, it would be herbs as we are building a house and it may be a while before the kitchen deck and herb garden is complete. I really like the idea of trailing, spilling fountain of blues and purples (John).

  40. Herbs. Definitely herbs. For the first year or so in our new house, when we are struggling to establish a garden. On the patio outside the summer kitchen. After that – it may stay herbs, or evolve to flowers, probably nice smelly ones to keep on the deck where we will be too far up to smell the ones in the garden (but also above the worst of the mosquitoes that plague that place in the summer.)

  41. I’d plant it with my overflow alpines, the ones that I can no longer reasonably squeeze into the rock garden, and set it on my new deck. Actually, I saw this in a catalog and had been thinking it didn’t look too hard to make, so I may end up doing that regardless of outcome.

  42. We would put this in the middle of the raised bed garden and plant strawberries in it.
    Unless I could talk the Mr. into putting it on the deck for my succulent garden.
    I do need two.

  43. Woo! I’ve been looking for a triangular planter for a while. I’ve got just the spot for it in my garden. Consider my hat in the ring.

  44. I have this empty space in my garden that was once a tree. That planter would look perfect on top of the stump and add a lot of interest. I ‘m a beginner gardener so I ‘m not sure what I would plant in it. Maybe plants that would cascade down the sides, sedums maybe. The planter would look like a fountain of plants.

  45. My family’s budding gardener (a 9 year old boy) would love this for his alpine strawberries, which are waiting patiently to be planted. The only sunny place in our yard is the old crumbling driveway which holds planters and raised beds instead of a car!

  46. I live in a townhouse with a tiny back patio and garden, so this kind of vertical gardening makes sense. My garden is a bit shady, so I’m thinking maybe a combination of heucheras, small ferns, and violas or pansies. In the heat of summer, I might use browallia or impatiens, and then substitute the pansies in the fall. Perhaps one of the hardier ivies for a trailer.

  47. I see strawberries, herbs and succulents, different times of the year however. When it is hellishly hot here the succulents would look stunning in such a magnificent container. In the cooler weather I see mounds of parsley, some thymes and edible winter flowers like nasturtiums and calendulas. The strawberry plants would be nestled in, quietly developing. As the sun warms the soil in spring the flowering plants would be finished for the year and the berries would be ready to spread out and glow with luscious fruit.

  48. Amy, I know I don’t need to tell you but, get thee to the Portland Rose Gardens! I was there in September (2008) and it was in wonderful full display. I can’t imagine what June will be like. I love the history of it . . .that a city cared so much for a wonderful garden with an incredible view of Mt. Hood and kept it thriving for 100 years. Enjoy your new creative writing adventure and bring us back something new when you come home.

  49. I love the look of this very useful planter. I’d fill it with herbs outside my kitchen door.

  50. This would be a gift for my friend who desperately needs to organize her succulents! What a great giveaway! Thank you.

  51. I would definitly use it to cover and distract from the cracked part of the patio. I would plant a mix of nasturtiums and mini pumpkins to make a fall display.

  52. Honestly, I think it would make a really cool fruit bowl. No dirt. No plants.
    Maybe you should keep it for your non-gardening sojourn.

  53. The last comment in the video about a cocktail party makes me think it would be great planted with edilbe plants that are useful in cocktails: thyme, rosemary, basil, strawberries, those sweet little edible flowers (nasturtium?).

  54. I love the design of this planter! I would put it on my (small) patio and plant zinnias and portulaca, both of which can take the heat in Alabama. I am really getting into vertical gardening and this planter totally fits the bill. By the way,just got through reading your first book about gardening. Really enjoyed it from cover to cover!

  55. I have two flats of strawberries I started from seed that are just waiting for this! Probably need two of them but one would be a great start!

  56. I would use it as a herb garden and I’d place it on my porch like a piece of art. It’s lovely!

  57. My back patio and I’d have to do violas, pansies, nicotiana and maybe a bit of baby’s breath or moon flowers.

  58. Strawberries or a little herb garden right on a small pedestal in the garden (can’t let the dogs eat all the goodness)

  59. I’m giving up two acres of gardens for grad school in Delaware. I’ll have a teeny-tiny patio outside my characterless apartment. I can’t wait to get some plants on that patio and make it my own.

    I think I would like to try growing salad fixings on the Pyramid. I can imagine that lettuces, parsley, Swiss chard, radishes, chives and nasturtiums would look very pretty growing on the Pyramid.

  60. I would choose a mix of herbs, ones that do not over-winter in my climate – rosemary would be great, as well as basil and a mint of sorts. Also, some thyme to cascade down the edges would be nice too. I love the form of the planter.

  61. So strawberries! The whole yummy structure nestled in amongst the otherwise 100% floral glory of my summer deck container garden. Right next to my falling-apart LaFuma lounger. Where, on those rare occasions when I actually sit and look at my garden, I can reach out a languid hand and grab some red sweet deliciousness. Please?

  62. Roses are red,
    Violets are green,
    Container gardening is easy,
    And makes the house look like a dream.

  63. nice succulents, i also have cute little pair of succulents plants. i kept them in the steel planter and it looks quite beautiful. However, i would love to create a small vegetable garden but Alas! i don’t have a place to do so.

    ~Garden Designers

  64. Definitely herbs and a few flowers for pretty. I would place it int the middle of my new garden bed. I put in a bunch of perennials this spring and they are still a bit small. The bed needs something interesting to distract from the tiny perennials.

  65. I am starting to form a secret garden feel for my raised bed veggie garden. The beds are in a “U” shape and this would go smack dab in the back middle of the U as a focal point when you enter. I would plant it up as a pretty salad bar….pretty colored lettuces, radishes, nasturtiums & could continue the pyramid up with a small climber (cornichons? gherkins?) on a stick tuteur.

  66. I have to agree with everyone who said strawberries. I would have ripening strawberries on the patio for a delicious sun-warmed snack within arm’s reach.

  67. Love this planter!! I would put several hen and chicks plants with a few flowering annuals stick here and there randomly.

  68. I was just looking at this planter the other day on Amazon. Was thinking about planting herbs in it but the succulent picture from North Coast Gardening look so gorgeous – I’m not sure which to do!

  69. I am all about small space, big use so I would plant herbs and greens in this and put it on my porch for a salad or garnish to a meal just open the front door and pick something!

  70. I would love to stuff this thing full of beautiful succulents that can reproduce and fill up the whole space. I can put it in the garden in the summer time and move it inside as a beautiful piece of art in the winter! Would look great in my new apartment!!

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