May 2018: Happiness

Hi everyone, happy May!

Ever notice how some people seem to be happier than others.
It’s the old question of if you are a glass 1/2 full or a glass 1/2 empty kind of person.
There also seems to be a direct link between happiness and contentment with what you have and who you are.
Appreciation of where you are in life, gratefulness, whether from personality, or luck orfaith.

In our culture, much of our self worth can be tied up in what we own, what we make,where we live, what we drive.   STUFF and THINGS.
Stuff and things, do they really make you happy?

Yea I know if you don’t have enough money to feed your kids you are not going to behappy. But after basic needs are met, how much more stuff is needed to be happy.Probably less than we have accumulated.

We often value status. That’s ok, as long as we don’t let it make us feel inadequate if wedon’t have as much status as the next guy.

Talent. Ever wish you could play the piano or sing or paint as well as someone youknow.
See where I’m headed with this. Be happy with what you have, who you are, and you are happy.Seems silly but it’s true.  It’s like saying you are happy if you are happy. But you are.
So, are you a glass half full or a glass half empty person, and do you get to choose?I think you do get to choose……. every morning you choose.Be sad if you want to, be content if you want to, you choose.
Me, well I personally have never seen a 1/2 empty glass. I know a lot of people see them, I just never have.  Half empty glass, it may just be an urban legend.
See you in the garden.


October 2018: Bonsai and Dead plants

   Well it’s October.I tend to write about what ever is on my mind at the moment I start writing. Today it is bonsai trees and dead plants. Bonsai plants are a favorite of mine.The patience and skill to spend years developing a well shaped bonsai, pretty cool. Some of the bonsai plants we get can be decades in the making.So when someone buys one and it dies it is sad on several levels.Bonsai have by design very shallow roots so they dry out quickly.They can be made from almost any tree or shrub, some are good house plants and some are for outside.

I remember years ago we had a man buy a nice, not too expensive bonsai juniper to put on his kitchen table. I told him several times that junipers need to be outside.He put it inside anyway. Well, it died. it took a few months, but it died., He was mad when I did not replace it for him.  Oh, and it died a month or so before he came in to tell me it was suffering.  If he had come in sooner, as in before it died, we would have had a chance to get him to move it outside as we told him when he bought it. We had another man who bought a bonsai, he lived on the bay. We told him to water every day. He was convinced that any plant on the bay side of his house did not have to be watered. It would magically absorb enough moisture from the dew and moist breezes. Not true .He called a few days after he bought his bonsai to see why it was wilting so badly.well-shapedWe talked about watering every day by hand, not by moist breezes. He called in time and his bonsai recovered.

The point being, if you buy a plant and it starts looking bad call before it dies!!!If you do not call and it dies, it is not my fault that you did not try to get help.
Most plants need daily watering  through the first 2 summers.It is not fair to us if you loose a plant because you do not take care of it and then want another one for free.We are not a giant rich company.Maas Nursery is run by a small group of gardeners, plant lovers , family and friends.

Our replacement policy, try to keep it fair. If you lose a plant and I have lost some too, then we replace the plant for free. If you lose one and we never lost one before, maybe it’s not a bad plant.Our warranty is based on the health and quality of the plant.loseIt is not a guarantee that it will not die at your house.We make sure we do our part, you have to do yours.

In general we are much more generous if we get a chance to fix the problem before the plant is dead. We can almost always solve the problem and save the plant if you call in time.If it needs more water, less sun, spraying for an insect, CALL us.We can walk you through what to do.But if you loose a plant our policy is to give a 50% discount on the replacement.

The idea there is that then we both have some skin in the game.Across the board free replacements tend to make a person less motivated to care for the plants they just bought,”Oh well. I’m busy this week, no time to water.  But Hey, if the plants die they will just give me new ones.”I actually had a friend from out of state say that one time.That doesn’t seem fair does it.

So, I drifted away from bonsai trees for a few paragraphs.Bonsai is the art of miniaturization of a tree with trimming, bending, root reduction, etc to make it look like a small version of a full sized tree found in nature.
The reason bonsai plants are on my mind today is that I have been working on expanding our bonsai area the last month or so.More space, new plants, more pots, pedestals and stands.We are going to just about double what we have.Many of the new plants are already here with more to come.

There are varieties that work well inside as well as some that are best outside.We have old ones and young ones.There are also some that might survive a missed watering or two, just don’t go days.

Paul, Jim, and Daniel are the most bonsai knowledgeable for technical and trimming questions, but anyone can help with general information.Also the Houston Bonsai Society has free quarterly outreach and teaching here at the nursery. Check when you are here or each month in this newsletter to see Clyde’s schedule.
Once or twice a year we will be having a class on growing bonsai plants. The class is taught by Jim, and or Paul and I think Clyde will usually be here too, and sometimes Daniel.

The class usually is hands on and you make a bonsai to take home as part of the class fee. It is a great class. We have limited supplies for the bonsai class, so sign up as soon as you decide you want to come and get registered on line. As I remember, the last class filled up pretty fast


Hi everyone, happy July!
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So, the other day I was sitting at my desk minding my own business, working on a landscape design, when I accidentally looked at an email.
Ok so it wasn’t really an accident, I looked on purpose.
But it makes the story more interesting if I start it by accidentally opening the email, so let’s stick with that.
Anyway,  the email is from the rep of one of the pottery suppliers we like to buy from, I open the email.
“Jim, Would you be interested in a really good deal on cast iron planters?”
“Why yes I would”, I thought.
I decided to call and asked him what did it mean when he said I’d get a very good deal.
Sometimes it might mean free freight or a 10% discount which is not too exciting.
I had stopped carrying cast iron planters a few years ago because they had just gotten too darn expensive.
I like them a lot. They look cool, almost can’t blow over because they are so heavy. They almost last forever. I still see cast iron pots around that were made in the 1800s.
As I am talking to my sales rep I find out that they have decided to quit carrying cast iron planters.
He says he will send me a special offer from the company. I get the special offer the next day.
Yes, they wanted to quit carrying cast iron planters.
This kind of thing has worked out very nicely for us in the past so I read on.
They will give me a big discount if I buy way more than I need.
$ 24,000 retail for a big discount.
I do the math, that’s a lot of planters.
I keep reading.
If however, I buy their entire inventory I can get twice the discount. Now we’re talking.
Whoops, they still have over $150,000 retail in inventory.
I had to think about it for a minute. That’s really a lot of planters.
I made a counter offer a few dollars lower with free freight.
By the time you read this, they should be here.
I’m pretty sure we now have more cast iron planters than anyone else in Texas.
Care to guess what’s on sale this month?
If you guessed cast iron planters, you are right!
We are able to retail the new cast iron planters for a bit under what was once our wholesale cost.
BUT, I have a LOT of planters.
The July sale is 1/2 price. Remember our new normal retail price is less than I used to pay wholesale.
 So when we have them 1/2 off, you are paying 25% of wholesale.
 Now we’re talking.
Come check ’em out.
See You in the Garden,
I’ll be the one standing beside the big stacks of cast iron planters!

February 2018 FREEZE DAMAGE

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Here are a few tips on dealing with freeze damage:

Hibiscus, trim off all the frozen parts. That may mean cutting it almost to the ground. If it is an exotic grafted variety, and it froze to below the graft, you may decide to throw it away and buy a new one. When it comes back from the root it will not be exotic anymore. The farther back you have to cut, the longer it will be until it will bloom again, sometimes as late as November. If you can’t wait, replace it.
Plumeria, if it is mushy it is dead. Buy a new one.
Bananas, they almost always come back from the ground.
Citrus, cut off the dead parts and see what happens. if it is grafted and dies back to the graft, dig it up, it’s no longer going to produce usable fruit.
Tropicals, trim them back to live wood, just like the hibiscus. Many varieties will come back from the ground. It could be many many weeks.
Non-tropical plants can be hurt too.  Dwarf pittosporum, for example, will often have split trunks and limbs that cause summer die back.
Cactus, trim back and wait, sometimes they branch and come back, sometimes they die.
Palms, some varieties die, some suffer damage, some are not hurt. Pygmy date palms, gently tug the heart leaves ( the very center leaves) if they easily slip out, the palm will die even if the old leaves are still alive. Often even as late as the next summer the leaves that were most tender during the freeze show browning and die back.
Queen palms are usually too tall to check the heart leaves. Just wait and see.
Foxtail palms and other tender varieties, if they look dead, they probably are.
Call us if you have questions.
See you in the garden.

January 2017: ABOUT A CARDINAL

Each morning since early summer there is a lone bird, a cardinal, who when he sees his reflection in my bedroom window sees his nemesis.

He sees the bright red bird from yesterday, the bird that he was unable to defeat even after hours of trying.

Hour after hour he crashes into the glass trying to defeat an enemy who is but a reflection of himself, not real, but real to him.

He has been fighting this enemy since he was a young cardinal, not yet red.

I guess he will keep showing up each morning hoping the other bird has given up. But he never does. The nemesis is always there waiting, taunting, unbeatable.

Some days the cardinal is tired, sore from yesterday’s fight. Luckily the enemy is always tired and sore on those same days, such good luck.

How ironic, how tragic that the beautiful red cardinal spends 6 to 8 hours a day fighting against an illusion. Wasted hours, wasted days, wasted life.

He should be out singing, flying, flirting with girl birds, doing happy bird things, but it is not to be.

He is instead caught in a cycle of trying to accomplish something he thinks important.

Something that only leaves him tired and sore, missing a few feathers.

See you in the garden,



October 2016: Pots and More Pots for Sale

As you likely know,  I bought 5 cargo containers of ceramic pottery from one of my Chinese suppliers. who was closing down his operations in China. I bought most of the pots and all the saucers he had.
Ok, so it was really fun. Buying stuff often is.
Now that I find that I have the largest pottery inventory in Houston, maybe in Texas, it’s time to get creative.
I have a few thoughts:
-Pots just got cheaper around here. Most are a third to a half less than if I had bought them in 2015.
-We will also be having some crazy sales each month.
-For the next year or two, many of the hands-on classes will be using much fancier pots without increasing the price of the class.
-There will be many more pre-planted pots to choose from. Last spring we had herbs planted in 6 or 8-inch square plastic pots.  Next year we will have them in ceramic pots.
-Cactus and succulent pots. We start designing and planting in a few weeks.
-Annual and perennial “grab and go” planted pots for the patio. Those we start planting later in the fall through spring.
        I’m thinking we will have 100’s potted and blooming and ready to take home.
-Vegetable and herb combination pots, we will have them, potted and ready to go.
-Bird baths, what is a birdbath but a pedestal (pot) with a bowl (saucer) on top.
        SALE ALERT    for the month of October when you buy a ceramic pot as a birdbath pedestal, the matching saucer will be half price.
-Big pots in the garden. Each year we sell hundreds of medium, big, and huge pots to place in flower beds and vegetable gardens. They make great accents and focal points. This year we will have quite a few placed around the nursery.  You can take them home already growing, or for the very big ones, we will deliver or bring a new one and plant it at your house.
-This is going to be so fun!!!

Septeber 2016: Reflections. From Italy.

By: Jim Maas

 When my daughters were in their teenage years I think I might have mentioned to them that they should date really rich guys. My argument was that there might be a lovable rich guy out there and if there was, they needed to be open to finding him. The best way it seemed to me was to date a rich guy. No, I wasn’t serious. And even if I had been they would have just ignored my questionable fatherly advice. They ended up falling in love with not rich guys.

Both are hard working, smart, loving, amazing husbands and fathers.
I’m pretty sure each is probably the perfect spouse in the entire world for my daughters.

The hard working part means that now they both make way more money than I do.
So, my daughters kind of followed my (joking) advice. They are or will soon be married to rich guys.
Anyway, my guess is that it is probably easier to find a great person who becomes rich than to find a rich guy and hope he becomes nice?

So, when Cristina and Chris got married, and in nine months and one or 2 days, had a baby, they lived in Kansas city, ran out of money and moved in with us. For 2 years.
Two of the best two years of our lives by the way.
A wonderful time, full of laughter and joy.
A time building relationships, of bonding.

The result is that Chris and I have more of a father-son relationship than a son in law, father in law relationship.
In two years you learn a lot about a man.
We had one argument in all that time, which was totally my fault.
I apologized. I doubt if we will ever have another argument.
We both value our relationship too much.
It isn’t likely that anything will ever come up that is important enough to argue about when we both know that we only want the very best for each other.

So, Chris called a few months ago and wanted to know if he and Cristina could buy us a cruise to Alaska, and would we go.
My answer was yes if they went with us.

A few weeks later they decided on a Mediterranean cruise and 3 weeks in Italy instead!

A great trip, a great time.

Someone asked what were a couple of my favorite things I saw.
They worded it carefully to avoid hearing about my granddaughter for 30 minutes.

I thought about it a few seconds and told them about two of the many many interesting things I remember.
First, a forest of native Italian cypress.
Not a row like we see here, but a hillside full, in Tuscany.
Growing wild.

The second was on a walk on our way to see a waterfall. Alex, Chris and I heard there was an interesting waterfall, only an hour or so walk from where we had lunch . As we passed through a town of ancient houses, we walked along an alley, we came to a window, no glass, just a hole in the wall with an old iron grate over it.
I looked inside. It was being used as a storeroom.
Leaning against the wall was a stack of boxes full of old junk, The kind of junk that ends up in a store room in cardboard boxes: a few old books, a magazine, a hammer a couple of old pans. Besides the boxes, a rusty bicycle with 2 flat tires.
On the wall was a weathered painting, thousand-year-old fresco.

I also remember walking through some of the older parts of Rome passing a vacant lot and seeing a 3 or 4-foot tall brick wall that was halfway falling down, and finding out later that the wall was way over 2000 years old.
Don’t see that in Seabrook.

Anytime I travel I find inspiration for landscape designs I draw.
I have already incorporated a grove of cypress into a design and a remnant wall like I saw in Rome in another.
The fresco and the rusty bicycle may need just the right yard to look right.

Maybe I’ll tell you about my other son in law (Matt) in a few months. Also a great guy.
Or perhaps I will wait until we get back from a month’s vacation with them.
I hear China is nice in the fall. Matt when you read this, we are free in September.
Hint hint.

See you in the garden,