Results May Vary


A pair of voracious snails

The expression “results may vary” always make me laugh. Since the early days of advertising, we’ve been sold a bill of goods.

  • One size fits all (ahem)
  • Guaranteed results (or your money back)
  • New and improved

and so on.

Do you ever find yourself applying these terms to everyday life?

Mine would go something like this: I’m going to head out into the world today, knowing full well that results may vary. I’m going to shrug into my one size fits all sweater, which is actually a size large…just in case. Life does not come with guarantees, but if it did, I might be able to get compensation for that big bruise on my shin.  (My life’s mantra: slow down, Alys, slow down!) And finally, far from being new and improved I would like to offer up a more accurate slogan: Old and improving.  I like the idea of being a better person with the rise of each day, but there is nothing new about the four step maneuver it takes to get out of bed.

These same advertising slogans have been rattling around in my head when I’m in the garden. One example:  I planted an old packet of broccoli seeds figuring nothing ventured, nothing gained. A small cluster of seedlings sprouted giving me hope. I thinned them to a respectable number and waited for the plants to take off. They’re not dead, but they’re not growing either. The seedlings remain in a suspended animation weeks after planting. Results may vary.


Broccoli Seedlings: Grow baby, grow!

Last summer I planted our fountain with succulents. It’s a long story for another day, but suffice it to say that is one expensive planter. I’m not well versed on the variety of succulents available, and the nurseries provide scant clues. The pot might say “two-inch succulent” or “four-inch succulent” which tells me nothing about growth habits.  As you can see from the photo below, it’s not a one size fits all proposition. The plan was to have the center plant gradually grow up, while its companions to the left and right gracefully trailed over the edges.


Copper planter with succulents, September, 2016


Copper fountain planted with succulents, November, 2016

Nature is as nature does.

As for “guaranteed results or your money back”, I’m pretty sure there is a disclaimer for acts of god or nature. There are no guarantees when it comes to gardening. You can plant a seed, water it, and hope that it grows. Have you seen those seed packets? Those plants are amazing! I’ll buy a hundred, and grow produce for the entire neighborhood. I’ll have vases of gorgeous, fresh flowers scattered throughout the house. It’s guaranteed!


Tulip Bulbs: So much promise, so little return

Darwin knew what he was talking about. It’s all about survival of the fittest. I plant seeds, and they refuse to grow. I plant bulbs, and the squirrels dig them up and either eat them or toss them on the deck. Seedlings pop through the soil but then snails eat them in the dead of night. Plants that overcome these obstacles, must contend with birds, squirrels, rats, drought, stink bugs, fungus, scale and sometimes this careless gardener who forgets to water a dried out pot. Guaranteed!

Finally, new and improved might mean pesticide-laden seeds. I like to garden old school: heirloom plants and seeds in a pesticide-free garden. As I mentioned earlier, old and improving.


Beautiful Illustrations of hope and promise…guaranteed!

And that, my friends, brings me back full circle. Results may vary. Sometimes that’s a wonderful thing. My entire front garden self-seeded once again, with Nigella, California Poppies, Cornflowers and Sweet Peas. They seem impervious to the recent frost. They’re lush and green, planted by nature, watered by recent storms and back by popular demand. Now that’s a slogan to celebrate.

Advertising: the science of arresting the human intelligence long enough to get money from it. Stephen Leacock

If you were running an ad campaign for your daily life, what would you say?





58 thoughts on “Results May Vary

  1. An ad campaign for life!? What a good question Alys 😀 Maybe, ‘when only the best will do’…LOL, that’s an ad for us. Giggle…..or how about, ‘delicious and refreshing’? That’s about soda but I like to think life is that way too.
    Gak! Did you tell me about the planter…eeeer, fountain? I don’t remember exactly. What a shame, it was so nice when I last visited. I took that video of you right there holding the sunflower painting. You did make me laugh, ‘one expensive planter’…..snort! I love your sense of humour.
    You certainly have many obsticles in the gardening relm of things. But I’m so happy to see that carpet of green in the front garden. Holy cow! That’s going to be gorgeous. Maybe a few more tomatoes for your guest too. Oh my lord, that’s just the cutest thing ever. The little sneak was so going to town….nom nom lip smacking delicious. I could watch that all day long. Well as they say somewhere, ‘win a few, lose a few’, look at all the fun along the way xox K

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh yes! I thought of us immediately when you said “when only the best will do”. 🙂 And life sure can be “delicious and refreshing” when one starts a blog and finds a forever friend. I’m glad you smiled.

      I remember that video on a beautiful fall day. You were here for my birthday, bringing extraordinary gifts including hand-stenciled napkins (be still my heart) and the sunflower painting. We laughed and laughed. Such good times, always.

      And that carpet of green is also part of a gift that continues: those wonderful sweet peas. I saved several seeds last year, and planted some in the back garden planter and then scattered more here and there. I just can’t get over the fact that they don’t mind the frost. That surprised me. I was more proactive this year, and pulled out the small seedlings from the path. There is no way to train them and they will just fall over and get trampled. There are a couple of new things sprouting out there too, so lots of surprises in store. Our paper said that after these rains we’re going to have an amazing spring bounty. I can’t wait to see what grows.

      The winds are howling outside my door right now. The rain seems lighter than the last storms, but the wind is heavier. I hope we don’t lose power.

      So, funny story about those tomato plants and my little friend. I didn’t plant vegetables that summer as it was year four of the drought and before I had the water tanks. It was also the same year that they brought me a few rescued squirrels to release into my garden. But my compost tomatoes grew and scattered all over the garden. They looked beautiful, but they were completely flavorless. You would never know that, however, seeing the squirrel chowing down. Because they were partially raised by humans, this one let me get within 12 inches for that amazing video. I’ll never forget it.

      Okay, so that was a novel and I didn’t even get to the fountain story!

      Liked by 2 people

      • LOL, I loved reading your novel first thing this morning. Geez, maybe 50 years from now your entire street will be taken over by sweetpeas and we’ll be known as those Canadian girls that drowned San Jose. Ohhhhh! Maybe we can even scatter some in the fall around San Jose and you can go back and visit our little secret gardens to see what transpires, LOL…shhhh, it’ll be very covert. snicker

        I bet that was really something, watching a baby squirrel having lunch. Now how did that rescue organization choose your garden? Are you registered on a site somewhere? Well lucky lucky you.

        I had a squirrel friend that visited my birdfeeder daily two summers ago. He or she would then run over to a curb tree and hang out up there. It was so hot that summer, I left an old gravy boat of water at the base of the tree. One day, my gravy boat was gone. I considered photoshoping a miniature ‘LOST’ poster and pinning it to the tree but I was telling the neighbour Jen about it. She admitted that she didn’t realize it was me and took it to goodwill. 😦 I’ve moved my feeder to the back now, Down near the garage. So the can visit the bird bath or fountain.

        It’s not easy saving all the critters in the hood hey?! oxo

        Liked by 1 person

        • I love the idea of a secret (shhhhhhh) garden. It’s on the list for your fall visit. What fun we’re going to have. So, here’s how the squirrel arrival came about. My friend Jessica, who is also a big animal lover, rescued some baby squirrels that fell from a nest near her apartment. She contacted a rescue group that rehabs and releases squirrels and they said they were looking for suburban neighborhoods were they could set them loose when they matured. My hand (of course) shot up in the air. Mememememe please. So twice, now, they’ve been in touch. They show up with a wooden nest of baby squirrels (three to four of them) and leave the box in the garden and let them venture out on their own. Within a few hours they’ve left the box and are already making themselves at home. Mike set up his phone the last time to capture it. Then he condensed the thirty minutes into a one minute video. Joyous!

          What a fun story about your neighbor taking your gravy boat to Goodwill. That seems so random. You know the squirrels like to drink from our fountain, but I never see them do it. Chris has seen them twice, because his favorite chair sits facing the fountain. I see the birds come there for a drink and the hummingbirds love taking a shower in the bubbler.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Adopting the pace of nature is good for the soul. A water feature especially is so calming to watch. I’m glad the rescue society found you. No better mentor could they find to help those little wonders find their way into the world safely and healthy. Bravo Mike for your techie magic! xoxoxo


  2. I am an experienced gardener who feels like after several years of drought I’m learning to appreciate “Nature is as nature does” and at times feel like a novice. Last summer I eliminated a rose bed I’d had for years. The drought had stressed the poor dears and I couldn’t take it any more. I’ve established a front yard with all drought tolerant California-friendly plants with a sprinkling of natives. I have a lot to learn. 🙂 Your garden photos are delightful!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Debra, you sound a lot like me! I’ve gradually been eliminating lawn and as of a year or so ago, we are lawn free with California natives and drought-tolerant plants. There is always something to learn! I too got rid of most of the roses (I think we have one left). I don’t miss them at all. Are there photos of your native garden on our blog? I’ll have to come take a look.


  3. I am not the gardener in our house but my husband spends hours poring over seed catalogues – I call it ‘plant porn’. He also likes to use heritage varieties and doesn’t like using weed or slug killer of any sort which is probably why we have lots of both 😉 Our garden is very large and we leave loads of it adorned with fallen trees and heaps of garden shreddings etc. which, I am told, is good for hedgehogs and insects and birds and the occasional wild boar. This year we had some little yellow plants growing just in front of the doorstep which everybody had to step over in order to come into the house – they were self-seeded somethings (he’s not here to ask) but he wouldn’t dig them out. After living here for twelve years I think he has a handle on what will and won’t grow – we are quite high up , so it can get quite cold in winter and lots of plants we would like in the garden aren’t happy with that but that’s (plant) life.
    To your list of obstacles I must add dogs and cats – for, as you know, I have loads of each – all of whom wreak havoc on the grass, trees, plants and anything else that stands in the way of a ball game or a poo in freshly dug soil.
    I have never seen anybody enjoy a tomato as much as that little squirrel, bless ‘I’m – I couldn’t begrudge it.
    I like to avoid unnecessary hassle, unrealistic goal setting and stressful situations in general whenever I can – I believe I might have made it into an art form – so, for my daily life, I’ve stolen an ad campaign slogan from a former building society – ‘Because life’s complicated enough’

    Liked by 3 people

  4. This post is such fun! I’m going to spend all day thinking of my own ad slogan but the first thing to pop to mind were directions on the shampoo bottle–“lather, rinse, repeat.” Lately my days have a certain sameness to them . . . It amazes me that all you had to do, to ensure tons of rain in California, was plant a garden that needed no rain at all!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. My campaign ad would be “you CAN teach an old dog new tricks.” Never thought I would be a hiker when I finally grew up. Of course “looks may be deceiving” also describes me when I’m having knee, back, and hip problems. What a fun post!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Karen, that’s perfect for you! And what a wonderful “new trick” it was. You’ve found something that is good for your mind, body and soul *and* we get to hear about it via your blog. I love that!

      As for your second slogan, I hear you. For me it’s back, neck, foot, hip, repeat. I’m so glad you liked the post.


  6. Lovely to see you gardening and your garden in beauty and flourishing again. What a fun post…and oh my goodness, my daily life slogan?? “Handle with Care” or “becuase I’m worth it”? I will have a good think…;o) xo Johanna

    Liked by 3 people

    • Johanna, those are great slogans. We should all adopt “because I’m worth it.” Women often put themselves last, don’t they? Handle with care is lovely, too, and would make a great motto for the world in general. I fear for this country. Thanks for your kind words on the garden. It’s getting a lovely soak again today, too. Spring is going to be amazing!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. A slogan for me? I have absolutely no idea – the thought of having one just made my brain hurt 🙂 I was thinking the same thought that Kerry expressed about your garden. It’s ‘Sod’s Law’ at work isn’t it 😀 I can’t believe those sweet peas are still green in the frost – that has to be some sort of garden miracle right there! Love the squirrel!!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I’m having a ball here today. But I’m with Pauline, thinking up an ad for my life made my head hurt but I figured out two. The current expression for my life these days is “Snap! Crackle! Pop!” but overall it’s been “Reach out and touch someone.” I’ve always been the one that calls and writes and tries to get neighbors together. I did work for the phone company for awhile almost 50 years ago. 🙂 The squirrel eating the tomato is the most precious thing I’ve seen in ages. I want to watch it over and over and would grow tomatoes just for them. I’ve been thinking of turning my fountain into a planter too but come winter, it would just drowned outside. We got a few inches of rain already today. No complaints, just facts. Loved Tialys comment that seed and plant catalog’s are ‘plant porn’. Almost fell out of my chair with that one. I buy seed packets because they are pretty. Don’t plant the seeds, just keep the packets and if I do plant them, nothing grows. :/ Nature will always have the last word, but she’s fun to play with. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Marlene, I’m glad your head recovered and produced not one but two wonderful ad slogans. “Snap!Crackle!Pop! made me giggle. I could easily adopt that one myself. I’d forgotten the slogan “Reach out and touch someone.” but agree that it’s perfect for you. You gather hearts, too. xo

      I feel so lucky to have hosted that young squirrel in our garden. He was one of the rescues that an organization released into our garden so he was quite trusting. The tomato plant he’s nibbling from was a volunteer, growing under a tree next to the house. I was only a foot away. I could not believe my luck. As for turning your fountain into a planter, perhaps you could pot summer annuals, then let it go fallow in the winter. Or, is it possible to bring it onto your porch and plant a fairy garden? (I’ll be right over) 😉 Seed packets are little miniature pieces of art. I’m always toying with the idea of making them into cards. It’s on the list. Nature does have the last word, and she’s wiser than all of us.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You made me laugh again, Alys. Great way to start the day. 🙂 I have clean sheets on the guest bed and I’ll have the table cleared off in a flash. Lots of craft crap in that room. Rubber stamp, paints, paper and bits of everything. Soon. I have 2 fairy gardens in the greenhouse I hope are well protected from the elements. I’ll check them next week when the dry comes. I agree on the plant packets. They are beautiful. I had no idea the little squirrel was one of the fosters. Lucky you. So much to do, so little time. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • We have 2 weeks of dry nice weather coming!!!! :)) I may get more of the stuff sorted outside. Sis is coming by today to take the 3 boxes of lamps and pay me for them. She talked me into buying them oh so many years ago. I’m going to ask her to help me lift the tree onto the shelf in the shed so I can start getting Christmas stored there. One santa my son gave me is discretely on it’s way to the thrift store. I have a 3 ft box full plus a 33 gal trash bag of silk flowers. It’s all saying bye bye. So glad you are getting rain down there and even happier about the snow in the mountains. Have a wonderfilled weekend.


  9. I really enjoyed this post Alys! I love words, but am a bit rusty with ad slogans. But how about the expression found on packaging ‘Keep cool at all times’! That carpet of green in your garden is a wonderful sight, and I love the matching expression you used ‘back by popular demand’. The baby squirrel is so sweet! We have a red squirrel coming into the garden at the moment to nibble young shoots on our fir trees. I think the expression ‘results may vary’ is perfect for gardeners… as you say, so much depends on the weather, the pests, the compost…
    I hope those plants all survive the rain and cold and flourish to produce a sea of colour for you again this spring!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s a good one Cathy: Keep cool at all times. I’m glad you enjoyed this post. Thank you! I hope you can capture a snapshot of your baby squirrel. They are so endearing. Our California Grey squirrels reproduce a couple of times a year. Now that I know that, I’m armed with a plan to keep them from chewing up the garden swing cover. A friend just gave me narrow strips of flannel in neutral colors left over from a quilting project. I cut them into even smaller strips, and plan to fill the basket once again when the weather improves.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. My slogan would be that I am a ‘happy little Vegemite’, but there have been some beauties in your post and the comments. Aren’t people clever?
    Your little squirrel video made me smile, and then I read that he was a rescue squirrel. I never thought of such creatures, but if I had, I would have known that you would be one of the kind souls who helped them.
    Your front garden is going to look sensational in the spring. Regular photos please!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anne, that’s delightful! I will think of that now when I’m thinking of you. There have been many clever slogans. I think I might capture them in a future post for all to read. I’m happy to hear you enjoyed the squirrel video. There is something incredibly appealing about watching him or her eat. I can’t wait to see what unfolds this spring. Thank you for your enthusiasm. xo


  11. I’m a great believer in natural selection. 🙂 I bought some punnets of lettuce seedlings years ago. I planted them on my deck [slight protection from snails], ate them, let them go to seed, and have been enjoying their self-seeded deliciousness ever since. Ditto coriander, parsley and dill. These plants are perfect for my area because they’ve proved they can survive.
    Lovely post – guaranteed. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  12. “Swimming blindly and hoping for the best.” I would love to exchange it for “old and improving,” but I don’t if that will hold true for my future. 😀 I am a sucker for succulents so I love what you did with yours.


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